9/28/07

A meeting for all providers at work, required.  only half of us were even working that day.  90 people lost their jobs.  Apparently they can apply for one of the 100 positions open.  I’m sure the unions will have something to say about it.  There really was no lead up or prep.  It feels like martial law, for the preservation of the company.  No one is safe.  Adapt of die.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.  Some good people are being cut and I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering where their workload is going.  Service is sure to suffer.  Will my job still be there when I return?

Cypher, the Outsider, and A History of Violence, review

Cypher is about a man who is hired by two different companies to be a double agent. He thinks he is being sent to a convention to tape the other company’s presentations, but a mysterious Asian lady (Lucy Liu), tells him he’s being drugged and he should not drink anything. He also should show no emotion. When he does this his experience is very surreal and it is difficult not to be found out. He eventually discovers that he has be brainwashed by the other side, too. He is very attracted to the Asian lady and starts having dreams about her. In the end, he finds out who he really is and who she is, too. The movie is well done, and Lucy Liu does a good job. Jeremy Northam is the main character. He is from England and was in Gosford Park, but I’m not real family with him. 3/5 acorns.

I missed A History of Violence when it was released in 2005. It also pairs Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen. Viggo is a family man who loves his wife and kids and runs a diner in a small town. One day some downright nasty guys come into the diner and terrorize everyone. When Stephen McHattie goes for the waitress, Viggo kills both of them and becomes a hero. He moment of fame brings some professional killers into town. Ed Harris has a large scar on his face he claims “Joey” gave him and claims Viggo is that Joey. Viggo says he isn’t but Ed is very sure. When they come for him at his home, his family witnesses a man they don’t know. Spoiler ahead. . Yup…Joey. The DVD has some making of stuff on it and apparently in the European version it isn’t enough that Viggo jams the nose of one of Ed’s henchmen into his face, while he is writhing on the ground, a bleeder pumps red blood into the air. Nice. I really didn’t notice, heh. It was blood enough and just as effective. Cronenberg can’t help himself. What’s the fun of having gut wrenching violence if there are not guts? 4/5 acorns, but a clive as well.

It turns out, Ed has been sent by William Hurt, who is Joey’s older brother. Joey goes back to Pittsburgh and when he comes back, is he the same guy? Can 3 years in the desert change a man’s violent nature?

The Outsider is a 2002 Hallmark movie with Tim Daly and Naomi Watts. Naomi Watts belongs to an Amish like religious group. She falls in love with Tim Daly, an injured gunslinger she takes in and he with her. Where her life is family, and she hears music in nature, Tim was raised in an orphanage that adopts kids out as slave labor. He was tortured by the pig farmer that raised him and one day he jams a pitchfork into his face. He has been killing and roaming every since and is very good at it. But of course, Naomi Watts can turn any ruthless killer into a loving sheep farmer and he is definitely worth being shunned for. I loved him in Wings. This movie also has Keith and David Carradine in it. A bonus! 2.5/acorns. I am a sucker for these cowboy romances with happy endings. She takes a bullet in the chest I saw that coming way before it happened) and David cannot remove that bullet near her pulmonary artery and still there is a happy ending! Ain’t TV grand?

oh so many movies

The Fountainhead stars Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal in this 1949 adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel. Gary Cooper plays a man who refused to compromise his values risking his career in architecture and the love of his life. Patricia Neel is the daughter of a great architect of the day and a critic who writes for a tabloid newspaper with great power to sway public opinion. The newspaper man is played by Raymond Massey. He also desires Patricia Neal, and is willing to marry here although he knows she doesn’t love him.

Ayn Rand’s characters live for their own values and happiness. They are not swayed by popular opinion. They know who they are and what they want. What they want is good and idealistic and will benefit everyone. If the rest of the world is too blind to know this then to hell with them. Oh if only us lowly beings could all be like that. Seems to me it would lead to a lot of fights. It borders on sociopath y.

The story made a good movie. I will rate it 3/5 acorns, no clives.

Samurai Spy takes place 14 years after the great battle of Sekigahara that took place in 1600. In this battle Hideyoshi’s Toyotomi are defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu, begining 200 years of peace in the Tokugawa Era. Of course there are still squabbles as boundaries are resettled and allegiances come and go. Every lord has his little army of spies who travel the realm looking for signs on unrest.

Tetsuro Tamba gets to wear to coolest hat.

This one moved rather slowly. I will rate it 2.5/5 acorns.

The Seventh Stream
I loved The Secret of Roan Inish. This movie is based on the same legend of the Selkie. The selkie is a seal in human form. It is bound to the human who has it’s pelt and cannot return to the sea until the pelt is returned to it. Scott Glenn plays a widowed fisherman. With the death of his beloved wife, he has closed himself and his heart to all others. John Lynch who was in Secret on Roan Inish plays a cruel man who has captured a selkie and hidden her skin. He mistreats her and his blind father takes the pelt and hides it on Scott Glenn’s land. They fall in love. Will she return to the sea? And why has Glenn’s fishing catch improved so much since he befriends her? This was a made for TV movie. I will rate it 2.5/5 acorns. I am upset that John Lynch plays a bad guy. I’m used to him playing the flawed and misunderstood character, not a wife beater.

3:10 to Yuma

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I had to watch this 1957 version to compare it to th 2007 version. I was surprised at how much of the dialog is unchanged. There are some differences. The ending is different. I like this version, too. 3/5 acorns.

Eastern Promises

Is there a heart that beats beneath the cool, quite stare of this tattooed “driver”? Viggo has come a long way since The Reflecting Skin. He is Aragon, by george, The King! This is a very violent movie at times. I even went “eewww” once during the film. I was surpised at how slow it went, too. Naomi Watts is wonderful as a nursemidwife who investigates a diary trying to find family for an orphaned baby girl. The mother, only 14, wanders into a convenience store, track marks up her arms, hemorrhaging. She dies delivering this baby.

Her journey takes her to the Russian mafia. Viggo is bodyguard for the gay and impulse, substance abusing son of the Godfather.

Like I say, this movie was slow and violent at times, and about trafficking is young women for prostitution. Not a pretty story. I will rate it 3/5 acorns and some clives. None of the visceral horror I associate with Cronenberg, but plenty horrible nonetheless.

Samurai Champloo, the series ends, and Neil Gaiman’s A Short Film about John Bolton, reviews

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It comes to an end. The sunflower samurai is found, the boys are free for their showdown. Unlike so many classic samurai pictures, I am happy to say our heros and heroine are still living at the end. They met some worthy opponents through the series, ate a lot of food, and faced their pasts. I enjoyed this series a lot and will rate it 4.5/5 acorns.

John Bolton granted Neil Gaiman an opportunity to film him creating his fantastic vampire paintings. Neil Gaiman had a lot to do with Mirrormask, Stardust, Neverwhere and a lot of comics. John Bolton, not to be mixed up with Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security in the Bush administration or UN Representative, is an English fantasy artist of comics, RPG and other media. From this small view, either John Bolton is a bit odd, or he is a great jokester. They are both English, so who knows?  It was rather slow.  I will give it 2/5 acorns.

The Brain from Planet Arous, Samurai Champloo 6

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The Brain from Planet Arous is actually Brains, a good one who’s name I forgot and a bad one who’s name is Bob. Okay, I heard Bob but it’s Vol and Gor. Our scientist goes off to investigate Mystery Mountain, and discovers a cave he was sure was never there. So hey, he and his friend have to check it out. Gor fries his friend and takes over his body but of course his girlfriend notices a big change in him when he starts make out very roughly with her. She and her dad go out to Mystery Mountain, and she immediately notices the cave that was never there. So of course they have to go right in and discover the fried friend. Luckily the brain they meet is Vol, the good brain, who has come to capture the evil Gor, who wants to take over the World. He takes over the dog and follows Gor around waiting for his chance to get him when he comes out to rest. Lucky for the World, the brains can’t stay in the host continuously and when they come out they are vulnerable. When Gor comes out of the scientist, he finds the note his girlfriend leaves for him under the phone, with an arrow pointing to Gor’s soft spot. He goes after him with an axe that just happens be lying around. This is the one time I was not convinced these brains were real, as I could see the string suspending Gor from the ceiling and he bounced around like a piñata . I will give this silly movie 4/5 acorns, but if you don’t like rats, stay away from the cheese.

I only have more disc of Samurai Champloo to go after this one. Disc 6 was a bit more serious, with a government assassin trying to kill Jin and Mugen, but still a lot of fun. I wonder how it will end.

3:10 to Yuma, Breach and More Samurai Champloo

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I love a good Western and I really enjoyed 3:10 to Yuma. Of course it didn’t hurt that it stars Russell Crowe. He plays the deep, violent stage coach robber I love to hate with great charm. I’ve been a fan of his since I first saw him in LA Confidential. Christian Bale has redeemed himself in my eyes. He was American Psycho and the Machinest! I have yet to see Batman Begins, but that will be coming soon. The movie is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard and is a remake of a 1957 movie staring Glenn Ford as Ben Wade (the bad guy) and Van Heflin as Dan Evans. I’ll have to put that one on the neflicks list. Ben Wade has been robbing stagecoaches with his effective gang, killing people all over the place. The Pinkertons are after him. Dan Evans is a disabled Veteran of the Civil War. He is in debt to the local land baron and is on his way to town to settle, when he runs into Ben Wade and his gang robbing the stagecoach. Peter Fonda, the Pinkerton man is the only survivor. Ben Wade confronts Evans with his two sons, and spares their lives and leaves their horses down the line. Immediately there is chemistry between these two characters and it’s what makes the rest of the movie so engrossing. There are great stunts and a lot more blood then I imagine the early movie to have. I will rate this one 4.5/5 acorns. There is violence so 1/2 of clive.

Breach is based on a true story of Robert Hanssen a FBI agent who passed secrets to the Soviet Union for more then 15 years. This a slow moving picture. The gun ho young agent sent to uncover information about him forms a bond with him and has mixed feelings in the end about the life and sacrifices it would take to be an agent. The characters were interesting, but it moved a little to slowly for me. I will rate it 2.5/5 acorns. No clives.

Samurai Champloo Disc 5 romped along. Still funny and still going strong!

Another Alien and Predator movie is coming out in December. What timing, eh? Hope its better the the last one which was okay, but not great.

Tuesday Rant

The supervisor at work continues to preempt my teams meetings even though I asked her not too.  FGS why can’t she use the time some other time?  I’m tired of working on it.  I think I’ll quit.

I don’t think the team is working.  Many members have stopped coming as the “phones” are too busy during the meeting time.

The service issues such as scheduling and and the waitlist have not been resolved and I’m tired of just getting the same ole excuses.    I will have to let it go and refer the complaints I get from the customers to the supervisor as I don’t have any more energy to go someone else’s work.  My own work is suffering for it and I have no control over it.

Once again the whiny favorite gets what she wants and we get the shitty worker dumped on us.  Never mind what we want.

Much as I try and I have trouble maintaining a positive attitude at work.

Is life better in the frying pan or out?

12:01 and Disk 4 of Samurai Champloo

12:01 has a similar plot the Groundhog day, but is not as famous. It has a scifi plot behind it and I found it quite good. Johnathan Silverman wakes up one morning at 12:01. He is late to work and banters with his coworkers. He sees Helen Slater who he has a crush on and fumbles his moves on her at lunch. At 6:15pm when it’s time to go work, he sees her buy flowers and then she gets shot. When he wakes up the next am the day repeats. He sees his opportunity to woo and save the woman he loves, and figure out the reason why the day repeats and who the bad guy really is. I liked this movie and will give it 4/5 acorns. No clives.

Samurai Champloo Disk 4 features a bit about Mugen, and where he comes from. Jin gets to show his samurai stuff. I am still really enjoying this anime. Only 3 more disks to go! (that’s Jin on the left and Mugen on the right and Fuu in the middle)

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I found a copy of Ursula Leguin’s Tales of Earthsea in my son’s collection. I am going to attempt to read a book!

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and 3 Anime

earthsea.jpgLock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998 is a movie by Madonna’s husband, Guy Ritchie. I was wondering what he did. This story weaves the adventures of 4 sets of undeserving guys together. Many of them don’t make it through the end of the movie. I kept thinking this one guy looked like Sting, and lo and behold it was Sting. I had to put the subs on as it took me awhile to get into the swing of the Cockney accents and rhymes. The first group of guys naively raise money for one of them to bet in a card game. The game is fixed by the next group of guys and our first boys end up owing a lot of money and also Sting’s bar if they don’t come up with the cash. They hear about a drug deal going down next door to where one of them lives and they decide that’s the way to get the money. More happens, but I won’t tell. Needless to say, once the crooks start running in to each other, bullets start flying. It is an entertaining action movie and is compared to the Brad Pitt movie Snatch, a lot. I watched Snatch once but coulding figure it out. Perhaps I was knitting at the time. I think I needed subtitles, too, although, I hear Brad Pitt may not even be speaking a real language. But then I digress…3.5/5 acorns for Lock Stock.

Paprika, 2006 played at the Hawaii International Film Festival last year and I missed it so obsessed a lot about it. I found it confusing and was a bit disappointed that a parade scene had the look of the parade into the bath house in Spirited Away. Psychiatrists use a dream machine to enter their patient’s dreams. I will have to watch this one again before scoring it.

Samurai Champloo, 2004, Disk 3 is lots of fun, like the first two. Another is on the way. In one of these Episodes, Jin, our brooding, classical samurai falls in love with a women who has been sold to a brothel by her good for nothing husband. Of course as the wife is sword, no way Jin can end up with the girl, but he does try and save her. 4/5 acorns.

Tales of Earthsea, 2006. I have not read the Ursula LeGuin book and recently saw the miniseries based on it. This Ghibli adaptation of the book is nothing like the miniseries so I don’t know which one is more true to the original story. Hayao Miyazaki has retired and his son Goro Miyazaki wrote the screen play and directed. It moves very slowly in the beginning and took awhile for me to figure out what was going on. It ends with a flourish. 2/5 acorns.