Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I bloggity blog about a movie I own.  I'm powering through the Superman franchise, and I get to one of the more unique entries:  Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.  This is in my notes at January 15, 2016.




Monday, September 19, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Well, a few weeks ago, I took a week off work.  Nothing fancy, no big plans, I just figured it's best to do it now instead of getting the terse e-mail from HR in January about how many unused vacation days I have.  So, yeah.  I pretty much just spent it around the house getting a few chores finished that had been piling up.

I really should have taken before and after pictures of my closet.  One chore that I'd been putting off was getting rid of all the old clothes I don't wear anymore.  See, anytime I bought a new shirt, I'd take an old shirt I wasn't wearing anymore, and just toss it onto the top shelf of my closet.  Well, my top shelf had become piled to the ceiling with stuff I wasn't wearing.  So, I went through it, kept a few for sentimental value, put aside a few for Mom, and took the rest to goodwill.  And I have a usable top shelf in my closet again.

You're probably wondering why I put aside a few for Mom.  Well, part of the impetus to do this was that my mother has taken up quilting as a hobby.  And she found the pattern for a quilt made of old T-shirts.  So, she asked that if I have any old superhero T-shirts (like a geek does) that I'm not wearing anymore, I should pass them along to her so she can try making them into a quilt.  Actually, going through all the old T-shirts I'll be sending home, she'll probably be able to make three:  superheroes, radio stations, and souvenirs.

Another of my chores was getting my car looked after.  You might remember me blogging about my car woes back in the spring.  Well, back then, I could only afford to get my car about 75% fixed.  With the help of the negotiating skills of my Dad, we worked with the mechanic to figure out what would wait for another day.  Well, I figured another day had come, and it was time to get my car up to 85%.  So, I finally got that new transmission filter and a transmission flush that the mechanic recommended.

I was also hoping to get that new cellphone I'd been wanting.  I'm the only one in the office not playing Pokemon GO, so I want to get on board with the fad.  I've been told I can play it on my iPhone 4s, but it'll be glitchy and slow.  Let me let you in a little secret:  everything on my iPhone4s is glitchy and slow.  It's showing its age.  And besides, my contract expired a year ago, so I've been thinking about upgrading anyway.

Anyway, during my vacation, the announcement I'd been waiting for came along:  the shiny new iPhone 7.  So now, I'm facing the debate I'd knew I'd have to face:  go for the shiny new 7, or the newly marked-down 6s?  As I've told others, I'll stick with iPhone, because I've bought too much shit on iTunes to turn back now.  Right now, it's just juggling the numbers, looking for something that works.  I've reached the point where I'm about done researching on the website...time to go into the store and talk to a human.  Only problem with that is I know I'll come out with something new, and I'm not so sure I can afford to right now.

It's funny.  Coming back form vacation, some co-workers were stunned that I didn't go see many movies.  We're kind of between blockbuster season right now, so there's not much I want to see.  Although, I was tempted to see Kubo and the Two Strings because the reviews are pretty good, and that stop-motion animation looked gorgeous.  But, more often than not, I find myself going through my old DVDs.

When I did get my car back from the shop, I thought I'd take a little test drive.  I got an e-mail notice from Amazon that my new Signature Edition of The Iron Giant, got back-ordered, so I figured I'd take a test drive into Edmonton to see if I could find it.  Sadly, it was really hard to find, but I eventually found a copy at HMV.

The Iron Giant still stands as one of my favourite movies.  I'll never forget when I first saw it.  Summer of 1999.  Still on a high from Episode I.  I had just finished college, and was spending the summer on my parents' couch, wondering what to do next with my life.  My sister had just finished high school, and after a summer of backpacking across Europe, was doing the same.  She wanted to go see Tarzan, because it was Disney's animated epic that summer, and she was of that generation.  So I said, "Hey, I kinda wanna see Tarzan, too, and I also wanna see this animated movie they're raving about online called The Iron Giant.  How about we see both?"  She agreed, and we were off to the city.

We saw Tarzan first, and we both agreed it was pretty good.  And then we saw The Iron Giant.  As the end credits rolled, we were both agog at what we had just seen.  My sister looked at me and said, "That was so...grown-up.  I wouldn't really call it a kids movie."  I went home that night, fired up the ol' dial-up Internet, and e-mailed all my friends.  "You have got to see this movie!" I exclaimed.  About the highest compliment I got was, as much as a year later, friends were still e-mailing me back going, "I finally rented it last night, based on your glowing recommendation, and I loved it!"

How much did I love it?  I saw it in the theatre twice.  You have to realize, growing up in a poor farming town in rural Alberta, seeing a movie meant a costly trip into the city.  Every movie was a big deal, and to me, seeing a movie twice in the theatre was something that's just unheard of.  Even as middle age dawns, the number of movies I've seen in the theatre twice is less than 10.  And the second one was The Iron Giant.  (The first was Episode I.  You need to understand the history...the whole world was nuts for Episode I in 1999.)

Sadly, I missed it during its limited theatrical re-release last year when they premiered the new "Signature Edition."  Director Brad Bird reunited as much of the original animation crew as he could, and they finished animation on two deleted scenes to put them back into the film.  Both versions of the film (original version and Signature Edition) are on the new Blu-Ray.

I like the addition of the new scenes.  The first one is a moment between Annie (Hogarth's mother) and Dean (the beatnik artist) earlier in the film.  You may remember we're introduced to Dean when he undoes his pants to let out a squirrel that's been running up his leg.  (I remember seeing that in the theatre for the first time and thinking, "This film's gonna be a little different, isn't it?")  Anyway, in this new scene, Dean comes back the next day to apologize to Annie, and they get to chatting about young Hogarth.  I like this scene.  I like that Annie and Dean's relationship is introduced earlier in the film.  This way, when they're thrust together at the climax, it seems a little less random.

The second scene is one of the more famous deleted scenes.  We're treated to a flashback to the Giant's origins.  We see an army of the Giant's kind laying waste to an entire planet.  The damage they cause is so great, that the planet literally explodes, and the Giant is sent hurling off into space.  It's some great, vintage, 1950s sci-fi movie stuff.  A wonderful addition.

Of course, there's some new bonus features on the disc, the crown jewel of which is a new retrospective documentary about the making of the film called The Giant's Dream.  It answers a question I've had about the film for the longest time.  At the very end of the end credits, there's a simple dedication that reads "For Susan."  I've wanted to know...who's Susan?

Susan, as it turns out, is director Brad Bird's sister.  She was shot and killed by her husband in a domestic dispute.  And as Bird explains in the documentary, working on The Iron Giant turned out to be very cathartic for him.  In fact, working through his grief is how he came up with his central thesis for The Iron Giant:  "What if a gun had a soul?  And didn't want to hurt people anymore?"

So...that's who Susan is.

All in all, I'm still singing the praises of The Iron Giant.

And then it was time to peruse the streaming video services.  Turned out I'd signed up for CraveTV.  I'm with Shaw, and I saw they had an offer to sign up for CraveTV.  I figured I'd do it, try my free first month, and see how I liked it.  Now, the website said I'd get a confirmation e-mail, telling me that it had gone through.  But I never got that confirmation e-mail.  I missed my free first month, and didn't realize it had gone through until my bill went up by $6 a month, and I started looking at the fine print to see why.  So, there it is, I'm on CraveTV now.

One of CraveTV's big selling points was they secured the Canadian streaming rights to HBO's off-air catalogue.  So any classic HBO TV series that's finished it's run is on CraveTV.  They've got The Sopranos, the Wire, Sex and the City, Band of Brothers, and many more.  And, as I noticed, that means they also have a wide selection of HBO's original movies.  So I finally indulged my curiosity and watched The Late Shift.

The Late Shift, based on the book of the same name, was one of HBO's more infamous original movies.  It detailed the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at NBC that led to Jay Leno getting The Tonight Show, and David Letterman moving to CBS to start The Late Show.  It was brought back into infamy a few years ago when Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien had their own tussle over The Tonight Show, and many started joking that HBO would be making a sequel. On Conan's second-last episode of The Tonight Show, Quentin Tarintino even jokingly offered to direct it.

But it was very interesting to see.  In that whole dispute, Jay Leno was almost a victim, as the true mastermind of him landing The Tonight Show was spearheaded by his ruthless agent Helen Kushnick.  And Letterman, too, was a victim, as he let The Tonight Show slip through his fingers as he didn't have an agent and had no desire to play those Hollywood games.

But as I blogged before:  there are two ways to do these kinds of films.  The first kind takes liberties with history so we get a better chance to know those people and what made them tick.  The second time is such a painstaking recreation of the events that we hardly get to know the people.  This is definitely the second type.  It would have been nice to get a clearer picture of Leno and Letterman as people, but this is more focused on the events, rather than the people involved.

Anyways, even though I just got it, I'm thinking about dumping CraveTV.  I mean, the big selling point for me was that it had every Star Trek series, and they're going to be the streaming service provider of the new series, Star Trek: Discovery.  But, every Star Trek is on Netflix now, and here in Canada, Star Trek: Discovery is going to be on Space, so what's the point?

Well...I did like The Newsroom and never got around to watching season 3.  So I'll dump it after I binge-watched season 3.

I've made the same deal with Shomi.  I said I'd dump it after I binge-watched Battlestar: Galactica, one of the bigger sci-fi shows of the 2000s, yet I completely missed it.  Flipping over to Shomi, I figured it was time to watch the cult classic The Warriors.  Once worked with a woman who proclaimed it the greatest movie ever made, but she left the company before she could loan me her DVD.

At a midnight summit of the biggest gangs in New York, one of the biggest and most charismatic gang leaders proposes they team up, citing that all of them together could run the city.  But then, he's gunned down by a rogue gang member just looking to stir up some shit.  This rogue blames our heroes, the gang the Warriors.  Now, with a price on their heads and every other gang in New York out to get them, the Warriors begin the perilous journey back to their home turf.

Well, this movie is pretty dark.  It is grim.  That's really all I've got to say about it.  Sadly, we don't really get to know many of the Warriors as individual characters, so we really don't get to know much about their personal plights, or what got them into this gang lifestyle.

Although, I do like any film that prominently features radio, and this has its iconic scenes of a radio announcer, broadcasting updates on the Warriors' actions to the other gangs.  All we ever see are her lips, whispering sweet nothings into that microphone.  And she was played by Lynn Thigpin, best remembered as the Chief on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?  

But it does get pretty tense, and there are some good action scenes.

Anyway, I've rambled enough.  That's what I did on my week off at home. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman: Original Theatrical Edition

Here we go again on Fishing in  the Discount Bin, my weekly blogging about a movie I own.  I'm going to start on the Superman franchise, with the appropriately titled Superman.  This is in my notes at January 16, 2016.





Thursday, September 08, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Ant-Man

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, bloggin' about the movies I own.  Today, we get to one of the more recent entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man.  This was originally in my notes at December 12, 2015.

Ant-Man Poster



Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Netflix Nonsense - The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown

This is a straight-to-video animated film I'd been curious about for some time, and when I got the e-mail newsletter from Shomi saying that it was now on Shomi, I thought, "Well, I know how I'm spending my Sunday morning!"  I settled down on the couch and watched....




The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age SmackDown!


Directed by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone

Starring the voices of Jeff Bergman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tress MacNeille, Grey Griffin, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, The Undertaker, Mark Henry, CM Punk, Vince McMahon, and the Bella Twins.

Backstory


A few years ago, my movie news sites lit up with the headline that Warner Brothers animation and the WWE were teaming up to make a straight-to-video animated film about the Flintstones meeting WWE superstars.  As a lifelong Flintstones fan, my curiosity was piqued.  But not piqued enough to actually buy the Blu-Ray when it came out in the spring of 2015.  But, the good thing is, in this day and age, these things pop up on a streaming video service soon enough.  And as I said above, when I saw it was on Shomi, I figured, "I ain't doing nothin' today, so why not?" 

Plot


After a disastrous day at work, Fred Flintstone fails to get an advance on his salary, thus putting the vacation he promised with Wilma into jeopardy.  That night, Fred and Barney are working the Water Buffalo Lodge's fundraising carnival, where they man the booth for people to go in and box with Hoppy.  Upset that CM Punkrock is abusing Hoppy, Barney climbs in the ring and lays the smackdown on CM Punkrock.  People love it, and this gives Fred an idea as to how to raise the money for the vacation.  Fred forms his own wrestling league, the FFE (Fred Flintstone Entertainment), with Barney as his star wrestler.  Filling out the league, Fred approaches his new co-worker, Mr. Slate's nephew, John Cenastone, and he soon brings his friends Rey Mysteriopal and the Undertaker to fill the ranks.  Needless to say, their unique brand of sports entertainment is a hit!  But, CM Punkrock wants a rematch with Barney, and he's bringing his friends Marble Henry and the Boulder Twins.  Will Fred shut things down to save Barney?  Or, in classic Fred Flintstone fashion, will he let his greed get the better of him? 

What I Liked


I laughed a lot more than I thought I would.  There's some classic Flintstones gags in there, all be it with a more modern twist.  My favourite had to be when Fred is recruiting John Cenastone to be in his league:

John Cenastone:  Sure, Mr. Flintstone!  I mean, I don't want to break rocks forever.

Fred:  I hear ya, kid.  No one wants to break rocks forever.

(Fred stares off into space.  Sad music plays in memorial of Fred's dead dreams.) 

The wrestlers seem to be having fun, too.  I love the obvious gag of wooing away the Undertaker from his day job as an actual undertaker.  The wrestling matches have a definite Looney Toons vibe to them.  And it's short, coming in at 50 minutes long, giving it a nice "one hour special episode" feel. 

What I Didn't Like


Call me a traditionalist, but I wasn't a big fan of the more modern animation.  This has more of a John Kricfalusi/Ren and Stimpy vibe that seemed a little out of place.  Just a little too rubbery for The Flintstones

Final Verdict


Actually not too bad.  If you're a Flintstones fan, check it out.

3 Nibs. 

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Man With the Golden Gun

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I ramble about the movies I own.  I tend to buy James Bond movies in pairs, because I always get them out of HMV's "2 for $20" bin.  So, since I did a Bond last week, we're doing a Bond this week.  Here's The Man with the Golden Gun.  This is in my notes at November 11, 2015.





Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review - Batman: The Killing Joke

I've blogged before about how I've grown bored with the DC/Warner Brothers straight-to-DVD animated films.  So much of the same old Batman and Superman, that I'm longing for something new.  I've skipped the last three or so (although, seeing Starfire's Sailor Moon-inspired transformation from Justice League vs. Teen Titan makes me want to check that out.)  But, their most recent one has been one of the most demanded ever since DC and Warner Brothers launched this project.  So it's time to check out...

Batman: The Killing Joke Blu-Ray cover


Batman: The Killing Joke