Monday, February 7, 2011

A Raft of Mini-Reviews and the Greatest Video Clip Ever.

OK, way too much stuff to cover, so I think I'll just make it a Speed Round instead of going into too much detail...

A Mini-Review: Stories of Your Life and Others
Finished the Ted Chiang collection called Stories of Your Life, with ultimately mixed results. After having finished the collection, I shall now be forced to temper my enthusiasm from a few posts ago. I still hold that Understand is perhaps the best short work I've ever read, for the combination of style, content and pure reading enjoyment. I also especially enjoyed Story of Your Life, Hell is the Absence of God and Tower of Babylon, for their imagination as well as their level of creative writing.

A couple of his later pieces were a bit too experimental for my tastes, but I applaud the author for trying unorthodox approaches (I'm thinking mainly of his pieces entitled The Evolution of Human Science and Liking What You See: A Documentary). While I still whole-heartedly recommend this collection, it wasn't without its weak links. Give it a shot and see what you think. Leave me a comment about it!


A Mini-Review: Facing Ali
I got this disc from Netflix the other day, and immediately gave it a watching. It's a documentary about Muhammad Ali, from the perspective of those boxers that faced him in most of his biggest, most-famous bouts. Rather than just being another documentary about the legend, it covered new ground (for me, anyway), highlighting the affects that each fight had on those fighters that fought Ali, whether they beat him or lost. Boxers such as Henry Cooper, George Chuvalo, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Ernie Shavers, Ken Norton and others. Also unique in this doc were the less-than-flattering glimpses and details about Ali that the casual fan might never have heard. He wasn't always the squeaky-clean fighter, and his decisions, both personal and career-wise, weren't always very logical.

I think this documentary kind of transcends boxing. It really was touching to hear about the backgrounds of all these fighters, how they grew up, the tough times they all seemed to have trying to make it in professional boxing, and how their lives changed (often drastically) after getting the chance to fight Ali. While many of them were not exactly Ali fans at the time of their bouts (not all of them could stomach Ali's bombast), they all seem to honestly be grateful for getting the chance. I especially found George Foreman's account of the famous Thrilla in Manilla fight to be fascinating. All in all, a very inspiring, fascinating, touching documentary. Highly recommended. I may buy a copy for my collection.


Time to break things up with a hilarious video. You will NOT believe this. It's from a Bollywood movie (from what I understand), and has Russian overdubbed dialog. And the most ridiculous CGI you've ever seen. Trust me, this may well be the best 10 minutes of video on the internet...

It just keeps getting weirder and crazier... I can't decide if it's the best "worst" thing, or the worst "best" thing I've ever watched... what do you think?

A quick side note: I went out back to pick more lemons off of our lemon bush over the weekend. We have another "bush" that sprouted a few lemons as well, so I went over to see if any were ready... and they're not lemons, they're oranges! I'm the proud daddy of a lemon bush and an orange bush now!


You need to go read Kris' review of one of my all-time favorite movies from the 80's, Die Hard. The review only has a couple measly comments! It needs more love! Click HERE to go read it, and leave the man a quick comment for his effort! For some reason, I really resonated with Die Hard when it came out back in 88. I liked it so much, I went 9 times to the theater to see it, dragging anyone I could (including my mom!). I even bought the movie poster for my wall. It certainly isn't a flawless film - it has its share of corniness and overdone bits, but overall, I enjoyed the heck out of it, and can still quote dozens of lines from the film at will. I think the film has held up pretty well over time. If violence and some profanity doesn't bother you much, I'd recommend watching it if you haven't seen it before.

Speaking of great (though flawed) films, I watched Tombstone last night, with fresh eyes. I've had a strange relationship with Tombstone over the years since it first came out. Didn't see it in the theater, but caught it on disc, and loved it. Of course, my first impression upon seeing it for the first time was of Val Kilmer's incredible performance as Doc Holliday. Subsequent viewings has slowly seen my appreciation for Kurt Russell's performance as Wyatt Earp surpass that of Kilmer's. The more I watch Val's performance, the more overdone it seems to me.

It reminds me of buying an album because of a hit single that is popular on the radio. You buy the album for the single, but the more you listen, the more you enjoy other tracks. Pretty soon, the single is not even one of your favorites on the album anymore. Catchy, but gets old quick. Whereas often the less catchy ones have legs, and they grow on you, and ultimately mean way more.

Anyway, loved Kurt Russell's performance last night, and I enjoy Sam Elliot as Wyatt's brother Virgil (though he also overdoes it occasionally). I've NEVER been a fan of Bill Paxton in any capacity, and I can't believe they cast him as Wyatt's other brother Morgan. Still get a big kick out of Billy Bob Thornton's cameo, as well as Billy Zane. Michael Biehn's performance as Johnny Ringo was terrific as well. Tons of cameo's - you gotta love an ensemble film like this.

However, this time around, I've noticed a lot of the flaws in the film. Odd sequences of events, strange shot framing decisions, some questionable casting choices, unnecessary melodrama, questionable historic accuracy. Still, it's a great film, and well worthy of a watching, again, if you don't mind violence and some profanity.

Went up to my mommy's house to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. Actually watched the whole thing, for the first time since I can remember. Maybe first time ever. I don't think I even watched the whole game when the Chargers were in it (I hate to watch them lose). Anyway, great game, though I didn't really care who won, so long as it was close. Wifey was cheering on the Packers, and Sister was cheering on the Steelers, which was cool. Every play, somebody was cheering! I read today that 110 million people watched the game - by far the largest Super Bowl audience ever. Wonder what that was all about? My favorite part was Christina Aguilera messing up the National Anthem, lol.

Guess I'll call it a night. Got the first disc of The Pacific from Netflix as well, and of course, gobbled it up. I'll get a few more discs under my belt before writing a review. I don't want to skim over something that is this important to me. It deserves my full attention.

Adios for now.



Abbie Josephsen said...

wait WHAT!?!?! that is how the movie ends! that was crazy! LOL, I loved it when he drew all their guns to him and made on huge one :) that was crazy and so funny! thanks for sharing it!

logankstewart said...

Uh... what? I wish I spoke Russian or whatever, cause that was crazy.

I'm looking forward to reading some of those short stories whenever I get a chance. I will let you know what I think. ;)

Paula Titus said...

Best worst thing, definitely. Wow - so weird.

I really want to read those Ted Chiang books - have to pick them up soon.

You have a lemon tree AND an orange tree in your backyard? That's so cool.

Didn't watch any of the Superbowl except half time, and the Black Eyed Peas sounded horrible (I thought). Thanks for writing!

David Wagner said...

Abbie: Crazy video, eh? I've never seen anything quite like it...

Logan: great review of DS2. You = The Man.

Paula: Lemons and oranges... what can I say, I produce produce! I should grow some black eyed peas...