Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Solomon Kane (2009) dir Michael J. Bassett

I was finally able to see this movie (rented it online) last night.  Not having an all region DVD player kind of sucks sometimes since there are a number of movies that have not been released (particularly Spanish films) in the US - e.g. Alatriste.

Solomon Kane is one of Robert E. Howard's lesser known characters (I'm still waiting to see a Bran Mak Morn movie) and one I am only marginally familiar with myself.  I've always thought of him as a Pilgrim demon-hunter, which for a broad brush stroke portrait works.  After seeing the trailers for this dark fantasy/period piece I was pretty excited but never had much hope of it being released in the States.

I don't want to give anything about the movie away but I was genuinely surprised by its' quality from top to bottom.  James Purefoy is one of those English actors who I've seen in a number of films and television shows (John Carter of MarsIronclad, Rome, A Knight's Tale) but never really followed.  His depiction of Solomon Kane as an evil man trying to find redemption is both convincing and kind of troubling.  Troubling because Purefoy sells it even if it is a familiar trope.  There is an undercurrent of malice in Kane which sets him apart from the standard.  While he might have started as a good man, he embraced evil fully and only after a catastrophe sealed himself off from the outside world and renounced his malevolent, violent ways.

Kane is dark, far darker than the wretched Van Helsing (2004).  There were a couple of moments I was almost shocked by the direction the movie took.  It's dark enough to be a Warhammer movie (there were a number of times where I thought, "Jesus, why can't they make a Warhammer movie?") and does justice to Howard's style (one sequence will be familiar to Howard fans because he used it in a number of his stories).  This is more a horror movie than a dark fantasy adventure (though those elements are clearly marked).  Not for children as the R rating shows.  This is an ugly, grim movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bassett wrote and directed Kane - as well as the fantastic, and sadly unknown, Death Watch (2002).  The man has a knack for the macabre and ultraviolence (I wonder if he's a Warhammer fan).  There were one or two moments in the script I went, "Wait, what?" but that's mainly because I have this feeling elements were cut for release.  Cinematographer Dan Lausten (whose work includes Silent Hill and Brotherhood of the Wolf) did excellent work and the camerawork is smooth and free from palsy cam.  There's a great deal of texture and depth to the look of the film, a richness, that could have easily been ended up as another blue wash, flat, or muddy.  The action is allowed to take place in a static frame, with editing allowed to create a sense of frenzy.  Creature design was pretty bad ass as were the effects (at two points I stopped the movie and rewound the sequences for sheer awesome factor).

There are a couple of moments where my suspension of disbelief was jarred but those quickly dissipated.  Once or twice I rolled my eyes at the dialogue and my familiarity with the genre meant there weren't any huge surprises (though Bassett does manage to throw a couple of solid curve balls into his script).  Kane is a welcome addition to a weird genre/sub-genre that's been making a comeback in the last decade which include Black Death (2010) and Season  of the Witch (2011).  I wouldn't necessarily call it dark fantasy because these are historical action films with a horror/supernatural twist.  I prefer the European feel to these (though Season is an American film and Nick Cage is good in it) over most historical horror based in the US (usually based during or after the American Civil War a la Jonah Hex).  It's almost the European answer to the Weird Western.

Check out Solomon Kane if you get the chance.  While I don't think it's as rewatchable as a movie like The Thirteenth Warrior (1999) it's definitely worth checking out.  Just put the kids to bed first (there's no nudity but there's plenty of ultraviolence and a sequence that kind of gave me the willies).     

Friday, August 24, 2012

I think I just made a happy in my no-no place.

I'm a big fan of The Song of Ice and Fire aka HBO's Game of Thrones.  I read and reread the books back in the early/mid aughts (the ones that were published back then), though truth be told I was reticent to pick up the series.  A friend of mine basically badgered me into reading them in 2002 and I started reading Game of Thrones whilst waiting in line and waiting for The Two Towers to start (one of the last movies I saw at a midnight opening night).  Another friend, who I was seeing the movie with - not the one who badgered me into reading it but had read Game of Thrones - got annoyed with my annoyance at the prologue and first chapter.  "Just read the fucking book and give it a chance." she said after she grew tired of my whining about my preconceived notions of the book.  And then the movie started and Gandalf beat the shit out one of the older and fouler things that dwell in the dark places in the earth.

I picked the book up a few days later on the bus ride to work and ended up tearing through it.  The same happened with the second and third books.  Nearly a decade later HBO released Game of Thrones and people shit themselves nerd style over it.  I figured I'd wait until the first season was released to watch it.  It was good, actually quite good, but not good enough for me to shit my britches over - though Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister (and I've been a fan of Dinklage since I saw him in 03's The Station Agent) is brilliant.  But when the chips are down, for HBO serieseses I'm still a first season of Deadwood man (Jim Beaver's Whitney Ellsworth is one of my favorite characters of any movie or show).

I was working on another post (expect a lengthy post about modern Irish horror films sometime in the near future) when I was looking up one of my favorite actors, Ciaran Hinds for his role in The Eclipse (2009).  What do I see?  Mr. Hinds is going to be Mance fucking Rayder in season three of Game of Thrones.  Now, as many of you know, I don't fangirl easily.  I try very hard not to squee at anything except kittens (and even that is done in the privacy of my own home, most of the time).  But...sqeeeeee.

Like most of you GoT fans, book and show, I have my favorites (Brienne, Arya, Sandor, Varys) and Mance  rounds out my top five.  I thought they would have gone for Vladimir Kulich (though he'd be a perfect Magnar Thenn) or Mads Mikkelsen (though he'd be a perfect Rattleshirt).  But Hinds as Rayder makes for an excellent casting choice.  I didn't expect it but well played HBO, well played.

Now I'm gonna go draw more hearts on the picture I have of Hinds in my favorite actors shrine.  

Tom Waits - Sea of Love

Sea of Love (1989) dir Harold Becker

This was one of those movies that I remember knowing about as a kid (I was twelve when it came out) because it was one of those "grown up" movies from the late 80s.  It may sound crazy now but there seemed that during the 80s and early/mid 90s the American erotic thriller was a box office draw.  Sexy violence and violent sex, it was a modern interpretation of the classic American noir only with more T&A.   Body Heat (1981), The Big Easy (1986), Legal Eagles (1986), Angel Heart (1987), No Way Out (1987), Someone to Watch Over Me (1987), Fatal Attraction (1987), Stormy Monday (1988), Frantic (1988), Basic Instinct (1992) are some of the best examples.  These weren't straight-to-video Skinemax movies either.  These were big-budget (mostly) A-list actors movies and top-notch sultry screen vixens & femme fatales.  Frankly, these were movies that made me realize that naked chicks are pretty cool.  What?  Have you seen movies from when Melanie Griffith couldn't keep her clothes on?  

I hadn't seen Sea of Love since I saw it on VHS in the very early 90s.  It's on netflix streaming and I saw it on the roster and figured, "Yeah, what the fuck, Ellen Barkin's in it."  I'm not a fan of Pacino's caricature work since Scent of a Woman (1992) - though I love his work in the 70s - and I figured it would be campy and I might see Ellen Barkin naked (again).

Turns out, Sea of Love is actually a pretty solid movie from start to finish that isn't really that "steamy".  The story isn't that earth-shattering - kind of standard noir if you are familiar with the genre.  However, the script and the acting are fucking awesome.  Pacino's haggard Detective Frank Keller of the NYPD is a very flawed yet natural character.  The aging cop thing is a trope I know but he makes it work.  John Goodman delivers an excellent performance as Detective Sherman, Keller's friend and cohort.  Pacino and Goodman - and their fellows - have a great on-screen rapport.  Their dialogue is natural, the jibes are easy and realistically filthy (and hilarious).  It's not forced and just from the comfort the actors seem to have with one another, well it creates an empathy with the viewer.

Pacino and Barkin's onscreen chemistry is, I'm not sure how explain it.  It made me uncomfortable.  They're both broken people.  They've been ridden hard emotionally and put away wet.  But they have an onscreen connection that reminded me of Rourke and Dunaway in Barfly (1987) - though not quite as boozeaholly destrucovision.  It's like the sum of broken parts equal a whole.  

The film ends on an up-note but Tom Wait's cover of "Sea of Love" during the closing credits really struck home my previous point (I was stunned to find a Tom Waits song I hadn't heard before from this era and was equally surprised that no one had told me he had done this version).  Sea of Love isn't as salacious or sensational as its peers but comes across less as a noir than a character study.  It certainly was a far superior character study than Drive.  Sea of Love is a movie you have to be in the mood for and I'm not sure if it'll translate for a younger audience (I don't mean this is a negative way but I feel a lot more connection with the characters now than I did when I first saw it) used to a slicker/more modern style of film.  That being said, it's definitely worth watching - if only for the Pacino/Goodman scenes.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Multiple movie reviews in one post! OH YEAH!

I watched three movies yesterday, two worth reviewing and one not really worth reviewing but I figured I'd might as well so down to brass tacks:

The Hunger Games (2012) dir. Gary Ross

This is one of those movie/book phenomenons I end up seeing as a rental just to see what the hype was about (hell I watched the first Twilight for this reason as well as other hyped movies).  Additionally I was interested in seeing how the protagonist was portrayed.  I had only seen one trailer before the movie came out and based on that alone I had a pretty good idea of what the movie was about.  I wasn't expecting much since I had written it off as an American girl power Battle Royale-lite.  I wasn't that far off in my expectations but what surprised me is that while The Hunger Games is a girl power BR-lite on the surface, there were some elements to the film that surprised me.  It also surprised me that I actually began to care about some of the characters (to the point where I'm actually curious to read the book) and things that were alluded to the film that obviously played a more important role in the book.   What surprised me the most was, in retrospect, it is not simply a "girl power" movie, though it could be viewed as such, superficially.  Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) strikes me as less of female character and more of an everyman (with superior survival skills) and for me this was an interesting, and refreshing, approach.  I found myself liking her character more because she was just herself and the filmmakers didn't use her as a soapbox or a social ills hammer to bludgeon you with.  The same can be said for the side characters (some of which are minimally developed but still made for engaging players).  I also enjoyed how the characters were shown to rely on their natural strengths (mentally and physically) during the short training sequences and in the ensuing combat.  The characters in the movie sold me more than did the story itself.

As a fan of dystopian literature and films, I found the story to be predictable (a more accurate description would be telegraphed), lacking tension, with some interesting but under-developed themes.  This came of a knowledge of the genre and having seen the trailer.  The world in which they live was interesting but the film failed to really cement that part of the story (which I'm sure the book does a better job of).  Something something totalitarian regime something something screw the poor people something something wait, where's the "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?" moment?  Not that the movie necessarily required such exposition but as a dystopian junkie I'm a huge nerd for the twisted reality created (e.g. 1984, Logan's Run, Battle Royale, We, etc.).  I got what they were going for but I wasn't particularly sold.  I found the lack of tension to be disappointing.  As much as I like Katniss and her peers, I never felt she was ever in danger (I knew there were several more books and the movie in the first in a series).  I knew which characters were going to get snuffed and how quickly by their amount of (or lack of) screen time.  In pursuit/survival films (the good ones) the tension needs to be turned up to 11 and remain there even during requisite moments of rest and/or humor.  I don't feel that the lack of tension is because of my age or movie-going experience.  There are a number of PG/PG-13 movies I saw when I was younger that when I rewatch I still get a, "INDY, LOOK OUT!" feeling no matter how many times I see it.  While I was engaged while viewing The Hunger Games, it failed to suspend my disbelief and really get into the movie.  At one point, I realized this and it created a sense of disappointment I couldn't shake.

From a technical standpoint the movie was solid, the effects were well done, the violence and action were clinical (not necessarily a bad thing for a movie that was marketed to a younger audience), and costuming and color palettes were standard but aesthetically engaging (washed out blues and earth tones for poor schlubs and garish, nearly cartoonish colors for the wealthy and indolent). A major flaw though was the painful camera handling, especially during the first half of the film.  During action sequences the shaky cam wasn't terribly apparent but for a good number of static shots the camera jiggled (e.g. a shot of a man sitting, a domestic scene, a number of non-FPS crowd shots).  I realize this is a very common complaint in my reviews but damn it, just put the damn camera on a tripod or a pile of phone books.

In the end I enjoyed The Hunger Games enough to want to pick up the book and look forward to the next movie installment.  This time though I'll avoid trailers, teasers, spoilers, and have a (relatively) unbiased watching experience.

Despicable Me (2010) dir Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud

I had avoided this movie because I frankly am not a fan of Steve Carrell.  I just don't find his brand of humor humorous (at least how it's portrayed in the scant number of movies I've seen him in and no, I don't like The Office).  I prefer absurdist over his brand of awkward, uncomfortable humor (though I find deadpan comedians brilliant).  I was in the mood for an animated feature though and Despicable Me was one of the few I hadn't seen.  As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of animated features.  They bring out the little kid in me and in all honesty, the treacly sentimentality of a majority of them make me cry (Oh, that's funny?  When's the last time you didn't cry while watching Up or a Pixar movie?  I bet I make you get all misty just by saying Toy Story 3).

Despicable Me is a well done, predictable, yet an entertaining and well crafted movie.  Carell and cast's voice work were excellent (once I stopped thinking, "Wow, Carell is doing a really good job.").  The tried and true (well-worn) story of a grumpy bastard who learns to love is one of my favorites.  Shut up.  What I really enjoyed about Despicable were the animation and the humor.  The animation because it had a very European touch and the humor for the same reason.  This is one of the few animated features I've seen in quite sometime where the jokes actually made me laugh hearty peals of laughter (there were one or two I had to rewind).  The "Ah!  Curse you tiny toilet!" made me laugh so hard I nearly peed and made Moxie look at me like I had gone batty.

Yeah, it was fun and cute and I had a good time.  If you haven't seen it then I suggest it wholeheartedly.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010) dir Zack Snyder

I saw a trailer for this before the abysmal Airbender movie and was momentarily interested until I found out it was a 3D movie (3D delenda est).  I had completely forgotten about this movie until I was poking around for another animated movie to watch after Despicable Me.  I figured, what the hell, and rented it.  Now, I'm not a Zach Snyder fan.  I thought 300 was poop infused with crap and Sucker Punch was entertaining as a piece of cosplay wank/watch after smoking a bunch of reefer clunker.  Watchmen was just awful.  His Dawn of the Dead was pretty good and though I'm all out of patience for zombie flicks, I'd rewatch it.

Ga'Hoole is an excellent kids' fantasy movie.  Predictable (making it a Monday night predictability triple feature) but actually kind of awesome.  Based on Kathryn Lasky's book(s?) this movie falls solidly into my "Was that so hard?" category.  It's a strange category I have for movies that are genre pieces that hit all the right notes and are just well-crafted works.  I may know exactly what's going on and be able to tell you the plot devices and character archetypes before I even see the movie but when I watch it, all that goes out the window and I just enjoy myself.  Few movies are in this category but the ones that are I will actually watch again and again (Antoine Fuqua's Shooter is a prime example - it's a good movie and yes I love Marky Mark as much as I love kittens and Skittles).

I enjoyed myself from start to finish.  The animation is amazing, even by today's standards.  The voice acting is superb, genuinely great (and I had to laugh at one point because it reminded me of late 20th Century fantasy where everyone was British/Aussie/Kiwi because nothing says high fantasy like a non-American accent).  

It's not without it's faults - the songs are puke inducing and James Newton Howard's score is lacklustre at best (though, I'm not a fan of his compositions).  There were several times I noticed where the movie was supposed to be 3D and some overlong visual sequences that, while very pretty, made me look at my watch.  Apparently the movie distills three books into one feature and there were points where I could see that.  Some characters were briefly on screen and just stepping stones in story progression.

All in all I'd put it on regularly if I owned it, as a cleaning day movie.  Plus Hugo Weaving has such a sexy voice.    

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Essential Tony Scott

In the wake of Tony Scott's tragic suicide on Sunday afternoon, websites and news outlets have been flooding the internet and airwaves with their pre-planned obits that reference Scott's most mainstream recognizable films; such as "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder". While these films deserve their place in the pantheon of great movies, the obits that reference them seem to be missing the subversive and radical genius of Tony Scott's filmography.

Scott was a master of on-screen violence, stylistic action, and radical techniques in lighting, editing, and sound. Heralding only "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder" fails to pay tribute to what an unmitigated bad-ass Tony Scott really was behind the camera. His best works present a sarcastic, outsider attitude in reaction to a world that is as frequently violent and chaotic as it is rule-constricted and oppressive.

In honor of the passing of this true master film-maker, I present this alternative list of the essential works of Tony Scott.

5. Domino (2005) - A violent orgy of attitude and style-overload. Many critics consider this to be the one where Tony Scott went too far, but I think it was the ultimate expression of his audio/visual inner-self. I'm glad the old dog got it out of his system before it was too late.

4. Man on Fire (2004) - In the end, this might be considered Tony Scott's best film. It contained an emotional center that many of his other films are often accused of lacking; while also managing to contain a level of intense violence that made his previous decade's worth of on-screen viscera (almost) pale in comparison.

3. Crimson Tide (1995) - Along with the rest of the world, I thought that after "The Hunt For Red October" there simply could not be another high caliber submarine movie. Not only did Tony Scott prove us all wrong with this one, he also established his long collaborative relationship with Denzel Washington, and brilliantly translated the oft-independent-film "men trapped in a tense situation" genre to big budget film-making.

2. True Romance (1993) - There are not enough adjectives or hyperbolic phrases in my vocabulary to do this masterpiece justice. The fact that this movie exists outside of my wildest imagination and actually inhabits cherished shelf space in the collection of every movie geek worth their salt is the ultimate testament to Tony Scott's brilliance as a film-maker. This is a must see, must own movie and deserves to be counted among the very best films of the 1990's.

1. The Last Boy Scout (1991) - The last great 80's action movie (even though it was made in the 90's); this is by far my favorite Tony Scott film. Its sublime dialogue, ridiculous plot, unearthly lighting, and masterful direction make it pound-for-pound one of the most entertaining movies ever made. The way Tony Scott filmed and edited the action/dialogue interplay in this movie should be studied. The BMW/Limo, "Bom means fuck you in Polish" sequence alone is worth the price of admission and watching it should earn you at least 3 credits in film school. (Unfortunately, that scene is not on Youtube, so you'll have to settle for this ingenius intro to our anti-hero.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Batman: Arkham City

Back in '09 I wrote a review for Batman: Arkham Asylum, which except for a few flaws, was an excellent game.  I had been putting off Arkham City (2011) for the simple reason I couldn't justify spending sixty bucks on a new game when I knew the GOTY edition would come out in a year.

I was expecting more of the same, which wouldn't be a bad thing considering the high quality of Asylum, but while it's the same it's also better.  Primarily because Arkham City is so damn big and impressive and fucking awesome looking.  The footprint might not seem as big as Asylum's but there are so many nooks and crannies and layers to explore that the place is massive.  There's a startling level of intricacy in the design and the graphics engine keeps up nicely (though it'd probably perform better on a PC with a GTX 580).  There have been times where I've found something new, even in an area I've traveled across numerous times (which you will do quite a bit during missions and tracking down hidden items).

The story is solid so far, kind of standard Batman-y stuff, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning to their voice roles.  My main thrill though are all the side missions which show a remarkable amount of creativity and variation.  Side missions are one of my favorite things about games and I like how Asylum spreads them out.  Several of them are spaced out as the main story progresses so you can't just tear through the sides and be done with them.  One was set up over a number of areas I couldn't access early in the game for one reason or another.  I like this approach since in other games it's remarkably easy to buff your character early on just by devouring sides and then moonstomping the main story (a problem I've encountered with most recent popular RPGs).  It's an intelligent piece of game design that I hope is picked up by others.

I also dig the Catwoman side story and the way  it's woven into the main.  Yeah, I know, Catwoman blah blah blah, exploitation,  blah blah blah but you know what?  She's hot and I like her attitude.  Her personality isn't Michelle Pfeiffer looney-toons, more like a punk rock sex kitten.  Her gameplay style is a nice change of pace from Batman's burly brawly and tracking down her specific hidden items definitely has stretched out game time.  She wouldn't make for a full game on her own, though it's possible with more stealth and a focus on the top level cat burglar missions.

The Riddler hidden items, puzzles, and riddles kind of make the game for me (and besides side missions have been what I've been spending most of my time doing).  Some of the puzzles are based on gear (can't be completed until you have x), some are timed (annoying at best), and some make me want to punch kittens.  There's a few which I won't be able to complete until I am having an "A game" kind of day.  One cool design thing they added is being able to track down Riddler goons which show up at random as you cross the city.  If you successfully interrogate the goon it shows the rough location of hidden items on the map.  You can also scan hidden objects to return to at a later date.  Good idea Rocksteady!  High five!  Actually, wicked awesome idea!

I'm only about halfway through the game and  have put in roughly 20+ hours and expect to put in another twenty.  Final review pending.  Now, I'm gonna go batwhomp some goons.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trust in your armor but remember...

"But when a stronger man than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils." - Luke 11:22 King James Bible

Since I've been on vacation I've been putting an absurd amount of time in EVE - even by my standards - but most of my efforts have been leaning towards perfecting drone and armor skills.  Gameplay has consisted of transport runs, spending a large amount of time docked, trading and making "Rules of Acquisition" jokes in my head, and carebearing the living shit out of L4 missions.

When on combat missions I try to adhere to a checklist that I've developed over the last few months.  Simple stuff really:

  • always have an escape plan, preferably more than one 
  • align, align, align
  • only commit to combat when I have tactical advantage
    • I tend to rely on range and speed.  With my current skills and gear I have an effective combat range of over 120km (which puts me well out of range of 75% of the NPCs I come across) and can juice my Ishtar up to 599m/s
    • I only "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!" aka launch attack drones when I have tanked the aggro.  No sense in letting my expensive drones get whomped on for no reason.
  • I still strongly adhere to my own rule of "cap stability above all else".  This is part of the reason I lean towards a passive armor tank.  If I can run all the equipment I have without having to run out of juice or keeping an eye on cap during combat.
  • Minimize risk, maximize reward.  Rule of Acquisition #125 "You can't make a deal if you're dead."  Screw that "Fortune favors the bold" malarkey.
  • Never go AFK when you're undocked.  Okay, I'll take a pee or grab a beer while in warp.  Sometimes.
  • "The problem isn't that you're paranoid.  It's that you're not paranoid enough."
  • Never rely on gear when skills would suit you better.
This last maxim has been on my mind lately since I nearly lost an Ishtar during a mission.  As an armor tanker (can't always rely on speed and range when a half dozen battleships spawn within twenty-five klicks) I often say a well-worn Warhammer 40K line, "Look to your battlegear and it will protect you, as your armour guards your life."  If you think that's dorky you should hear me recite the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear when I'm running cargo through lowsec or in a situation like this:

"I will not fear.  Fear is the mind-killer."
Granted, that engagement wasn't that bad since I had tactical control of the situation but the unknown can always happen (a la "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.")  The engagement I almost lost my favorite ship in involved a large number of frigates and sentry towers that spawned less than five klicks from my position.  I was careless and on the back-foot and for a split second of blind panic I saw my armor melt under withering fire and get into deep structure before my warp drive engaged, whisking me to the closest station.  Now before you EVE players take me to task for not consulting eve-survival.org first, I prefer not to use that site because I feel it takes a large element of risk out of missions.  I enjoy not exactly knowing what I'm heading into (caveat: I usually decline Amarr missions simply because the risk is too high for my tastes) and relying on myself to keep my ship in one piece.  Hell, sometimes I'll scout a site with a shuttle first (especially if I can't come in at range).  It's part of the fun for me.

So why my new concern about battlegear and having to rework some of  my approaches to combat?  Primarily because of my near loss but secondly because I recently broke down and purchased a Dominix.  She's actually not as ugly as I thought she was gonna be but she handles like a box of turds with four broken shopping cart wheels.  If I had been in the Domi when I got short-range jumped I would have lost an expensive ship.  She just doesn't handle well and her speed is garbage.  However, she's a monster tank.  I've read some shop talk about how tough she is and can weather a huge amount of punishment.  That being said, I don't trust her as my battlegear.  Then again, I've been truckin around in a HAC for at least six months and feel really comfortable in cruisers and maybe it's time to shake myself up and try something new.

Another downside to the Domi, and a core issue that's keeping me from moving to the BS, is the painful (nearly pathetic) target lock time she has - against all ships.  It must be similar to the differences between the Enterprise and the Defiant.  Frankly, the Ishtar is a far superior drone boat, considering bonuses, speed, smaller signature, base resistances suck, etc. etc. etc.  However, I like taking the Domi out for a spin because she's such a big moosey and she can really be a jack of all trades.  She can effectively tank while drones dish out the DPS and run salvage in combat.  Not the capabilities of a Marauder but still...

I'm continuing work on my Domi and if I get her to where I feel I trust her I'll post a fit here.  Hope all of you are well.  Fly safe.  o7

Purple Passion Potatoes from Tasteful Selections - product test

I was at the grocery store with my dear friend amazonbutterfly yesterday just kind of boppin around and hanging out and trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  I had remembered that I had seen some small bags of "fancy" potatoes the day before two-for-five.  We figured, "Why not?" it can't be worse than that one time we made the food that shall not be spoken of (not everything is a winner).  I bought one bag of "Purple Passion Potatoes" and one of a "Summer Medley".  We went back to the Haven and I took my spot in the kitchen and got to work.

The purple potatoes were small - roughly 1" diameter - but I decided to cut them half while I put a pot of water on the boil.  I have to say I was very pleasing and surprised by these potatoes.  The interior was a deep indigo color with a firm (but not mealy) texture.  We were kind of startled by the color, actually - in a good way.  When the water got to a boil I threw in all the potatoes and set the timer for ten minutes.  Then I drained them, then browned them up in about a quarter stick of good Vermont butter and a solid amount of garlic and sea salt.  I'm not sure how I would describe the flavor (the bag says "slightly sweet, yet nutty") but I know I liked it.  I eat a fair amount of potatoes - mainly reds - and these purples were just different enough to make me go, "Huh, that's tasty."  The two main draws for me were the quality and visual aspects/potential of them.  Normally I grump a little at pre-cleaned, neatly packaged potatoes but these were pretty uniformly sized and didn't require the schlep to Mordor that accompanies cleaning and poking with a paring knife most potatoes do.  Plus, including prep (cutting them in half), it only took about fifteen, twenty minutes.  I'd love to do these mashed - I think the color and texture would make for a serious wow factor.

The company that harvests and distributes them - Tasteful Selections - is an agribusiness I hadn't heard of before but after sampling their potatoes and their website, I kind of really dig them.  I hope my Kroger's keeps carrying them.

I plan to roast the "Summer Medley" and will post about the results when there are results to post.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In The Electric Mist (2009) dir Bertrand Tavernier

I ended up watching this movie on a fluke, mostly because it had Tommy Lee Jones and John Goodman on the cover.  I'm glad I did.

Turns out, though this was a straight to DVD, that it was an adaptation of James Lee Burke novel and had an excellent cast, a brilliant score by Marco Beltrami (whose work I had been doubting since he got big), and very solid camera work.

It makes sense that In The Electric Mist wasn't a theater film.  Frankly, it almost wouldn't work in the theater - at least in the way theater films are now.  It really is, as Burke's novels are; a sultry, filthy, coon ass noir film.  And it ain't The Big Easy (1986) - though that is an excellent example of American 80s erotic thriller.

Jone's Dave Robicheaux does service to the books.  Then again, it's hard not link Mr. Jones with tired vigilance and justice these days.  However, he surprised me with his level of honest violence (even after The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada - which is one of the best fuckin movies I have ever seen).  Honest violence may sound trite, what with me bein' a pacifist and all, but sometimes people need to have an ass-kicking.  There's probably something smarter I could say here...

I don't feel that it is John Goodman's best role (I reserve that for Barton Fink), in fact he could have played more the villain, but then again, the story wasn't about that.

Well worth watching, if you have the patience.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Holy batshit Fatman! A post!

Hey kids, yeah it's been a bit since the  last post but the last few weeks have been slow and mainly I've simply been getting drunk whilst playing EVE and then watching DS9.

HOWEVER - HYR now has a new writer, a friend of mine who is a very nice lady person (and her husband who is a very nice man person might post here, hopefully, he's kind of fucking hilarious).  She's been writing reviews on her facebook and since I don't see new movies in the theater and she's a good writer and knows a solid deal about the cinema, I figured I'd offer her a spot here.  Plus, it would give you folks something to read and a break of my usual shenanigans.

Welcome aboard.  Now grab a shovel and get to work.

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