Logic’s Last Stand

August 5, 2008

Five Favourite Movie Scenes

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Zurahn @ 12:07 am

Obviously given the nature of the list, there are spoilers ahead. So if you don’t want them, stop at the title of the movie.

5. Network – This Tube

To put this in perspective, Network was released in 1976. Over thirty years later, this rant affirms the moniker of “the mad prophet” of Howard Beale. One of the greatest rants ever seen on film, Beale expresses the frustrations and corruption that plague American media to this day.

4. Collateral – Free Ride (5 minutes in)

It’s all in the execution, and the sheer style that is seen throughout Collateral is set in motion by the poignant early scene introducing both Max and Annie. I remain almost mesmerized by the captivation of such a relatively menial encounter.

3. Jackie Chan vs Benny the Jet – Wheels on Meals

Where great writing and subtle delivery may work as a device for good filmmaking, you could also choose to set up a fight between two masterful martial artists. I don’t really need to see every other fight scene to reach the conclusion that this is at least tied for the single best fight scene ever, because it just can’t get any better. The dexterity is almost hypnotic.

2. Princess Mononoke – Wolf Princess infiltrates Iron Town

To use, to a degree, the clash of three different tragic heroes in one scene is quite the feat unto itself. Belaying the action of the scene with such a masterful sense of tension having a situation where there are three characters involved and the viewer is made to want none of them harmed is truly special.

1. Hot Fuzz – Taking back the town
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=6xVmKEycyUg

There is simply one thing that is evident in this climax scene to Hot Fuzz: Its only goal is to be as enjoyable as absolutely possible. It has just about everything packaged in one excellent fight scene, particularly considering it’s also placed in the context of a comedy. Hot Fuzz: It’s not just good–it’s jumping through the air firing two guns good.

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July 6, 2008

Top Twenty Favourite Movies

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — Zurahn @ 3:59 am

For the past couple years, I’ve come across a surpring number of movies that I’ve thought very highly of, some of which make this list. This list is that of my 20 favourite movies.

20 – It Could Happen to You
The “true” story of a New York policeman who in lieu of a tip offers half the winnings of a lottery ticket — that turns out to be a four million dollar winner. The movie stars Nicholas Cage and Bridget Fonda in heartwarming performances. The only downside is the unusual tendency to cheer in favour of adultery. Oh well.

19 – Groundhog Day
The perennial Bill Murray classic, Groundhog Day is about what happens when crusty TV weatherman Phil Connors gets stuck in the hell that is Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day in a daily infinite loop, waking up each morning at the start of the same day. The build-up of anger to desperation to personal growth, Groundhog Day manages to be both hilarious and hopeful.

18 – Borat
So, so wrong and yet so so right, Borat is the politically incorrect comedy based on the Sasha Cohen character Borat, an anti-semitic Khazaki reporter as he travels the United States learning about its culture. Crude, crass and offensive, it has only one goal in mind, and that is to make the audience laugh.

17 – The Simpsons Movie
Everyone knew it was coming, and everyone feared that is was coming. TV to movie failures are all too common to the moviegoing public, so to see The Simpsons go to the big screen had fans holding their breath. The all-star cast of writers as found in the longest end credits I’ve ever seen, pulled off a classic. Everything that made The Simpsons a classic show shown through, from crass behaviour in an animated setting, to the emotional reality of family life. We couldn’t have asked for more.

16 – Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Arguably the most quotable movie of all-time, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is as about Monty Python as a human can handle per second. From brazen mockery of special effects to… well, brazen mockery of everything actually. Silly in ways that Family Guy can only dream, if you don’t like it, then your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

15 – The Terminator
Have you ever met someone who didn’t like The Terminator? It just may be impossible. A sci-fi film that is uncomparable to any other, The Terminator is by all definitions a classic. It captured the dystopian robot future like none other and pushed it as far as it could go. Real intensity in an unreal world, there’s just nothing else like it.

14 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Probably not the position of most, but I preferred the second. More action, more intensity. The setting of one Terminator versus another kept the fearful escape of the original, but made it so that it wasn’t a constant chase scene and more cat-and-mouse. Oh, and try to pack in more action, I dare you. And no, Terminator 3 isn’t next or anywhere to be seen on this list — twenty most hated movies, maybe.

13 – Top Gun
Gung-ho American propaganda aside, Top Gun was my first ever “favourite movie” so you could call this a sentimental placement. The fun interaction of the war games with the interpersonal tension gives Top Gun a unique feel.

12 – Grave of the Fireflies
Sometimes it’s hard to define favourite, because it can be difficult to define entertainment. Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies is just the reason why. The film, despite being animation, is a woefully realistic portrayal of Japan during World War II, in which teen boy Seita and his young sister are left homeless after their mother is killed in a firebombing. The fight against time is a heartbreaking struggle that stands as one of the strongest anti-war messages.

11 – Lean on Me
Sometimes you need a feelgood story, and Lean on Me is one of the best. Joe Clark takes over East Side High, a school overrun with violence and drug abuse as he and the faculty make a desperate attempt to get the school up to minimum educational standards in order to avoid having it taken over by the state. This “true” story is a definite pick-me-up.

10 – Contact
Alien lifeforms in science fiction are almost always portrayed as the negative cause of a dystopian future. Contact does an immaculate job at highlighting the search and contact of life without being overly dramatic or going cliché.

9 – Collateral
Collateral is the gritty Michael Mann film about a hitman and his cabbie hostage and what happens throughout the night. Starring Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise and Jada Pinkett Smith in excellent performances, the seeming chemistry between them is almost unmatched.

8 – The Fugitive
Based on the 60’s TV drama, The Fugitive is about the hunt for Fugitive Richard Kimble as he desperately attempts to prove his innocence and find the “one-armed man.” Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones take the lead roles in the unusual circumstanced movie that has you cheering against a good guy.

7 – Hot Fuzz
I didn’t particularly care for the 2004 film from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead, but Hot Fuzz definitely won me over on the duo. About a dedicated by-the-book police office Nicholas Angel who gets transferred from London to the small town Sandford for making the rest of the service look bad, it’s a fine balance of hilarious, mystery and action.

6 – The Shawshank Redemption
Notorious Oscar-snub The Shawshank Redemption is a favourite of many. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman star in a movie about Andy Dufresne, a man wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his wife and his transition into prison life. It’s hard to describe what it is, as The Shawshank Dedemption simply is.

5 – Princess Mononoke
Another from Studio Ghibli, Princess Mononoke is a masterpiece of character. A struggle based on economics and class, Princess Mononoke manages to almost entirely avoid the need for a battle of good versus evil, only a fight for peace and understanding in a heated debate of economic standing. This is another incredible example of the ability of realistic power of animated film.

4 – The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
When you bring the second most-read fictional book in the world (after the Bible) to the big screen, you had better do it justice. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings did that and so much more. The entire world was fully realized and the characters perfectly cast, from Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf to Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn and everyone inbetween. The Fellowship of the Ring brought everything to life.

3 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
As enjoyable as The Shire was in Fellowship of the Ring, things get more interesting as the plot continues into murky territory. Growing tension between sides and war begins. The moments before the battle of Helm’s Deep is iconic, as is the entire film.

2 – The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The further the story goes in The Lord of the Rings, the more complicated they become. It was at one time seemingly impossible to pull off not only the special effects for a live-action rendition of the books, but the sheer manpower. Return of the King was an incredible finish to an incredible trilogy of Middle-Earth.

1 – Spirited Away
There’s something about movies that gives off a feeling unique to the medium. A deep sense of upliftment and caring, which in Spirited Away is far and beyond all others. Another from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is the story of ten year-old Chihiro as she is lost the spirit world as she attempts to save her parents. Another instance where it really isn’t a matter of good versus evil, the sheer unblemished innocense of a girl makes all the difference in the greed filled world.

June 29, 2008

Random Musings

Filed under: Gaming, Life — Tags: , , , , — Zurahn @ 7:15 pm

Due to the yearly event called a birthday, I have come away with some goodies. DVDs of Spirited Away, Princess Monoke and the complete series of Maburaho, some random book calle Wrong About Japan, a wad of cash and some candy.

As you can see, it’s a bit of a theme there. There’s something about the emotional response I’ve found in these animated features that goes beyond live action that I can’t understand. Related to this, something odd is that I actually had an emotional response to a tin of candy.

Fruit Drops
Grave of the Fireflies branded Fruit Drops

Before you go and call me crazy, let me explain this. A recurring object in the movie Grave of the Fireflies is a tin of fruit drops. Given my lack of subjection to the object, it’s hard not to relate it to the movie, despite relative dissimilarity of the packaging.

On an unrelated note, I am now retired from Tetris DS play. I spent at least an hour and a half on one round of endless Tetris DS in which I ultimately quit because it was 5:30 in the morning and I hadn’t slept. I reached the limit of 999 lines, and was up to level 104. Just as I quit playing Break Em All in the middle of a game because I had reached the maximum level and had no expectation of loss, I am done with Tetris DS.

March 13, 2008

The Classics

Filed under: Movies, Philosophy — Tags: , , , , — Zurahn @ 12:32 am

You could say I’ve had a history of not exactly embracing “the classics”, in games and more particularly in movies. Whether these be ones I consider among the most intolerable, such as Merry Poppins or Sound of Music, or overwrought stomach churners that are within the realm of watchable, but remain empty, such as Mystic River or the Wizard of Oz.

It’s not, though, a matter of concept, but execution that relies on moral messages that remain core in cheesy dialogue with utter shells of characters there only as a means to an end. It does not have to be this way, as I have found out.

While I have never thought much of Alice in Wonderland or Romeo and Juliet, I have found the utter brilliant executions of the similar premisces in the remarkable Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Where the former rely on little more than concept to make them of value, Miyazaki has done what to many had previously seemed impossible: a movie without good versus evil. Only situations already there, and characters that in your heart of hearts you want to succeed.

Spirited Away shows in every way the true meaning of selflessness and innocence of children. As wonderfully abstract and imaginative as the world is, more incredible is the simple acts of kindness in a dark situation manage to warm the soul in the most real of ways.

Similarly and just as effectively, the land in Princess Mononoke is fairytale, but the realization of its ideals are eloquently fulfilled as a beautiful thesis as to the necessary harmony of man and nature. It’s not a matter of abandonment industry, but an understanding of the ultimate equality of life and death that links us all.

In both, there also lies the love that cannot be, without stretching, whether romantic or otherwise, serves even as an example of its truest form.

The term classic may mean many things to many people. To me, this now means Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

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