Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Night of the Lepus

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Happy Zombie Jesus Day everybody!!! Sacrilegious? Yeah… but still. Easter is easily the most confusing holiday in my opinion… and I’m sure that I’ve elaborated on it before… so skip to what we did to celebrate the reanimation of our Lord & Savior. In traditional fashion, we skipped church and went to the Aunties’ house to color Easter eggs, eat barbecue (the body of Christ), and drink beer (blood of Christ). Here are some pictures…

I also got a wonderful gift from Izzy... STUFFED ANKY!!!

Over the weekend, I watched a few movies that I had been putting off, but finally got around to. First up was “Z for Zachariah” which stars Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor & Chris Pine… and that is it. For this movie, after some sort of radiation disaster has happened, most of civilization has been destroyed. The movie starts in the scenic hills of (I think) Pennsylvania where we find a young farmer named Anna (Robbie) who has been by herself for some time (maybe 2-3 years? They’re pretty vague on it) but she’s farming, hunting, and surviving with her dog. Then one day, she finds a mysterious gentleman in some sort of makeshift hazmat suit name Mr. Loomis (Ejiofor). Being the first person she’s seen in years… and he seems like a nice guy, she invites him to stay and they work together to keep surviving… and a relationship grows… and then, another stranger with some radiation poisoning named Caleb (Pine) shows up… and a love triangle forms… and breeds jealousy… but to what end? I really liked this movie. It’s very simple, very beautifully shot… and the characters are easy on the eyes, even in this strapped down kind of story. Character development is there… performances are great… even the pacing is pretty good for being, essentially a very brief story. I absolutely LOVED this movie until the last few minutes… but even then with a bit of an awkward ending, I still highly recommend it. Check this movie out! See Margot Robbie with some acting chops & not just a pretty face (and the rest of her)!
Next up was “Muppets Most Wanted” starring Ricky Gervais and a load of celebrity cameos, but essentially the sequel to last year’s “The Muppets” and the 8th full-length feature Muppets movie. In this one, it picks up from the end of the latest movies where the Muppets have come back in a BIG way and have a hit show… and now are looking into signing an agent (Gervais) and go around the world on the world tour… which has Kermit a little hesitant because they just got back together. Oh… and if you don’t know who the Muppets are, I pity you. Check them out. Anyway, the agent turns out to be a bad guy (his last name was Badguy) and partners with the greatest burglar in the world, a Russian frog named Constantine… who breaks out of jail, and they basically frame Kermit so HE goes to jail AS Constantine… and yeah, it’s a Muppets movie. It’s pretty funny at times… and lots of musical numbers thrown in… Tina Fey is a Russian gulag warden… Ty Burrell is a bumbling French Interpol agent… it’s just fun & ridiculous. If you like the Muppets, check it out. If you have kids, check it out. If not, then it’s probably pointless on you… there are a lot of references to the monotony of sequels IN THE MOVIE. I liked it though.
Lastly, the next episode of our Everything I Learned from Movies Podcast (eiflm.podbean.com) will also have an Easter holiday theme. This week, we’ll discuss a movie that just kinda hopped up on IMDb when we put in Easter and… no, it’s not a zombie movie (though it was definitely considered). The movie is 1972’s “Night of the Lepus!” and is a horror movie starring Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, DeForrest Kelley and others... and it’s about giant mutant bunnies taking over the Southwest. This… was… amazing! Currently streaming on Amazon Prime… so check it out & then check us out on the podcast. Until then, have a great weekend everybody!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Batman v. Superman: Bop 'Em in Gotham

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Last night, Izzy & I got a special invite to a screening of “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” a full… maybe 24 hours prior to its worldwide release… but the price was right, so we went to see this EPIC movie featuring a load of costumed superheroes. This movie is basically the real jump-off point for the DC Cinematic Universe… and based on the previews leading up to it… I had some mixed feelings going in… but love for most of the characters… mainly the ones that I’m familiar with (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman… not so familiar with Flash, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, etc.) This movie starts out summing up the origin story of Batman (Ben Affleck) during the opening credits, which was great… because we’ve seen it a number of times in the various incarnations & flashbacks in the sequels. Then it picks up with the finale of “Man of Steel” where Superman (Henry Cavill) is battling General Zod (Michael Shannon), but it’s shown from the point of view of Bruce Wayne/Batman as a human from the streets of Metropolis… so building are falling left & right… thousands of casualties that were brushed over in “Man of Steel”. Then it fast forward to 18 months later… and the world is divided between those who see Superman as some sort of God to help us… and others as an Alien Threat that will destroy us all if he has a bad day. Then there’s the discovery a large chunk of green rock that can possibly be used as a weapon against Superman & his kind… and then probably the two richest people on Earth, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Bruce Wayne, want it as a bit of deterrence against Superman. Look, basically check out the original trailer from a few months ago and you have the story. Lex uses the alien technology from the crashed ship to make Doomsday. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) makes a few brief appearances. That’s about all the spoilers that I’m going to give… and you got all that from the trailer. Here’s the breakdown:
Things I Liked About This Movie:
·         Wonder Woman – This is going to be the thing that everybody takes away from this movie… that Wonder Woman is the best part. I have a few theories on why this is… and it starts with that it’s basically a glorified cameo. Look, Gal Gadot is a fetching creature… and a decent actress in small doses. Can she pull a whole movie? Who knows? I assume there’s a reason that she hasn’t yet… but she will soon enough with the “Wonder Woman” movie coming soon, so then we’ll have an answer. She does a good job. Her accent isn’t that unnerving (which was a concern of mine) because you know… she’s French but could also pass for Greek as accents go… and compared with the Batman voice that this Batman has, there’s other things to worry about. Regardless, she does great. It’s a great intro to her character. We shall see if she can pull the lead role… but this movie is basically about 60% Batman movie, 30% Superman, 10% everybody else combined.
·         Visually Intriguing – Director Zach Snyder has a very distinct style… and the most notably is the very rich, dark, saturated color tone to basically every single frame of film. It’s pretty to look at, there’s lots of CGI (most of it is pretty decent), you’ve probably all seen “300”, “Watchmen”, “Sucker Punch”, “Man of Steel”, even “Dawn of the Dead” had elements of it… and what 90% of people talk about when they talk about those movies is just how pretty they were & how they were pretty imaginative for the time & badass from a visual standpoint. This movie is no different in that regard.
·         Sound Effects – In the theatre, the musical score is booming, every single character seems to have their own intro music like it’s WWE almost, the explosions, crunches, cracks, metal bending, all that is pretty intense & matches for the most part. Due to the epic scale of the movie, that’s good… because when a whole city is collapsing… or titanic beings are battling to the death… it can really take you out of a movie quick if the sound is a little off point. Also, director Zach Snyder get special recognition for using two songs from Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine (probably the greatest band you may have never heard of) as he did originally in “Dawn of the Dead” with their rendition of “Down with the Sickness”. They’re subtle in the movie obviously… but I caught it… and I have to rep for Richard Cheese.
·         Story is… Decent – I was a little worried that this movie was going to get very full of itself and really be pushing the whole Man vs. God thing… and that’s exactly what happened… like… repeated to a point of tedium… in case you went to the bathroom a few times during the lengthy run time. That being said though, they at least tried to make it intriguing from both points of view… and basically show that when people are scared, they do rash things. Whether it’s Batman wanting to keep Superman in check, because he used to be the big dick in the Gotham/Metropolis area & that has changed… or Lex Luthor fearing that all of his power from knowledge and/or privilege is now absolutely worthless in regards to Superman’s pure physical presence… or Superman just wanting to be a nice guy who protects people but he feels nothing but resent from those that he tries to protect… or Lois Lane for just being a f**king idiot / plot device who has a brief bathtub scene that… I actually rather enjoyed in just how silly & pointless it was. Anyway, the story was better than it really had to be… and is meant to be thought provoking, which I appreciate in what could be a very simple silly story & still make Brinks trucks of cash.
Things I Didn’t Like About This Movie:
·         Lex Luthor – Look, I think Jesse Eisenberg is a great actor in the few movies that I’ve seen him in. I love Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in the old Superman movies. Hell, I liked Kevin Spacey in “Superman Returns” which everybody else hated. Even the construct of the character in this movie as a young Zuckerberg-type who has limitless financial means, incredible intelligence & ultimate contempt for everybody else in the world for his own personal gains & desires… really seems to work as a great plot forwarding device. You know, why else would Batman & Superman fight? That is except for the fact that Batman technically is a vigilante & Superman is Team America: World Police? However… watching this movie… I kept seeing the performance & mannerisms as matching up with a movie that I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years… and that was the Carrot Top vehicle “Chairman of the Board.” Also, nobody will ever touch him apparently. Superman, Batman, the government, they all just… kind of let him do whatever he wants… right in front of them… while monologuing… and they just kind of sit there… doing nothing. I’m actually kind of surprised that (spoiler alert) Lex Luthor gets arrested at the end. You know… he only tried to kill THE F**KING WORLD BY UNLEASHING AN UNHOLY ABOMINATION!!! “Ooooh, let’s shave his head & throw him in a cell.” Ridiculous…
·         Young Bruce Wayne Flying with the Bats – During the opening credits… you’ll see it… and when I saw it, I leaned over to Izzy and said “Oh God… this is not a good start…”
·         Superman’s Ever Growing List of Weaknesses – Look, I also understand that you have to give Superman weaknesses. That’s why Kryptonite exists, because otherwise he’d just kind of go through and solve the world’s problems almost inexplicably (like how he saves Lois & others in this movie). However… his ever-growing list of weakness includes his relationship with Lois… his mother Martha Kent (Diane Lane) back in Kansas… and frankly, his number one weakness… is his own stupidity. “UGH! I must do these horrible things to destroy the world to save Lois (who spoiler alert, is also part of the world)” Anyway, plot forwarding… I can look past this one a little bit.
·         Zack Snyder Tropes ABOUND!!! – As I mentioned, Zack Snyder has a very distinct style. Slow motion is EVERYWHERE!!! The run time in this movie could easily be a half hour shorter if they didn’t have dozens of scenes with super slow motion stuff going on… but it’s at least well hidden by the aforementioned soundtrack. The Physics in this world are… let’s say exaggerated or disregarded completely. There’s also a lot of the usual problems with these movies where… for example… a character may be able to pick up vehicles and toss them like a baseball in one scene… and then REALLY have to struggle with opening a door in the next scene. I don’t want to give away specific examples in this movie… but you’ll see them. Also, there’s a lots of guys with abs in this movie… but that’s standard Snyder. Heck, there’s a montage with Batman doing a P90X workout so that Affleck can show off his bod… and when Superman goes before Congress, suuuuuuper slow mo so that he can show off every single bulge in his suit.
·         Action Scenes are Hit or Miss – I have this one at the end because it’s kind of a like/dislike. I’m not going to be one of those super purist nerds who’s going to say that “Superman doesn’t kill” and “Batman doesn’t use guns” because… let’s be real… they do. Superman kills a lot of innocent bystanders while saving millions of people… that’s just fact, even in the comics. Also… especially in past movies, Batman uses guns… but in this movie, he uses LOTS of guns!!! Hell, you’ve seen the trailer by now, right? Did you notice that in the iconic scene where you see Superman, Wonder Woman & Batman together on screen… that Batman has the world’s largest f**king shotgun/grenade launcher at his disposal? Anyway, as for the fight scenes themselves, some are pretty tight & concise… others are just really confusing… and again, part of it is the fluctuation of physics in this cinematic universe… and I feel like this was Zach Snyder trying to touch on as many genre as possible. There’s car chase scenes like a “Fast & Furious” movie. There’s fight scenes that are the usual super-epic superhero stuff… as well as ones that are reminiscent of Asian movies like “Raid: Redemption” or “Oldboy” in their ferocity. It’s just kind of a mixed bag though.
Overall, you pretty much have to watch this movie if you like comics… and it’s not bad by any means. In fact, I would say that it’s pretty good and a decent start point for the whole “Justice League” franchise and all of its spin-offs. However, there are going to be plenty of times watching it where you think to yourself “What the…? What am I watching right now? Why is this in here?” It has a few flaws… but then again… as is constantly crammed down our throats, we all have flaws… especially our superheroes. Go check it out!
Also, Monday night the roommates and I hashed out some minor grievances over beer & wine, followed it up with “Tucker & Dale Versus Evil” and then a new movie that sounded interesting called “Lazarus Effect” starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover & Evan Peters. This movie is about a group of Berkeley scientists who start out attempting to restimulate brain cells and grow new cells, etc… and somehow slip on a way to actually reanimate dead dogs… and I assume future animals with testing. Then the pharmaceutical company that gave them the grant step in to steal their research… and so they decide to break into the lab & do it again… despite the dog that they brought back from the dead having some… odd ultraviolent side effects. Well… something goes wrong during the experiment… and the superhot scientist (Wilde) ends up getting electrocuted. What to do? Bring her back, of course! You don’t need another corpse on your record. Well… it works… but then she starts having some serious side effects as well.
Okay, I remember hearing about this movie… and then NOTHING! Apparently it was made in 2013… and then released over two years later (never a good sign) when the surprisingly good cast really caught fire or something. Fun fact: David Gelb, the director of this movie actually did a pretty good job of keeping the atmosphere of the movie creepy… even when the script towards the end took a serious turn to the ridiculous. What has he done in the past? Well… he did the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and… that’s about it. Overall, I thought the movie was pretty good. There were obvious flaws, but the acting was pretty good… the atmosphere was creepy… I kept thinking about “Deep Blue Sea” while watching it… but where that movie is ridiculous throughout, this one is a little more rooted in reality & not spitting one-liners or anything. I’d say check it out. It’s a scant 83 minutes WITH credits.
This past weekend, we also stopped by SFHG founding member Kevin’s homebrew shop / taproom / brewery that we’ve been (small time) investors in for the past few years, Ferment.Drink.Repeat. The location is not quite open (hopefully in the next few weeks) but it’s well on its way… and the homebrew shop portion is open during select hours. Congratulations to Kevin & his wife Shae for getting this monstrous adventure off the ground! Here are some pictures…
We also brewed up an IPA with hops that we had lying around (mostly from NHC) and some ingredients from FDR... this first one is a picture of our Mountain Brew that we enjoyed while making it...

In summation, our latest episode of the Everything I Learned From Movies Podcast (eilfm.podbean.com) will be posted by the time that you read this… and spoiler alert, we’re probably going to talk about Batman v Superman a bit… but check out our review of “Leprechaun in Da Hood” as well as a few surprises. Until then, have a great day everybody!!!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mountain Brew Tasting

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Tuesday night, Izzy & I had a sexy date night dinner at the restaurant Anzu at the Hotel Nikko downtown. A few months ago, Izzy entered an Instagram contest while we were there for a happy hour… and won us a certificate for dinner for two… and we finally cashed it in. Check out her Instagram for pictures… but basically, they have a good raw bar where we got some sushi rolls, thinly cut Wagyu beef that we cooked by searing on a hot stone, a few craft brews, some sake, some cheesecake… and even without the certificate, it really didn’t cost us a grip… and the service was amazing & friendly. Check them out… even if just for their Happy Hour from 3 PM to 6 PM.
Thursday was St. Patrick’s Day & the start of March Madness… but I worked like a grown up… but then there was a meeting with the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild where we started setting up the schedule for the remainder of the year, as well as help orient the new leadership with their job duties. As the former Outreach Chair (and current Board Member), I helped the new Outreach Chair & Membership Chair with their duties… everybody shared beer, ate pizza, and set a pretty good schedule for events, competitions, picnics, classes & all the other things for the rest of 2016… with many more certainly on the way. It should be another great year for this institution… and I’ll be sure to keep you posted with some of the finer things as long as I’m with the guild.
This weekend, Izzy & I also finally kegged our Pale Ale made with our Homegrown Galena Hops
… as well as kegged our mysterious Mountain Brew, which is a Pale Ale made with Mountain Dew.

Now for the weekly update of the Everything I Learned From Movies Podast!!!
Episode #3 is landing at eilfm.podbean.com soon and the movie featured is a St. Patrick’s Day classic – “Leprechaun in Da Hood” which is the 5th installment of the Leprechaun series, released in 2000, and starring the talents of Warwick Davis as the titular character, Ice T as Mack Daddy & Coolio as himself. Brief summary: Three young rappers led by their charismatic frontman Postmaster P (yup, it’s one of those) try to get even with a pimp (take a guess who plays him)… they accidentally unleash a mystical creature who goes on a killing spree. Sounds intriguing, yes? Well… it’s definitely memorable… you’ll just have to listen to the podcast to find out how.
Also, we’ve received a few comments & suggestions on the EILFM website, Facebook Page and Twitter… but we could always use more… and you want to get a shout out on the podcast, right? So do us both a favor, listen, and let us know what you think. Do you have a suggestion for a new movie you want us to check out because you have no time (or need) to watch it yourself? Perhaps a classic from your childhood that you know is bad? How about a loopy theory about a movie that we’ve already shared? Do you hate our intro music? Have intro music to share yourself? Let us know! Until then, also have a great weekend everybody!!! Be safe out there…

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Girl Scout Cookie Beer Days

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
It was a rainy weekend… my back was still a little stiff… Izzy worked both days… so not a whole lot else to do besides household upkeep for me & my children (roommates), get an oil change for my Gretchen, drink some beer, and perform some upkeep on the podcast. However, on Sunday we did take some time to stop by Woods Brewing’s Polk Station location because they are having their Girl Scout Cookie Beer Days, where they’ve arranged for five separate & distinct beers based on delicious Girl Scout Cookies. What kind of beers did they have this year?
·         Shortbread Golden Ale
·         Peanut Butter Cream Ale – Blonde ale with real peanut butter
·         Coconut Caramel Dubbel – Belgian Dubbel with coconut flakes & cocoa nibs
·         Choco Peanut Butter Stout – Chocolate Stout with peanut butter on nitro tap
·         Chocolate Peppermint Porter – Roasty porter with cocoa & mint
We ordered a flight… and the flight also included the Bay Area Merit Badges that you see above. Woods is kind of a fun, hipster kind of place… but I really like it& I’m glad that they found their niche. Unique, delicious beers with a great appeal and changing all the time with a mix of what the customers want… and of course the experimental stuff that owner Jim Woods wants to do. You may remember last year when we with the SF Homebrewers Guild got to experiment with some wort that he provided. So yeah… great time… and we even got a growler to share with Izzy’s mom because she got her truck thieved. Made her feel better…
Episode 2 of the Everything I Learned From Movies Podcast is now up & ready for download! In episode two, Izzy & I discuss the 1995 action masterpiece “Congo” where a cell phone company gets involved with African warlords, Romanian philanthropists, great white hunters who happen to be black, hungry hungry hippos, horny horny monkeys, and apes that both kill AND talk. We also discuss some delicious beers both commercial& homemade... and just a lot of random awesomeness… and probably most importantly, the start of music added to the podcast! Download, listen, enjoy, and let us know what you think on the website (eilfm.podbean.com), Facebook or Twitter (@eilfmovies) and of course… just here on this blog works too.
What’s coming up for Episode 3? That remains to be seen… but if you’d like to get a shout-out, let us know what you think about the first two episodes… and we’re also looking for future special guests, so hit us up & we’ll work it out! Until then, have a great day everybody!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Back in the Hassle

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Well… this week didn’t go as planned. Wednesday morning, I awoke at 2 AM with a pain in my lower back… and I couldn’t really move. I don’t know what had happened, I didn’t feel like a sharp pain to initiate it or anything… but my lower back was basically worthless at that point. So I gingerly rolled out of bed to do my business… and just tried to relax. Well, I woke up that morning… and basically couldn’t really walk my back was so stiff. Not a good sign. So I called into work & basically relaxed the whole day giving it heat therapy & rest… and I ended up doing it again on Thursday just to be safe (decided after taking a hot shower in the morning & it didn’t really feel like a good idea). The good news… my back is feeling better now… I worked on Friday… and I got to catch up on some movies… and they were all pretty good… so in short, check all of these movies out.
First up was “Ex Machina” starring Downhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac & Alicia Vikander. This movie is about a young programmer (Gleeson) who wins a trip to spend a week with the company’s mysterious& brilliant owner (Isaac) at his expansive isolated estate… and help him with a special project. The project… is to test his new artificial intelligence software… which happens to be located inside of a well-proportioned automaton (Vikander). What follows is a great little tale that’s… a lot like an episode of the Twilight Zone of Black Mirror or something… where the people involved question what makes a human human… and a human being… and a personality or soul? My impresssions from this movie… were first & foremost, it’s BEAUTIFULLY shot! The location of the estate & the esthetic of the interior… are spot on perfect. The acting… pretty damn impressive as well. The sequence of plot devices… somewhat predictable… but then takes sudden twists & turns from the norm. Definitely go check this movie out!
Next up was last year’s Best Pictures winner & the first in a running theme of movies about voices in your head from the past 15 months or so… and that’s “Birdman” starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifinakis, Emma Stone, Edward Norton & others. The movie itself is a pretty standard story about a former superhero actor (Keaton) who is trying to put on a Broadway play… but is having difficulties along the way with his lead actor (Norton), his daughter (Stone), his ex-wife, his potential baby mama, and most importantly… his own insecurities & frailties. That sounds like a pretty lame & boring story, right? Well… the reason this movie won Best Picture is the way that it’s shot… it’s essentially a bunch of long continuious shots that are superbly acted & placed along the way. It all takes place within the same block or two I think… at least in the story. I was a little skeptical of this movie going in after all the buzz from last year… but it’s definitely well worth it. There’s really not a dull moment… there are some cool effects (probably CGI but hard to tell) that are thrown in to keep you on your toes like “What is happening?” and on the edge of your seat. Definitely check this movie out if you haven’t already.
Next up was a movie about internal voices called “The Voices” starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton & Anna Kendrick… but it seems that very few people have even heard of it. This is about a man (Reynolds) who works at a faucet& fixture plant… and he’s just trying to keep his life in order with the help of his therapist, his job, and even trying to socialize with the work hottie accountant (Arterton) and her friends (including Kendrick). There’s just one problem… he’s schizophrenic… and he hasn’t been taking his meds apparently… because then he would lose his best friends… his dog & cat (also voiced by Reynolds). The movie is… one of those interesting mixes of funny, twisted & poignant. You essentially see the whole movie through the main character’s eyes… but he’s obviously not a trustworthy storyteller. There are some parts that are a little graphic & not for the squeamish… but if you can put up with a little gore & dark matter… then by all means, check it out. It’s not “Saw” or anything on that level, but there’s a bit of corn syrup used.
Next up was the movie for children of all ages “Inside Out” starring the voice talents of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, & Lewis Black. This movie is more the softer side of schizophrenia… okay, it’s not really that at all. It centers around a young girl & the changes going on in her life… and how they affect the voices (moods?) inside of her head that help her to operate the complicated pidge-podge that is her fragile young mind. This little girl moves from Minnesota to San Francisco… and of course her life is flipped upside down… and her parents are having issues… and then there’s wacky adventures inside of her head led by Joy & Sadness… and cameos by Fear, Anger & Disgust. I mean… Pixar just makes good movies. You all know that. The story is usually concise, insert fart jokes, a little adult humor, boom! The movie is fun. Heck, there may have been even a few dusty moments towards the end… but yeah, if you were going to watch it, you already have. If not, check it out now that it’s on video.
Next up was “Black Mass” starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch & others in the story of notorious Boston area gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in 1970’s to 90’s. Basically it’s the story of a gruff guy (Depp) who was selling some drugs, running some numbers & doing some other horrible criminal things… and then he stepped his game up when he formed an alliance with an FBI agent (Edgerton) as an informant to basically run the competition out of town… all while his brother (Cumberbatch) is in the state senate. I mean… that’s the movie. You see Depp’s character become more & more of a brutal sociopath… and all of his former friends eventually turn on him if not just out of fear of his actions… but the movie is still pretty intense & the performances are strong. Now, a lot of liberties have been taken with the facts to make the true events a little more “movie” but yeah… this movie can be difficult to watch or pay attention to… except that the situations get really tense. Unfortunately… this is probably the least rewatchable of the movies that I’ve seen the past few days… but still pretty good. Check it out if you liked “The Departed” and can stand the Boston accents.
Last up is last year’s “Gone Girl” starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and a great ensemble cast. The movie starts with a man (Affleck) who returns home to find that his wife is missing… and there appears to be a struggle, so he called the cops to report a missing person. Over the course of the next few days though (and flashbacks to past events & learning more of the situation), the only person that really seems to benefit from his wife being gone… is him… and all of the evidence is pointing towards him… and things just get worse… and worse. The movie starts out as your typical missing person kind of movie… but then takes a LOT of twists & turns and becomes essentially a murder mystery meets a social commentary on social media & the 24-hour news cycle… and it REALLY becomes frustrating towards the end with how rooted in reality it is. Towards the end, there are a few moments where I was like “Ugh… why don’t you just do this? Then everything will unravel the way you like it” but alas… it’s a dark, twisted tale & I highly recommend that you watch it. Don’t be scared of the 2.5 hour runtime! It’s worth it & is rarely boring… as long as you’re paying attention to the movie & not checking your phone… then you’re probably not going to understand what’s going on. Then again, that’s really how you should watch a movie anyway. Just my humble opinion…
Lastly… coming soon… Episode 2 of the Everything I Learned From Movies Podcast featuring the legendary 1995 masterpiece – Congo!!! Currently available on Netflix… so check it out… check out our podcast & let us know what you think on the website, Facebook or Twitter. Get a shout-out on the podcast & we can answer your questions. Until then, have a great weekend everybody!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Room on Your iPod

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
The other night, I watched “Room” starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson. This movie has been talked about lately after Brie’s win… but the subject matter is both dark… and inspiring / whimsical in a way. The story is about a mother & child who are being held captive in a man’s garden shed. The mother has been there for 7 years… and her son is celebrating his 5th birthday… so he knows NOTHING of the outside world beyond the Room. However, his mother has a plan… to escape. Now, I don’t want to give too much away on the when & the how… but it’s not really a spoiler alert that they escape. I’ll leave it at that. What’s great about this movie though… is the tone is pretty damn good. At times it’s dark, gritty & scary… but it’s also told mostly from the point of view of the young son… and there are times of whimsical enjoyment of spending time with his mom… and fear & grief… and confusion of the whole situation. The young child actor did a great job! Also, it’s a two hour movie that basically takes 30 minutes to set the movie, 30 minutes on the escape… and then the whole last hour is almost as scary with what happens to the mother & her child now that they’re back out in the world. Great flick! Go check it out if you’re up to the subject matter.

Another note: The mother’s parents are played by William H. Macy & Joan Allen. Does that sound familiar? Yes… the same parents as the movie “Pleasantville” from the late 90’s. So… in my twisted mind of movie connection… “Room” is essentially a sequel to “Pleasantville” where Reese Witherspoon’s character is kidnapped at the age of 17, spends 7 years in captivity & raising her child in a garden shed where she raped nightly… and then escapes & returns home to her parents… and make no mistake, they’re basically the same stereotypical wholesome father-mother characters as that movie. Now, I have a theory about this movie. Originally they were going to have a more complex father character who had to really portray both the man who would be overjoyed to have a grandson… but also know that it was a child of the man who kidnapped & violated his daughter nightly for seven years. That’s a tough role to pull off. Answer? Have WHM be the father who almost disowns his daughter (he’s only in like three short scenes & it’s either involving lawyers, and the dinner table scene) and then insert that uncle that lives in the home with them… who may look a little unnerving… but he’s a sweet guy who just wants to help the son not be scared of new people & things. You can’t really have both in the same character… but yeah, the uncle seemed a little thrown-in… and he had a puppy so… sold. Anyway, check out this movie.
This weekend has been pretty rainy which is awesome… but Sunday morning, Izzy & I went downtown for a wedding ring sizing, then a little movie date where I finally took her to see “Star Wars: Force Awakens” for the first time (my 3rd time), she liked it… and then we went to the Aunties to bake some cookies for her cousin Jeff who’s posted with the Air Force. It was a great day! Other than that, nothing much to report… but I really enjoy spending time with Izzy’s family… and of course Izzy. Hmm… what else do I have to announce? Oh yeah…
THE PODCAST IS FINALLY UP & RUNNING!!! (horn horn hoooooooooorn…)
That’s right! “Everything I Learned From Movies” podcast is up & running at eilfm.podbean.com or the link is HERE AT EILFM!!! Episode one is our review of “Tremors 5: Bloodlines” and really the entire Tremors Cinematic Universe… and a sneak peak at movies coming out the next few months, which whether you should be excited or not. Along with the website, there’s a Facebook page, twitter handle (@eilfmovies) and you of course already know about these blogs. Stay tuned! Stay connected!
Coming soon though… theme music… more reviews of movies that you’d probably enjoy… plenty of great beer that you should also be enjoying while enjoying the movies… news clips… ridiculous off-shoot bits that we enjoy… and who knows what else? Honestly we haven’t even recorded Episode 2 yet but we’re going to try to keep it posted once a week once we get all of the sites up & running, coordinated, integrated & easy to feed one another… but it should be on iTunes shortly. Until then, check us out at the LINK (eilfm.podbean.com) and share it with friends that you might think would enjoy it.
So yeah, follow the podcast, follow this blog, let us know what you think… suggestions for what you want to hear on the show… we’re also going to be looking for special guests soon, so if there’s a particular movie genre that you’re a fan of or upcoming film you wanted to check out with us & review on the podcast, hit us up! Until then, have a great day everybody!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Uncle From M.A.N.

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
The other night, Izzy & I watched a little known movie that came out this past year called “He Never Died” starring Henry Rollins and from writer-director Jason Krawczyk (2011’s “The Briefcase”). This movie is about a guy named Jack (Rollins) who is a bit of a shut-in. He has his usual routine… he doesn’t socialize… he’s very direct… knows what he wants… he plays bingo… just goes day by day the same way. Well, one day… the guy who brings him mysterious packages (drugs?) routinely gets in a little bit of trouble… and of course the trouble comes to Jack’s doorstep... as well as a teenage daughter that he never knew he had from a past relationship. Needless to say, that sets forth a series of events that breaks his routine… and leads to a bunch of VENGEANCE. Oh… and I’m not sure if you’re supposed to know this ahead of time… but Jack is immortal… and possibly a vampire? I feel like that might be important to get you interested.
I REALLY liked this movie. The soundtrack was different but really good… Jack’s character was not your typical portrayal of an immortal person but when you really think about it, is exactly what they would be like. They’ve been there, done that. Fighting is just straight-forward, effective & brutal. You can’t get attachment of any kind because everything you know is going to die (although that’s one of the main things about Buddhism & finding Enlightenment is realizing that’s true even when you’re not immortal yourself). He’s haunted by his past. Even the other actors are pretty good… and the entire movie is done in a very gritty, realistic (save for one immortal guy) yet not disgusting way that really brings you into the movie. I highly recommend checking this movie out… and how is Henry Rollins not in more things. He must still be touring or something.
We also watched an action comedy from last year called “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” which is based on the 60’s TV series of the same name, starring Henry Cavill & Armie Hammer, and directed by Guy Ritchie (“Snatch” & “Sherlock Holmes”). There are also cameos by other British actors like Hugh Grant & Jared Harris. The movie is set in 1963 and is about a former thief turned CIA agent named Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Russian KGB operative named Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) who are forced to team up with an East German mechanic (played by Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander) by their superiors in order to infiltrate her uncle’s stronghold in Rome… and find the location of her father who may or may not have found a way to make nuclear bombs. The movie is a very stylized spy action comedy in the vein of James Bond and “The Avengers” (the Uma Thurman one) with some of the wild cut-screen montages of Guy Ritchie movies. While the look of the movie is very chic & interesting… unfortunately the movie itself gets… a little jumbled and… basically it’s all over the place with the tone & overall feel of the movie. A lot like “The Avengers”, some parts of the movie that are supposed to be the big action scenes… really just aren’t that exciting. Partly because of the “witty” dialogue that gets thrown in (which really isn’t that witty) but also… it just doesn’t really have that immersive feel to it… and there are a few occasions where the sequence of events gets purposely mixed up to keep the viewer off kilter & reveal what they missed a minute or two later… but the callbacks aren’t done as effectively as say… one of the “Ocean’s 11” movies when there’s the big reveal at the end. It’s more jumbled & unnecessary. The tone also shifts on a dime sometimes from the super-stylized tongue-in-cheek stuff… to some rather dark things like a whole monologue about torture a few times. The pacing is a little off. Even the big climax was… kind of a letdown. That being said…
Overall, I’d say check this movie out. It was a very average movie… but it’s better than you probably think it is, or I even made it sound… but for all of its shortcomings, it may just be because it’s so unique and different from what I’m used to. I’ve seen other Guy Ritchie movies obviously… and this seemed like a hodgepodge of different things taking from James Bond, the old Avengers, the Ocean’s movies, and some other movies from the 60’s which was very cool… but sometimes it just didn’t seem to mesh well… and there were two instances where there were long holds on scenes where I said out loud to Izzy, “Okay… next scene please” but she was on her phone… so she had no idea what I was talking about. Also… it’s been a great year for young actress Alicia Vikander, with her starring roles in “Ex Machina” and winning the award for Best Supporting Actress in “The Danish Girl” but… in this movie, she simply could not get her accent down at all. Now… she’s Swedish… and is playing a German mechanic… and hanging out in Italy with a British guy playing American and Armie Hammer doing his best impression of Drago from “Rocky IV” but… it was just all over the place & I think she may have even been a little confused… but it was distractingly bad sometimes. Although, I really liked Jared Harris’ American accent as Solo’s commanding officer. I had to double check that it was actually him… there’s a gravely sort of Nick Nolte in his voice. Anyway, check this out if you’re into the genre. It’s not that bad.
Wednesday night was the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild Monthly Meeting at Anchor Brewing… and this time around was our first elections for the Leadership Team in two years. I’ve been the Outreach Chair with the club since then… and I would have gone for a higher position this time around… but with possibly moving in the next few months, I thought I would just become a Board Member & help out as best I can… and thankfully the guild thought that was a good idea too. So yeah, I’m a Board Member. We went over some plans for the coming year, introduced the new leadership (they’ve all been around for a while) and yeah… shared homebrew & caught up on personal events. It was a great time with a great group of people. A few members have their bars / breweries opening up very soon as well… so I’ll keep you posted on all of them as that happens.
Thursday night, we met up for dinner with Bubbles & her boyfriend in the Dogpatch. It had been a while since we caught up… and of course she wanted to check out Izzy’s ring. You’ve all seen it, right? It’s pretty sweet… somebody has good taste. Anyway, the night started with a few drinks at Magnolia’s Smokestack location (including their barleywine Old Thunderpussy). Great beer there… but a little pricey if you ask me… and you already know how we feel about the overpriced barbecue there. Then we headed over to the Italian restaurant Piccino a few blocks away & had a wonderful meal with great people. We had some of their pizzas and spinach ravioli… and there were some great craft beers available too. The atmosphere was perfect… and we basically ended up shutting the place down at 10 PM. Go check out Piccino if you’re in the area… but you probably want to make reservations first. Apparently it’s very popular.
Anyway, it’s going to be a rainy weekend here in the Bay Area… so that means plenty of time to buckle down, get this podcast up & running, and of course check out our latest homebrew selection, the Chocolate Stout, to make sure that it’s up to par. Until next time, have a great weekend everybody!!!

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