Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little Drummer Girl

This is the first LeCarre I had my wife read. I saw the film in the 90's and thought it relevant then, and, apparently, still now. Pretty entertaining also. This clip is from the Warner Bros Archive, as it is not available on DVD. Warner will burn a copy for you - a great service!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Please ignore 99.7% of the Gamer Reviews and "comments" -- the boat has been missed and the Lemmings have supplied chorus.

So way back when we stumbled into Crank alone. Movie buddies shook their collective heads.."dude, that shite ain't worth turnin' off my cellphone for 80 minutes"...
We all know now exactly how different Crank is/was will be -- clever, daring, amplified with a DIY in your face style that took no prisoners. To borrow a term from the other tabooland, Gonzo filmmakin'.

Gamer takes it to the next level.

I am trying to remember the movie from a few years back full of violence and gore where the fourth wall is broken and the character screams at the audience why are you watching this!

We have all seen the trite tsk tsk movies about games. We have all been disappointed by our games being made into truly awful movies, and endured the scorn of so called adults pawing through our media calling us 13 still.

Well my answer is: science fiction paved the way for your damn cell phone flashlight you use sitting in front of me in the dark. Science fiction tried to warn you about now needing a calculator to multiply 72 x 3. They also warned you about microflash transactions -- the trades that brought the first world to its knees last year. But please, keep up your condescension. I know you don't read anymore so by all means post that iPic to your Facebook and move on.

Wow, touched my own nerve writin' a dang review.

Gamer isn't perfect, even for what it thinks it is doing. It does it better than most though. Movie 2.0 if you will, and there are a scant handful of directors/camera-peeps even thinking at that level, never mind delivering.

I am reminded of the first 20 minutes of Magnolia where information is pile driven quickly to bring you up to speed then the movie relaxes and slows down. Gamer does not until the very end. It is not so much frenetic as it is deconstructed.

Its "message" is hung on a trope we have all seen before -- Running Man, Rollerball, Death Race etc. I loved the remake of Death Race -- real cars, tough gritty performances, but it was an homage, a cover version if you will. Gamer goes beyond that.

FPS games get all the bad press -- responsible for every male child loner with a handgun and no girlfriend after all -- and the foreground of Gamer advertising is in fact that particular brand of game. Second Life and the Sims -- where the other gender games -- are also subjects of Gamer, as is Capitalism, role playing, and the Wall-E thing.

My favorite is the complicity of the IT department who have apparently never heard the Google motto "do no evil".

Highly recommended, a must see on a screen bigger than the one you aren't allowed to watch the Superbowl on.


Pandorum, in spite of the poster and the trailer, is not a horror film.
Pandorum is science fiction, and well wrought at that.

A long time ago - and many miles away - I ran a book club out of Borders (at the cusp of them deciding "corporate" made more sense). Our topic was "space voyages that last 100 years or more". There are a surprising number of books written, and worth reading, on the topic.

Pandorum is a movie we would have discussed in the club. Joseph Conrad rears his head without Marlon Brando. So does James Cameron, yes, Ridley Scott and all the other "related" horror science fiction guys being bandied about in the sniggering negative press. The comparisons being made seem to be calling this film a pastiche, but it is much better than that.

There is no fourth wall breaking film stutter to signal the end of madness. There are no tanks of blood spewing and only one Casshernesque gene pool..

I was hoping for something as cool as watching Steve beat "Dead Space" - a PS3 game with a rich backstory - and got something even better!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Threefer - District 9, Star Trek, 9

3 days, 2 theaters, 3 movies. A fine "welcome back" to the 1st world. No embedded travel stories in these short reviews, I promise. Reviewed in viewing order:

District 9 - Wow. Terrific film here. This is the new school stuff, with seamless CGI blended into daytime instead of night, the real world instead of a dark, post-apok alterna-verse.

Great story, well written, that does not beat you over the head. I am thinking "3 Kings" good as far as the writing goes. The lessons and points are absolutely there to be taken, but are not force fed through a narrow tube or POV down the throat.

The main character is an everyman that does not make all the right choices in any situation. His acting is top notch, and fearless.

Peter Jackson presented this, so 'nuf said about the SFX.

This one is a must see.

Star Trek - They got it right, finally. I have enjoyed moments of all the other Star Trek movies, but usually leave shaking my head. I went to this one hopeful (and at the dollar theater) but not unguarded. Everyone that told me how good it was was too young to have seen the original "back in the day".

This is a real treat for those of us that did. A bona fide feature length episode that perhaps shits on the Shat too much, but that is geek humor. Trust the audience enough to present the multiverse without too much of a didactic spew of over-explanation.

Kudos to all the fearless actors playing characters so dear to so many and getting it as right as the script allows. MVP to Karl Urban for being "the Bones".

This one might not ignite a new generation of fans, but will bring us all back in 2011 for the next installment...

9 - I am a sucker for animation, and Burton has done a lot for the genre. This film advances that, and offers a dark alternative to the laugh a minute coolness Pixar off handedly tosses us with such startling consistency.

This movie earns its PG 13 rating. I hope teens do go, and I hope the goth/emo/weird kids have enough buying power to keep this afloat long enough for the moneymen to greenlight Burton's next piece, because the younger kids will be scared out of their minds. I'm not one to a> respect the rating system or 2> believe it, but this no breasts, little gore, and animated, film pushes some sophisticated buttons.

I am still digesting this 3rd one, as it conflicts with a bunch of my base principles, but i can without hesitancy say that this is a must see for anyone who wants to see big screen risk taking.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Howler/Costa Rica/Through the Looking Glass

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A Picasa built collage of recent (7/9/9) photos..
Included: Law of survival. Diving in the shallows, crabwalk, kitten in the window, HowlerCafe guests at night (or 5 on a Quad), cleaning woman's bike and a little sushi!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happening(s) @ the HowlerCafe


Completed security for the Cafe..Art is found in strange places...


Looking through towards the ocean. Yes, walking distance.


Apocalypse Now has nothin' on the Howler. Taken from the front of the restaurant!


Spencer is the Barkeep, Waiter and the President of HowlerCafe Inc! The taller, more shy partner and author of this post hides in the kitchen, preppin' the Ribs..
Serving Handroasted Coffee daily on the Peninsula, Playa Tambor.
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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

RIP Marilyn Chambers

I guess this happened awhile ago. I remember some great nights watching her perform on the big screen, years ago. She recently did a commentary track for the "Definitive" version of "Insatiable", which was a delight to see again after all these years. The Ivory Snow girl was 56 when she died.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Crank 2

The expectation? They can't possibly live up to the first one.
Very few sequels outdo -- perhaps because of the novelty factor, a la "bullet-time" in the Matrix -- the original. Crank was such a surprise, fantastic camera, decent acting and Dwight Yoakim, that I figured it would follow the Charlie's Angels model.
You remember, the first Charlie's Angels was perhaps overlong but had a terrific sense of humor and nice campy visuals, and the second one lost it.
Crank 2 is a sequel that replays the first one in feel and deed. The feel was "wow" these guys(Neveldine/Taylor directors, and the entire cast) had a great time making this and are not too arty to share with us. Yes, there is way too much misogyny, homo jokes and gore, but Christ we live in a time that Pirate Bay is in jail and Bush got away with it.
Crank 2 felt fresh in a way "Shoot 'em Up" should have but didn't. The film is packed with ideas, everything seems easy and edgy and pushed as hard as they wanted.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Senseless Juxtaposition

We interrupt this occasional Howler update page to voice a little rant. Apologies in advance!
My gmail box gathers a few journals and news feeds, including the ACLU. Oddly enough I know enough Kansans to finally understand they are just a bunch of communists trying to destroy our country from the inside. These are the same Kansans that hate listening to me rant in person about unlawful wiretaps, being searched at the airport, etc ad infinitum. The ACLU writes:
The new administration will not pursue legal action against the torturers or the architects of the criminal acts carried out in the name of "security". They will continue wiretapping, but that is another rant. This is a juxtaposition.
So, the juxt: Pirate Bay founders get a year in jail each and severe fines. Media companies applaud (and paid for) this brave decision to put those cassette trading, used book reading communist hippy freaks away.
So, crimes against humanity committed in the name of Freedom by a country I once called home are not worth addressing, but some suits tricklestream coke budget is.
What a wonderful world we have made. Let me lock the gate.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ice Machine Lives


For now just a picture, coming soon, the entire "saga of the Hoshizaki"....stay tuned!
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Friday, April 10, 2009

HowlerCafe Lives!




Rib night at the HowlerCafe. Guests included some local Ticos who usually find my food too spicy, but loved the Jamaican Jerk! A nice couple from Massachusetts were in attendance, eating Howler Chicken and beans..
Sold through the ribs, the Diablos, and the Stag dessert I designed(think Rhino and Raspberries). We have been well received, now it is just a matter of doing it every day really well, keeping it fresh and paying attention to costs! Simple, right?
No AC as you can see, but it is comfortable outside the kitchen with the useless overhead fans and the ocean breeze. One might hear the ocean if your host didn't have the blues turned up so loud! Towards the end of the evening when your the Blind Boys are belting out their holy thing the entire restaurant gets a gentle rocking vibe on, and spanish and english people mingle together like rice and beans.
Makes me smile!
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Benjamin Buttons

The San Jose HowlerCafe shopping trip ended in a mall, of all places. The theater in the mall showed movies that are either dubbed or subtitled, as Costa Rica is a Spanish speaking country. They don't bother asking the audience to turn off their cellphones, which the stadium seating allowed me clear view of bright phone screens, as opposed to the film, which was film, not digital, but it sure was terrific to see a movie on the big screen again!
I am in a foreign country with my <6 month wife, missing her terribly and not due home for another miserable(where miserable = not sleeping with aforementioned spouse) night.
"Benjamin Button" is about the big thing(s), with concentrations in "living in the moment", family, love, old age and love. Yep, love is all over this film.
I left home at 3am with an unfinished collapse of understanding between the spouse and I weighing heavy on my heart. We will not be able to resolve the misunderstanding when I get back -- temporary madness and all -- but that is another matter. The tough part of dramas like "Button" is that they always seem to be about the trouble(s) in ones own life. Things happening in the film ring with truth because you just lived it, particularly when the writing and the acting are up to the task.
Fincher and his crew are, and are playing for keeps. This movie, without overt flash, pulls out all the stops, and only shows off a little. Great whale and squid ww2 scene in the midst of button, arcs of tracers illuminating even as it rips apart the target. There is of course the CGI conceit of the premise and the sepiatoned bits, but these diminish over the course of Benjamin's long life.
"Benjamin Button" is the movie "the Notebook" wanted to be, with more sex and alcohol. The movie is long, thoughtful, and willing to show us what we need to stay engaged. I was at the end of a day that started at 3am and found myself enthralled over the entire 3 hours of this epic. Many of the reviews I have read after watching the film seem to find it too "Gump" or too trite, for me it banged on all cylinders, in a way Gump did not.
Living in the moment may be a lesson we all have heard, but few live it, regardless. Nothing wrong with a reminder once in awhile. The response here in Costa Rica to the question "how are you?" is "Pura Vida!". I hope some of those peeps on the phone caught that message before they filed out of the theater.
"Benjamin Button" is a 3 hour tour de force of skewed time and gets it right.

Friday, February 06, 2009

HowlerCafe Meter


Our new power meter. I cannot wait to watch the kilowatts count up!
The boat has arrived with my equipment, now it is in customs. Custom duty is 46% of declared value. I love borders, passports, duties and tariffs!
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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pre-emptive Strike


So we were chillin' in the dining room last night. Doors AC, commenting on how this "vacation day" involved the Wife being at work --pro bono-- for a 9 hour stretch, and in walked this fella...
We are not unfamiliar with scorpions, after all Jezebel had immaculately conceived 17 of them in my care, but this one was walking across the floor. Very healthy, medium claws which means pain not death, but as you can see no small beastie.
I thought a couple things: wife might be upset if I kill it which would mean long debate about killing things that are genetically mean and could ruin a potentially good Friday night forecast, or I could take the let the scorpion be and kill bugs that don't bother us until it stings us in our sleep..
So I killed it.
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