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One Of God's Own Prototypes
Push the envelope. Watch it bend.
I barely saw enough new movies this year to do a proper Top 10 list, but I did see more than 10 movies I liked, so here's my list. I know a couple of these are technically 2012 films, but I didn't see them until early 2013 and I'm counting them, goddammit. EDIT: And even as I say this, I go back and look and, hey, Zero Dark Thirty is on last year's list. I assume because I waited until February to do a list last year. Sigh. Oh well, fuck it, not changing and not apologizing!!!!!

I only went to the theater 25 times all of 2013. That is really depressing me. I have yet to go to a single movie in a theater so far in 2014, as well. Also, very depressing but, you know... I got shit to do.

Total # of movies to date: 181
Total # of movies seen in a theater: 25
Total # of movies seen elsewhere: 156
Total # of different movies, cutting out repeat viewings: 174
Total # of movies seen for the first time: 147

Every one of these is down from the previous year, whose totals were also down from the year before that. Like I said, shit to do.

So, this list is... sad. Maybe not "sad" because there are a few great movies on here, but at this point I'm only even bothering to do one so I can do the second list and because I will be even more saddened if I didn't do one. I'm not going to write about these, I'm saving that for the second list because I actually feel good about that one. So here goes:

10) Stoker
9) Ender's Game
8) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
7) Argo
6) Lesson Of The Evil
5) The Grandmaster
4) Prisoners
3) The Hunt
2) Zero Dark Thirty
1) Pacific Rim

The second list is my Top 10 movies I saw for the first time this year, regardless of release date, and like I said I feel much better about that one.Collapse )Ok, I feel better.


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I know I'm not around anymore, but I feel like this should be documented somewhere.

Haven't had anywhere near enough time to spend listening to music as I'd like, I've barely listened to a lot of stuff I picked up this year, but the #1 album of the year for me is easily:

Chelsea Wolfe's "Pain Is Beauty". It's the easiest decision since the last time PJ Harvey released an album. :)

The rest of my top 10, in no particular order:

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
Skinny Puppy - Weapon
Ben Frost - Black Marrow
Matt Elliot - Only Myocardial Infarction Can Break Your Heart
Thought Forms - Ghost Mountain
Hans Zimmer - Man Of Steel Soundtrack
Download - LingAM
Ludovico Einaudi - In A Time Lapse
Mogwai - Les Revenants

Honorable mention:

Zola Jesus - Versions
Giles Corey - Hinterkaifeck
Autechre - Exai
Russian Circles - Memorial
Pelican - Forever Becoming
Tim Hecker - Virgins
Jesu - Every Day I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came
Rachel Grimes - Compound Leaves
Lustmord - The Word As Power

I guess I got through more than I had thought. Still lots of shit I didn't even get to listen to yet.

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I've been keeping track of every single movie I watch on my LJ since 2005. Each movie gets a rating and a comment if I feel like commenting on it, and this entry gets bookmarked and I come back and edit it every time I watch a movie. I include a link to each film's IMDB page whenever possible.

* = first time seeing

Movies seen in a theater
1. The Lego Movie* - 7/10
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier* - 8/10
3. Neighbors* - 8/10
4. Godzilla* - 9/10
5. Cold In July* - 9/10
6. 22 Jump Street* - 8/10
7. Edge Of Tomorrow* - 8/10
8. SnowPiercer* - 8/10
9. Chef* - 8/10
10. Guardians Of The Galaxy* - 9/10
11. Guardians Of The Galaxy - 9/10
12. Guardians Of The Galaxy - 9/10

Movies seen elsewhere
1. The Skin I Live In* - 8/10
2. The Lady* - 7/10
3. Spider Baby* - 7/10
4. Smashed* - 8/10
Solid performances.
5. Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable - 9/10
6. This Is 40* - 8/10
7. Billion Dollar Brain* - 8/10
8. This Is The End* - 8/10
9. Female Convict Scorpion: Grudge Song - 8/10
10. Silver Linings Playbook* - 8.5/10
11. Iron Man 3 - 8/10
12. Warm Bodies* - 6/10
13. Chimpanzee* - 7/10
14. Get Carter - 9/10
15. Oblivion* - 7/10
16. Belle De Jour* - 8/10
17. Synechdoche, New York - 9/10
18. Stake Land* - 8/10
19. Pacific Rim - 9/10
20. Mimic* - 7/10
21. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa* - 7/10
Not as funny as I'd been expecting.
22. Rust And Bone* - 8/10
23. Grizzly Man* - 8/10
24. 50/50 - 8/10
25. Resolution* - 8/10
26. Valhalla Rising - 9/10
27. Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky* - 7/10
28. Darkman - 7/10
29. Excision* - 9/10
30. Duel* - 7/10
31. High Kick Girl* - 6/10
32. Byzantium* - 8/10
33. Jack The Giant Slayer* - 7/10
34. Robin Hood - 8/10
So much nostalgia.
35. The Jungle Book - 7/10
36. Now You See Me* - 6/10
37. Frozen* - 7/10
38. The Place Beyond The Pines* - 7/10
39. Touch Of Evil* - 8/10
40. Trance* - 8/10
41. Fast & Furious 6* - 6/10
42. Strait-Jacket* - 6/10
43. Un Flic* - 7/10
44. R.I.P.D.* - 6/10
45. Manhunter* - 7/10
46. Kick-Ass 2* - 6/10
47. The Naked Kiss* - 7/10
48. Stray Cat Rock: Beat '71* - 6/10
49. A Bridge Too Far* - 7/10
50. Red 2* - 7/10
51. Possession - 9/10
52. The Big Lebowski - 10/10
53. There Will Be Blood - 10/10
54. Enemy Of The State* - 7/10
55. 2 Guns* - 7/10
56. The Phantom Carriage* - 8/10
57. Only The Lonely* - 7/10
58. The Way, Way Back* - 8/10
59. Boy* - 7/10
60. The Housemaid* - 7/10
61. Kotoko* - 8/10
62. Broken Oath* - 8/10
63. Blind Woman's Curse - 7/10
64. The Ladykillers* - 7/10
65. Under The Skin* - 9/10
66. Blind Woman's Curse - 7/10
Watched with commentary by Jasper Sharp.
67. Batman: Under The Red Hood* - 8/10
68. Godzilla: Final Wars* - 8/10
69. Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood - 7/10
70. Midway* - 7/10
71. Black Mama White Mama* - 7/10
72. Pain & Gain* - 8/10
73. The Raid 2* - 9/10
74. Black Sunday* - 8/10
75. Confessions - 10/10

Total # of movies to date: 87
Total # of different movies: 84
Total # of movies seen for the first time: 67


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Here we are, a full week into February and I still have not done any of my top lists for last year. I considered just not bothering, but decided against it. These lists are the kind of thing I like coming back to years later and re-reading, plus it gives me something to write about while I have the time, AND I actually really want to do a list of favorite movies I saw for the first time in 2012 that weren't released in 2012, but I don't feel right doing that without a list of ones that were. So here we are.

As has been the case the last couple of years, I didn't get to see anywhere near as many new movies as I wanted to. I'm sure there are a ton of great flicks that came and went this year without my having seen or even noticing them. This is one reason why I thought about not doing this this year. I feel that my top 10 is woefully lacking. I've seen exactly TWO of the films up for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year and even though I have good reason for it, it's still slightly embarrassing to me. In addition to that, there is not a single film on my list that didn't get a wide theatrical release in the U.S., which is even more embarrassing. On the slip side of that, though, I'm pretty sure I watched way more pre-1970 films in 2012 than I have ever in my lifetime, thanks to the Turner Classic Movies channel finally being available in HD through my satellite provider. I love that channel to death.


Ever since 2005, I've been keeping a list of every movie I watch every year. It makes this sort of thing a lot easier and it's interesting to me to look at the numbers afterward. This year's stats:

Total # of movies to date: 198
Total # of movies seen in a theater: 36
Total # of movies seen elsewhere: 164
Total # of different movies, cutting out repeat viewings: 192
Total # of movies seen for the first time: 157

Every single one of these categories dropped from last year. Oh well.

I'm going with 4 honorable mentions this year, as well. Just because I want to.

Onward.Collapse )


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I don't care what the reviews say. When I next have an opportunity, I'm going to go and see The Last Stand.

Not because I particularly care to see Arnold Schwarzenegger back on the big screen. Not because I have any real interest in the supporting cast, although Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Jamie Alexander and Luis Guzman are all excellent casting decisions. I don't even want to see it because it looks like loud, stupid, violent fun, which is one of my favorite film genres.

Nope, I want to see it very badly for one reason and one reason only:

Kim Jee-woon is a favorite. This is his American film debut, and, if this past week's box office numbers are anything to gauge it by, this film needs all the help it can get.

If someone were to say to me that Kim Jee-woon was the best director in Korea right now, I would have a very hard time arguing the point. I've seen every single feature length film he's produced up to this point and I would describe every single one of them with a synonym for good. His last few, I would upgrade to synonyms for great and there are a couple that I would almost even be willing to look up words to give the impression I thought the film was perfect or amazing.

Kim, like many excellent foreign film directors, is criminally under-known in the US, even amongst foreign film fans and even despite those fans being familiar with some of his films.

Any of these look familiar? Three of them have actually gotten limited theatrical release in the U.S. and by all accounts did fairly well. Those three, I Saw The Devil, A Tale Of Two Sisters and The Good, The Bad, The Weird are also great fucking movies. Two of them, The Quiet Family and The Foul King have been released on DVD out here. The last one, A Bittersweet Life, though, has not seen any time in this country beyond festival screenings. Which is a damn shame because it's my favorite of his films. Thankfully, I have an all-region DVD player.

Let's do a quick Kim Jee-Woon retrospective.Collapse )

Kim Jee-woon isn't the only extremely talented South Korean director making his Hollywood debut this year, though, as two other directors who would likely come up in any argument about the greatest director in South Korea are doing the same. Strangely, Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho are both crossing over this year, as well. As far as I know, this is not a planned incursion by the cream of the South Korean crop into the U.S. film market, but hopefully it'll be a successful one.

In March, Park Chan-wook's Stoker comes out.

I briefly mentioned being excited for this before, but I'm not sure I was able to properly convey my level of anticipation for this at the time. Park Chan-wook is my favorite director. His Vengeance trilogy of Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance stand as some of my favorites of all time. I would, in fact, place Lady Vengeance in the #2 slot on that list. Of all movies, of all time. And Oldboy would not be far behind.

I was pretty obsessed with Lady Vengeance when it came out. If you were around LJ at the time, you may recall my incessant rambling about it and how much I loved it, even before I'd seen it. I collected all the pictures I could find on the internet, I named the soundtrack my favorite album of whichever year I got it (also before I'd seen the movie) and during it's two week run in LA and Irvine, I saw the movie 12 times. Yep, 12. I feel pretty strongly about it.

The full length films Park has made since the trilogy, I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK and Thirst have also been very enjoyable for me, but still have not quite reached the same level. At this point, I'm not sure where my expectations for Stoker should be. It just made it's debut at Sundance and reviews I've come across were somewhat mixed, despite it's 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I do expect to love it, I'm just not sure how much. Doesn't hurt that it has a score by Clint Mansell and stars Mia Wasikowska who I've been a fan of for a while now.

And later on in 2013, we should be seeing Bong Joon-ho's debut, Snowpiercer.

Look at that cast! As far as I know, there isn't a set release date yet, the film is in post-production now, and the first images of production are just starting to come out, so it might be a little while before it hits. Considering Bong's resume, though, of Memories Of Murder, The Host, Mother and Barking Dogs Never Bite this is yet another one that I can see no reason not to expect great things from.

It's based on a French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige, which has not been translated into English to the best of my knowledge.

So... it's a good time to be a fan of Korean cinema in the United States. I don't expect any of these films will start a trend of Asian, or even foreign, directors coming over here to make movies any more than they already do, but I sincerely hope that they might at least buck the trend of those directors coming over and making below average films. I guess we'll see.

In the meantime, I am ready to judge for myself when I get a chance to see The Last Stand. It's not a project I would have chosen for Kim Jee-woon myself, but being familiar with his work to date, I trust him to make it worth my while.


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I do this every year and it seems like this would be a bad time to break tradition. Besides, I've been busy and neglectful of my LJ of late.

2012 Year In ReviewCollapse )


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I've been keeping track of every single movie I watch on my LJ since 2005. Each movie gets a rating and a comment if I feel like commenting on it, and this entry gets bookmarked and I come back and edit it every time I watch a movie. I include a link to each film's IMDB page whenever possible.

* = first time seeing

Movies seen in a theater
1. Django Unchained - 9/10
2. Zero Dark Thirty* - 9/10
3. The Last Stand* - 8/10
4. Argo* - 8/10
5. Oz The Great And Powerful* - 7/10
6. Stoker* - 8/10
7. Admission* - 8/10
8. Superman: Unbound* - 6/10
9. Lego Batman: The Movie* - 7/10
10. The Lords Of Salem* - 7/10
11. Iron Man 3* - 8/10
12. Star Trek Into Darkness* - 8/10
13. Man Of Steel* - 7/10
14. Monsters Univeristy* - 8/10
15. Pacific Rim* - 9/10
16. Pacific Rim - 10/10
3D IMAX. Amazing.
17. Pacific Rim - 10/10
Had to do IMAX again.
18. The Hunt* - 9/10
19. The World's End* - 8/10
20. The Grandmaster* - 8/10
21. Prisoners* - 9/10
22. Thor: The Dark World* - 7/10
23. Ender's Game* - 8/10
24. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues* - 8/10
25. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug* - 7/10

Movies seen elsewhere
1. The Samaritan* - 7/10
Nothing special, but solid.
2. Assault! Jack The Ripper* - 7/10
3. The Erotic Empire* - 8/10
Short documentary about Nikkatsu's roman porno films.
4. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams* - 8/10
5. Bridesmaids - 9/10
6. Pulp Fiction - 9/10
7. The Sitter* - 7/10
8. Fast Five* - 6/10
9. The Witches* - 7/10
10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy* - 7/10
Good, but hard to follow.
11. The Life Of Oharu* - 9/10
12. Green Lantern* - 6/10
13. Bob Le Flambeur* - 7/10
14. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows* - 8/10
15. The Hidden Fortress* - 8/10
16. The Wild Bunch* - 8/10
17. Navajo Joe* - 7/10
18. Night Of The Creeps* - 7/10
19. Shanghai* - 8/10
20. The Woman In Black* - 8/10
21. Joe Kidd* - 7/10
22. Slap Shot - 8/10
23. The Baby* - 7/10
24. Bullitt* - 8/10
25. Jane Austen's Mafia!* - 6/10
26. Withnail & I* - 8/10
27. Vengeance* - 7/10
28. Badlands* - 8/10
29. Taxi Driver - 9/10
30. 3:10 To Yuma* - 9/10
The original. Great movie.
31. Rushmore* - 7/10
32. Trainspotting - 9/10
33. Dogma - 7/10
34. Wreck-It Ralph - 8/10
35. Friday Foster* - 6/10
36. Sheba, Baby* - 7/10
37. Beautiful Girls* - 7/10
38. Grand Prix* - 7/10
39. Back To The Future Part III - 8/10
40. High Noon* - 9/10
The best pre-Clint Eastwood western I've ever seen.
41. Burden Of Dreams* - 8/10
42. Zero Dark Thirty - 9/10
43. Justice League: The New Frontier* - 7/10
The book was so much better!
44. The Duellists* - 8/10
Very nicely shot.
45. The Five-Year Engagement* - 7/10
46. The Matrix - 9/10
47. Collateral - 9/10
48. Alfie* - 8/10
49. Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker* - 8/10
50. Blood And Bone* - 8/10
51. Safe House* - 7/10
A bad movie elevated slightly by its performances.
52. Sleuth* - 8/10
53. Strange Circus* - 8/10
54. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel* - 8/10
55. Going To Pieces: The Rise And Fall Of The Slasher Film* - 7/10
56. The Last Days Of Disco* - 7/10
57. Thief* - 8/10
58. Wise Blood* - 7/10
59. The Sadist* - 7/10
60. Love Exposure* - 10/10
61. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc* - 10/10
62. Cinema Paradiso* - 8/10
63. Yakuza: Like A Dragon* - 7/10
64. Late Spring* - 8/10
65. Sword of The Beast* - 8/10
66. Aswang* - 7/10
67. Hick* - 7/10
68. Heavyweights* - 6/10
69. The Yakuza* - 8/10
70. Bloodsport* - 6/10
71. The Virgin Spring* - 8/10
72. The Campaign* - 7/10
73. Battleship* - 6/10
74. Brave* - 8/10
75. Premium Rush* - 8/10
76. Prince Of Darkness* - 8/10
77. Paths Of Glory* - 9/10
78. Lady Snowblood - 10/10
79. American Mary* - 7/10
80. Calendar Girls* - 7/10
81. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels* - 7/10
82. The Revenant* - 8/10
83. Back The Future Part II - 8/10
84. Mildred Pierce* - 7/10
85. A Separation* - 8/10
86. Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead - 7/10
87. Rafureshia* - 6/10
88. Repo Man - 8/10
89. Zoolander* - 7/10
90. Pusher* - 8/10
91. Pusher II: With Blood On My Hands* - 8/10
92. Play Dirty* - 8/10
93. Spartacus* - 7/10
94. Sinister* - 7/10
95. Yatterman* - 7/10
96. Kill List* - 8/10
97. Compliance* - 7/10
98. The Wicker Man* - 9/10
99. The Dead Zone* - 8/10
100. The Assassins* - 7/10
101. Halloween II* - 8/10
102. Terror In The Aisles* - 7/10
103. The Girl* - 7/10
104. Margaret* - 8/10
105. The Conjuring* - 8/10
106. Lesson Of The Evil* - 8/10
107. Snow White And The Huntsman* - 7/10
108. Ted - 8/10
109. Safety Last* - 8/10
110. Rollerball* - 7/10
111. Louis C.K.: Oh My God* - 8/10
112. Battle Of Britain* - 7/10
113. Trouble With The Curve* - 7/10
114. Killer Joe* - 8/10
115. The Wrong Box* - 8/10
116. Kurotokage* - 7/10
117. The Creeping Flesh* - 7/10
118. Sasori* - 5/10
119. Life Of Pi* - 7/10
120. Pacific Rim - 9/10
121. Hidden In The Woods* - 5/10
122. Horror Of Dracula* - 7/10
123. The Romantic Englishwoman* - 6/10
Pretty boring.
124. The Brave One* - 7/10
125. Pacific Rim - 9/10
Watched with commentary by Guillermo Del Toro, which was good.
126. Jarhead - 8/10
127. The Curse Of Frankenstein* - 8/10
128. The Mummy* - 7/10
129. Dracula: Prince Of Darkness* - 8/10
130. Wandering Ginza Butterfly - 8/10
131. Horror Express* - 8/10
132. Purple Noon* - 7/10
133. World War Z* - 7/10
Better than I expected.
134. Rush Hour - 8/10
135. The Devil Rides Out* - 7/10
136. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - 9/10
137. Identity Thief* - 7/10
138. Dark Shadows* - 7/10
139. The Taking Of Pelham 123* - 8/10
140. Lady Snowblood: Love Song Of Vengeance - 8/10
141. Scanners* - 8/10
142. The Ward* - 6/10
143. Zero Dark Thirty - 9/10
144. John Dies At The End* - 8/10
145. The Raid: Redemption - 8/10
146. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 8/10
147. The Amityville Horror* - 7/10
148. Evil Dead* - 7/10
149. Frankenweenie* - 7/10
150. Lady Vengeance - 10/10
151. Haze* - 7/10
152. A Christmas Story - 8/10
153. Mama* - 7/10
154. Godzilla* - 8/10
155. The Fly* - 8/10
156. Showgirls - 9/10

Total # of movies to date: 181
Total # of different movies: 174
Total # of movies seen for the first time: 147


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If the resurrection of this idea makes you feel anything, then you can thank erschlagener for it. He recently asked me about re-uploading some of the old mixes I had done, which was very flattering, and it got me thinking about doing a new one.

Truthfully, I've thought about coming back to this for a while, just not on LJ. I've thought about offering to make mix CDs for people on Facebook just because I miss it. I miss introducing people to new music. I don't listen to anywhere near as much music as I used to, due to a lack of time, but I still enjoy checking out new, weird shit when I can.

Most of the time I download albums that sounds interesting, stick them on my iPod alongside the stuff already there that I know and love and just listen on Shuffle. It's a very poor way to hear full albums, but I like being surprised by things I've never heard before. I do about 99.9% of my music listening in the car now and it seems like a good way to use the time.

Occasionally, I'll come across a track that stands out some and I'll add to it a list. I have the ShopShop app on my phone which I use for playlist ideas rather than actual shopping lists. It was immensely helpful when preparing for my wedding a few months ago, when I was basically sticking any song on my external hard drive whose title made it sound vaguely romance related on my iPod and then listening on random in the car. I hear a song I like, I add it to the list. Done.

Now that I'm thinking of it, the wedding playlist would have been a better mix to do now. Shit. Oh well.

Contrary to what is normally considered a good idea, I download the music I download on my computer at work. And I keep copies of all the files stored on it, too, alongside my external hard drive at home. So, I actually have a little less than 50GB of music available to me here, now and all of the music in this mix is stored there and was on my ShopShop list called "For Mixes".


Mission Statement
The idea here is solely to introduce people to music they might not otherwise have heard. When I do these, you're not going to see a Radiohead song or Led Zeppelin. Most people probably already have an opinion on those bands, so why bother? This is for new stuff. I doubt anyone is going to like all of these, but I'm hoping you might find something you like by a band that you're not familiar with. The tracks vary in genre and style on purpose. There is no flow to this and no suggested order in which to listen to them.

So click on the link below, download the zip file from Mediafire and enjoy.


Tracklisting (in no particular order):
Giant Squid - "Tongue Stones (Megaptera Megachasmacarcharias)", from the album Cenotes
Chelsea Wolfe - "Feral Love", not yet available on any album
Daniel Bjarnason - "Bow To String: Sorrow Conquers Happiness", from the album Processions
Omega Massif - "Wölfe", from the album Karpatia
Cold Body Radiation - "Shimmer", from the album Deer Twilight
Mogwai - "Does This Always Happen?", from the Earth Division EP
Matt Elliot - "If Anyone Tells Me ''It's Better To Have Loved And Lost Than To Never Have Loved At Al'', I Will Stab Them The Face", from the album The Broken Man
Murralin Lane - "She Collected", from the album Our House Is On The Wall
Thought Forms - "We Would Be So Happy If...", from the album Thought Forms
Roly Porter - "Hessra", from the album Aftertime
Ludovico Einaudi - "Andare", from the album Islands: Essential Einaudi
Hildur Guðnadóttir - "Unveiled", from the album Without Sinking

There you go. When I was doing these before, I made them just so that they'd fit and fill up a CD-R, and I think that's still a good size.


On a related note, there are a few of the older mixes that still have active links if you're interested in checking them out at all.

Mix #28
Mix #27
Mix #26
Mix #25
Mix #23
Mix #21

Additionally, both of the mixes of favorite tracks from 2011 are still good.


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Hope everyone had a nice X-Mas. If you don't celebrate X-Mas, I hope you at least had a nice day off. I stop in quickly here to let you know that Amazon is selling the Lone Wolf & Cub Complete Blu-ray set for $17.

If you've never seen these movies, they're some of the best, bloodiest samurai movies ever made and I cannot recommend them highly enough. According to reviews, there are some issues with picture quality at certain points, but everyone seems to agree that they're as good as is available. And the DVD box set is up close to $100, so they're also the most financially viable.

If you prefer your samurai bloodletting in English dub then we're not friends anymore I feel obligated to inform you that Amazon is also selling the Shogun Assassin 5 Film Collector's Edition Blu-ray set for $23.

The Shogun Assassin films are basically the Lone Wolf & Cub films edited down to mostly just the violent parts and dubbed into English without much regard for the story. If you've seen Kill Bill Vol. 2, then you might remember that Shogun Assassin is the movie Uma Thurman's daughter wants to watch at bedtime.

Personally, I much prefer the original films in their original state, but if you're actually buying samurai films on Blu-ray, I support your decision.

And while I'm here, recommending samurai films that are currently cheap on eBay, you can also get The Hidden Blade for $11.

This is another great samurai movie, but it's a much slower film, more drama than action. I give it the highest possible recommendation, though. It's directed by Yoji Yamada (The Twilight Samurai, Love & Honor), so you can't go wrong.

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I've been meaning to write about comics in here for a while, but I was never sure what exactly to write about. It's been over a week since I wrote anything in here, though, so I am now forcing myself to sit here and write about comics.

A couple of weeks ago, the Lady and I were in our local comic shop and the manager was talking with me about something related to sorting through the stuff they order, putting it in everyone's pull list bins and he said something to the effect of "you order a shitload of comics every month." And as I picked up my bag of $80+ worth of comics and said goodbye, I thought... wow, I really do buy a lot, don't I?

It's not that I spend over $80 every week. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Usually when I go over, it's because of trade paperbacks that I either ordered or just want to buy. I am pretty liberal with what comics I buy, though. More so than I ever have been, I think. Part of that is because there are a lot of good comics coming out that I want to read and part of that is wanting to show support, both for certain titles and even for the comic store I buy from.

It seems like comics are in a strange place right now. The big two, Marvel and DC, are basically doing the same thing they've always done, but DC seems like a giant mess ever since they rebooted their entire continuity. They still put out some good books, like Scott Snyder's Batman which is fucking awesome every month, but the New 52 Universe is only, what, 14 months old and it already feels like they've fucked everything up. If you read comic news websites, you'll hear a lot of talk about editorial mandates for stories, changing things at the last minute and creative teams constantly shuffling.

At this point, I feel a cut is necessary because this is getting really long.Collapse )

In fact, I'm going to have to cut this short and end it now. Next time, I'll go on to the non-Big Two comics I read every month and maybe I'll even figure out what the hell I was hoping to say about all this originally.


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You guys, I am so goddamn excited to see this.


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I've been pretty busy lately and unable to get caught up on movie-related things, but I've managed to squeeze in a couple Kurosawa/Mifune DVDs this last week.

Most recently, I watched a film called The Quiet Duel.

It's the second collaboration between Mifune and Kurosawa and, I think, the only one that's been released on DVD in the US by someone other than Criterion. It's unfortunate because the picture quality on the DVD is pretty poor, but I can't imagine too many distributors having the kind of resources or finances to restore films like Criterion does.

The film is about a surgeon, Mifune, who contracts syphilis while operating on an infected patient during the war. At the time, syphilis was a much more serious disease than it is now, being not always curable without some serious damage, and carried with it a large amount of social stigma given that it was generally contracted through sex. Sort of like AIDS was over here not so long ago.

Anyway, Mifune gets the disease and comes home from the war to work with his father at their clinic. He doesn't tell anyone about his condition, because of the previously mentioned social stigma, and instead opts to try and suffer silently, stealing medicine from the clinic and injecting himself while no one is around. He is also forced to break off his engagement with Misao, who had been waiting for him to come home from the war and marry her. Heartbreak all around.

Naturally, his illness is discovered eventually by a nurse and his father. He and his father, played by the excellent Takashi Shimura by the way, argue about whether or not he should tell Misao, and he never does. Instead, he urges her to find someone else and to be happy.

One day, he runs into the man he contracted the illness from and he finds out that the man never got treated for the condition despite Mifune's urging during the war, and that the man is married and has a child on the way. Mifune does what he can to help the couple, but there's only so much he can do at that point.

It's a pretty good movie that's elevated by Mifune's performance. It was, if I remember correctly, his fourth role and his first playing something other than a gangster/roughneck type of character. He manages to capture the dignified, silent suffering as well as could possibly be done with nothing more than his facial expressions and body language. It's really impressive and it's not even Mifune at his best.

I definitely recommend the film, even though it isn't anywhere near as great as many of the other collaborations between Mifune and Kurosawa.


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I think I'm going to use quotes from samurai movies for titles to my LJ entries for as long as I can.

I swear I am not already neglecting you, LJ. I actually wrote half of a really long post on Monday, but got busy at work and was unable to finish it. By the time I came back to it on Tuesday, the moment had passed and I wasn't feeling the subject any longer. I am committed to writing in here regularly, though, I promise.

One place I have been sure not to miss posting in is Tumblr.

I don't think of Tumblr as a blog, though, I think of it more like an aggregator of pictures that I like, so it's not the same and you shouldn't feel jealous, LJ.

I have two Tumblrs. The first one is Fuck Yeah! Meiko Kaji! and is, as you can probably guess, a place where I post pictures of Japanese actress Meiko Kaji. This was actually the first Tumblr I created, so it's my default/main one, but I also created adgy-san (someone already took adgy! WTF?) mainly for reblogging cool shit I see on other Tumblrs. I occasionally post a picture from my Photobucket account or wherever, but mostly I just use it for reblogging.

Reblogging serves no real purpose, but for some reason I was initially under the impression that other people might be interested in seeing what I reblog. It's been going for a while now, though, and only has 9 followers, so I may have been mistaken. Not complaining, just saying.

I originally started the Meiko Kaji tumblr because I've been collecting pictures of her obsessively as I come across them on the internet, but been doing nothing else with them. And Tumblr seems like it's perfectly geared for sharing them, so that's what I'm doing. I only post one picture a day, unless I reblog someone else's picture, but that only happens if it's one I haven't seen before and that's rare. Not bragging, just saying. That tumblr has 238 followers, though, which is surprising to me every time I look at it.

Side note: I was pretty excited the other day to see that comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick was following the Meiko Kaji tumblr. I had no idea she was a fan.

Tumblr is pretty great for picture perusing and sharing. I know a lot of people use it for much more than that and there are fandoms and all that on it, but I just like using it to look at awesome old pictures of Sonny Chiba and shit. And when there's a Tumblr I want to really follow, I add the RSS feed of it into Google Reader, I rarely bother going through my Tumblr dashboard. I do "follow" a lot of tumblrs on Tumblr, but that's more as a show of solidarity than anything else. Giving someone a follow because I like what they're doing and they can see my appreciation of it, rather than only using the RSS feed, which might rob them of the recognition of my approval. Or something like that.

I also like the tag tracking on Tumblr. I can track the tag for Meiko Kaji and anytime someone else posts something with that tag, I can see it. If they'd make an RSS feed for that tag tracking, it'd be even better, but still. :)

I also recently joined Instagram. Actually, I should probably say that I also recently started using Instagram. I've had an account there for a while, but didn't bother using it because I didn't care. Recently, though, The Lady got her first smartphone (an early X-Mas present from me) and she started an account there, so I started using mine. I've only taken a half dozen photos or so, and I still don't think it's that much better than just using the regular camera on my phone, but whatever. I use it.

Beyond that, I think Facebook is all I've got. I think. I do use the Yelp app to check in to places sometimes, but I don't write reviews or anything.

None of them works for just good old brain dumping like LJ does, though.


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I recently started reading The Emperor And The Wolf: The Lives And Films Of Akira Kurosawa And Toshiro Mifune.

It was here on LJ that I first heard of the book. I don't remember exactly where or who mentioned it, but it was in a comment in some community. There was a discussion about samurai films or books about them and someone said it was the best that they'd read. I looked it up on Amazon and saw that people were trying to sell it for over $300 and figured I'd never get a chance to check it out, but then a couple of weeks later The Lady and I happened to be in a small used book store and I found a copy for less than $30. I was pretty excited.

It's a big book. I would have guessed it was in the four digit range, but Amazon puts it at 848 pages. I put off reading it until recently partly because of its size which would make it difficult to carry around or read in my car during lunch, but mostly because I have 5 million other books waiting to be read and, honestly, a gigantic non-fiction book about Kurosawa and Mifune wasn't as high on my list as, say, a funny horror novel.

A little while ago, The Lady and I got nightstands for each side of our bed and just very recently we finally put lamps on each nightstand for reading in bed and thus began the leaving a book by the bed for occasional reading phase of our lives. I like to think of this less as a sign of getting old and more as a sign of maximizing the usefulness of extra time available to me. So one of the reasons I decided to start reading the book was that I had a place for reading it that wouldn't require me carrying it with me.

The other reason was that I recently re-watched the movie Samurai Rebellion.

Not only is this one of my favorite samurai movies of all time, but it's high up on my list of favorite movies of all time. I was lucky enough to see it for the first time on the big screen many years ago as part of a double feature with my other favorite samurai film of all time, Sword Of Doom.

The plot of Samurai Rebellion is this: Toshiro Mifune and is a low ranking samurai, renowned for his skill with the blade. He lives with an unhappy marriage to a woman he met for the first time on the wedding day and their two sons. Their clan lord casts out one of his mistresses for offending him (i.e. striking him after seeing him with another woman right after their baby is born), but because she is the mother of the lord's son they don't want her to go too far in case that son becomes heir. So the clan asks Mifune's family to take her in and have her marry their oldest son. The family resists, Mifune himself regretting his arranged marriage and not wishing it on his son, but eventually relents being the dutiful, loyal servants of their lord that they are.

To everyone's surprise, the new wife, Lady Ichi, is lovely. She's pleasant, she helps around the house and she and her new husband get along together very well. Mifune is especially pleased, seeing the love his son shares with his wife makes him happier than he's ever been.

Then comes the day that the clan lord's oldest son is killed and the next in line as heir to the lordship is the child had with Lady Ichi. And the clan asks that Lady Ichi come back to the castle, and basically be with the clan lord again. This then leads to the rebellion mentioned in the name of the film, as Mifune and his oldest son decide to take on the entire clan over the matter.

It's a slow burn of a film that builds beautifully towards the inevitable bloody showdown at the end. Watching it on the big screen, I was riveted to the edge of my seat. The last half hour was so intense that it almost ruined the second half of the double feature for me. Almost. Watching it again at home, I still enjoyed the movie immensely, although the intensity was gone. It's just not the same watching a movie on the couch, especially one like that. I've had the same experience with Sword Of Doom, which I had seen before when I saw it on the big screen, but didn't actually fall in love with it until seeing it in a theater. It really is just not the same.

Even though the experience of watching the film at home wasn't anywhere near as great as it was seeing it in a theater, I still loved the movie and it stuck with me for a little while afterward and it sort of reinvigorated my love for and interest in samurai movies.

So when the time came for me to pick out a book to read that I'd leave by the bed, the choice was obvious.

Toshiro Mifune has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I do remember seeing some samurai movies with my dad as a boy, but it wasn't until high school that I really discovered Asian movies. And once I ventured out beyond movies involving Chow Yun Fat, it didn't take me long to start looking at samurai movies. And once you start down that road, it's impossible not to become a Toshiro Mifune fan. I don't want to say that he IS the samurai genre, but there will never be a bigger, better or more influential figure in the genre. He, and Kurosawa, pretty much redefined the action movie as a whole with their work together.

Despite all that, though, there isn't a whole lot of information about Mifune available in English. I know very little about the man aside from what I've seen on screen and he was such a great actor, you can't really infer much about him from that. I know he died in 1997, that he had Alzheimers and that at some point he and Kurosawa became estranged (which is why he isn't in any of Kurosawa's later films), but that's about it. Kurosawa, on the other hand, has had dozens of books written about him and his autobiography, which mostly focuses on his pre-directing life, was even translated into English. So I feel like I have a relatively solid grasp of what kind of person he was which, for me, helps me understand and even enjoy his films a little bit more. I've never been able to do that with Mifune, though.

I'm only a couple of chapters into The Emperor And The Wolf, having just reached the stage where Akira Kurosawa (who did not direct Samurai Rebellion, by the way) has become a director, having moved up from being an assistant director, and I've read some about Mifune's childhood and entrance into the Japanese military. I fell in love with the book during the introduction, though. Like, within the first three pages.

The author, Stuart Galbraith IV, is a well known Asian cinema expert who does commentary tracks and has written a few other books on the subject. In his introduction, he lays out what the book you're about to read consists of, mentioning that in order to understand certain aspects of these mens lives, you would have to understand a lot of other things. Things like how their movies were released and distributed in the US, what kind of restrictions they were under at home, etc. He also mentions that he will describe every single movie either of them worked on (together or separate), some in great detail.

And, goddamn, that sounds EXACTLY like something I want to read. It's the kind of book I wish I had the knowledge and ability to write, which is a whole 'nother post all on its own.

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It's been a while. The other day, I was writing something for 24FramesPerSecond.net and I found myself unable to think of anything to add to make what I was writing anything more than a mini press release. It made me sad.

Lately when I write things for the site, which has been rare the last few months, I'll go back and read it again a couple of hours later or the next day and I will be unsatisfied. I feel like I've lost my voice.

Also, I miss writing here. I miss writing about movies and news and stories. I miss being up to date on what's going on in the film world and I miss writing at length about things that I feel strongly about. The last time I wrote anything of note in here was in April of 2012, and the last time I wrote anything that actually required some small amount of research or outside reference (as opposed to just writing what was on my mind) was in February.

Another thing I miss is the sense of community that used to exist here. That's likely something I won't ever get back, not in the same way, but I feel like it's worth noting. I made some incredibly good friends through Live Journal that I will likely have for the rest of my life and I miss sharing experiences and thoughts with them in what I'll call long form.

I have a Facebook. A lot of my LJ friends are friends with me on there, but with the exception of a small handful, my interactions with them are minimal. And when I do interact with them, it's a few sentences long.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I miss what LJ used to be for me.

All that said, I'm going to make another attempt at coming back here more often. For no other reason than I want to get back into the flow of writing. My aspirations for this blog are vanished, and I no longer care if it's relevant. I just want to write, mostly about movies, because it made me happy to do so and it likely will to do so again. Even if no one is reading it.

I'm married, I have a full time job and I'm not intending to neglect any of my other social media outlets, but I think I've got enough drive this time around to stick by my LJ and actually do some the writing I want to do.

It's good to be back.

And I'm not going to cross-post this to Facebook.


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Amazon is selling Takashi Miike's fantastic 13 Assassins for less than $10!!!

Had to take a minute and share. That's a damn good deal.

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Check out the new model for Hugo Boss in China.


“We are most honored to have Chow Yun-Fat as the first Asian testimonial in the history of Hugo Boss. He possesses not only immaculate style and class, but also the confidence and charisma of a man of distinction. He is the true embodiment of the spirit of the brand,” remarked Gerrit Ruetzel, president and CEO of Hugo Boss Asia-Pacific.

Damn right.

Check out the full gallery.


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Just one of the many reasons why I love this guy.


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Amazon is selling the Coen Brothers Blu-ray collection for $25.

That is way too good a deal not to share.


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Goon - I do love it when HDNet Movies shows movies before they hit theaters. Saves me the anguish of not seeing them, since I rarely ever get out to a theater anymore. Anyway, Sean William Scott is a hockey fan who has never played hockey. During one game, he gets into a fight with someone in the stands and beats the snot out of him. The coach of the local team sees this and immediately offers him a contract to play. There's funny bits of him learning to skate and play hockey mixed with funny bits of him getting in fights and beating the shit out of other hockey players. Eventually, he becomes a fan favorite and is signed by a real minor league team, where similar antics occur and he also shows his new teammates how to be a "team". Really funny, full of heart and the best hockey movie since Slapshot easily. Might even bet better than that'n. You owe it to yourself to see this.

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A few weeks ago in Anaheim, Ca there was a comic book convention known to the world as Wonder Con. Wonder Con is a lot like San Diego Comic Con, except it's a lot smaller and a lot less busy. Normally, it's held in San Francisco, but for some reason this year they moved it to Anaheim, which was good for me because I live not too far away from Anaheim. So The Lady and I bought tickets, packed up a bunch of hardcovers for people to sign and went.

We both had a really great time. Spent way more money than we should have (half off trade paperback/graphic novel booths will be the financial death of me someday), but it was a blast. You've seen pictures of cosplayers, I'm sure. I don't think I'd ever do that myself, but I have to give them a lot of credit. A lot of them put a lot of work into their costumes and, really, they play a big part in why comic conventions like this and San Diego are so much fun. You could just sit along a wall somewhere and people watch for a few hours before you go home and probably still have a good time.

There were a number of people attending Wonder Con this year that I was interested in meeting and/or getting autographs from. When I was going through my shelves picking out stuff I wanted to bring, I tried to stick mostly to hardcovers or trade paperbacks that were still in nice condition. I didn't want to lug single issues around because I don't really care all that much about getting those signed. I want my autographed stuff on my bookshelf.

Anyway, of all the names on the guest list for Wonder Con, the one that stood out the most to me was Bill Sienkiewicz, pronounced Sin-KEV-itch. He is, without question, my favorite artist of all time and has been for probably a little more than a decade. He has a very distinct style that I refuse to try and describe because I think I'll just sound dumb, so instead I will post some examples of his work.Collapse )

I'm not entirely sure when I first saw Sienkiewicz's work, but I definitely remember the first time I noticed it: Elektra: Assassin. Something like 14 or 15 years ago, I was the type of comic book collector who would find a writer he really liked and would proceed to try and acquire everything that author had ever done, and one of the writers I was attempting to be a completist of was Frank Miller. I found the entire Elektra: Assassin mini-series in a bargain bin somewhere, bought them and brought them home.

I can actually remember sitting at the kitchen table in the condo I lived in with my parents, reading the first and issue and being completely bewildered. I had no idea what the hell was going on. It was so difficult to tell what was happening, who was talking, what was being talked about and the art was REALLY fuckin' weird and completely unhelpful in regards to conveying what was happening on the pages. I remember thinking to myself "Is this the same Frank Miller that wrote Sin City?" and actually wasn't sure if I wanted to even try reading the rest of them. I decided to soldier on, though, because it was Frank Fucking Miller and that meant it was going to be Worth It.

And it was.

By around the 3rd or 4th issue, I had gotten the hang of the way the story was being told and by the time I finished it, I was completely head over heels in love with it. I read it again. And when I got to this page:

My love affair with the artist Bill Sienkiewicz had begun. Sometime soon after that, he became my favorite artist, but after reading tons of his other stuff, nothing ever hit me anywhere near the same as the way Elektra: Assassin did. Or still does. It is, easily, my favorite comic mini-series even to this day. You can have your Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and V For Vendetta. I'll take Assassin over them any day.

Fast forward to 2012, a couple days before Wonder Con. I'm going through my massive stacks of books and trade paperbacks looking for stuff to bring and have signed. I look at, and put back, some of the more rare Sienkiewicz stuff I've got (Big Numbers, Brought To Light, etc) because they're not hardcover and I don't really want to risk them getting damaged by carrying them around in a backpack all day. I come across my copy of the Elektra: Assassin collection and I hold it for a minute. It's worn, the spine is dented and fucked up, the corners are bent... I decide not to bring it. I figure, I'm going to a comic convention, I'm sure I'll be able to find a nice, new looking copy there. No worries. I continue going through my stuff, but don't find much of anything that I want to have Sienkiewicz sign. Nothing. I can't find my copy of Stray Toasters for some reason. But, again, I figure that I'm going to a fucking comic convention, there should be plenty of stuff there for me to have him sign.

Then I remember that a few years ago, Marvel released an Elektra Omnibus that included Assassin in it.

How fucking cool would it be to have that signed by him??? Shit, maybe I'll even pay him to draw a sketch inside the cover. That would be the coolest thing ever on the goddamn planet in the fucking universe. YES.

Oh, it's out of print. Goddammit, Marvel, why do you do that?

BUT WAIT. There's a hardcover of Elektra: Assassin listed on Amazon!!! The Amazon iPhone app says it's only $15!!! YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, it's not out yet. Comes out, like, a week after Wonder Con. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

The next day or two, I spent a goodly sum of time trying to find either online retailers or local comic shops that might have the Omnibus in stock and might possibly also be able to overnight it to me or, at least, get it to me before the Con was over. I don't care how much it costs (sorta). No luck.

I even had the bright idea to just go ahead and buy a new copy of the trade paperback online beforehand so as not to have to worry about it. S'nothing. Probably cost me $20. That's cool.

Oh, all the previous trade paperback versions are out of print. FUCKING REALLY? GODDAMMIT.

Ok, alright, calm down. You're going to a big comic book convention. Bill Sienkiewicz is going to be there, people will have stuff of his to buy and you can just buy it there and not have to worry about it. Hey, maybe someone will even have the Omnibus! Wouldn't that be sweet?

Well, after searching every frickin' booth that had even a single trade paperback on display for all three days, The Lady and I were completely unable to find any copies of Assassin anywhere. Sigh.

I was lucky enough to find plenty of other stuff he'd done, including a Moon Knight hardcover, the 30 Days Of Night book he did, a Superman book and various other assorted titles, but no Assassin. Thankfully, the hole that this left in my heart and soul was filled somewhat by some Elektra prints he had available at his table and some sketchbooks I was able to find at the Alex Ross table, who he had given a bunch of his original art to for them to sell for him.

I was able to get all of those signed, and, really, my Sienkiewicz-related haul was pretty substantial, even if it was missing the crowning jewel. I know it sounds lame, but I was seriously stressing/upset about not having a copy of Assassin for him to sign and getting the prints and sketchbooks (one of which had Elektra on the cover and a bunch of Elektra sketches inside) made me genuinely feel a lot better.

You might think that the opportunity to meet with him again will probably come up again someday. I hope it does, but to that point I had not seen his name on the list of any conventions I'd been to save one. He was, supposedly, at San Diego one year that I was there, but I never saw him. I saw his table. I saw stuff on it, including a print of that Venture Brothers picture posted above, but I never saw him sitting at it. It was always empty. And I checked it a whole bunch of times.

So I don't know. We'll see.

Now let me skip back a bit.

The first time The Lady and I walked by his table at Wonder Con, he wasn't there. I had a brief moment of worry, but didn't dwell on it. I didn't have anything for him to sign anyway yet and if he didn't show up, at least it wouldn't be like I missed him.

Later on, we saw him at the table. I was really surprised at the way he looked. He's a small guy. But, man, was he ever nice. I'm a little older now and I don't get awestruck as much as I used to by meeting people I admire (don't ask me about the time I shared an elevator with PJ Harvey), so I was actually able to talk to him some without stuttering or making a complete douche of myself. He was pretty disorganized, probably because he had just recently arrived, but he had a stack of prints and a bunch of original art to look through. I asked him if there was any Elektra stuff and from his pile, he dug out a couple of Elektra prints, which I immediately purchased and had him sign. SUCCESS!

Looking at his original art pages was awesome, but I already knew that they'd be well out of my price range, so I only looked. And maybe drooled a bit.

The Lady and I walked around, and we looked for copies of Assassin and other shit to buy. I would find something else Sienkiewicz had done, buy it and put it in my bag to have him sign later. While waiting in line for Scott Snyder to sign stuff, I saw the Alex Ross table with the sketchbooks and another print:

Bought all that. All in all, I think we were at Bill's table five or six times. The Lady was a little embarrassed by the last time, but she let me have my thing and stood by me while I was geeking out and stressing out the whole weekend. Every time we were at his table, Bill was incredibly nice and cool, willing to talk to anyone who was there. He was truly cool.

One time, I was at his table and he had to get up and take some stuff to the Alex Ross art table. While I was waiting, I was going through his art books and I came across a sketch that made me double take. It looked a hell of a lot like a rough sketch of what was eventually used as the cover for Criterion's recent release of the original Godzilla.

The cover for which was done by Mr. Sienkiewicz. He also did the cover for Criterion's release of Robinson Crusoe On Mars. Anyway, the Godzilla sketch was inked, but it was just Godzilla. No buildings or fire anywhere. It also had his feet showing. Otherwise, though, it was the same image.

We talked a little bit about it (and Criterion stuff) and then I asked him how much it would cost to buy. He said he normally charges around $400 for things like that, but that he'd be willing to work with me on the price. That was not the first time that day I wished I was rich, but it was probably the most earnest. He really did seem willing to deal on it and when I turned it down he said he'd work with me on the price again, but... well, if I hadn't just spent a buttload of money on other stuff and if I wasn't also trying to save a little for my wedding in October, I probably would have seen if I could have gotten him down to $100. Maybe even $200.

Oh well. It was really cool of him to offer the way he did and I really think he would have sold it to me for that cheap, even if just because it was obvious that I was in love with him.

One the last day of the Con, before leaving, we stopped by his table one more time. I handed him a couple books I had found since the last time I'd seen him and he signed them. I asked him for a picture and he stood up and put his arm around me.

What a cool guy.

For the record, the Elektra: Assassin hardcover is currently selling at Amazon for $15.66, which is an insanely good price. There is also a new Elektra: Assassin paperback due out in August that you can pre-order for $10.52. It isn't for everybody, but... I kinda like it.

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The name of the film is still more exciting than the footage, but all the same...


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Well, they're doing it. They're bringing back the Ring franchise. On May 12th, theaters in Japan will be showing Sadako 3D to audiences.

Here's the first teaser trailer:

And here's the synopsis, copied and pasted directly from my own post at 24FramesPerSecond.net:

Akane is a high school teacher who hears a rumor from her students that there is actual footage on the Internet of someone's suicide. The footage is said to drive anyone who sees it to also commit suicide. Akane does not believe the rumor at first, but when one of her female students dies after viewing the footage, she and her boyfriend Takanori are fatefully drawn into the horror that has been created by the man who appears in the suicide footage, Kashiwada. Kashiwada's intention is to create chaos in the world by bringing back Sadako and the power of her curse. Now Akane has to fight against Sadako and Kashiwada to save the lives of herself and Takanori.

It doesn't do much to inspire confidence, I have to admit. I'm not going to completely write it off as having potential, but at this point the whole long-haired scary Japanese lady coming to get you schtick is pretty well played out and doesn't seem to hold much terror for people anymore, so I imagine the reaction of most people who watch this is something akin to disappointment at having wasted 45 seconds of their life.

Not for me, though. Regardless of the eventual quality of the film, I'm always happy to see more Sadako.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Sadako and the various Ring films, I offer you this primer, which will provide you with knowledge that will undoubtedly come in handy at some point during the remainder of your life on this planet.

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And so, we come to Sadako 3D. Much like The Ring 3D, this project was announced over a year ago, but obviously things are actually happening with this one. According to what's being said, Sadako 3D will be based on a new book by Koji Suzuki that has not yet been released, so regardless of the film's quality, the entire thing is now officially Worth It. Hopefully, an english translation of the new book won't take too long to get released afterward.

It'll be interesting to see what comes of this new movie. You'd have to think that if it does well at the Japanese box office, there might be more sequels. Hopefully, some U.S. distributor will pick up the rights to the film and release it out here before it's available to everyone on DVD (at which point, I will immediately import a copy), but I kind of doubt it.

In the meantime, if you're at all interested, I highly recommend you keep your eyes on 24FramesPerSecond.net (if you're reading this as a LiveJournal user, you can add 24framesfeed to your friends list) for updates and news about the movie, or if you can read Japanese, there's an official website for the film.

If you just want to learn more about the series, I cannot recommend highly enough The Ringworld, which is an exhaustively detailed site regarding all things Ring related. It hasn't been updated since around the time The Ring Two came out, but since very little has happened with the series since then, there's not anything wrong with that. I used it quite a bit during the last couple of days writing this. You also might want to visit The Ring Trilogy Wikipedia page, which includes a detailed plot synopsis for all of the movies as well as other information.

And if you're really interested in all of this, I would also encourage you to check out The Ring Companion, which you can buy used for $.01. I read it about six or seven years ago and found it thoroughly worthwhile. In addition to discussing the Ring phenomena in great detail, as well as a history of horror films in general.

In addition to all the Ring material available, there's another Koji Suzuki/Hideo Nakata project that is well worth checking out called Dark Water, the book, is a collection of independent short stories by Suzuki; one of which, Floating Water, was adapted into a movie by Nakata in 2002 called Dark Water. Much like Ring, this film is a slow burn, creepy horror film about a young girl turned malignant spirit.

In my opinion, it's actually a better film than any others Nakata has done in his career, including Ring, and the book is well worth a read, as well. Another film worth mentioning here is Chaos, directed by Nakata in 2000. It's a mystery thriller based on a book by an author not named Koji Suzuki, but starring Miki Nakatani who also appears in Ring and it's sequels (not including Ring 0). It's a very good film and even though it's not a horror story, it has a similar atmosphere and stands as a fantastic example of how good a director Nakata used to be.

To wrap this up, let me say that the Ring films are not for everyone. The Lady, for instance was bored to tears when I tried showing her the original movie and there are plenty of other people who dislike the film(s) while at the same time enjoying other entries in the Japanese horror genre like Ju-On or Pulse. As far as I can tell, there isn't any specific way to tell in advance whether or not someone is going to enjoy themselves if they give it a try. I will point out that Ring has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but beyond that you're on your own.

I once told The Lady that I'd thought of getting Sadako's name tattooed somewhere on my body. She'll never let me forget that I wanted another woman's name on me.

For myself, the entire series holds a special place in my heart, even though there are really only a couple good films in it. The series and the character of Sadako in particular hold a special fascination for me that I find hard to articulate. It might simply be due to the fact that it acted as my gateway to the entire genre of Japanese horror. It might just be that there's nothing I like better in a movie than a slow build up with a tremendous payoff that actually delivers on its promise. Or it could be something completely separate. I don't know and I don't really care, to be honest.

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but Amazon is selling the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray of Evil Dead 2 for $5.99 at the moment.

That's crazy and awesome.

You're welcome.

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I'm late with this, I know. Originally, the idea was to wait a bit and see if I could squeeze in viewings of some of the movies that came out in late 2011 so that I could take them into consideration, but that didn't really happen.

There were/are a lot of presumably great movies that came out in 2011 that I didn't get to see. I'm not sure how many of them would have made my list, but I expect there are at least a few. I'd be pretty surprised if any other movie was able to crack my top 4, but who knows? Not me.

Ever since 2005, I've been keeping a list of every movie I watch every year. It makes this sort of thing a lot easier and it's interesting to me to look at the numbers afterward. This year's stats:

Total # of movies seen: 223
Total # of movies seen in a theater: 49
Total # of movies seen elsewhere: 178
Total # of different movies, cutting out repeat viewings: 216
Total # of movies seen for the first time: 178

The total number of movies I saw in 2011 was down a little from last year. For some reason, I thought that a full year of being in a house with The Lady and having access to a DVR and movie channels was going to give me a bump there, but clearly whether it's DVR or DVD, it makes little difference. I actually watched a couple more in the theater over last year, which is also surprising. It feels like I watched a lot less. Maybe there was just more that I wanted to see?

My top 10 is based on movies that were either released in the US in 2011 or weren't, but I saw them anyway through the magic of DVD mail order. A couple of these may have actually debuted in 2011 at film festivals or advance screenings or whatever, but if a movie makes it's debut in Toronto in late 2010, how am I supposed to see it before 2011? Right?

I say this is a top 10 list, but this year I'm also including 5 honorable mentions. Because I can.

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Some brief thoughts on some movies I've watched recently.

3 Women - What the fuck, dude? I got this for X-mas. It had been on my wishlist ever since Criterion announced it because it has two of the weirdest looking women ever (Shelly Duvall and Sissy Spacek) and the description I read of the film included the words "chilling" and "surreal". So, yeah, that sounds pretty awesome. Let's pop it in.

Sissy Spacek starts her first job at a rehab clinic for old people. Shelly Duvall is already employed there and shows her around. Shelly Duvall is one of those people that is extremely confident, self-assured and know it all for no apparent reason. No one seems to like her. People ignore her while she's talking to them and barely even acknowledge her presence. When they do acknowledge her, it's usually with disdain. Sissy, though, latches on to her like a lost puppy. Eventually, they move in together, even though Shelly doesn't seem too pleased with her. Sissy keeps fucking things up, as Shelly sees it. Things come to a head, Shelly starts yelling, and Sissy decides to take a swan dive off the balcony of the apartment complex. And that's when shit starts to get really weird.

Apparently inspired by a dream Robert Altman had while his wife was in the hospital, everything I've read about this movie since watching it makes me feel a little bit better about feeling like a lot of it went over my head. There's a lot of imagery and repeated actions that feel like they mean something, but I have no idea what. Surreal is an excellent word to describe it. I plan to listen to Altman's commentary on the film sometime soon, but I get the feeling it won't answer a lot of questions. Apparently, this is a movie he intended for the audience to "feel rather than understand". In that, he succeeded. It's a crazy, WTF head trip. I liked it. I'm just not sure how much.

Bedevilled - Still waiting for this to show up in the US, so last time I was at Amoeba I pounced on a bootleg. Had to wait until The Lady was out of the house to watch it.

Hae-won is a bitch. She works for a bank, approving loans. She treats people like crap and after slapping one of her co-workers (for doing something the co-worker didn't actually do) in the middle of the office in front of customer, her boss puts her on a mandatory vacation. Hae-won decides to spend it on the remote island where she grew up and her childhood friend Bok-nam still lives. The island is so remote and undeveloped that there are something like 9 people on it and it takes a couple hours to get to by boat.

Upon arriving, the focus of the film slowly shifts to the friend, Bok-nam. We see her being mistreated and abused by everyone, especially her husband and his mother and brother. She seems to try to put up with it for the sake of her daughter, though, and tries to keep a happy face when Hae-won is around. It gets to be too much for her, though, and she asks Hae-won to help her escape the island with her daughter. Hae-won refuses and even accuses her of making stuff up in order to gain sympathy. Bok-nam tries to escape anyway, but is caught. And from there on, shit gets fucked up. Bok-nam snaps, grabs a scythe and decides to murder everyone on the island. It's not going to be easy, though.

It's a pretty fucked up, slow-burn of a movie. The director spends a lot of time giving you reasons to hate pretty much every character other than Bok-nam and her daughter. So that when the violence finally starts, you are fully on Bok-nam's side. To the point where I was a little disappointed that a couple of the killings weren't gruesome enough. At times, it gets a little too ridiculous, but overall I'd say that if you're at all into violent horror cinema, this is definitely one to watch.

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I still need to do my top 10 movies list for 2011, but I was reading the solicitations for the trade paperbacks DC Comics is putting out in April and I came across something that I thought would be worth mentioning here. DC is finally putting Batman: Prey back into print!

Why is this good news? Well, mostly because it's been out of print for many years. It was rumored for a while that the plot of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises was going to be based on this story, and ever since then copies have been selling on eBay for up to $81! It's a great story, and I've been itching to re-read it ever since those rumors reminded me of it's existence. I think I might have the original issues in a box in the garage somewhere, but obviously a trade paperback would be much more convenient.

Amazon has it up for pre-order (for less than $15) with a release date of June 5th, but the solicitation has it down for May 30th. Not sure why it's in the April solicitations...

Anyway, yeah, good news.

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This, and my top 10 movies, are late. I've been busy and I've been trying to cram as many 2011 releases into my ears as I could lately because there was a TON of probably awesome stuff released this year that I wasn't able to get to and a lot of it I don't feel like I got to enough.

Last year was a horrible year for me, music-wise. I lost the job where I had done the majority of my music listening and my car was not technologically savvy enough to do anything other than play actual, official CDs. No CD-Rs, no mp3s, no mp3 CDs. So I was stuck being able to listen only to music I bought, which is fine, but it severely limits the amount of stuff I'm willing to try without having heard it first. It's no problem when Massive Attack puts a new album out, but when someone recommends something to me that I've never heard, I'm going to be a little hesitant to drop $15 on it.

This is no longer an issue for me, though. I bought a new car in May that has an iPod jack, a USB jack, plays CD-Rs and plays mp3 CDs. Additionally, The Lady bought me a badass 120GB iPod for my birthday in November. So now I feel free to download anything that looks even remotely interesting if I feel like it.

Having said that, I'm only listening to music in the car. My job doesn't really afford the opportunity to have music on while I'm working currently and I don't listen to music at home. So once I got the car I acquired a whole bunch of new music and even though I can listen to it now, I never really got caught up and I never really stopped downloading stuff. Which means there was still about one metric ton worth of music that came out this year that I wanted to listen to, but either didn't or only got to listen to a little.

For example, Bjork released a new album. I like Bjork enough to buy whatever she releases without having heard it first, so I did. I listened to it once, didn't think it was all that great, and haven't listened to it again. Normally, I'd listen to it at least a few more times to give it a chance to win me over. Lots of albums have in the past and I think this one has the potential. It's just that I was too busy trying to hear all the rest of the new stuff that I got, so I never bothered. There are a large number of albums that came out this year that met with this fate and, as I've said, even more that I didn't hear at all.

Alllllllllllllllllll that to say that I feel like this list is incomplete. Back in 2009, I heard so much good music that I had a top 10 list AND 30 runners up. This year, when I wrote out all the possibilities for my top 10, the list was only 19 albums long and about half of those are albums I listened to more than three times. So: this list feels incomplete.

I'm doing it anyway.

With each album, I am including a link to Amazon, where you can purchase it or preview tracks as well as embedding a track from the album that can be streamed or downloaded right here on this page. Additionally, a zip file with all of these tracks is included at the bottom for anyone that wants to hear them all without having to download them individually.

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I do this every year and I'm not going to stop now. I am going to change up some of the questions, though. Because I can.

2011 Year In ReviewCollapse )


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