Friday Findings – An explosive start

Boom!

Boom!

Starting my 365 blog challenge before having “real internet” seems like a rather dumb idea, but then if someone has to pay for the mistake of climbing out of his mommy’s tummy two weeks before he’d eventually have internet ready 31 years later, that someone would have to be me.

Still, without giving T-Mobile too much credits for giving me “fake internet” with this wireless dongle thingy and pulls internet outta thin air, I’m able to at least upload the two prior blog posts without too much trouble.

The problem is, my appetite for internet usage has naturally shrink to ensure I have enough money to fuel my addiction for drugs and prostitutes. With said limited usage comes limited exposure comes limited material for my first Friday Findings ever.

But you see… when there’s a will there’s a way. So may I present to you, a pretty big picture.

Film Thursday: Sucker Punch

So this is the first ever “Film Thursday” blog post, which is gonna be along the lines of movie reviews, news or general thoughts on movies.

I’m starting it with a movie review that might be beneficial to others, even though the film’s nearly 2 weeks old now. Hopefully I’ll do better in the future (might even have to move film reviews to Saturday).

Sucker Punch

Let’s put some context into this review – I’m not unbiased.

My first brush with director Zack Snyder was the face paced remake of Dawn of the Dead through recommendation. A good debut film for an “action movie” director no doubt, but I was never gonna take note at that point.

Snyder’s name only made its way into my memory bank when a colleague convinced me that 300 was a worthwhile movie to watch purely for the beautiful visual effects – I was not disappointed by one of the most underrated and misunderstood action sequences of all time. Snyder combined panning, zooming, fast forward AND slow motion to create an adrenaline filled battle sequence mixed in with beautiful composed “paintings”. I won’t debate about the supposed racist undertone and homoerotism that everyone were banging on about.

Watchmen more or less cemented Snyder as “someone to look out for” director. With his existing reputation from 300 he has pushed himself into the marmite zone of “love him or hate him” for film fanatics. My reaction was. Meh.

Watchmen was not as great a film as the graphics novel ever was. Watchmen the movie did however deliver the essence of the story, maybe not to the full extend, but it did a damn well job without resorting to simply copying and pasting every scene by the comic’s panels, completely disregarding pacing and timing of films vs comic as a medium.

The only thing I took away from Snyder was that, this guy understands the film medium, and he’s done a pretty good job of essentially remaking 3 stories into his own versions through the medium of modern day cinema. Grand. Now what happens when you let a creative director run wild with his own story?

You get something like Sucker Punch – finally the film I’m supposed to be reviewing about.
Yes, I’ve waffled on a bit, but you get the point – I like Zack Snyder. I can spell his name without googling it up – and that’s pretty damn impressive in my books.
Here’s what I was expecting from Sucker Punch based on the one time I inevitably watched the trailer while waiting for another film to come on:

  • Someone’s gonna get their face punched in.
  • Said person wasn’t expecting it
  • The punch will most probably be delivered by the blonde pigtailed lady in the posters
  • She’s gonna also kick some arse in some crazy good visual sequences.
  • The story is probably gonna suck, sucker suck.

I could avoid spoilers by tip toeing around what grand unconventional narrative structure the film would deliver, but I won’t. Instead, I’m avoiding spoilers because there really isn’t much to spoil plot wise. You learn what happens pretty much from the trailer, and by the 30 minutes mark, you should know how it ends as well.
How you get from the start to finish, is the thing that fucks with your head – and it’s not because there’s some genius Usual Suspect level twist at the end – it’s because it just plain doesn’t make sense.

Every plot element of the entire story were made for one specific purpose – to let Snyder film a visual sequence that he wanted to shoot. I have no doubt you could pause the film at any point and with a bit of reverse engineering – you’ll learn that everything leading up to this moment in the story was purely so that you can see the scantily clad girl in whatever obscure posture she’s currently maintaining.

So what I’m trying to say is, the story was not the strength of the film. But whoopee doo. Did you really think I walked into the cinema that fateful Saturday evening to light up my brain cells? Hell no, I was treating my newly lasered eyeballs to some visual mastery.

And that, my internet (and real life) friends, is why I needed to remind you all that I am (or maybe was) a Snyder fan. I think the guy is a master of motion graphics. He’s young enough to know what looks cool, old enough to possess the technique to pull them off.

But just as the unrealistic expectation people built up for poor old M Night Shyamalan who resorted to more and more ludicrous plot twists for increasingly pointless stories – Snyder had set the bar so high that he could only plateau early on in his career, or worse, start dipping. We’ve seen it happen with the Matrix when they tried to create cooler effects in the sequels with new technology only to have them backfire as laughable cartoony fight scenes.

Sucker Punch’s outlandish premise gave us classic Anime action sequences with increasingly difficult cuts and edits – to the point that we could roll our eyes with “Yep, I can see how you blended multiple shots together with 3D graphics to string together what’s otherwise an impossible to execute fight scene, between our heroines in tights and shiny robots.

There’s nothing that hasn’t already been done before, unfortunately typically in B-movies. When you take on challenging sequences for the sake of its complexity, and forget the iconic keyframes or postcard shots in said scenes – you’ve achieved what Michael Bay had done – making explosions boring.

Don’t get me wrong, Sucker Punch is still a pretty film in its steam punk glories, and the early action sequences packed some seriously steamy action that made me gasp for more. But fuzzy eaters of the visual medium like myself might find the overall time better spent YouTubing farting kittens.

4/10

Tunnels of Love

Day 1 of my 365 blog project will start with Wednesday Writing – writing a fictional story (or part of) for that specific day. So let’s jump straight into a story that I made up as I carried on writing.

***

John struggles with his laces and is lousy with his hellos; Gemma is useless at opening jam jars and saying goodbyes.
They met at the Frozen Veg aisle on New Years Eve, and both knew immediately that they belonged with each other.
Love was sharing biscuits, toothpastes and train tickets. Arguments would start around stray toenails, wet loo rolls and subtitles versus dubbing, but after a night of love making John would trace his finger down Gemma’s collar bone to her neck while she traces his engorged cephalic vein to his shoulder, share a moment of eye contact and accept each other’s unspoken apology.
For the first time in their lives, they were not afraid of the prospect of eternity.

And so the prospect of digging through the crust of the earth to be reunited did not faze them for one second when World War III broke out.

The sky was dominated by unmanned fighters, land populated by shells and footprints, ocean infested by new age pirates – yet they cast no backdrop to John and Gemma’s mission, a promise made in bed after their 121st love making session.

“What would we do if we ever get separated?”
“Like in a supermarket?”
“Yeah, or something more grand, like a war.”
“Well in a supermarket situation, scientists or mathematicians have proven that probability of reuniting is greater if you walk around and search for the other.”
“What about a war?”
“Same principle, but due to the greater potential surface area we have to cover, I’d suggest we aim for the highest point in the area to increase chances of reuniting.”
“And become sitting ducks for bombs and bullets?”
“Hmm… then we dig.”
“Dig?”
“Yes, we dig, we dig a tunnel in a straight line 100 meters underground. I’ll dig one along the North South direction, you dig along the East West line, we’re bound to cross over.”
“Ok, but I get North South. I always wanted to see the pole.”

And so they dug. John started with a spoon in a prison cell, Gemma with a spatchula.
John migrated up to a shovel when he left the prison walls; Gemma had to improvise with a pitchfork, two buckets and a pool cue before her first spade.
And so they carried on digging.
In the early days, they’d trade their tunnel spaces for food. But business was blooming fast and their individually became entrepreneurs of the WW3 shelter network industry.
Competitions were bought out quickly. Sub-tunnels with accommodation were created for family units of up to six. The direction however would never change.
And so their employees carried on digging.

The celebration when the tunnels met did not bear resemblance of the Eurotunnel that eventually led to the demise of Princess Di.
Employees of the two competing companies were unease by the connection. Job losses were feared during the merger, trade secrets at risk. The mid-management held a 3 days conference under lavender candle lights. An executive decision was made to seal off the crossover, and both parties would resume digging at different depths.
And so their employees carried on digging. The only potential indication of the crossover came as a subtle dip in the market values of respective isolated companies, before profit margin resuming to the increase.

And so their employees’ children carried on digging.

What has SMS done to us?

Just as the people of the dystopian future might travel back in time to kill the inventor of Paper to solve the eco-damage inflicted by mankind (but if you could afford to invent a time machine, you could probably afford rebuild the eco-system, violent futuristic arseholes); I would argue that the people of the txt-spk future would probably come back to kill Matti Makonnen to revive the English language (assuming txt-spk hasn’t extended to other languages).

Gone were the days when you just pick up the phone at home to ring your best friend immediately stepping on a fly that made a splat in the shape of Italy to tell them all about it. Nowadays if I wanna call someone, I text them first just to make sure they’re actually free to talk. Afterall I don’t want to catch them in the middle of a blind date with a deaf person; shopping in Tesco’s for a 12-month contract mobile phone; or singing in the shower to their iPhone Spotify playlist.

Maybe I’m just too polite and gutless, but when my best friend rings me on a Friday afternoon when I’m in the middle of dinner, my immediate reaction is, “Go away, I’m eating!”, preceded by “Damnit, my crotch is vibrating!” and “Damnit, my crotch is still vibrating!!”

Because I was told to


Having risen from the dead recently (get it? double pun!), I’ve gained the privileges of disabled parking (alas it doesn’t come with a driver’s license), a more matured appearance for pub crawls, and unjust sympathy from passing pedestrians. But more importantly, the encouragement from fellow writers to get back to this whole writing lark, which I’ve been seriously itching to do.

The lack of inspiration over the past months (a winning filmdash entry, zombie walk, and a Facebook game idea for my beloved charity didn’t count evidently) had done nothing other than frustrating me (though no more than our noisy neighbours with their 6000 watt speakers that the City Council would gladly confiscate with a bit of hard evidence).

So what the hell am I going to write about? My charming housemate Hazz has been a right bastard at showing off his ability to write about absolutely nothing, that loveable hairy man who loves to snorts my hair like a sniff dog… I told you he’s charming.

Well I’ve been commanded by my favourite (and only) black friend (I’m only as racist as the next Chinaman with predominately white and asian friends) Antonio Roberts to update my blog again, and as luck with have it, the first thing WordPress showed me when I logged on was a helpful article for the sufferers of writer’s block (I hate it when they show up during a game of Tetris when you just need the 1×4 block). I can just see some self-righteous arsehole at the WordPress headquarters going through all the inactive blogs out there, flagging up the pathetic ones to send their little patronising links to. I want his job.

Anyway, here’s what Plinky told me to write about:

Write a 10-line poem about your neighbor.

*in the voice of Morgan Freeman impressionist*

Oh those neighbours
The way they live across the hall
Just doing what annoying fucking neighbours do
Multiple speakers, and
I rant about you,
Arsehole neighbours
You keep my evenings interesting when I’m tired.
Oh, I might call the cops on you from time to time, but
Oh, that’s no good.
You’ll always be an arsehole to me.

Scrap that

I had my first meeting with current boss about 9 months ago on a cold morning around 11am. My shirt was un-ironed but tucked in, my tie and belt was missing, my staff swipe card was cracked, and I was in desperate need for a haircut. Some first impression.

My boss sat me down, and reclined into his boss-man chair. His checkered shirt was casual but probably worth more than my entire outfit, he clearly wasn’t one who cared for ties either, honestly can’t remember if he had a belt as my gaze never drifted down below nipple height, his swipe card brand new around his neck, he donned a pretty casual haircut for someone who obviously wanted to look casual. Some first impression. A good one though.

“So, erm… don’t really know what to do in this sorta meeting. I suppose I’d just tell you a bit about myself then?” I queried. Yep, he said, just tell me whatever you care to tell.

Sweet, chance to play it cool. I started my story with my usual disclaimer: “I’m gonna woffle on a bit, so yeah, here goes nothing.” or something like that.
And so I woffled on, much like I’m doing now.

What was it that I wanted to write about? “Scrap that.” Yes, start with the story of how my boss described me, then the story about our psychometric test at the team away days, throw in a couple of remarks my boss made about me, and point made – I’m impulsive, I hate routines, I’m shit at keeping promises to myself.

So yeah, I’ve decided to scrap the middle bit of this blog, cuz I woffle, and I don’t want to. You get the story though. But the point is, I want to write again, and this is the first of many more lazy promises that I’ll try and vomit a few words here and there, now and again, there and back, funny or bleak.

A year in review, New Resolutions

Oh dear, not hard to see that I completely failed my challenge #1 – blogging regularly.

Ok, so I made a pact with a friend – that if he doesn’t do a challenge, I shall stop blogging. So James, it’s all your fault! But excuse is an excuse, and I suspect the real reason has more to do with real life stuff. I shortly returned to full-time work after my last entry, my social group stuff picked up dramatically, and I met an amazing girl who tolerates my craziness. Let’s review how I did with my challenges:

  1. Blog regularly (at least weekly)
    Oh dear, July was the last entry, with a draft sitting gathering dust for equally long
  2. Become a film maker (long-term)
    Was gonna make a short film, didn’t happen, but must carry on
  3. Learn to Drum (by end 2010)
    Bought all guitar hero games that involves drumming up till Band Hero, became a lot better in general, but no lessons yet
  4. Learn Sign Language (by end 2011)
    No update on this one
  5. Take more photos (at least monthly)
    Success!
  6. Talk to people at parties (depending on how many parties I go to)
    Haven’t really gone to any parties since July.
  7. Go to social meetups (at least twice a month)
    Organiser of Film Group, done well on this one.
  8. Improve my diet (by end of August)
    Three meal days now, success.
  9. Watch more films at the cinema (4 a month)
    Accumulated probably over 50 cinema tickets since July, safe to say I’ve passed this one.
  10. Talk to my friend’s friends (ongoing)
    Made two new friends of friends over the last few months, but lost touch a bit with a fair few older ones.
  11. Answer random ads on gumtree / similar site and post results (once a week)
    No, not happening after lack of responses in general
  12. Diversify my music habits (ongoing) [freeboprich]
    Discovered a few “new” artists including Florence and the Machine, Gossip, Kasabian being my favourite of the last few months
  13. Go on dates with women (until I get a girlfriend)
    Went on 5 dates with 2 girls, met my current girlfriend on the fifth ^^
  14. Speak to people in real life / phone more (ongoing)
    Not really doing so well on the phone, but managed to have a few good heart to heart with a few good friends
  15. 100 Push Up
    Gave up / forgot

So what’s the plan now? An updated list perhaps which will helpfully be my New Year Resolution!

  1. Blog regularly (at least bi-monthly)

    This is the official challenge I’ve set myself, after making a pact with hexx0r. Point is to exercise my writing abilities, rather than just musing over other people’s wit and intellect with envy. The pact is officially off, so I’m going to try and carry on. This will mean setting myself better routines to find time to blog in fact. I ceased the blogging after returning to work full-time before, no excuses this time!

  2. Story Writing

    At NaNo 2009 I started writing a story idea I came up with the previous year. Ended up coming up with the structure for the story, but unfortunately I didn’t find time in November to finish it, but I’ll try and finish this story over the year 2010, on top of participating in NaNo 2010.

  3. Short Film

    I made a deal with my friend Jen that we’ll make a short film in Autumn 2009 after she’d finished her dissertation. Unfortunately we never followed that through, even though we’ve had the concept for the film. So, the plan is to make it this year, for real! As the story’s already settled upon, it won’t be a duplication of the above challenge.

  4. Photograph (at least monthly)

    A year on since New Year 2008, I’ve finished the challenge, but I will carry on with it. While I’m happy that I did the challenge, I’m not impressed with the lack of artistic challenge I’ve given myself, so I’ll be trying out at least 1 photography outing per month specifically to take photos.

  5. Drawing

    Drawing is just one of the things for me, I love doing it, but I never do enough of it, and end up getting frustrated for never improving (and in fact deteriorating). So here’s the new challenge, draw regularly :)

And that’s it. See you in the new year!