Monday, August 28, 2006

Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury

"Dark Fury" is the animation short that bridges Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. I saw both "Pitch Black" and 'Chronicles' when they came out, and really loved both for different reasons. These two films are severely underrated amongst the ranks of sci-fi fandom. Anyway. I have this habit of seeing things years after they come out. I guess I like to let the dust settle, or maybe I'm a cinematic procrastinator. I actually feel like I missed out by not seeing 'Dark Fury' before 'Chronicles'. Don't misunderstand me- 'Dark Fury' isn't necessary when it comes to glueing Riddick's tale together. It isn't even technically or visually stimulating. What 'Dark Fury' did for me was dig deeper into the psyche of the main characters of the two films. In "Pitch Black" we got an intimate tour of Riddicks mind and nature. In the first edition of the 'Riddick' epoch, there is a blatant, gaping contrast of imagery and emotion. The scenes are either bathed in blinding white light, or drenched in shadowy black. The contrast of the imagery reflects the dark and light side of Riddick's character.

"Chronicles of Riddick" is more ambitious in scope than "Pitch Black", and the tone morphs from "creature feature" into something quite literally universal in scale. Nestled neatly in-between the two is "Dark Fury". Forget the action scenes, the blood, the sexual undertones- this is a character piece. It has been touted as a bridge to enhance the plot line of "Chronicles of Riddick", but what it did for me was segway deeper into the mind of Riddick. Not only into the mind of Riddick, but into the mind of the universe. Sitting on that throne in the final shot of "Chronicles of Riddick", we don't know if the universe will be headed toward the light or the dark. We've seen Riddick flourish wearing the mask of good and evil, and the epoch ends with the universe hanging in the balance of the fickle whims of a madman and a saint. Riddick is the ultimate allegory for chaos theory.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

OJO's Super Bowl Pick: Denver Broncos

You heard it here first! OJO picks the Denver Broncos to take the Super Bowl this year over the Dallas Cowboys. Final score: Denver 31 Dallas 10.

AFC Championships

Denver 24 Indie 17

NFC Championships

Dallas 35 Chicago 13

Now, OJO doesn't guarantee the scores, but he does guarantee the final winner (Denver). If he is wrong, you will be refunded the total amount you spent reading this post.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Snakes On A Plane

I made a mistake when I went to see "Snakes On A Plane". I arrived to the theater early. Thirty minutes early, to be exact. That means that I was inundated with lame celebrity quotes, courtesy of EOnline, for an entire thirty minutes. It hurt. The quote that topped the chart on the "cringe factor" was one by brainiac Christina Aguilera, who said, "I think it scares people when they see a woman who is comfortable with herself". I officially crown Christina A. "Diva of Profundity". Wow. Seriously, though, how incredibly dull is that? I have never, in all of my days on this earth, ever thought to myself, "gee, that girl seems comfortable with herself", and then proceeded to shiver with fright. Then there was J Lo's cerebral blurb, "Life is about two things, love and learning". Uh-huh. My life could be narrowed down to only concerning myself with love and learning if I made $20 million to play pretend in front of a camera. There were about a dozen other star quotes. They played them onscreen over, and over, and over again. When I realized I had them memorized, I vowed to never be early to a movie again.

Ok, then, on to the actual flick. I had fun with this movie. I didn't go into "Snakes On A Plane" expecting to see the picture of the year, and, surprise, I didn't. What I did see was a relentless action film that made me jump half a dozen times, made me laugh a little more, and made me tear up when all was well (ok, I lied about that last part). Samuel L. was cool, as always. My favorite character in this one, though, was the famous musician "Three G's", played by Flex Alexander. "Three G's" is a germophobe with a major ego, who is forced to sit in coach because FBI agents (Jackson and company) have taken over first class to transport a witness in a mob trial. If you don't have some degree of 'Snakeophobia' (the textbook term eludes me, and I'm too lazy at this point to look it up), then this movie won't have much of an effect on you. I do suffer from an intense fear of snakes, which is why I spent half of this flick squirming in my seat. The majority of the snakes were real, but many were cg, and it was bad cg. Think bad, like in The Mummy Returns, and you were forced to endure the cg depiction of the Scorpion King. "Snakes On A Plane" is as simple as the title, nothing fancy, but fun. Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Chronicles of Easter

Forget what you thought you knew about Easter! I had a chance to sit down with french director Jean Jeancois to discuss his upcoming project, 'The Chronicles of Easter'. He reviewed the script with me, and I was fascinated at his ability to forge a dark bizzarro tale of mystery and intrigue, while staying true to the french wild west themes he is known for. 'Easter' takes place in an alternate universe where the american wild west coming-of-age occurs during pre-historic times, in france, during an alien reconaissance of Earth- a recon which will determine the ET's timetable for invasion. While the plot is daring, grandiose, and extremely ambitious, Jeancoise was careful not to allow the gargantuan task of large-scale plot arrangements to get in the way of intense character development. He describes his main character, 'Easter', as a self-loathing, toe-nail biting, con-artist, that is constantly searching for purpose within his tribe of hunter-gatherer, outlaw, french bandits. During a solo forage near a pond, he runs into a Velociraptor named Tito. Tito convinces him, through telepathy, to join him on a quest to Egypt. Tito has been summoned by the Dino-God 'Dillibedido' to journey to the innards of Egypt- he has no idea why. Upon arriving in Egypt, Tito and Easter come up on a massive construction project run by gray, almond-eyed aliens- they are building something feline-like in the middle of the desert. Tito knows it is a sign from Dellibedido- they must now form a band of Raptor-riding frenchman to take on these strange aggressors from outer-space.
Unfortunately, that is all I am allowed to reveal about this story because it is still in pre-production, and I assured Jean Jeancois that I would not reveal too much about this groundbreaking french epoch! Much thanks to Jeancois for letting me in on this gem, and I look forward to frequent updates on this project!

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Long Way Down

I’ll admit it. I imagine I’m one of about ten people who hasn’t seen Neil Marshall’s previous horror flick, “Dog Soldiers”. Based on the intense amount of composure and precision that director Marshall shows with “The Descent”, I intend to correct that oversight very soon. Simply put, “The Descent” is one of the more enjoyable times I’ve had at the movies this year- if by enjoyable you correlate tension, anxiety, and the enveloping fear that everything presented on the screen will continue to haunt and disturb for days. This is an extremely well made film that charts the voyage of six adventurous women on a cave exploring weekend. Once there, they find they’re not alone in the caves. Yet, as preposterous and cliché as this basic formula sounds, Marshall manages to avoid the pitfalls that accompany a lot of horror films. Several of the women are given dynamic backgrounds and, for more intuitive viewers, they’ll pick up on a devious little perversion that invades during the opening minutes and sustains a level of underlying questions between 2 of the women throughout the rest of the film. This is the kind of horror film I prefer… a film that allows the viewer to be immersed in the darkness, the claustrophobia and the disorientation right along with its characters. In films like “The Grudge” and “The Eye”, the energy of the scares is in the corners of the frame, constantly keeping the viewer wondering where the terror may arise from next. Marshall inventively lights over 80% of the film with the only illumination the women have on them- helmet lights, flares, fluorescent sticks and the night vision of a camcorder. There’s nothing worse than being in a movie theater and having to discern the dark images for yourself. No easy way out here. His unnerving sense of timing, as well, once the ‘things’ arrive on screen also speaks volumes about the director’s patience as a storyteller and a provocateur. And, to add depth to an already interesting little movie, I urge everyone to check out
  • this
  • . Apparently, the version playing here in the States is an abridged version from that released in the U.K, cut by the hands of director Marshall himself. I prefer the British ending more, only because I think this is the intended revelation that the film naturally builds to (especially since there are several ‘cutaway’ scenes throughout “The Descent” that are never explained in the American version.) And what’s even more interesting is the discussion that “The Descent” opens up upon watching (and interpreting) the British ending. Whether this was an artistic choice or the decision to possibly “dumb down” the American version, it’s heroic that a horror film has the chops to open itself up to so many interesting deviations.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Breaking News: OJO Calls for Heat This Summer

    That's right! You read it here first- OJO calls for heat the rest of this summer! Amazing isn't it? Now you won't have to watch your local news channel to know it is hot outside. You won't need to rush outside every morning to check the temperature forecast! If you want to know a little insider meteorological information, here goes: it's hot every summer! Say it ain't so, OJO! Every summer from June through August (and even into September), it's hot. I don't have to read the newspaper to tell me that. I don't even have to watch the news to know that if I'm going to be outside for an extended period of time in extreme temperatures I should drink more water than normal. Does that make me a genius, or the media asinine? While I would love to believe the former- well, you get it. I've been wondering why the media spends so much effort telling the masses that it's hot in the summer. Then it clicked. Effort is the key word. It takes absolutely zero effort on the part of a journalist to whip out a story about heat in the summer. Educators aren't the only ones that get to take a summer break.

    Since I'm feeling a little like Nostradamus right now, let me make another prediction. This winter, get ready- it will snow. There will be several blizzards in several cities. People will be shoveling that snow, but don't take my word for it- there will be plenty of news coverage on that one too.

    Now, let's jump back to the present (does that make any sense at all?). Of course we all know why the media beats us over the head with the heat news everyday- it's global warming. Fine, but the news isn't about global warming. It's about old lady Johnson that had a heat stroke because she forgot to drink water- even though every summer for the last 85 years it's been hot. I'm not going to get into the global warming debate because even the doom-and-gloomers still admit that the temperature has only risen one degree in the last one hundred years. I guess the media would have us believe this conversation one hundred years ago in JoeVille USA:

    The day is July 25, 1906. Bob and Bill are talking in their yard. The temperature is ninety-seven degrees. Bob says, "Gee Bill, it sure does feel right nice out here, dudn't it?"
    To which, Bill replies, "Mighty nice indeed, neighbor".

    Now, fast forward to July 25, 2006. Bob III and Bill III are talking in their yard. The temperature is ninety-EIGHT degrees. Bob III says, "Can you believe this heat! It's unthinkable that it would be this hot in the middle of summer! I don't know if I can take it! Should I drink more water"?
    To which Bill III replies, "This is absolutely unbearable heat! Al Gore got it right, again! First he invents the internet, then he's dead-on about global warming! As far as the water drinking, you should probably read the newspaper first".

    This whole thing.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Trashcan Odorous Jr's 'Laughs on Call'

    I love movies. I love vampires (the pre-rave vampyres), werewolves, ZOMBIES, and all that is blood and guts- but there is another side of film I love, too. The timeless comedy. For me, there are a few movies that I can re-visit over, and over, and over, and over again. There was a year and a half stretch that I watched the 'Big Lebowski' every single day. No matter how much effort I put into explaining the brilliance of nuance that the Coen brother's captured in that film, if you don't get- you don't get it. Does watching Monty Python's verbose peasant (Dennis), ever get old (pun intended)? Never. Neither does watching the fireworks of 'Tim the Enchanter' be conjured up "without flint nor tinder"? I remember the summer of my junior year in high school when I discovered 'Young Frankenstein'. It doesn't matter that I've seen that movie at least a hundred times-it makes me laugh every time, every scene. Over and over again. That is the magic of film. A group of people got together and made a movie that will make people laugh on call for the rest of their lives! Here is the Trashcan Odorous Jr. list of 'Laughs on Call':

    1: The Big Lebowski (aka The Grand Lebowski, or Mr. Marijuana)
    2: Young Frankenstein (that's Frahn-ken-shteen)
    3: Monty Python and the Holy Grail..."are you suggesting coconuts migrate"?
    4: Super Troopers
    5: Napoleon Dynamite..."I see you're drinking 1%, is that 'cause you think you're fat, 'cause you're not. You could be drinking whole milk if you wanted to".
    6: Team America: World Police... " Pearl Harbor sucked just a little bit more than I miss you "
    7: Army of Darkness..."Groovy"
    8: Caddyshack
    9: Airplane
    10: The Naked Gun
    Hurry, go pop-in one of these classics right meow!