Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's that time of year again...

31 Days of Oscar is the Turner Classic Movies tradition of airing a full month of Academy Award nominated and winning films. It has the added benefit of closing out my list of movies to watch. Check out this year's schedule.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It isn't easy being green

No, not Kermit but the irrevocable Green Arrow. It just so happens as I was watching Justice League Unlimited on DVD, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Netflix, Smallville had a run of Oliver Queen episodes. The Smallville version of the Green Arrow was fun, if not a bit cheesy. He did a bang up job of wooing Lois Lane, getting Clark to climb out of that Lana funk and finally bring down the ever darkening Lex Luthor lab. Lex's patriotic speech gave me warm fuzzies to think of his potential presidential run. Oliver was charming and good looking but the outfit was a bit much for a Superman show with no tights. The last episode with a would be-Flash and Aquaman tried for a Justice League feel but the writing just was not there. I do want to say the slow motion group coming out of the fog thing was a nice touch.

Justice League Unlimted (JLU), on the other hand, has all the writing and character depth of a high class dramatic series. Personal storylines of heroes has become a favorite genre of mine which probably stems from my love of anime. There is nothing like angst to draw out the fan girl in me. The Green Arrow on JLU does not have a lot of angst but loves to voice his opinion as he shoots those loaded arrows with insane accuracy. He has the wit of Flash (another favorite character of mine) with the idealism of Batman, of whom there is no equal. A man with no super powers, the JLU Oliver Queen ends up being one of the most powerful characters on the show, cutting the original Justice League to their knees. What a guy. How can you not love him?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The AFI list dwindles

A little less than a year ago I had twenty movies left on the AFI list of 100 greatest movies. I just finished Apocalypse Now (2001 redux) which leaves 13 movies on this list which drives me insane sometimes. I hate not finishing something. Having watched Apocalypse Now means that I have completed the first 37 movies on the list, a great feat indeed. Most of the movies left are near the end and some are rather hard to find given there are some silent films. Of my most recent screenings I very much enjoyed The Third Man. A Carol Reed directed black and white classic, the visuals of this film are beautiful. Joseph Cotten played an excellent Marten, a seemingly fish out of water who then steals the show at the end, literally. Look for news as I finish the list entirely. I am going to have a big party that day.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Winter Storm 07

I love how they give the lead in to all day news coverage of the ice storm in Texas. Here is the picture stream of the ice that crippled the city this past week.

Snowing in Texas

Not a Hollow, Bleach the Bount arc

I took the opportunity of the winter storm to catch up on Bleach and in doing so finished the Bount arc. First, the arc was really filler. This means that it is not a part of the original manga. I guess the TV series moves too quickly and has to give the manga time to catch up and so creates its own story line to do so. While the big bad dude was a bit over the top in wanting to destroy the world, soul society, and the rest of his comrades, I like that there was a good comparison between his past and personality to Ichigo's. The final question gave the arc some resonance. What would Ichigo have chosen were he in Kariya's shoes?

Some other things that bothered me were Ishida's new outfit, soul society captains hovering in mid air, and the fact that no one actually was living in all the houses they destroyed in Seireitei. Still it was nice to see that the captains could hold their own and, after some perceptive observing, could easily finish off the Bount ryoka. One of my favorite fights was Tōshirō Hitsugaya against Koga. Even though Tōshirō had to bring out his bankai, he really just brought him down with one blow. It was a wow moment for me.

Throughout the arc, there were a few times that we saw Ichigo's hidden hollow come forth. These are scary moments for me and our hero. I know that there is some hidden power there that is either not under control or that wants to control him. I believe that near the end with Kariya, there was a different sort of power which came to the surface. I am eager to see the internal battle in our orange haired friend.

Who we did not see a lot of was Inoue or Chad. Two of Ichigo's devoted friends who ended up picking up pieces or running around. I hope they grow in the next arc. Who we did see a lot of was Kuchiki Byakuya. Man, this guy is the epitome of cool, both in composure and admiration. I love how he always looks bored with his opponent but can strike with impressive force at any given moment. This arc did show some touching vulnerability for his sister. I wonder if that is captured in the manga as well. We finally get to see an emotional facial expression near the end and it all focuses on Ichigo, a good moment for the series.

While there were some difficult holes in the plot, it was a damn fun ride with some pretty excellent fights both in the real world and in the soul society. Now that the series is back on track with the manga, the ride should get even more interesting. Bankai.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snow in Texas!

Posted by Picasa

And it's only 10 AM

Best line of the night: "Get me Jack Bauer, now!" - President Wayne Parmer

Best scene of the night: Jack breaking down after shooting Curtis, Assad being driven away, and a nuclear explosion rocking L.A.

Best feeling of the night: Knowing we have twenty more hours to get four more suitcase bombs and watch Jack come back.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Two hours never looked so good

I made the mistake of trying to work during the premiere of Jack Bauer's return. Alas, I missed the really good parts of the show, the little moments where Jack shows vulnerability. Luckily, a winter storm moved through Texas and I had some free time to rewatch 24. Besides the unbelievable recovery of Jack from two years of torture (would you really remember how to drive, let alone hot wire a car or shoot straight?), these two hours were chock full of hero goodness. He recovers from two years of silence to ask about Audrey and his daughter, gets tortured again only to find out he really will die for nothing and then rescues a terrorist from certain death to find he can not perform his CTU duties any longer. After five terrible 24 hour days, Jack has to remember what it means to be Jack Bauer. Something in which we get a chance to participate. Could anything be so much fun?

Incidentally, I do not know who the genius was that built all of Austin's roads above ground but it makes for some very hazardous driving. I witnessed a truck spin out this morning on the one mile ramp I have to take to work every day. That was fun to drive around. Then, leaving early to get home before things really started getting nasty as the temperatures dropped, I slipped on the ice in the garage and bruised my hands and knee. Despite my love of the winter, Texas just is not the place for it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Afro Samurai

Set in a futuristic fuedal Japan, Afro Samurai is an animated series showing on SpikeTV of all places. After one episode, I am happy with the story, characters, and animation. I plan to continue watching.

Afro Samurai episode 1

Children of Men

I do not go to see movies very often as the he crowds tend to bother me. But Children of Men intrigued me. It had the hint of science fiction without all the hype of a special effects movie. It was the kind of movie that plays over and over in my mind and that is not necessarily a good thing.

Children of Men takes place in England in the year 2027. The population is infertile and the most of the children have died out in a flu epidemic. The youngest person on the planet has just died in a brawl. The Earth has gone to pot and one of the only places left is England, specifically London where we meet Theo, our unclaimed hero. There is also an influx of illegal immigrants and Britain has been forced to close its borders, capturing and caging refugees and resorting to a police state. Amongst its citizens are many groups both peaceful and revolutionary. One such group is the The Fishes led by Julian, Theo's ex-wife and mother of his dead son. Julian enlists Theo to help Kee, a West African refugee get to the coast. The result is a harrowing journey for all involved as Theo and Kee make their way through a war zone.

Alfonso Cuarón has brought about a very believable dystopia. Welcome details such as the scrolling bus ads and burning animals added greatly to is reality. I am not a fan of the handheld camera. My eyes like to focus and with this direction, things become blurry and you can not catch as many details. There was one instance, however, a very long shot as Theo tries to make his way into a building with the battle raging around him. He enters a bus full of people, most who are shot to death and the splatter hits the camera. Instead of a cut, the camera rolls with the blood reflecting the gruesome scene. It only enhanced the jostle of Theo as he dodges bullets and bombs. It was an interesting choice in direction. The movie was fettered with these scenes and, in fact, there was little time when things were not happening. The inactive scenes were what made the film. As an out of focus Jasper recounts the death of Theo and Julian's child, Theo stands forefront and we relive the grief in his eyes. The blend was a perfect scene which required no action nor any effects. There was no complete score to speak of but many of the songs complemented the tone of the film. Added to that was a high pitched sound which played every so often seeming to last too long. It was a recurring theme along with Theo's loss of shoes. Moving from designer shoes to bare feet, from flip flops to used tennis shoes successfully glued his morbid experiences to the audience. Overall, the film was a dreary telling of a possible future but resulted in an extraordinary piece of art. I do not regret seeing it in a theater.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Man, did I stumble on to this. It seems that any book in the public domain can be recorded and distributed without penalty or fees. Someone took it upon himself to get volunteers to do this right, checking and double checking the recordings. Bravo and thanks for hours of enjoyment. Oh, and there are eBooks as well.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Poor Jack

If you do not want a spoiler, do not read this. But oh, how I long for Jack's return.

Matt Roush's review of the premiere of 24

Monday, January 01, 2007

The New Jedi Order

I just finished the first book of this Star Wars series occurring 25 years after the destruction of the Second Death Star (more formerly known as the Battle of Yavin). Incidentally, I love the Christmas holidays when I can catch up on my reading. I was loathed to start it because the series consists of 24 books and I had read they were not all that fantastic. However, being a fan of most of the Star Wars novels, I wanted to give it a chance. Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore was actually a pretty interesting novel and introduced a very cool dark race. However, a major character dies, one of the four which carried us through the first movie. I am not sure that I want to experience the fall out of that and so I am undecided on whether to continue. Also, not all the books are written by the same author so it seems very inconsistent. Still, I enjoy the Solo twins and the true capture of Lando as a character. And I would get to enjoy the expanded Star Wars universe and continue my fanaticism by continuing to read. I am just not sure what to do.

Avatar Book Two: Earth

I ended up watching the season finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender without knowing it. And things did not end well for Aang and the gang. It is horrible that we have to wait until July for its return. I suggest once again to catch this show on Nickelodeon. It is completely worth the time for its excellent fights, intriguing characters and riotous one liners!

Family Christmas

It was a good year. The time with family was spectacular despite catching a cold like always. Here lies the remnants of Christmas 2006 with my family.