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Friday, March 23, 2018

'Anchor' Mini Project

I'm kind of on a roll, here. I guess that's what happens when you listen to music that really touches on something you hold close to your heart.

Like the previous project, it is watermarked.

Edit: Increased transparency of watermark; changed a few lines, added a new one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dimming - Mini Project

Well, I've finished a project in one sitting and it's all finished, ready for sharing.

It is watermarked.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Godzilla Review (2014, Action/Adventure/Monster, Legendary Pictures)

This movie should remind you why Godzilla is king.


The movie mostly ends up checking the right points: Godzilla himself is badass as ever and isn't simply out to destroy us; he battles other Kaiju; we get to watch human characters that we care about; it's fun to watch.

But what this film does wrong is that it seems to undermine itself on almost all those fronts. Godzilla is badass, yes, in appearance and in how he handles his opposition. But you might be hard-pressed to actually see him in the first place, because he's only in the movie for about ten to fifteen minutes of the film's solid two-hour run time. Considering the film's title, I expected to see more of him. You don't have to inundate us with him in every single frame (build-up is always nice), but maybe grant the viewer, I dunno, a glimpse of the titular monster in half of the film's run time? Could that have been too much to ask for? The M.U.T.O.s that he battles, for instance, get significantly more screen-time than he does. In fact, they get even more development than he does.

Yet when he shows up, he's glorious to behold. He's got a great design, he towers over most buildings now, he resembles a fighting bear, and he's not a malevolent force that we must overcome somehow. And he shrugs off nukes, even eats them perhaps; it will take other kaiju of his power level in order to really bring him to his knees, and that's a definite plus to this version.

The human element has some stronger foundations, too. The effective Bryan Cranston has a role here as Joe Brody, who inadvertently discovers the presence of the M.U.T.O.s and kind of sets the plot in motion. Disaster and tragedy strikes, and we have to then fast forward to the present. He's determined to find out why the disaster occurred and why the government is running experiments where it happened. This gets him in the (non-hostile) crosshairs of his son Ford Brody, a military operator, who wants to bring him home. They reunite, investigate the disaster site, reconcile a bit, and discover that there's an immense danger present there. It's a dormant M.U.T.O., and it's about to wake up. This is where Bryan Cranston's character ends up getting killed, and the human element of the film suffers for it.

I don't have anything against Aaron-Taylor Johnson as an actor, but he doesn't exactly sell his role as Ford. He is certainly sympathetic and all, but he doesn't drive the plot forward until the very end when it makes a lot more sense for him to have any impact on it at all. Instead, Elizabeth Olsen as Ford's wife, who is a nurse who ends up right in the heat of Godzilla's battle with the M.U.T.O.s toward the end, does manage to elicit some interest, in spite of how brief her appearances. And then there's Ken Watanabe's character, a scientist who has been studying kaiju with the MONARCH project (they investigate things like this). The only notable thing about his character is that he's always in three modes in all of his scenes: looking surprised, looking shocked, and looking confused. He delivers his lines in monotone and really just serves to drive home the fact that this is very much, in fact, a Godzilla movie. 

The film does have some fun with its premise. Like in the good old days of the franchise, Godzilla has to meet a skyscraper-size match and do battle with it. In this movie's case, two (of the same species no doubt) adversaries that reportedly decimated Godzilla's species many eons ago. And the kaiju within these proceedings, especially his enemies, flat-out eat nukes for breakfast. They also deal untold destruction in trying to find a nesting ground so that they can replenish their numbers. Godzilla is tracking them and has a score to settle, and the only reason we know this at all is because the military somehow become privy to this inevitable showdown. And when the showdown does happen, it's pretty cool to watch. Our badass title character even unleashes not one, but two radioactive breath waves on his insectoid enemies.

And speaking of the M.U.T.O.s, and having previously mentioned how they actually do receive development throughout the film, they do come across as sympathetic antagonists. In one particular scene that will stand out with some viewers, the female and the male are clearly shown to be mating partners. They work together, look out for one another when they're in danger, and they even nuzzle. How cute. While their design leaves a little to be desired (they look rather unnatural), they at least come across as more interesting antagonists than otherwise, which is a plus. And then Ford Brody ends up destroying their egg-sacs, which puts the mother into flat-out berserk mode, all directed at him. You can't help but feel a bit of pity for her, given that all she's trying to do is help her species survive.

Then Godzilla, having dealt with the male (who, while significantly smaller in size than the female, has the advantage of flight) which was annoying our hero with hit & run tactics, sets his sights on the female. She's about to deal the killing blow against Ford when Godzilla grabs her and delivers a heavy dose of radioactive breath down her fucking throat. While you couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for the M.U.T.O.s, this triumph is nonetheless a glory to behold. He roars into the skies, signifying his place at the top of the world, and collapses in exhaustion. The next day, with the world watching, he awakens and heads back out to sea, with humanity cheering him on as the necessary but destructive force to save the world.

Now all of this may seem like they take place over a significant amount of time, but they in fact don't. Again, Godzilla hardly even shows up in this movie, which, I must remind everyone, is NAMED AFTER HIM. And when he finally does, the battle, while still fun to watch, doesn't exactly lift the film up from mediocrity all that much. It's certainly a plus to see him do battle, but considering all that preceded that segment of the film, it wasn't enough. However, knowing that Legendary wants to make this into a number of films, re-imagining his battles with his famous foes like Mothra & King Ghidorah, I think we can all rest assured that the franchise will go places that will satisfy what we want out of these types of films in the first place: sheer, monumentally-large fun.

Just give us more of the titular monster, please.


The Good:

+ It's Godzilla
+ Godzilla has a really badass design. Some Japanese audiences didn't like it, but that's fine. I like him resembling an enormous bear. I like him having an ominous presence just because of how large he is. And I like how expressive he is now, such as showing that he, too, can feel pain and fear.
+   The M.U.T.O.s, while kind of off-putting in appearance (their eyes are evil looking, which is a nice touch), have a surprising depth to them. This takes them beyond the otherwise predictable role of "something for Godzilla to destroy."
+ It's not a depressing film.
+ Bryan Cranston delivers, as per usual.

The Bad: 

- For a film about Godzilla, he hardly even shows up. And by then it's another case of "too little, too late", or at least by some measure of the phrase.
- The human leads don't really warrant much interest.
- Bryan Cranston is only in the movie for about...15 to 20 minutes. And then he gets a bridge dropped almost literally right on top of him.
- Ken Watanabe's character & talent is rather wasted. He delivers his lines in a quiet monotone, like he just awoke from a coma that had left him weakened and confused.
- Feels a bit over-long.
- You don't get the best glimpse of Godzilla until he literally comes roaring into the picture, which further undermines his presence in the film.
- Seems to be more of a setup film than a confident, stand-alone film. It was meant to establish a shared universe, akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Disney continues to put out. Unlike the MCU, which was carefully handled by Kevin Feige, this shared universe seems to be a bit forced from the word "go."

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Godzilla Review (1998, Action/Adventure/Monster, Columbia TriStar)

Sorry, this is not the original Godzilla. Nor is it the decent-but-flawed 2014 reboot.

This is the rain-soaked, Manhattan-bound (you have to ask yourself during the movie, "WHY MANHATTAN!?"), inconsistent Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin effort to Americanize the franchise. It didn't succeed, and I'm happy that it didn't and I was even when I watched it at 10 years old.

One thing a lot of people don't mention about the movie is just how depressing its visual palette is. Not only does it rain for its entirety, or so it seems to anyway, but it's either always night time or the skies are almost always gray. It's a far cry from any other Godzilla movie ever made, where we were supposed to have fun watching the ridiculous and oversized proceedings take action. Instead, some of us, such as myself, pined for that one frame of even a ray of sunshine cutting through the dreary gray clouds during the few sequences taking place during daylight.

When you look at the human element, you can't really grasp onto anyone. No, not even Jean Reno manages a lick of excitement from viewers. The lead protagonist in all of this mess is Matthew Broderick, who plays himself. No, not really; he's supposed to be playing the role of an earthworm scientist of sorts who is in way over his head, and has a conveniently-placed ex-girlfriend who works for one of the local news stations in New York. The problem with both characters, especially Broderick's, is that they are simply there. In a movie so otherwise ludicrous in concept (giant monster stomping through a massive supercity) you'd think they'd try to inject some kind of levity into the situation, like some witty one-liner or ridiculous feat of strength from the human leads, but not even that happens. Ditto for the rest of the crowd barely-earning their paycheques in these proceedings. They're just...there. They fill a void, not a character.

Then the monster element comes in and it leaves us, and left me a little--confused. Are we supposed to root for its eventual defeat? Or are we supposed to root for its triumph over adversity? And how the hell does it fit in a subway tunnel at all when it is large enough at times to bring down buildings with a mere swipe of its tail? And the big twist that it is female elicits even more questions than anything else. Such questions would be, "how did it manage to do that at all?" and, "I thought Godzilla was a male?" And on the topic of the offspring themselves, who conveniently play a brief role in the movie (and pay a bit too much homage to the vastly superior Jurassic Park released five years prior), why, when their, uh, mommy drops hundreds of tonnes of fish for them to devour do they instead opt to eat the larger and lesser (in number) humans scurrying about? If the scent of dead fish eclipses anything else in the immediate vicinity, you'd think they'd opt just for the fish, right? Well, not in Emmerich-world.

They have to give chase to our, er, 'heroes'. Predictably, nothing of consequence happens here except for a few accusations of plagiarism from fans & viewers alike of the aforementioned dinosaur movie. Anyway, our heroes manage to destroy the offspring, and that of course pisses off our star character and drives it to seek their oblivion. If you ignore the fact that this thing was previously depicted outrunning military helicopters, while surrounded by skyscrapers no less, then you'd think that a mere yellow taxi having to brave the chaotic streets of New York (with or without a rampaging giant monster) would be easy pickings for this beast. Well, somehow it isn't. Eventually, it gets caught in the suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge and then pulverized by heavy fire by the military. Which, I have to say, is a godsend given that they caused arguably more destruction than Godzilla did in this movie and in any proper world would have all been disbarred from their jobs during or after the events of this movie. But I digress.

Godzilla collapses and then dies. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel sad, angry, or joyful that this beast succumbed to a mere dozen explosions that would see the original Godzilla shrugging off (then you look at the Legendary-era incarnation and how it barely even notices dozens of missiles peppering its hide). I wasn't sure if he, or she, or whatever the hell it is was the misunderstood anti-hero or the angsty anti-villain in this picture. And I wasn't sure why I was supposed to care about the shot of Broderick coming face-to-face with the dying monster. All I knew at that moment was that this mess was about to come to a close. And you know what I was sure of then? That I could leave this bumbling movie behind and experience far more joyful things in life.

Oh and did you know that the movie takes place almost entirely in dreary, rain-soaked imagery because the special effects were not quite up to speed even for the production team? Yeah, and did you notice how sometimes Godzilla changes size, radically I must add, to fit the needs of the scene wherever necessary? Yeah, it doesn't even manage to be an exceptional special effects vehicle for entertainment. What a goof.


The Good: 

+ It's Godzilla
+ The military manage to be more destructive than the monster itself, which is unintentionally hilarious.
+ You can understand people speaking in this movie (assuming English is your first language at least)
+ It inspired Gareth Edwards and Legendary Pictures to try their hands at another reboot years later, and it was far better (still flawed, though)

The Bad:

- Every scene is rain-soaked, and if it isn't, it's because it takes place indoors. 
- It's either always night, or damn close to it.
- The special effects aren't that impressive. And it's why the studio used rain to cover them up.
- You don't care about anybody
- Godzilla changes size conveniently in order to fit the scene. One scene sees him (her?) toppling skyscrapers and high-rises and others (usually off-screen, again how convenient)  it is able to fit inside of the subway tunnel system. They're large for tunnel systems but I don't think a massive monster like Godzilla could fit in them.
- Awful plot
- Rips off Jurassic Park, namely the suspenseful raptor-chase sequences. And they couldn't appreciate the huge mound of fish dropped at their literal feet by their, uh, mommy?
- Is Godzilla good, bad, or in-between? We never know!
- Godzilla gets killed by a handful of missiles. WEAK!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A White Lie | "Anguish" Poetry Collection

I lied last time.

I said that I was done with my project, finally at that! Well, as these things tend to do, I suddenly came up with another entry to add to the (now 16 strong) pool of poems. When I read it it does come off as pretty melodramatic, pretty sad stuff, at least if I consider the readers' perspective.

Oh and having talked about it with someone close, I thought I should disclose that I don't want any readers to think that I am actively considering suicide or anything like that. These poems, when released, will be an artistic reflection of the times that have haunted me throughout my life. They will be nothing more than that. After all, the band members comprising the death metal act Cannibal Corpse don't seem to, so far anyway, engage in necrophilia, mass murder, and cannibalism (or any combination thereof) so that logic applies here, too. If I were in dire need of help I'd have sought it already, a long time ago at that.

To bring this post to a close I will state that as of this writing, I am considering all kinds of avenues for publishing. There is the self-publishing route (through a middle-man), the DIY route (the most challenging, painstaking, but surely most gratifying method) or there's considering a publishing house (potentially the most exposure but the least rewarding, should the book be unable to sell more than it costs to put out). I have many options and I have to weigh them all. So this will take a while of course.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Anguish" Preview | Confinement

I haven't updated this blog in months. It's become a bad habit indeed, but maybe after having completed an actual project (finally!) I'll have mustered the motivation necessary to update this more often, and perhaps more regularly.

But that's neither here or there; this post is about a preview into that "actual project", entitled "Anguish." It will be a collection of poems centering around my very long battle with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and inability to be chipper most of the time. I'm going to look into various avenues through which I can publish the collection into a book. Eventually I'll capture a visual element to complement the book, and that, along with visual tweaks of the actual literary element when applied to paper, will find its way into another edition.

Further edits for clarity and for the general fuck of it may be forthcoming until the collection actually gets published for good.

Without further ado, here's a preview of "Confinement." Note: this, along with the rest of the collection, was written in free-verse style.

You became blind
Your heart wrenches
You taste gloom
You see no way out

Your breaths falter
Your heart is in a vice
You recollect life
Your light dims

You beg for escape
You grasp for...something
Your hope now wanes
Your heart begins to break

You then throw it in
You perceive the end
Your lungs collapse
You cannot scream now

You finally glimpse happiness
You gripe at the prospect
You know the awful truth
You know you are in confinement

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Witch Review (2016, Horror/Thriller/Historical Drama, A24)

Evil does take many forms.

Unlike most reviewers, those who left positive ones anyway, I'm approaching this review with a different perspective. It is that in which I consider that maybe things weren't as they seemed through the events of the film. That maybe something, or someone else was responsible for the horrific events befalling our film's Puritan family.

Central to the film is the character Thomasin, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Right at the outset we are given an indication that her character is flawed; she gives a long, studied confession in which, among other things, she admits to having doubts about her faith. Also important is the detail that she has been rebelling against her parents. That last detail is pretty crucial to her character because we can see why she would feel that way later on in the movie.

Thomasin and her family, particularly because of their patriarchal father, William, are cast out of a New England colony and forced to fend for themselves. They eventually settle in a patch of land flanked by a very creepy forest (one of the creepiest in recent cinematic history, in fact) and it seems like maybe they won't be so screwed.

You'd be wrong.

William is not as competent as he should be, at farming or at hunting, though there may be certain forces at work in sabotaging his efforts. Thomasin's younger brother, Caleb, is hormonal and frustrated, and unfortunately sexually attracted to Thomasin in a few ways, though that undoubtedly is a prime reason as to why he feels so angry. The family also has twin children, who are bratty, loud, and quite irritating. Katherine is the mother who seems rather moody and quick to judge. And the newest addition to the family is Samuel, who is, depending on how you interpret the plot, the catalyst for the rest of the film.

Thomas in is asked to look after Samuel while Katherine tends to certain duties, possibly because William is not very good at doing them himself. So Thomasin takes him to a wide-open stretch of land some distance away and plays peak-a-boo with the baby. It amuses him and she seems amused, too. She does one last peak-a-boo when she notices that Samuel had literally vanished out of thin air right under her nose. In a panic, she shouts his name and runs around investigating. End scene.

One by one, the family is befallen to tragedy. Crops are failing, there's not enough meat to feed the family, William & Katherine are hiding secrets from one another, the twins are behaving rather strangely and accuse Thomasin of being a witch (due to Samuel's disappearance), and Caleb is being Caleb. Thomasin, meanwhile, is clearly conflicted by what happened. But we are never truly sure what her feelings actually are as to what happened. 

Caleb then sets out to retrieve a trap set previously, and it has thankfully caught some meat. Thomasin insists on accompanying him on horseback. They then stumble upon a hare, a creepy one at that, which startles their dog which had tagged along with the two. It also startles the horse, which sends Thomasin flying. Caleb takes after the dog which chases the hare, and it goes downhill from there. Caleb gets lost and desperate, but finds that the hare is nearby. He follows it, not knowing what else to do, but then he encounters something freaky in the woods. Someone is living deep in these woods, it is clear to him. A vaguely beautiful woman in a red robe seductively approaches him, and he gives in. However, in the back of his mind he knows something is wrong, so he is deeply afraid. The figure assertively closes in on him, kisses him on the cheek, and we see a gnarly hand shoot out and grab his head. End scene.

Now the family is getting terrified. Later the next day, though, Caleb returns in a state of delirium. He battles shock and complete lunacy brought on by something traumatic having happened to him, and he is cold. The family desperately tries to pray for his recovery and just when it seemed to work, he lays down, dead. The twins had been acting particularly eerie the whole time, and since Thomasin was the last to accompany Caleb, suspicions arise. Without knowing any alternatives and refusing to seek help from the colony that exiled him and his family, William then assumes supernatural forces at work. As does Katherine, but she wants something done and is getting angry at her husband. Thomasin, meanwhile, is even more conflicted.

Tensions rise among the surviving family members. Buried secrets and vented frustrations lead to drastic measures, marked by desperation and growing paranoia. Thomasin and her twin siblings are then locked in the goat pen overnight. Horrific circumstances befall the twins and the goats overnight, and Thomasin is all that remains. The next morning, William assumes the worst but is then attacked by the creepy black goat, mortally wounded. While he initially decides to retaliate, he then resigns to his fate and is finally killed by another attack from the goat. Soon, Katherine comes out to witness the scene of carnage and totally breaks down, deciding that Thomasin is indeed in leagues with evil and has killed everything that matters to her. Katherine pins Thomasin to the ground, then starts to strangle her. Left with no other choice, Thomasin grabs a nearby knife and takes out her mother. Now she's all alone, drenched in the blood of the last of her family.

Later, the goat leads her to her father's tool shed, and because she is pretty far gone at this point, she does so without questioning anything. She is then spoken to by a mysterious figure, one we the audience can hardly make out visually, beckoning her to give in to temptation and freedom from the life she thought she knew before. And she signs a book with her name. Then, stripped entirely of her clothes, she walks through the forest. Eventually she comes across an entire coven of witches, who are performing a ritual of sorts that leads to them gaining the ability of flight. After a few moments, she, too, begins to fly. As this happens, she is laughing maniacally, like she has been holding something back for goodness knows how long.

Now do you see what I did there?

The film leaves you with more than one interpretation as to how things unfolded before you. Yeah, you could assume that the witch was very much real and was destroying the family piece by piece, leaving Thomasin to join and strengthen the coven in the woods. Or you could try to understand how it also could have happened. It's set up perfectly in order to see things this way; maybe it was Thomasin who carried out all of this terrible destruction of her family, marred by a psychotic breakdown and need for freedom from the life that she clearly cannot stand by. Her parents treat her more as a commodity or means of bribery (by way of dowry), her twin siblings seem to despise her, and Caleb is having conflicting thoughts about her. Plus, she lives in a very Puritan family, where prayer and God are tantamount to proper living and she must attend to the duties expected of her no questions asked. Along with that, people suspect her to be some malevolent force out to destroy the family.

And that might just be true.

It's all based on the opening, wherein Thomasin "asks" for forgiveness by way of confessing to her sins. They all foretell exactly what happens in the film. And if you assume this interpretation to be true, just think about it: she is so far-gone even at the beginning that she can't come to terms with her even carrying out her horrific deeds as the days roll by. The disappearance (and possible murder) of Samuel, the shocking death of Caleb brought about by a horribly traumatic event he went through in the woods the day before (and Thomasin had accompanied him, by the way), the disappearance of the twins and the deaths of the goats, then the deaths of her mother and father. All of these would drive a person mad. Or, if you are going along with this interpretation, even deeper into madness. When all is said and done, through some form of self-hypnosis or delusion, Thomasin finally wanders into the woods nearby, naked as the day she was born, never seen again.

This, I feel, is the genius behind the movie. It also helps that, and part of it may be due it, the film has a meager budget (all but three million dollars were spent on this film); it has a very minimalist approach to horror film-making. There are no jump scares, the lighting is natural, the dialogue is important sparring rather than forced for the sake of filling out the film's runtime, and the music is deep & brooding. Also, while there is certainly gore, there isn't a ridiculous amount of it. There's also a deep tinge of dread that runs throughout, thanks to the setting and the idea that there is an evil witch toying with the family from the shadows, shape-shifting as it sees fit to avoid their defenses.

I do recall that a handful of foaming-at-the-mouth morons, particularly on the web, attacked this movie as a piece of feminist propaganda (everything revolving around Thomasin, basically). As for the rest of us, we aren't so easily triggered into acting like butthurt crybabies and can appreciate a good piece of modern horror when we see it. The film may bore you with is minimalist approach, it is never loud and boisterous so the attention-deficit watchers will probably fall asleep, and you might not even find witches scary (thanks to their usual portrayal in media being totally hammy and well, not scary) but if you're like me, you'll appreciate what the film does absolutely right.


The Good:  

+ Minimalist horror approach helps with the high tension.
+ Witches are actually scary in this movie.
+ Leaves the events of the film ambiguous so that you can interpret it in different ways
+ Great, creepy soundtrack
+ The forest is incredibly creepy and every scene in it is powerful and effective
+ Great use of lighting, as in, there's little at all.
+ Authentic setting and dialogue that fits with the time of the film.
+ No jump scares (an extension of the first positive point)

The Bad:

- Might be a bit too minimalist; it can potentially bore you.
- Caleb's death scene, namely the buildup to it, might come off as unintentionally funny and/or cheesy. It's a bit too forced.