A couple of thoughts on Haywire…

No, I haven’t seen Haywire yet, although based on the commercials it looks like something I might enjoy.  Now, whether I see it while it’s out in theaters or when it is eventually released to DVD/Blu Ray…I guess that’s the question.  I’m all the more interested because of the five minute sample clip:

I also find myself very intrigued with Gina Carano.  She plays Mallory, the movie’s tough as nails protagonist.

Why?  Because my novel Mechanic happens to feature a tough as nails female protagonist who in my mind’s eye I envisioned to look an awful lot like Ms. Carano…someone who I knew absolutely nothing about until the first Haywire commercials appeared only a few weeks ago.

Mind you, I’m not implying the makers of Haywire were somehow inspired by my book.  Given the plot of my novel versus what I see of the plot of Haywire, that should be pretty obvious.

But if I ever get anyone interested in making a Mechanic movie (what are the odds?!), I know which actress I could easily see playing the lead role.  That is, if she isn’t too worried about being typecast! 😉

Billion Dollar Bank Error

Read this article by Bruce Watson on the Daily Finance and had to pass it along:

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/01/19/what-would-you-do-with-a-billion-dollar-bank-error/

Yes, indeed, the story is about one Parijat Saha who found that he had 9.8 BILLION dollars in his bank account and what he did afterwards.

I’ll spoil it a bit for you:  He did the right thing.

However, if you read the rest of the article it presents some other examples of errors in people’s bank accounts and the actions of said people with the…ahem…extra cash they found at their disposal.

I’m rather torn about this.  On the one hand, if you find a huge amount of cash appear in your bank account that you know isn’t yours, it seems stupid to think that you can simply claim it as your own, use it as you please, and assume no one will ever find out.  Particularly when the amount of money that appears in your account may be very, very large.  Someone will eventually figure it out.

On the other hand…you didn’t make the error.  The bank did.  And if they made the error why should you be held…

Ok, Ok, I know.  Fanciful thinking.  It’s not your money to begin with and by using it you are effectively “stealing” what is not yours.

But at 9.8 billion dollars…what a temptation!

Expendables 2…PG-13?!

I enjoyed the first The Expendables film, despite the fact that, let’s face it, it wasn’t all that good.  In fact, I noted somewhere at the time that the film and the released at roughly the same time The Losers were completely interchangeable films.  In fact, I would go so far as to say The Losers had a somewhat better overall script.

Despite this, if I had some free time (ha!) and decided to revisit one of these two films, the one I’d pick is The Expendables.  For people in/around my age with fond memories of the action films of the 1980’s (and bleeding -pun intended- into the 1990’s), there is an allure to see all these old (and some new) action stars all together in one film, and that’s something The Losers simply didn’t have going for it.

Again, I’d be the last person in the world to say The Expendables was some kind of cinematic masterpiece, but it was a pleasant enough time killer with fun cameos and, yes, I am interested in seeing the sequel, which appears to up the ante in terms of cameos and old action star appearances.

One of those “old” action stars that will appear in The Expendables 2 is Chuck Norris and yesterday there was something of a splash created by him for an interview he gave where he said the following (The video and this material presented below is taken from /Film and can be found here):

In Expendables 2, there was a lot of vulgar dialogue in the screenplay. Fot this reason, many young people wouldn’t be able to watch this. But I don’t play in movies like this. Due to that I said I won’t be a part of that if the hardcore language is not erased. Producers accepted my conditions and the movie will be classified in the category of PG-13.

So, essentially, Mr. Norris is claiming “credit” for making the sequel film more “family friendly”.

Which boggles my mind.

Looking at Chuck Norris’ IMDB filmography, this is a man who made much of his career in “R” rated action films.  Granted, the films were usually “R” rated more for their violent content rather than any nudity or extensive use of heavy language, but still.

According to IMDB, Mr. Norris was involved in 13 films from 1980 to 1989, arguably his most prolific movie decade.  Of those 13 films, a whopping 10 of them (or 77%) were “R” rated (In order: The Octagon, An Eye For An Eye, Silent Rage, Forced Vengeance, Missing In Action, Missing In Action 2: The Beginning, Code of Silence, Invasion U.S.A., The Delta Force, and Braddock: Missing in Action III).

So…is Mr. Norris become rather hypocritical?  Perhaps.  He wouldn’t be the first person to benefit or engage in something only to forsake it entirely at another stage in his/her life.

But what bothers is perhaps the fact that Mr. Norris, at least in that interview, takes credit for making the film PG-13.  That part I find kind of hard to accept, unless his role is somehow crucial to the film itself (I have my doubts…I get the feeling his is another “cameo” not unlike what Bruce Willis had in the first film).

Then again, I could be entirely wrong.

Regardless, how much do you want to bet an “uncut” version of the film will find its way to the DVD/BluRay market?

A second look at Moonraker (1979)

Another re-post from my original blog.  This post first appeared in April of 2009…

I’m a fan of many of the James Bond films.

My favorite Bond was the first, Sean Connery, and my two favorite Connery Bonds are From Russia With Love and (yes, I admit it) Diamonds Are Forever.  One is “serious” while the other is decidedly tongue in cheek and, again to me, quite hilarious (and, lest you think I don’t like the others Connery made, I do, including perennial favorite Goldfinger.  In fact, the only Connery Bond that hasn’t impressed me is You Only Live Twice.  To the fans of that film, sorry…it just doesn’t do it for me.)

Roger Moore, after George Lazenby’s single outing, proved a strong, albeit different James Bond.  However, his films were far more inconsistent and it seemed he had a good film followed by a pretty dreadful one.  For Your Eyes Only is my all-time favorite Moore Bond film, with The Spy Who Loved Me, Live and Let Die, and Octopussy ranking in descending order from there.  In between those good films, sadly, was the terribly mediocre The Man With The Golden Gun (considering they had the legendary Christopher Lee playing the bad guy, this film should have been A LOT better than it was), the outright terrible A View To A Kill (Moore was looking really old by that point), and the movie I felt was the worst Bond ever made: Moonraker.

In fact, it seemed the producers of the Bond films realized Moonraker was a mistake and went to back to basics in For Your Eyes Only, the film that immediately followed.  This week, Moonraker was released on Blu-Ray DVD, and for the first time since its original release way back in 1979, I sat down and watched the movie from start to end.  How did it fair after all that time?

To begin, my original Moonraker viewing experience was…troubled.  I watched the film with the family at a Drive-In Theatre (the last time we would ever go to one together).  The family that parked next to our car, however, came to party.  Moments after arriving they had their stereo going LOUD, as if they were the only people there and souring us almost immediately to the whole movie experience to come.  Even worse, when the screen finally lit up, instead of seeing Moonraker we were “treated” to Corvette Summer, a terrible “car chase” film.  To this day I’m still not sure why the Theatre didn’t announce we were watching a double feature.

By the time Moonraker finally started, it was very late and we were exhausted, both from the partying family next to us and the unexpected (and quite bad) film we had to endure.  There was a glimmer of hope, however, when Moonraker started.  Alas, that glimmer was dashed pretty quickly.  As I said before, I consider Moonraker the worst of the Bond films.  Despite all the crap we had to endure before seeing the film, we were open to it and hoped we would see something special.  Instead, we left the Drive-In thoroughly defeated.  Bond had let us down.

Since that time, Moonraker has popped up on TV now and again and I’ve watched bits and pieces but never bothered to see the whole thing until now.  Target had the Blu-Ray Moonraker on sale for a ridiculously low price, and I figured I’d give the movie another try and see if it remains as bad as I recalled.

I don’t want to keep you in suspense: The film remains one of the worst of the Bonds, in my opinion, but, curiously, I saw the glimmer of a potentially good Bond film right there on the screen, if only the producers had decided to play things “straight” instead of going for over the top silliness.

For example, the first twenty or so minutes of the film, the excellent opening skydiving sequence, the hijacking of the Moonraker shuttle, and Bond’s first meeting with the evil Drax (up to the way Drax takes care of an employee that had the misfortune of getting too close to Bond) are quite good.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say the opening twenty or so minutes of Moonraker is very strong.

Unfortunately, the film then decided to go gadget crazy, first with the ridiculous Venice gondola sequence (which could easily have been cut from the film entirely) to the cable car sequence (this led to another of the film’s really crappy turns: Jaws falling in love) to the Bond boat sequence (Bond takes out two of the three boats pursuing him in the Amazon…he’s so far ahead of his pursuers in terms of technology and weaponry…and he chooses to abandon his boat?!), to the overblown space fight.

And let’s not forget Bond’s “crafty” way of escaping vaporization by shuttle lift-off just before he embarks on his own space adventure.  He’s tied down to a seat under an about to be launched space shuttle and the villain is so lazy he doesn’t strip him of all possible means of escape, including the curious watch he wears.  Worse, this was easily one of the worst examples of “If you’re going to kill him, why not just put a bullet through his head and be done with it?”

But, but, but….While I still feel Moonraker ranks low on the Bond movie list, I have to admit there were things within the film that kept me interested.  And even though the film’s plot took several wrong turns, there was the glimmer of a much better work just below the surface.  For all the bad feelings I’ve had about Moonraker over the years, I can’t help but wonder if the producers had only taken their work a little more seriously, this could easily have been one of the better, not worst, of the Bond films.

 

Alcatraz (2012)

Sometime during its first season (ie 2001) I discovered the TV show Alias.  It was a bold TV show which seemed to delight in surprising and one-upping itself with shock after show in each episode.  Alas, the show played itself out, IMHO, after the incredible episode Phase One, but if there was one thing I came away with from the show, it was to watch out for any new series from producer J. J. Abrams.

This proved to be a good thing as in 2004 I had the upcoming J. J. Abrams’ produced TV series Lost on my radar.  While the show’s ultimate conclusion some years later left something to be desired, there is little doubt that for several years this show was one hell of a thrill ride.

Since then, I’ve seen plenty of other J. J. Abrams works (as producer, director, or writer), from the TV series Fringe to the last two Mission: Impossible films and the re-boot of Star Trek.  Considering the sheer volume of material, it was inevitable some of the material would prove great while others not so great.  Still, my eyes are always open for new works from the prolific Mr. Abrams, so when I heard about his latest sci-fi mystery production Alcatraz, I had to give it a look and yesterday, when it premiered, I did just that.

Alcatraz appears to be a very purposeful attempt to replicate the winning formula of Lost.  Yeah, both shows deal with the mysteries surrounding an island.  Alcatraz, at least with the first two episodes presented, also features liberal use of flashbacks not unlike Lost.

The plot of Alcatraz is simple:  Back in the early 1960’s every single person on Alcatraz -prisoners as well as staff- mysteriously disappeared.  This fact was hidden from the American public but today, in the present, the long lost convicts are returning.  They have not aged and they commit new crimes.  Worse, they appear to have an agenda.  Who are they working for and for what purpose?

Enter Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) and author Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia).  They uncover the odd facts related to Alcatraz and subsequently intersect with Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) and Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra), two people who know much more about the Alcatraz situation than they’re willing to let on.

Now, the first episode was enjoyable.  The second episode…not so much.  Not that it was bad, mind you, but it was rather repetitious.  Essentially, the first and second episode were interchangeable:  Our heroes chase down a criminal from Alcatraz, capture him, he is sent to the ‘new Alcatraz’.  Side point: Criminal #1 was searching for a key.  Criminal #2 was targeting one of the main characters.  Big reveal the idea that maybe some characters are as “old” as the criminals they’re chasing.

Again, not a bad night of TV watching by any means, but the repetition was troublesome considering we’re dealing with only the first two episodes of the show.  Is this what Alcatraz will be, a “chase-the-villain-of-the-week-while-advancing-the-show-by-increments”?  If so, I worry whether it can sustain itself.

As it is, there was enough good in the show’s premier to ensure I’ll stick around for at least a little while longer.  However, if the story doesn’t move a little bit more and continues to display too much repetition, I may well let it go.

Quentin Tarantino’s Top 11 Movies of 2011

I’m always intrigued by “best of” or “worst of” lists.  In this case, a “best movies” list provided by Quentin Tarantino, a director who made some works I greatly admire:

http://www.slashfilm.com/quentin-tarantinos-top-11-movies-2011/

The one movie that everyone seems to be confused/incredulous because it is included on the list is the Paul W. S. Anderson directed The Three Musketeers.  The movie didn’t exactly burn up the box office and star Milla Jovovich made some very pointed comments, if memory serves, on how little the studio was doing to promote the film.

I never saw it, but I would be lying if I said the commercials weren’t intriguing.  Granted, the movie looked like a very –very– loose adaptation of the famous novel, but that didn’t bother me all that much.  The reviews, on the other hand, did:  The were quite negative.

In the end, the film received a very unimpressive 25% approval rating from the critics and very average 47% approval rating from audiences on Rottentomatoes.com.

Then again, that’s the way opinion goes.  A few days ago I noted how little I wound up liking Hanna (if you are curious, you can read about that here), yet that film made it to many people’s “best of 2011” list and almost made it to Mr. Tarantino’s.

Ah well, that’s what differing opinions are all about.

The other side of Rick Steves

Another post from the past, one that featured a fascinating interview with one Rick Steves.  If you are at all familiar with him, he appears on the show to be someone in the Mister Rogers mold.  My comments are quite brief and the link to the interview is presented at the end:

This is why I like websites like Salon and Slate.  The link below leads to an interview with PBS traveller/showhost Rick Steves, who offers some interesting comments on the world, terrorism, and marijuana!  Fascinating stuff, whether you agree or disagree with his views (and interesting to note that such an apparently laid back and pleasant host could have such strong views on a host of issues!).  The interview appears in Salon.com and was conducted by Kevin Berger.

http://www.salon.com/2009/03/20/rick_steves/singleton/

Re-reading the interview today, now almost three years old, it is fascinating how much/little we’ve progressed in that time.  I can’t say I agree with everything Mr. Steves says, but this question and answer from the article, in particular, I found very enlightening.  Your mileage, as they say, may vary:

What’s the most important thing people can learn from traveling?

A broader perspective. They can see themselves as part of a family of humankind. It’s just quite an adjustment to find out that the people who sit on toilets on this planet are the odd ones. Most people squat. You’re raised thinking this is the civilized way to go to the bathroom. But it’s not. It’s the Western way to go to the bathroom. But it’s not more civilized than somebody who squats. A man in Afghanistan once told me that a third of this planet eats with spoons and forks, and a third of the planet eats with chopsticks, and a third eats with their fingers. And they’re all just as civilized as one another.

Speak, Atari

While continuing my search through old posts in the previous blog, I ran upon this post that was essentially a link to the following article by Michael Agger for Slate magazine.  My comments are very brief and hardly worth repeating, but the article itself, if you’re roughly the same age as I am and have very fond memories of the Atari 2600 video game machine, is worth a look:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/the_browser/2009/03/speak_atari.single.html

Olivia Munn…naked!…well…for PETA ad…

For the past four or so days, whenever I click on to CNN.com and view the “latest news” items on the left side of the page, toward the bottom of this list I’ve seen this headline and link to the Entertainment Weekly posting:

“Olivia Munn poses nude for PETA ad”.

Now, I grant you, Olivia Munn is a very, very pretty woman.  I first discovered her on G4’s Attack of the Show where she was not only gorgeous (something I suspect she is incapable of not being…it’s in her DNA), but also delightfully funny.

However, having said all that, is CNN so starved for news that this article/link deserves to be up there for all these days?  I mean, I’m as red blooded a male as anyone out there, but…

…hell…

Those are some nice pictures! 😉

The Blog of E. R. Torre

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