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Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Is Tony Stark America’s version of James Bond?

May 8, 2010 1 comment

(Warning: the following may include spoilers.  I don’t think I discussed major plot points, and certainly not anything that a more-than-casual Avengers fan wouldn’t already know, but, just in case….spoiler alert)

Thursday night I somehow talked the GF into going to see a midnight showing of Iron Man 2 with me.  The movie experience was everything I expected it to be.  Not the kind of rah-rah patriotism that will come with the Capt America movie next year, but definitely a better movie than the Fox Marvel titles.

Later on I got to thinking, Tony Stark is a lot like another bespoke aficionado,  James Bond.

Let’s take a look at the similarities:

  1. Both are the epitome of style.
  2. Both have their occupation identified with their suit.
  3. Both are free-wheelers, getting the job done in unconventional/unacceptable ways
  4. Both drive snazzy convertibles
  5. Both seem to always end up in chase sequences.
  6. Both always get the girl, no matter how they act
  7. Both work alone.
  8. Both men are haunted.

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So it looks like there are quite a few similarities there, but there is one huge difference between them.

Tony Stark is a billionaire industrialist who had this thrust on him, and much like Spider-Man, has taken up the responsibility that comes with it.

Commander James Bond enlisted to Her Majesty’s Service, and was given his License to Kill for Queen and Country because of the work he was already doing.  Nothing remarkable happened to flip the switch and make Bond become the image of excellence in duty & execution.

So is there something more to this difference?  Does it say something about us that our American superheroes have to have adversity thrust upon them to activate their latent sense of valor, while the Brits are trusting that their team has the right guys to get it done?

I think it stems first from the ever-present distrust that many of us have for our government and it’s agents.  Tony Stark tells the Senate to stuff it, keeps the suit for himself, and we all love it.  18 months after “Yes We Can”, the theater ERUPTED in cheers when Stark tells off the Senate and make our government look like buffoons.  Maybe it’s because we’re a country founded in rebellion

But there’s also the metaphor that we, as Americans, can never have enough, represented by Nick Fury & Pepper Pots.  Why work for one country when you can protect the whole planet?  Why settle for just being a Superhero when you can also still run the company, because you’re a genius and can solve problems nobody else could solve in the blink of an eye.

We are an industrialist nation.  At our heart, we are in love with people who can do things, make things, advance our knowledge, and there-in, our supremacy.  These are things that a single spy, or really any military figure, cannot accomplish these days.

Don’t get me wrong, Starks’s genius, veracity, and work ethic are great ideals to shoot for.  I wish I possessed them in greater quantities.

Of course, we’ll have our own version of Bond very soon….
(Too bad he’ll have to look like Chris Evans)

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Hit Girl

May 1, 2010 1 comment

I saw Kick-Ass two weeks ago and loved it.

I get that it’s not for everyone, but if it is for you, here’s a cool Hit Girl picture I found.  May need to make this my desktop wallpaper.

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Re-Visioned (now with less Lame)

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
French writer (1900 – 1944)

Minimalism is something I’ve appreciated for a long time.

Get everything you want, and get it all in a small, tidy package, and you win.

This is probably also why I’m drawn to design that is crisp, natural, free of frill and overall, simple.

For example, my iPhone.  I’m far from a Mac fanboy, but I have to admit that my iPhone is the best phone I’ve seen, period.  the sleek exterior, the minimal buttons, the smooth interface.  Note also that every alleged “iPhone killer” comes with a full keyboard attached, something that no iPhone user has said they needed.  Good design shifts you just slightly out of your comfort zone with the glimmering allure of an easier, more concise life.

So then, I’m sure it’s no surprise that I was drawn to the Re-Visioned movie posters of Youseff Ibrahim.

1.) This work evokes in me a memory of old book covers, and thus a connection to good times spent reading dusty paperbacks; NOT something typically associated with movie going or move posters.

2.) I love the idea of showing only a glimpse into the plot or an iconic scene, instead of just showing the lead actor/actress and the title.

(This is Day 27 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge, be sure to check out the other participants at #30DayBC)

What happens when you take….

March 27, 2010 2 comments

Gweneth Paltrow looking hotter than she has in a decade, then amp it up by making Scarlet play the Black Widow?

Answer:  I open up my wallet and let you take whatever you want.

I’m pretty damn excited to see Iron-Man 2.  Can you tell?

Iron Man 2 Movie Poster

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The Future of Awesomeness

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment
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My Take on Best Picture

March 6, 2010 1 comment

Full Disclosure:  I originally intended to write a blog about who I thought should win each award at tomorrow night’s Oscars, but despite the many movies I saw this year, it seems the few I didn’t seem are nominated for almost every award.  Therefore, I thought it would be unfair to slight films such as “Up in the Air” or “Hurt Locker” just because I didn’t make my way to see them and saw “Leap Year” and/or “Julie/Julia” instead.

So, instead, I thought I’d offer my take on two of the films nominated for Best Picture; likely winner Avatar and Inglorious Basterds.

Like nearly everyone else with a disposable income, I saw Avatar in 3D and had an enjoyable sensory experience.  The movie didn’t move me at all, and in fact, I immediately began referring to it as “Fern Gully 3D“.

In comparison, I was just able to watch Basterds on Blu-Ray last night in the comfort of my home, and while my body was snuggly planted on my couch, my mind was years and miles away, being confronted by a very thought-provoking, uncomfortable masterpiece.

Tossing away the cool-guy charm that shrouded Reservior Dogs & Pulp Fiction’s outward appearances, we knew going in that Inglorious Basterds was about war.  Actually, both of these movies are supposed to be about war.  It’s just that one of them makes you ooh and ahh, and one of them makes you think and examine yourself.

Perhaps its a John/Paul, Shaq/Kobe kind of qualifier. Are you a fan of Basterds or a fan of Avatar?

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To site less subjective evidence, lets discuss both films final “battles”.

In Avatar, we’ve already spent nearly 3 hours being stunned by the CGI graphics that Cameron uses.  Hell, he makes Star Wars look like a stage production.  We’ve got choppers, pteradactyl-type things, blue people, marines, bullets, arrows, explosions, a black panthery-thing… there’s a lot going on and a lot to keep track of. And there needs to be, because at this point, Cameron has tossed out any story-telling.  The anti-hero has switched sides, and you’re supposed to feel that the only way he can redeem himself is by killing the humans.  Then everything will be right in the world.

Except that it won’t. The blue folks already lost their tree-city, and clearly they aren’t good at setting up back-up plans.  Hell, they aren’t even good at setting up an economy.  Why not just mine the ore yourselves and sell it to the humans?  So now Jake Sully has decided to go full-on native and join a society that’s the somewhere left of Mesopotamia on the cultural-evolution chart.  Great choice.  Maybe after you teach them guerrilla war tactics, you can move on to agriculture. Or go back to whatever that freaky stuff you were doing with the trees was.

And that’s it.  There’s nothing to “think about” here.  There is no moral decision for the viewer to make. We’re fed what we need to know and the rest is just a visual opiate.  While I was watching this movie in the theater, I actually thought to myself, “this is only one step away from the feelies Huxley wrote about“.

Now take the final sequences in Inglorious Basterds. We have a theater full of Nazis, and an escaped Jew about to get sweat revenge on the people who gunned down her family.  Yes, Tarantino could have written a shoot’em-up finale, some sort of Last Stand of the Nazis could have taken place.  In fact, the film probably could have gone exactly the way “Nation’s Pride”, the film-within-a-film did.  But why do that?

Instead we have poetic justice and excellent dialogue with just enough action to keep us riveted and wondering what will happen next.  Point in fact, in the final 10 minutes of the movie, Anie said to me “it makes me nervous, I just wish they were working together”.  I love it when I can be over hours into a movie and still have to figure out what’s going to happen next.

If anything, I think Basterds is equally visually-stunning, because the cinematography used by Tarantino brings out the most pure and gutteral human emotions I’ve seen in a long time.  Take a look at the face of Shis

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In the end, we have two great directors doing what they do best.

James Cameron is a titan of spectacle.  His movies are big, and you’re buying a movie-going experience when you see a James Cameron show.

On the other end, Quentin Tarantino makes films, visual narratives that you have to chew on to digest.  The hallmark of his films is the dialogue, words that both humanize and polarize, and Basterds has these in spades.

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As for me, if the Oscar carried any merit for artistry, story-telling, or advancing the medium, the award should go to Tarantino.

Oscar Bingo

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Everything below comes from How About Orange.  Seems like a pretty neat idea.

Looking for extra entertainment during the Academy Awards on March 7? Back by popular demand, it’s Oscar bingo. I made cards for our party last year, and it was really fun to play. You can download this year’s bingo cards right here; it’s a PDF with 12 different sheets. My big disclaimer: I have no idea if it will be possible to win at all, or perhaps someone could win ten minutes into the telecast. If it’s a bust, please don’t send me hate mail. To supplement your bingo game, you can download and print out the official ballot of nominees right here. It’s always fun to see who guesses the most winners. And who guesses the least, so you can make fun of them.