Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Who Do You Love?

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Sunday night after the drive back from NCHF, Izzy & I took showers and basically watched movies the rest of the day, starting with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” starring Chris Evans, Robert Redford, Scarlett Johannsen, Samuel L. Jackson and others. The story picks up shortly after the event of “The Avengers” and… okay, if you haven’t seen Phase One of the Marvel Studios movies over the past decade then go check them out. It might help a little bit… but then again, this movie does an okay job of being “self-contained” as well. Basically, Captain America (Evans) comes back to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and realizes that some of the missions that he’s sent on has ulterior motives. While he’s taking out bad guys, somebody else on his team is stealing intel from their headquarters… you know, spy stuff. Being the true-north moral compass badass (ala Benton Fraser, google it!), Cap’n doesn’t like it… so he talks to his boss Nick Fury (Jackson) and then his boss’ boss (Redford) and basically gets told that he follows orders, he’s government property, it’s all for the sake of national security, blah blah blah. Basically bringing up the controversial topics of doing bad for the greater good, sacrificing personal rights for a sense of security, blindly following orders without asking questions & who can be trusted with power… in a superhero movie. Along the way, Nick Fury is ambushed by a sh*t ton of mercenaries posing as cops in broad daylight D.C. and after a car chase escapes but trust nobody… except the Cap’n… and then a mysterious assailant shoots Nick Fury at Cap’s apartment… and the Cap’n has to find out who did it. There’s also a flash drive with all of the answers on it that Nick entrusts to him… now everybody is after the Cap’n & his trusted team member Black Widow (Johannsen), who oddly enough is an expert in espionage & double crossing… as everybody is after them… including the mysterious Winter Soldier who is Captain America’s equal in almost every way… except he likes guns, rockets & all that stuff too. Okay, I’m going to say it… go check this movie out. It’s a very decent superhero flick & actually a pretty good spy flick in many ways. That being said… here are some pros & cons… spoiler alerts begin… NOW!
What I Didn’t Particularly Like
·         The BIG Plothole – Okay, so… there’s a scene in the 3rd act where the Black Widow uses some kind of facial hologram technology to disguise herself as a member of the World Security Council (or something like that) to get close to Robert Redford’s character (the big baddy) during the final battle. My immediate question was “YOU HAD THAT THE WHOLE TIME??? Why not use that earlier to… I don’t know… pose as HIM and call off the attack or something? At least buy you some time?” I then googled that evening and… apparently I was not the only person who found that issue with it… but hey, good eyes out there nerds! Besides, it probably would’ve been a short movie otherwise.
·         The Even BIGGER Plothole – We’ve established that the Avengers exist in this universe… so… yeah, make a few f**king calls and within an hour you can have Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and a slew of other badasses helping you out with this mission… instead of your super-righteous unarmed self (save for a garbage can lid of unobtainium), a 92-pound tight container of sex appeal, a one-eyed man whose recovering from several dozen rounds in his chest & your buddy of three days who’s just learning to use an experimental set of metallic wings… going against three flying aircraft carriers, a super-powered ninja badass & the entire United State military. All I’m saying is… Hulk SMASH!!! I know… I know… it makes for a more intriguing movie if the Avengers show up together every time… but still.
·         Letting Out The Secret of the Winter Soldier’s Identity VERY Early – Okay so… they didn’t necessarily give it away until a big reveal near the end of the 2nd act… and the title of the movie was The Winter Soldier so you could’ve just checked the source material comics for the backstory, etc… but what got me was in the first few minutes of the movie when Cap’n America is in disguise and walking through a special exhibit of himself at the Smithsonian (humble brag?). During the exhibit, there’s mention of his buddy Bucky who died during the recap of the first movie… sorry, narration of events in the exhibit. Gee… I wonder if this completely random individual among millions who died during WWII might come back into play later in the movie…
·         The Captain’s Frosted Tips & Lipstick – It got REALLY distracting at times… especially in scenes where his lips are redder than Scarlett Johannsen’s… and now that I’ve mentioned it… it’ll drive you mad too when you watch it, because I hope you do… and here’s why…
What I REALLY Liked
·         It’s a Decent Spy Flick – For as much as everybody knows going into the movie being based on certain popular things, there’s a lot of treachery, twists, surprises, intrigue, character trait arcs, moral ambiguity, conceptual topics, and just overall intrigue in this movie… complete with…
·         LOTS of Great Action Scenes – Yes, you have to suspend your disbelief in physics repeatedly in almost every single one of them… but the car chase scene with Sam Jackson being attacked by… apparently the LAPD in DC with AK’s that can’t hit anything, is exciting… the hand-to-hand combat is pretty well done (though a little zoomed in at times, but I’m sure it’s INTENSE in IMAX)… plenty of explosions, leaps across buildings, all the action you expect in a movie like this.
·         Return of the Black Superhero – Since “Blade” kind of kicked off the real emergence of decent Marvel movies in the 90’s with total badassery, there really hadn’t been another legitimate black superhero. War Machine in the Iron Man movies & Darwin in “X-Men: First Class” were basically poor cameos… they’re STILL talking about making Luke Cage and/or Black Panther movies… DC Comics have been no better… “Steel” was played by Shaquille O’Neal for God’s sake! There’ve also been some fantastic (in my opinion) black heros in the action-blaxploitation comedy genre like “Pootie Tang”, “Undercover Brother” and “Black Dynamite” but… overall, the bruthas just haven’t been well represented. Now, The Falcon could’ve played a bigger part in this movie but… heck, I’m just happy to see him represented at all. Hopefully more to come
·         The Subtle Things I Love About Marvel Movies – If you can’t tell, I really like the Marvel movies (and most of the DC ones… and a handful of others out there like “V for Vendetta” & “Watchmen”) but I REALLY like the Marvel ones especially because there’s just kinda subtle things about them that make them interesting. The backstories are all different, the different movies battle different topic (though still in a fantastic world that they’ve built in coordination with one another), and probably one of my favorite things… is the varying fighting style of the main characters. For example, Captain America’s fighting style since he doesn’t use guns… and prefers hand-to-hand… is more of a parkour kind of attack like you would see in a movie like “District B13” or a martial arts movie, though he has more of a THUD at the end with his shield slap. Black Widow attacks like a f**king luchador because of her miniscule size and putting all 92-pounds of leather-clad badass into every attack. Hawkeye is an assassin striking from a distance most of the time. Iron Man uses an array of weaponry & always seems to be multitasking like no other when he’s fighting… but isn’t afraid to just, rocket off from time to time to fight another day. Thor is very operatic & passionate in his movements, but powerful when he strikes. HULK SMASH!!! It’s just one of those things like when you watch a good martial arts movie & the different characters are… actually different. I’ll admit… I’ve watched many a movie where I had trouble keeping up with the story because… well, all the Asian actors looked alike. Obviously not all of them but… if Jackie Chan cut his hair into a bowl & wasn’t running up the side of a building you probably couldn’t tell either, so don’t front. The different styles adds to the character as well as varying up the fight sequences… and I enjoy it.
Overall: Go check this movie out if you haven’t already (like half of America did this summer). I really enjoyed it.
Next up was a little movie called “Afflicted” starring two real life best buds who decided to make this movie, Clif Browse & Derek Lee. Basically it’s two friends fulfilling a lifelong dream of taking a year off from work & traveling around the globe… and of course videotaping EVERYTHING to blog about it (plot device for found footage format). Derek found out shortly before the trip that he has a blood clot or something in his brain that could kill him at any moment… but he’s still doing it. Go out with a bang, right? Well, they start off in Barcelona, head off to Italy, and then after a crazy night hooking up with an Italian chick… Derek is found with blood all over the sheets and it looks like he’s been beaten… and maybe bitten or something. Over the next few days, strange things begin to happen… and Derek has… basically superhuman powers… but there’s also a few other side effects. Okay, so… spoiler alert… it’s basically a found-footage vampire movie… but if you saw the preview, you’d basically know that. Now for the good part, I would absolutely recommend seeing this movie, especially if you’re a bit of a film geek like me. The special effects with the wire work, camera tricks, all that kind of film sleight of hand, come out pretty f**king spectacular and it’s really well done. There’s even a few EPIC action scenes towards the end that’re well worth the watch. Well done, gentlemen.

Last up was Ron Howard’s big time directorial debut 1980’s “Night Shift” starring Henry Winkler, Shelley Long & Michael Keaton is his first major role too. The story is about a man who works at the city morgue (Winkler) who just wants peace & quiet… and for his wife to have an orgasm (subplot). After six years, he’s sent to the night shift by his boss & is paired with the loud & bragidocious Billy Blaze (Keaton) to handle things while the bosses are home sleeping. His neighbor also happens to be a prostitute (Long) who is recently without her pimp (killed by a black stereotype & Richard Belser). Well, because it’s hard out there for hoe on her own… and there’s a whole stable of b**ches out there looking for a place to do business safely… the two gentlemen off their morgue and/or transportation services to them, essentially becoming their pseudo-pimps… well, The Game takes offense to that… and repercussions come… but obviously along the way it’s  pretty entertaining early 80’s comedy… and it gave Opie the chance to make big time movies afterwards… and you get to see The Fonz & Batman as pimps. I’d say check it out if you like those kind of 80’s comedies like… Mannequin, Police Academy, Doctor Detroit, you know… semi-low budget but high on laughs. I recommend it.
Tuesday night, Izzy & I had the pleasure of going to the concert of George Thorogood & The Destroyers at the legendary Fillmore theatre in Japantown. For those of you who don’t know them off-hand… you probably know some of their badass bluesy rock hits as they’ve been touring for over 40 years now and were pretty HUGE in the 80’s with hits like “Bad to the Bone”, “Move It On Over”, “One Bourbon, One Scotch& One Beer” and “Who Do You Love?” among others. If you don’t have it already, get the Greatest Hits album… you won’t regret it. The venue of the Fillmore was also pretty amazing (as the pictures below will poorly show) and has been a fixture for rock concerts here in San Francisco for even longer than George & the boys have been touring. I also like the free apples that they provide as… it gets REALLY hot in that place when things get swingin’ and screaming. Anyway, the concert was amazing… and George is still as amazing & confident as ever, strutting about stage pretty damn well for a man in his sixties… and even the opener band “Trampled Under Foot” was a perfect compliment to the show as well. Here are some pictures…

Anyway, that’ll do it for this entry. So see all three of these movies & get the Greatest Hits album of George Thorogood & the Destroyers. That’s your assignment… and try not to notice Captain America’s lipstick. Have a great day everybody!!!

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