Archive | May, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past, Reviewed

27 May

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Got to see X-Men: Days of Future Past over the weekend and figured I’d share some thoughts. After all, who doesn’t love pretending that they’re Roger Ebert?

  • The movie is really good. Not quite excellent but really good, if that distinction makes sense. Let’s start with that. It combines the fun of X-Men: First Class with the darkness and battle scenes of the original X-Men films, specifically X2: X-Men United, which was just an awesome movie. In this one you’ve got interesting themes (idea of fighting for a race) and humor and suspense. Well, sometimes there’s suspense. That might be one of the only problems I had with the movie. There are times when you find yourself at the edge of your seat—metaphorically speaking; I usually watch my movies from a super leaned-back position—only to quickly realize that, in just a few minutes, everything is going to be OK and our heroes will have saved the world. After all, there are sequel$ to make.
  • Actually, part of that is not totally true. There were some other problems I had with the movie, mostly from a continuity (please don’t make me pronounce that word) standpoint. The last time we saw Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, he had just been blown to smithereens by Jean Gray. Well, that is unless you waited for X-Men: The Last Stand‘s credits to end—which I’m not really sure why you would have because that movie blew—and saw Professor X seemingly coming back to life. Either way, him being back in charge in the latest installment is the sort of thing that deserves some sort of explanation. As does the fact that Magneto appears to have gotten his powers back, even though he was stabbed with one of those un-mutify-people shots in X3. In fact, if you want the whole list of continuity problems with the latest X-Men movie, click here (spoilers in there). I get that anytime you have un-planned sequels and reboots and different directors there are going to be problems, and that most people aren’t dorky enough to actually care about this stuff, but, in this viewer’s humble opinion, a better effort could have been put forth in this department. Just a few extra lines of explainers or something.
  • That’s it for the complaints. And honestly, I’m not sure why I led with the negatives (classic Today’s Society, always focusing on bad and not good, amiright?). Again, I really enjoyed the movie. Most of all, I enjoyed Michael Fassbender. Ian McKellen is a great actor, one of the best to ever do it, but what Fassbender has done with the Magneto character has just been awesome. Fassbender’s Magneto is a total badass, the kind of person who is terrifying and brilliant and captivating and sympathetic. He’s crazy, yet you get where he’s coming from and why he does what he does. He’s a “bad guy” who you’re not actually sure is bad. Or wrong. He’s also just really cool. Super heroes are supposed to be really cool. I like this.
  • Hugh Jackman might have the most fitting last name, like, ever. I mean what else is even in the discussion? There was (maybe still is) a pitcher named Josh Outman which was pretty good, but I think Jackman is still much better. Just check out this video, which is also awesome because it’s pretty clear that Scott Pelley pitched this story just because he wanted to be able to put on tight clothes and show the world how ripped he was. Well played, Scott, well played.
  • Jennifer Lawrence>>>Rebecca Romeijn. Yeah, not even close, though, as much as I love Lawrence, as we all are apparently required to do—until the eventual backlash comes which then will be followed by a magazine cover story in which we all learn how hard it’s all been on her and triggers J-Law Love Affair 2.0—I’m not so sure she does brooding well. Which is weird because she went pretty dark in Silver Lining’s Playbook, and that was great. In X-Men, not so much and dammit, I’m now complaining again.
  • Professor X has a drug problem. Very cool. Love that these movies have made Youngin Prof. X seem like a cool guy. Not that drug habits are cool, but James Mcavoy’s Professor X is certainly not a dork, which is what he’s seemed like in the past. This is a positive. Gives him more depth.
  • Ok, letter grade time, because, well, what fun is it to write about a movie if you don’t give it a grade. I’m going B+. Tons of fun; cool scenes ( I think the cinema folk refer to that stuff as cinematography), which I probably would have enjoyed more if I didn’t refuse to ever see movies in 3D; a bit of drama, though not enough; intriguing characters. That, actually, is where I think X-Men: Days of Future Past succeeds the most. The merging of the young and old X-Men has created a stable of awesomely deep and interesting and complicated people that we now get to watch on screen semi-regularly. That doesn’t happen very often (isn’t that a major reason behind Iron Man‘s success?) To this I say, Job well done.

My Newfound Love of Coupons

23 May

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This may come as a surprise to many of you, but writers in their mid 20s without full-time gigs aren’t exactly rolling in the cash. Shocking, I know.

Over the years I’ve developed a few workarounds. Only buying clothes on sale. Learning how to cook. Not making it rain at clubs. When feeling like treating yourself to a takeout for dinner, ordering it in the early afternoon so that you can get a lunch special.

And using coupons. Lots of coupons. It’s come to the point where I find myself feeling excitement when I open my mailbox and find that envelope of coupons lying in it. It’s called a Valpak. I get it once a month. The first thing I do every time is go through them and separate the ones I’m interested in. The others are put in the trash.

On the one hand, I want to say I’m not proud of this. That’s probably the part of me always conscious about playing into some of the stereotypes associated with my People. And also, well, no one wants to be that person.

On the other hand, frugal and cheap are two different things, and I refuse to apologize for being the former. Right now I’m sitting in apartment that, just hours ago, was cleaned by a cleaning service girl for $29. The place has never looked better. Earlier in the week I dropped off a suit at a dry cleaning place a few blocks away. Got 30% off. Last week I ordered groceries from Fresh Direct and got $25 off.

Do I sound like my grandma? Sure. But we all make choices in life and one that I’ve made is to pursue this writing thing. That means making sacrifices in other areas, one of them being salary. The way I look at it: you can either complain about what you can’t do, or find ways to do the things you want to do. Today, I’m thinking sushi for lunch. The 20% off pinned to my fridge has got me in the mood.

24 Live Blog, Episode 4

22 May

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Well, we’re back (you’re welcome, Roni). Apologies for missing an episode there, NBA playoffs make it difficult to keep up on TV shows. Hopefully from now on I’ll be good to go with these, and able to do so in a timely fashion, but enough with the intro, let’s get to it.

Previously on 24

– These British MPs have amazing accents, even when angry.

– Lolz that 24 feels the need to tell us who Jack Bauer is. Guys, if we’re watching the reboot, I think we’re good in that area.

– Lady Stark is creepy. Watching her daughter bang on a secret camera? Also, me being the 24 veteran that I am, I’m guessing that the daughter’s hubby has got some larger role to play later on.

– “They’re shooting at us!” All time great Jack move.

Event occur in real time

2 pm-3 pm

– Oh, well, we’re right back into it. God, this show is great.

– “How?” Chloe asks. “I created a diversion,”Jack says. Sort of an understatement.

– Yes, the sleeper move is back!

– This Edward Snowden/Julian Asange guy is really not catching on to how things in 24 World work.

– Chloe’s friend is confusing me. Are we supposed to know his backstory? What’s his connection with Jack?

– CIA people don’t have to show badges or anything when walking into the embassy and talking to the head of security there? No wonder 24 World has so many leaks.

– Don’t answer that phone. Unless you want to end up in a sleeper hold.

– Or knocked out from behind.

– “Son, right now I believe you.” Yep, that should be all this arrested dude needs. After all, nothing has happened to him today to make him think that trusting random people might not be a great idea.

– HAHAHAHA, the guard watching him has the flight key on him?!

2:07

– Why do these super-important-and-secure building always have like some random way out through the basement?

– Ooo, maybe this one actually doesn’t.

– “I don’t think you understand, it’s over, they’re going to put you in prison.” Sweet joke, Chloe. I would have thought you’d be more familiar with how this goes by now.

2:13

– Not really feeling these villains. Hope our Level 2 bad guys are more fun to watch.

– HAHAHA, this guys thinks he’s leaving. Bet he has some Super Awesome Plan that he thinks will work, too.

– Yep, he has keys and a car parked down the road. What could go wrong?

– “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I’m betting that happens, thought not in the way he thinks it will.

– There’s gonna be some stupid plot twist where she sells him out later, isn’t there?

– Director Benjamin Bratt is not very smart.

–  Hasn’t Jack been living, like, in a hut for the past few years? And didn’t he spend years before that in a Chinese prison? How does he know how to do this computer stuff? And what the hell is a T-window, or whatever Chloe called it?

– “Give me your word.” Boom! Drink.

– This guy’s up to something, isn’t he?

– “Son of a bitch!” “How long is this going to take?” Yes, yes, yes. Give me more!

– Oh, we got one of these Jack-takes-hostages-for-a-greater-good scenes coming up. Another 24 staple.

2:23

– Uch, I’m sick of Lady Stark and her family. Someone Red Wedding her (spoiler alert).

– HAHA, she’s pretending she’s got like that super mother instinct. Sneaky.

– Chief of Staff Tate Donovan is impressed.

– Benjamin Bratt’s job status is in trouble.

2:28

– This guy doesn’t realize that if Jack wanted them dead, they’d be dead. HE HIT YOU IN THE BODY VEST, BRAH.

– Oh, shit, all the cards are out on the table now. Blondy will believe Jack, Chris Partlow won’t.

– Lolz, classic.

– President Heller, still got it.

– This is gonna be an awkward convo. Um, yeah, remember that Jack guy? So he’s in London now.

– BOOM!

– Gotta give Chief of Staff Tate credit for being upfront here at least.

–  Shit. Just. Got. real.

2:37

– Oh, this guy’s in trouble. Just kill him already, please.

– Not sure these people know what “love” is.

– This guy picked a horrible time to develop a conscience.

– She’s gonna shoot her daughter or something, isn’t she?

–  Oh, that’s fucked up.

– OH SHIT!!!! WTF?!?!?!

– That will definitely come back to bite Momma Red-Head-Bad-Lady in the ass later on.

– Yep, Agent Benjamin Bratt, still not very smart.

– What a call out!! He wants blondy—didn’t see that coming. Also, that was a weird back and forth.

– “I barely grazed them.” Fantastic.

– Heller Surprise Face. That’s some fineee acting right there.

– Something has to go wrong here. Can’t be “and everyone starts working together from here on out” now. That wouldn’t be 24.

– Ooo, these guys have some bad blood. And damn straight you earned that right, Jack. You da ma!

– Did Heller and Jacko have a bad breakup? I don’t remember.

– Tate vs. Audrey. Here we go.

– “All I’ve ever seen is that damage he leaves in his wake.” That’s good stuff.

2:51

– Sick speech, Head Soldier Man. Though seems like he’s a little too angry and trigger happy.

– Yep, that young soldier is not gonna pull the trigger. Jack’s gonna go all low voice on him or something and look into his eyes,

– It’s funny when you remember that these two CIA people have only been working together for like four hours.

– What’s with all the cuts to the hostages?

– Jack never surrenders and lets his work go for nothing.

– Lets’ get it on!

– Sneaking up on Jack is never a good idea, lady. C’mon. Gotta be smarter if going to be Jack’s heir.

– Say “I give you my word” and he’ll trust you.

– Damnnnn, this woman’s tough. Shoving soldiers out of the way and stuff.

– Can’t believe he’s stuck here doing the drone piloting. He had a plan and keys and a car parked down the street. Shocked, I tell ya, shocked.

That was fun, see you next week. 

My Girlfriend’s Crush on Justin Long

8 May

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My girlfriend has a crush on Justin Long. Well, actually it’s not really a crush; he’s just on her list, not that either of us have an official list (still working on that one), but when we run out of deep things to talk about and default to which celebrities do you think are hot, Justin Long is one of the people she names.

I don’t like that Justin Long is one of the people that she names.

Now, I got nothing against Justin Long. He seems like a nice enough fellow, and I enjoy his movies, at least most of the time. Accepted is excellent; Going the Distance is a good chick flick*; and Dodgeball is, obviously, hilarious. He’s Just Not That Into You I can do without, but hey, no one’s perfect.

My problem with Justin Long is that he’s not exactly somebody you’d normally hold up as an example of a good looking dude. Normally.

Clearly my girlfriend doesn’t fit under that umbrella.

This, as you can imagine, is not such a good thing for my self esteem. That Jason Segel is another man on her list just adds to the problem. Yeah, sure, I can praise her for not being shallow and caring about personality—which is always funny when it’s brought up in these types of hypothetical talks since, well, we know shit about these guys personalities—and all that stuff. But, when it comes down to it, well, it certainly wouldn’t bother me if, when asked to name some good looking famous people that she finds attractive, her answer consisted of names like George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Because to me, really, it’s simple logic. If she thinks Justin Long is really cute, then, well, I guess it’s a good think I decided to give up my modeling career.

*(Though that might have more to do with Jason Sudeikes** and Charlie Day than Long. I have a theory that the thing that separates good romantic comedies from bad ones is the supporting cast. The main stuff will always be a bit funny, a bit sappy, a bit predictable; it’s up to the other characters to drag it all up.)

** (Speaking of Sudeikes and my girlfriend, well, this is a story that needs to be shared. The one guy on my girlfriend’s list, who actually, ya know, belongs on a list is, John Krasinski. She’s a huge fan, so much so that this one time I almost got forced into seeing the pile of dung that he and Matt Damon put out called Promised Land. Thank God, just almost. Anyway, one day my girlfriend was walking down in the Village and, much to her excitement, saw Krasinksi walking by. Being the shameless person that she is, my girlfriend then decided to stop Krasinski and ask for a picture. She gave her phone to the guy he was walking with. “He laughed at me,” she said at the time, “and then said, Sure, I’m great at taking pictures.” Fast forward a few months. My girlfriend and I are watching Hall Pass on TV. A few scenes in she turns to me and says, “That’s the guy who took the picture of me and Krasinski.” She’s talking about Jason Sudeikis.)  

24 Is Back

6 May

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24 came back tonight, and man was it awesome. There were “dammits,” incompetent government agents and everything else that a 24 fan could want. Anyway, towards the end of the premier I decided to do a sort of live blog for the second episode and, hopefully, future ones as well. You can find that below. First, though, a recap/retroactive diary of Episode 1.

– We’re starting at 11:06. That’s a new twist.

– Jack’s first appearance: maybe one minute into the show. Jack’s first words: about twenty minutes later. This show is the best.

– Hey, it’s Chris Partlow from The Wire playing a CTU agent. Or CIA London—though I’ll still be calling it CTU—agent.

– First Dammit goes to Benjamin Bratt, I feel betrayed.

–  Is it weird that I can recognize the thing that Jack shoots into Chloe’s chest as an adrenaline shot? #24Veteran.

– Glad to see the CIA’s security guards, who for some reason dress like mall cops, are just as inept and pathetic as CTU’s were.

– So our President has alzheimer’s. That seems like it could be a bit of a problem going forward. Also, fantastic plot piece. Can’t wait to see what happens with this one. Feel like Tate Donovan is going to use that to his advantage at some point.

12 pm-1 pm

–  Carnage at CTU! Or CIA-London-Building-Acting-As-Standin-For-CTU. See what happens when you don’t listen to Blond Field Agent Who Has A Hunch, Director Benjamin Bratt. Hope you’ve learned your lesson.

– Apparently Female Jack Bauer is working with Kenny Powers reincarnated as a British cop.

– “This is the very last time,” he says. Lol.

– Benjamin Bratt is losing control of his people. Classic 24 move. Though pairing Chris Partlow with a woman is a smart move. Everyone knows he works well with a female. RIP, Snoop.

– Chloe’s gone goth apparently.

12:02

– Sick scarf, English Julian Asange.

– Something about the way British people say organization. Or-gan-I-za-shon.

– Now I’m confused. Who the hell is Jack working for? Also, he wasn’t kidding about not having friends. Ah, Chloe, when will you learn?

12:06

– Wow, Chloe is a horrendous actress. Was she always this bad? And why does everyone in this Or-gan-I-za-shon appear to be 19 years old.

– There is zero chance this bad guy doing the drone stuff is allowed to live by Super Bad Woman.

12:15

– Oh, this soldier is in trouble. And he got into a fight with the Major earlier. He’s got no chance.

– “Missiles don’t arm themselves.” And they know about the weekend pass!

– If I was this guy, I’d play the race card.

– Holy shit this Prime Minister is huge.

– Ah, Tate Donovan, you are so naive. And transparent. And something tells me, veteran 24 watcher that I am, that there’s more to this Jack Bauer hunt than Audrey Raines.

– Serbian friend. Was just wondering who he was? Didn’t Season 1 stuff have to do with Serbians?

– “There’s no going back for me.” Jack, you sad man. And love when 24 works in a nice political debate.

– Jack Bauer and Julian Asange working together, So nice.

– Jack+Chloe forever.

12:28

– “They’re going to respond to honesty.” President Heller, you sweet, naive old man.

– Tate Donovan doesn’t really seem to have much faith in his boss.

– “This was you, yes?” drone dude’s lady friend asks him. Yep, you guys are both dead.

– Willing to be this plot doesn’t go exactly according to plan.

12:33

– “I wanna test our com-units.” Attention to detail. That’s what makes this show.

12:39

– President Heller, still got it, baby. Take that, Tate.

–  Oh shit, three men. Not good.

– Nevermind. He doesn’t still have it. This is awkward.

–  “You think I’m at a disadvantage; I promise you I’m not” might be an all-time great Jack line.

– Dude, why are you leaving that USB thing in your computer? Rookie mistake.

– You fool, bullets don’t hurt Jack. They only make him stronger.

– SHOOTOUT!!!!

12:52

– “You were right Jack” No shit!

– “Son of a bitch.” !!!

– “Son of a bitch.” Again. Two in 30 seconds.

– And a Dammit! I think I just had an orgasm.

– This girl is about to kill him, isn’t she? Shouldn’t have mentioned new buyer.

–  Yep he’s dead.

– Yeah, there it is. For a brilliant computer guy, he wasn’t very smart.

Well that was fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue this going forward. So happy to have Jack and the Gang back in my life.