Monday, February 06, 2006


Playing along to not incur the wrath of the Bnerd.

4 Jobs I did:
Bank temp, Medic, Webcoder, IT-Consultant (and yes, I'm very, very sorry about that)

4 films I can't get enough of:
The Princess Bride, Bubba Ho-Tep, Mononoke-hime, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

4 places I've lived:
Here and nowhere else. Sad.

4 TV series I like:
Arrested Development, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spaced, Babylon 5

4 places I've been to on vacation:
London, Prague, Berlin, Rhodes

4 of my favourite foods:
Can't decide. I'm an omnivore.

4 Pages I hit daily:,,,

Thursday, January 12, 2006

John Carpenter's They Live (1988)

Following my TV endorsment with a post about a movie. Clever, huh?

But what the hell, there's always time for a little Carpenter love. And They Live is one of his best efforts in my book (which not many people are going to sign, unfortunately). Spoilers follow, of course.

Our nameless hero (pro wrestler Roddie Piper who hopefully wrestles better than he acts) walks into Los Angeles in time of deepest recession. The yuppies have taken over America and their grip is tightening, so work is short and money is even shorter. He finds work at a construction site and stays at a homeless shelter over night.

A group of freedom fighters have set up a pirate broadcasting station in a nearby church. They have found out that society has been subverted by evil yuppies from outer space, out to mine earth for what it's worth. But nobody listens to them, the space yuppies are keeping the people docile by permanently bombarding them with subconcious messages on billboards, tv and magazines. The freedom fighters have managed to create sunglasses which expose the alien messages and the aliens themselves, who are walking among us.

While the church and the homless shelter are raided, our hero gets his hands on a pair of these sunglasses. He soon realizes what's going on and starts to kick some serious ass. Some plot twists later he gets shot on top of the alien's headquarters but manages to destroy the broadcasting station that hides the alien's true appearance as a last act of defiance. As our hero dies with a "Fuck you!" on his lips, the people of earth finally see the truth.

I absolutely adore this movie. The acting is bad and over the top, Piper's lines are cheesy ("It's time to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum", even hommaged by computer-game hero Duke Nukem). The story isn't all that logical (I mean, one unprotected satellite dish is everything he has to destroy to unmask the aliens? Come on...) but has some nice moments to it, especially when our hero first sees the fnords. The effects are ok at best, the criticism of capitalism is a little too overt, but somehow the whole thing just totally clicks for me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

TV > Movies?

The L.A. Daily News thinks so. And they are right. TV-Shows like Deadwood, Arrested Development, The Shield, Lost, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, hell even Gilmore Girls blow your average movie out of the water.

Why? It really comes down to the characters. TV just gives them more room to develop. I'd be hard pressed to name a character from any recent movie that was as compelling as Deadwood's Al Swearengen or Arrested Development's Michael Bluth.

There's also more room for plot development (which can be a problem, if there is no more plot. Jumping the shark is still one of the bigger problems of American TV shows these days). Nevertheless I take a good episode of any of the aforementioned shows over most anything hollywood has offered me in the last year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Sometimes the most positive aspect of a remake is that the original movie gets a DVD release in the wake of the remake. Assault on Precinct 13 is horror director John Carpenter's second feature film and has been remade in 2005. I've no real interest in the remake (which is purportedly one of the better efforts as far as remakes go), but the original has been on my to-watch list for quite some time.

Carpenter wanted to do a western but didn't have the budget, so he took the basic story of Rio Bravo and transposed it to 70ies Los Angeles. A police precinct about to be shut down is besieged by a street gang because a guy who killed one of the gang leaders (who previously shot down the guy's little daughter in cold blood, a scene that was rather controversial back in the day) took shelter in the precinct.

Inside are the few people overseeing the shutdown as well as a few prisoners who made station at the precinct while being transported from one prison to another. Getting to the actual siege takes quite some time. Carpenter himself apologises for the slowness of the movie quite often on the commentary track. When the siege is actually underway finally, the movie becomes quite night-of-the-living-deadish. The gang members don't talk, they are just out for blood and the people inside the station are constantly fighting for their lives. The whole thing is accompanied by a typical Carpenter synthesizer soundtrack that started to annoy me quite soon. But maybe that was the intention.

There's some good chemistry between the lead actors (Austin Stoker as cop Ethan Bishop and Darwin Joston as prisoner Napoleon Wilson as well as Laurie Zimmer as Leigh), I especially liked the bit on the end when Wilson just follows Bishop out of the cellar after they've been rescued. No escape attempt, no pleading, no help from Bishop. Overall nicely done, if a bit slow for today's tastes.

Monday, January 09, 2006


The original Geek test revisited, as by Bnerd's command.

32.34714 %

Disappointing. I'm losing touch with my inner geek.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

It was only € 4.99. That's pretty much the only positive thing to say about this one. There's one or two funny scenes in there (the War of the Newsteams and probably some of Steve Carell's scenes as Brick), but overall this is pretty much unfunny crap. Avoid.

Demo [Comic]

AiT/PlanetLar was so kind as to collect the 12 issues of Brian Wood's and Becky Cloonan's Demo in a single volume. Not having read the singles, I ordered the collection based on some good reviews and generally liking what Wood had done before with AiT (The Couriers and Couscous Express, I think).

The stories revolve around (mostly) young people with some kind of power who experience life-changing events. Except for this common theme, the single stories are not related. Some of them read like riffs on Stephen King novels (for instance "What you wished for", the one with the Asian kid and the dog, or "Emmy", the story with the girl who commands with her voice), others are quiet mood pieces like "Girl You Want", the story of the girl whose appearance changes to whatever the person looking at her imagines her to be or "Stand Strong", the story of a superstrong blue collar worker renouncing easy money from burglary for a simple but good life like his father and grandfather had.

Becky Cloonan's art is very versatile, she can do straight and superheroic (a bit remeniscent of John Romita, Jr.) as well as dark and moody or manga inspired.

Overall, the quality of the stories ranges from mediocre to excellent, but taken as a whole the collection is definitely worth looking at.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Feast For Crows [A Song Of Ice And Fire]

I had promised myself to stay clear of sprawling high fantasy epics after Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series proved to be such a monumental disappointment (does this thing still drag on, btw?)

George R. R. Martin convinced me otherwise, though. A Song Of Ice And Fire saga is epic, sprawling and high fantasy (although very low key on the magic use), nevertheless the thing is actually very, very good. Martin doesn't shy from killing main characters (sometimes he seems to revel in it, actually), his characters are actual characters and not the black-and-white cyphers so common in heroic fantasy and his plots are anything but straightforward.

The latest installment in the series - A Feast Of Crows - has disappointed some fans because the stories of main characters like Jon Snow or Daenerys Thargaryen aren't continued but set aside for developments on the Lannister-related characters. Especially twins Cersei and Jaime Lannister get their place in the spotlight in A Feast For Crows. And since the notion of "main characters" isn't really appropriate for Martin's epic, seeing how many presumed main characters already bit the dust during the first three books, I'm rather content with the developments in A Feast For Crows.

My only gripe with the book is, that it leaves us with a few tantalizing cliffhangers, especially regarding Cersei's fate. I really do hope Martin doesn't take another five years for the next installment, "A Dance With Dragons".