December 2015

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (8/10)

This is a classic Kung-Fu film from the Shaw Brothers that doesn't quite have the artistic flair that I look for in these films. It does, however, establish the blueprint for the story of the young fighter training in order to enact revenge. Most of the film is said training, each test chamber more ridiculous than the last.

The Force Awakens (9/10)

An excellent and worthy sequel to the original series of films. It's probably better than Return of the Jedi or at least it doesn't have as many cringe-worthy moments. I was able to overlook some of the hammy acting from old actors and the few CGI moments of yuckiness, but, overall, a decent apology letter to fans for the prequels. Apology accepted Captain Needa.

The Wolf Among Us on PC (9/10)

The Wolf Among Us

After The Walking Dead (especially season two... which I apparently forgot to review. Well, it was great.), I was pretty much sold on the Telltale choose-your-own-adventure game formula. These games are really like watching a TV show in which you're forced to pay close attention to what's going on and have a say in how the characters interact with eachother. So far, the stories and characters have been engaging and satisfying.

The Prisoner by Various Artists (10/10)

Format: CD

An absolutely fantastic collection of themes and incidental music from the sixties cult T.V. show, The Prisoner. I use this music all the time as background to my various home movies and have been dinged several times for copyright violations from YouTube. Laws be damned, this music is essential. It's a mix of mod jazz, easy listening and marching band music. Trust me it rules. This CD is actually a professionally produced bootleg.

Planet of the Apes by Jerry Goldsmith (8/10)

Format: CD

There are lots of echoes and percussive bursts that elevate this mostly run-of-the-mill film score. It's the appropriate music for when you are caged like a beast or being netted by soldier apes. The CD also includes the far funkier and melodic suite from Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on PC (8/10)

GTA: San Andreas

Coming off of FarCry 3, I really wasn't sure I wanted to commit myself to another massive open-world game, but San Andreas was there in my bin of unplayed games calling to me. The GTA formula, like war, never changes: huge open world, lots of driving, violent gangster themes and general mayhem. I really wish the stories were more compelling, but they tend to get lost in the huge scope of the game. Personally, I have no nostalgia or interest in Southern California gangsta culture and music. In light of the never-ending murder in Chicago, it's a hard sub-culture to glamorize without feeling icky. I was able to set that aside and just enjoy exploring the map and all it's diversity.

Naked Lunch by Various Artists (7/10)

Format: CD

I tried very hard to like the book Naked Lunch. All the cool kids thought it was just the bee's knees. Well, when I read it, I just didn't get it. Then I read it again and it didn't get any better. A few cool vignettes that add up to a big nothing. Not surprisingly, I discovered later on that Burroughs randomly cut up his writing and arranged it into a novel. What did he expect other that complete confusion?

The Omega Man (5/10)

This classic sets itself up as a last man on Earth drama, but within five minutes kills that premise. The baddies are a set of hippy-dippy night people who offer no real threat to the protagonist yet are trying to attack him for no real reason. Of course there are lots of other people who survived Armageddon. More hippies. We must increase our numbers so we can form an organic foods co-op! Heston is always great in these early seventies films, but, man, dumb movie.

The Scar (8/10)

A year ago a watched the other half of this double feature film noir DVD. This second movie is much better but is based on a completely ridiculous premise. A man on the run from the mob assumes the identity of another man who looks like him. When I say "assumes" I mean it. Takes his job. Goes on the town with his wife. And nobody catches on?! Despite this, there are some clever twists and turns that keep it exciting even though everything happening is fully implausible.

The Sound of Music (9/10)

Ok, my wife wanted the entire family to watch this and I fully expected to be bored by it, but, you know what, it's a really good movie. It does have some creepy undertones in the relationship between Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews. Also, I am noticing how in the movies, whenever there is an ex-nun, she is always portrayed as simply being an average girl who is good-natured, pure and that's about it. In reality, I would expect ex-nuns to be quoting scripture and being your average annoying evangelical-type most of the time.