Pure Joy

Sometimes you get stuck in the weird part of the internet.  But sometimes you find something on the internet that infuses you with pure, unbridled joy.

Tommy Franklin’s audition on Australia’s Got Talent made me so happy I had to immediately share it with my girlfriend.

She reluctantly let me put the headphones on her head, gave me a look that said, “The hell is going on?” when she saw the way Tommy Franklin looks:

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But then I clicked play, and over the next 8 minutes Angela went from skeptical to smiling to uncontrollable sit-dancing on the couch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJFt5YwAFZ8

Make it through the three minutes of intro about Tommy.  It really sets it up perfectly, and it’s worth it for the smiles you’ll have by the end.

I started that day jaded about life, and this silly internet video of a guy dancing like a complete idiot made me happy for a week.  I’ve just watched it again and it did it all over again.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to dance for my girlfriend.  For no reason other than I love to hear her laugh.

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On meeting celebrities (Portland Comic Con)

It’s a strange thing about meeting famous people: they are almost ALWAYS short.  What’s the deal with that?

Here’s the rundown of my experiences at this year’s Comic Con in Portland:

This weekend my girlfriend and I got our picture taken with Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead.

reedus

I think he might have had some really strong cough syrup.  Or maybe something stronger.  That celebrities take nasally.  I think it’s a pretty obvious sign when they are wearing a goofy hat and the darkest sunglasses ever made.

I also made eye contact with Ron Perlman.  He challenged the room by meeting everyone’s gaze.  It was pretty impressive, like he was a predator in a room full of lambs.  He looked more formidable than his security.

perlman

Actually I don’t think he had security.

Elvira seemed to look exactly like she did 20 years ago.

Shatner had a lot of makeup and was short, but Angela said he was really good with the kids people brought.  Honestly I applaud him even making it to these things after so many years, let alone being personable on any level.

A friend of mine said Stan Lee was furious for some reason when he stomped by his booth, hands clenched and muttering surrounded by an entourage.

Bruce Campbell was rocking an amazing blue suit.

We got a GREAT picture of Robert Englund.

englund - Copy

Michael Rooker always had a smile on his face – I wish I’d been able to meet him now.

I didn’t like his performance in The Walking Dead but I’ve heard he’s great with fans.

Adam West was there but I barely recognized him sitting 10 feet away.

Linda Blair was tiny and had a healthy line of fans waiting to say hello.

I didn’t get to meet Ray Park, which made me sad—there was a guy in an amazing Darth Maul costume so I guess that’s something.  I liked his Toad performance in X-Men and have been a fan of his Capoeira-like stunts for a decade.

Also, for once the most naked person was a dude dressed as Robin.

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On the disparity between movie trailers and their movie.

Ben Stiller in a still from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

One of the best movie trailers I’ve ever seen is for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Watch trailer one here.  Then, watch trailer two here.  They are both remarkably good.  I got this same feeling from watching the Gravity trailer: “That’s either going to be amazing or crap.”

sandra-bullock-s-gravity-set-to-kick-off-venice-film-festival

With Gravity, it turned out to be amazing.  Watching that movie in 3D (something I usually don’t care for) was like being in space for me.  It was terrifying and brilliant.  Sandra Bullock is her usual acting excellence.

The problem with all this is when the reviews start coming in, and it becomes clear the movie itself is a disappointment.  Gravity got a 96 and 97% on Metacritic.com and Rottentomatoes.com, respectively.  Walter Mitty got a 38 and 44%.  Ouch.

Will this stop me from seeing it?  Not at all.  But I will almost certainly wait until it’s in the 2nd run beer theaters before I do so.  I will also lament that this could have been to Ben Stiller what Punch Drunk Love was to Adam Sandler.  When Sandler has a role where he actually acts, he’s good.  It’s a shame he wasted so many years on crap.  Of course, that crap made him rich and famous, but my artistic side still weeps for what sells these days.

A realization came to me this week.  I think Nathan Fillion is the best leading man of his generation.  I was pondering the quality of Firefly and Serenity, and thinking of how Joss Whedon is brilliant when I realized some of his stuff just isn’t on that level.  Dr. Horrible and Cabin in the Woods were excellent, and there’s an argument that his rendition of Much Ado About Nothing is nothing short of the best adaptation of Shakespeare around.  I found myself enjoying Much Ado despite the fact half the language went right over my head.  I should have studied Shakespeare a little better I guess.

Cabin in the Woods I could wax philosophically for hours.  My one gripe with that movie is how they marketed it as a horror film, when it was half comedy, and brilliant comedy at that.  I think I had to convince more people of how good Cabin is, than any other movie I’ve wanted my friends to see.  Most responses were “Meh, it’s just a horror movie, right?”.  I had to suppress my urges to slap people out of their stupor every time I had that conversation.

The-Cabin-in-the-Woods-2011-Movie-Mondo-Poster

But Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse are just not up to par in my opinion.  His latest collaboration, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has been really lacking so far.  The second episode was better than the pilot, but overall it’s lackluster for such a promising idea.

AE24SHIELD

I then realized that Whedon’s best works all have really, really strong actors.  Most of the cast of Firefly were spot on in their roles.  Fillion, Baldwin, Tudyk put in some of the best performances I’ve seen.  In Dr. Horrible, Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion made the musical extremely watchable.  Harris’ solo song at the end of the otherwise comedy performances still makes the hair stand on end.  The story of a hollowed out man in the making done right.

The Walter Mitty trailer/movie quality disparity gave me another of these revelations (or whatever): if done right, it can really make a trailer memorable.

Hopefully they have the balls to switch up the Walter Mitty movie at the last minute like Toy Story 2 did (they redeveloped the plot in a weekend and it went on to become wildly successful).  Probably not though.  It might just be a case of “it is what it is.”

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch the trailer f’or Walter Mitty a couple more times.  It’s hard to get enough of “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men.  Who knew that Icelandic Indie Folk music could be done so well?

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Movie Remakes incoming!

Movie remakes in the works:

Jurassic Park
I guess it could be better, but the original’s CGI is still really, really good.  It’s better than tons of movies these days, and it was made eighteen years ago.  This might be a mistake to remake.

Ghostbusters
We can only hope they make it less goofy, since that’s what the original did so well.  You can’t really do better.  Hopefully they turn it into something different and brilliant in it’s own way.

Top Gun
I laughed when Daria, Mitch & Ted discussed how they wish this is remade using the original actors.  Tom Cruise would be fine, but imagine Val Kilmer as Iceman, playing volleyball with no shirt on:

I know several women who cite “The Volleyball Scene” as the reason they watched (and re-watched) this movie.  Current Val Kilmer in nothing but shorts would SHATTER their fantasy.

Point Break
Another movie that I don’t think they can improve upon.  The original is really well done.  It’s one of the few Keanu Reeves performances that I love.  Good story, wouldn’t mind seeing it remade if they can pull it off.

Highlander
I went back and watched Highlander, thinking I might have romanticized it in my youth.  Turns out I did.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great story, and has some quality actors, but the choices made by the director (or whoever) make the movie too over the top.  More importantly, the sword fighting is painfully pathetic.  Most of the costuming and music is infected with everything that made the 80’s awful to the senses.

This one could be SO GOOD if remade properly.  Super excited to see if it pans out.  I really hope they turn around the trend of terrible Highlander movies.  They just kept getting worse, and worse, and worse.  The television series was decent, but again, it was so hokey, and could really use some help with the fight sequences.  From like, professionals that are good at that stuff.

Also, it’s being directed by the man who did such a good job with 28 weeks later, which I loved.

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Movie Review: Warrior

Title: Warrior
Director: Gavin O’Connor (Wrote & Directed Miracle)
Starring:  Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte

I remember watching a guy named Royce Gracie (Pronounced “Hoyce”) win against a much bigger opponent in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship.  He walked right up to the guy with a really stupid-looking stance that didn’t look practical in a real fight.  I quickly realized it was a defensive stance, meant to allow him to get in close without taking too much punishment, and grapple the other guy to the ground.

After they were on the ground, it was quick work for him to get the guy in a dangerous submission and win the fight.  I was the first time I’d seen Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

And then the guy did it two more times, against much bigger men, and won the first UFC.

I was hooked.  From then on, I was a fan of mixed martial arts.

Almost 20 years and 140 major UFC events later, the multiple-fights-in-one-night format isn’t the standard.  There are months in between fights in the UFC to let the fighters be at peak performance.

But it’s an exciting format, and it’s how the movie’s second half unfolds.  The movie’s fights themselves are really well done.  There are no flashy moves.  No spinning aerial kicks a la Jean-Claude Van Damme.  They decided to keep it realistic in the film.  So the fights are not the least bit Hollywood’d up, but the fights are only part of what makes this movie great.

Tom Hardy, chameleon

Some actors are able to transform into roles.  Johnny Depp can do it, Bryce Dallas Howard can do it.  Added to that list now is Tom Hardy.  I saw the movie before seeing many trailers or previews.  I didn’t even think I’d seen these actors before – Nick Nolte and the girl from the early seasons of House were the most recognizable actors in the movie for me.

So when I got home and saw that Tom Hardy from Inception was in the movie, I thought to myself, “Where was he?”  And then I realized it was one of the main characters:

Heh.  Look at how he can transform:

His mannerisms, accent, everything was nuanced perfectly to sell the character.  It was such a transformation that I look forward to watching the movie again.

Inner Demons

They did an amazing job of portraying a family torn apart by hard times.  Nolte plays the aging father figure trying to make it to 1,000 days sober after letting the bottle destroy his family years ago.

Hardy plays the younger son who left with his mother, and went into the marines, enduring having those closest to him be ripped away time and time again.

Edgerton plays the older son who got away to make a life for himself with a family of his own.

Conclusion

Overall, the pacing, acting, cinematography, music, and everything else come together in a wrenching, well done film.  I’ll admit it, I teared up more than once – I found myself doing so unexpectedly, the sad parts were so subtle in their buildup.

A movie worth checking out if you are into MMA.  There are even some cameos by Rashad Evans and Stephan Bonner of UFC fame, just for fun.

My score: A-

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Speaking of Youtube:

Have you seen FreddieW’s videos?

He’s a brilliant independent director that has AMAZING videos.  Most are more funny to people who play video games (lots of references to stuff like the game Portal or aimbot cheating in shooter-type games).

His videos are also fun for anyone who is into incredible video direction, interesting ideas, and action sequences.

Or if you just like adorable cats using machine guns, there’s something for you too.  Yes, you read that right.

He’s gotten incredibly popular (over 2 million subscribers), even getting stars such as Eliza Dushku and Jon Favreau as cameos.  He also does making of videos for stuff like this one for the Favreau shoot.

One of his best action videos has Andy Whitfield (of Spartacus TV show fame).  He and Freddie do a live-action version of those goofy arcade games that have big plastic guns.

Highly recommended stuffs.  By the way, my favorite of his videos is groovy, man.  That one is probably top-5 most creative things I’ve ever seen.

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The internet is full of possibilities…

A couple years back I read an article in which the author truly believed that Pro Gaming for E-sports would become so popular there would be e-sports betting on popular e-sports stars.  It sounds crazy, but it’s happening.

The big proponent of this shift in thinking has been a game series called Starcraft.  The original game came out in 1998, and quickly became very popular in Korea.  It quickly went beyond popular and in Korea it became a national spectator sport, with huge tournaments and ginormous followings behind the popular players.

Starcraft II came out Summer 2010, and the spectator sport part of games suddenly spread like wildfire to many more countries, including the United States.  There are many big-money tournaments for the best players – plenty for the best to do nothing but play Starcraft II full time.  Not be a Pro-Gamer without having a day job, being a Pro-Gamer for one specific game full time.  Players known in-game as Idra, Boxer, SelecT, and many many more are now household names to millions around the world.  There’s even a new past time that’s been created, coined as “Barcraft”, where an entire bar is booked for fans to watch the Finals match of big Starcraft II tournaments.  I myself almost went to the finals for MLG (Major League Gaming) because it had my favorite two “casters” commentating the games.

That’s right, there are even commentators for Starcraft II!  This particular tournament had several sets of two casters and cast dozens of games over the course of days.  In fact, the game is so popular that the more popular commentators can do THAT full time!  Husky Starcraft has a Youtube channel that has almost 225 million views.  He is a partner with Youtube, and makes a good living.

What a world, eh?  Not only can you be a pro gamer, but it supports a whole industry behind it.  Day9, Psychosis Starcraft, HD Starcraft, and Total Biscuit are all successful casters as well.

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