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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Six's Cinema HitList; Spring 2012

I'm a movie geek. To the Nth degree. I live and breathe films, have since I was six or seven years old. I've seen thousands of films, domestic, foreign, classic, new, hard to find gems, and blockbuster hits. I can rattle off the name's of character actors and writers and directors like they're immediate family. My brain is absolutely overloaded with little bits of trivia and behind-the-scenes bullshit all the way from classic old school works like Citizen Kane to unreleased hype monsters like this summer's Dark Knight Rises. If I'm not watching a movie, or talking about a movie, there's a decent chance I'm online reading trade news and scanning film scoop sites for upcoming tidbits. So yeah, I love cinema. I also love writing about it, so here is my 'exclusive' SixFingers Upcoming Films You Should Probably See.

Right around the corner we have the March 23rd release of The Hunger Games. A lot of people may hate on it for being tweeny Young Adult bullshit like Twilight, and while I've never felt the need to read Twilight, I did read Hunger Games, and quite enjoyed them. Consider me in the 'looking forward to the movie' camp.

March 23rd also brings the U.S. release of The Raid, an Indonesian action flick that's been taking festivals and foreign audiences by the balls. I'm not a big fan of hyperbole and overhyping, as I think it can lead to movies being ruined by unrealistic expectations (I'm looking at you, Matrix sequels). However the trailer and the opinion of several movie guru's I trust has me very much looking forward to this kung-fu and bullet filled flick. Action films have been in the toilet the past decade or so, with only the occasional gem slipping through (Apocalypto, Blade II, anything Korea does). Shaky cam has taken over since the goddamn Bourne Identity did it 'well', and everybody else thought they could do it too. They were wrong, so terribly, terribly wrong, and I'm hoping that the Raid will be a nice throwback the the bone-crunching days of yore when you could actually tell who was hitting/shooting who and where, as opposed to a bunch of blurs and sound effects.

April 6th brings us the great Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, In the Mouth of Madness) and Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in LA, American Psycho) in Tazmania, with Dafoe hunting the legendary Tazmanian Tiger, thought extinct since the 1930's, but sighted more than a few times since. I'm a big fan of both these actors, and also of cryptozoology, so sign me up.

April 13th should be a pretty good day, despite it's unlucky Friday the 13th connotations, because the new Joss Whedon movie hits! For those of you living under a pop culture free rock, Whedon is the guy behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Best.Show.Ever), Angel, and Firefly, and wrote and directed the upcoming Avengers. He also wrote the screenplay for Toy Story, for those who think his talent stops at self referential witty supernatural banter. This is his first official outing in horror (unless you count his much maligned Alien: Resurrection script), written by himself and Buffy/Angel writer and showrunner Drew Goddard. Not much has been released and those that have seen it say that going in knowing as little as possible is best. No problem for me, they had me at Joss Whedon!

April 27th we've got a real hit or miss project coming in the form of The Raven, a fictionalized account of Edgar Allen Poe trying to solve a series of murders that are being based around his writings. As a big fan of Poe I was very interested off the bat. Bringing in John Cusack to star only upped my interest, but also made me a bit wary. I love Cusack, but he can be a bit one note and I'm hoping he brings his full range to what needs to be a complex and engrossing role.

May 4th. A day sure to live in the collective geek memory forever, for better or for worse. For every nerd and geek and superhero fan who ever picked up a comic, seeing a big screen version of The Avengers was always just a pipe dream. I mean, just getting the individual properties off the ground in order to create a lead in was almost impossible by itself, but it could happen. It did of course. We've had two Iron Man films, two Hulk's (but only one that is 'canon'), one Captain America, and one Thor. We've had cameo's by Scarlett Jo's Black Widow and Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye. The stage was set. Even seeing all these movies, liking them all in some way and loving some of them, the idea of a full scale Avenger's film still seemed...unlikely. Yes, the difficult prelude of getting all these individual films off the ground had been completed. However you still have five or six big name stars playing these superheroes, and getting them all into ONE movie at the same time, giving them all adequate screen time, respecting their individual mythos and backstories, and stroking all their ego's simultaneously, it just seemed insurmountable. The replacing of Edward Norton, who played the Hulk in the second go round, was a perfect example of my fears. The fact that out of all the actors from the previous movies, only Norton was replaced is pretty miraculous. I wish he hadn't been, as much as I am a fan of his replacement Mark Ruffalo, I am a big Ed Norton fan and loved his portrayal of the Hulk. Word on the street is he can be a very difficult actor to work with, constantly rewriting his dialogue and whatnot. Personally I think he turns in smashing performances, and if he gets there by fucking with the script or whatever then it seems to me people should back off and let him do his thing. Still, optimistic about Ruffalo's portrayal of the big green mean machine. Won't know until May if the movie is good, or mediocre, or a straight up disaster, but the simple fact that it's happening is nothing short of mind blowing, and I'll be there opening weekend with my geek love on my sleeve and smiling a smile of somebody who's going to get to see something only previously glimpsed in dreams and fantasies.

Oh what a month May shall be. For on the 25th, we get a new Wes Anderson picture! A simple premise of a young boy and girl running away to meet and have adventures get's the inimitable Wes Anderson treatment, complete with a stellar cast. Returning Anderson alum's Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman will be sharing the screen with no less than the likes of Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and Harvey Keitel. From the opening shot in the trailer and the first chimes of music the picture just screams classic Wes, and as a fan of his stuff since Bottle Rocket, I can't wait.

Ok. That bring's us all the way up to the beginning of June, and the start of SUMMER! There are quite a few more potentially awesome bits of cinema hitting then, so I'll type up another one of these encompassing summer films soon. I didn't want this to be too unbearably long, and I'm not entirely sure anybody wants to read about my thoughts on movies, but I like writing about them (and talking about them and watching them and reading about them) so this was a pleasurable way to waste an hour for me.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Update on Life and the Future

I'm back I'm back I'm back!

Technically I never went anywhere. I just haven't had the drive or motivation to post. It's been a long long long fucking couple months. Two days after my last post I lost my job. Was still dealing with the height of the Valium withdrawals and missed one day of work too many, and in what I assume was a moment of frustration I was fired. It was a decent job and I enjoyed it most of the time, so I'm kind of bummed about that, but if they were willing to let me go for missing a couple shifts due to coming down from a four year Valium high then I suppose I didn't want to be there anyways. On a positive note I stopped into Zion's Den, the glass shop across the street from the PPC, and chatted up the woman working there for a while. I mentioned at one point that I'd worked in the headshop in the 'Cat across the street and she asked me my name. As soon as I told her her eyes lit up with recognition and she told me that both her and her boss, the owner, had heard numerous good things about me from customers who'd come in after having been to our store. They had heard so much positive word of mouth on yours truly in fact, that they asked me to bring in a resume. They don't even have any paid employees, but they might be looking to have one, and they might want it to be me. Which is awesome because the owners of the shop I had worked at used to get on me about their friends coming in to buy glass from me and then reporting back to them that I didn't know what I was talking about, that I was a poor salesmen, poor attitude, blah blah. Which I felt very strongly was bullshit, I'm a cheery and bright personality behind the counter, and a decent salesmen. So it was nice to get some validation.

So that was in November that I lost my job. And now it's...March?!? Really? It's fucking March? Damn. I still don't have a job. It's hard out there for a heavily tattooed and pierced barista/salesman/lifeguard/pimp. I'm looking though, and it's been long enough that something has to go right soon. Seriously. After as many 'Fuck You's as life has thrown at me over the last couple months it's about time I catch a damn break. Speaking of life bending you over a barrel and having it's way with you, I'm not going to be flying, not as a career anyways. As most people that know me know but promptly forgot, I'm colorblind. Not hardcore greyscale or anything, just a mild case of the red/greens. When I took my FAA medical exam I of course failed the colorblind test, the one with the colored dots that spell out a number. I knew I was going to though, as I've never been able to pass those, but out of all the pilots I've ever talked to (and I know quite a few) none of them has ever flown anything with dials resembling a fucking magic eye illusion, so I didn't think it'd be an issue. The medical examiner told me I'd have to drive over to Forrest Grove and take a special FAA last resort colorblind test called the Farnsworth-Lantern, which sounds like something the Professor would've invented on Futurama to see into alternate dimensions. Just to see what my odds would be of passing, the examiner took me out below the tower at the Bend airport and had them flash signal lights at me from up there while we stood in the parking lot. I nailed every single color without a single mistake. The guy straight up told me that since I hadn't had any issues identifying those single colored signal lights from so far away I'd probably breeze through the F-L exam.

FAIL. I didn't pass. I drove over to Forrest Grove one day with Jenkins and my sister in tow. Took us about 40 minutes of walking aimlessly around campus before we found the Optometry building, but find it we did, and just in time for my appointment. I was ushered in by a young third year optometry student, pretty blonde girl, shy, smart. She set me up in a small room in a hallway lined with identical small rooms, probably thirty in all. She set up a lantern shaped device facing me about ten feet away, and explained to me the test. On the lantern, in the center, there were two tiny light bulbs about the size of the ball in a ball point pen, one on top of the other, so close together they almost looked like a tiny number eight. She explained that the lights could blink in three colors, red, green, and white, and in any sequence of those three, i.e. top red bottom red, or top white bottom green, ect, ect, ect. She would flash ten combinations of the lights, showing each for two seconds, and I had to tell her top to bottom what the two lights were. If I missed more then two I had to run through ten more, and I was allowed three rounds of ten total, no more. Didn't sound too hard. Until I ran through the first ten, and realized around the eighth set that I hadn't said 'white' yet. There was no way there hadn't been any whites yet, and at that soul-crushing moment I knew it was over. I wasn't going to fly. We finished the first set with me not having said white once. She gently asked me if I remembered that it was one of the three colors, not just green and red. I said yes, and we ran through it two more times, I missed more the second and third times. See, the red was fine, the green was fine, the white was fine. Put the white next to red and I could see it, put it next to green and they both cancelled each other out. I had no idea if I was looking at white white or green white or whatever, they just blurred into one color. Which is complete and total bullshit, because a pilot will never (probably) be put in a situation where they have to identify two tiny lights touching each other from a distance. I can identify all the things I need to in the cockpit and in the tower. I've flown fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and never have I run into an issue knowing what color something was. After failing the Farnsworth-Lantern test though my name was submitted automatically to the FAA stating that I may not receive a commercial pilot's license. So that's that. Bummer.

Keeping positive though, as much as I can. Spending my time looking for work, reevaluating my life, playing video games, and hanging with my friends. Things will pick up, new leaves will turn over, all that positive shit. I'm looking forward to it. Glad to be off my medications. It will be four months soon with not one single Valium or benzo, and I feel pretty goddamn good about that. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done, straight painful at times, but it's good to be clear. I feel like I accomplished something, even if it was just a personal victory. If I can do that shit, I can do anything, so bring it on, whatever 'it' may be. Whatever the future may hold, I'm ready.

In the meantime, maybe this post will be the one that incites me to actually post on a regular basis for more than a week. I'll believe that when I see it. Or do it.