Archive for August, 2009

Public Enemies – Michael Mann’s Romantic Ride

August 25, 2009

In my introduction I professed my complicated feelings for Michael Mann’s 2006 dud Miami Vice. It’s my misunderstood baby, to be endlessly defended against the world. There are few other critics who grant it affection while audiences yawned or failed to notice. Which is understandable. It doesn’t have a normal story structure, it doesn’t waste time with exposition or setting up characters’ origins or whatever. It plops you right in the middle of an undercover drama full of confusion, heartbreak and some of the biggest beards you’ll see outside of Spanish cinema. It’s not the big-budget action extravaganza it was marketed as, but a love story wrapped around guns, style and mood. It’s the movie I point at and say “That’s everything Michael Mann is known for.” People often refer to Heat, the decadent crime opera that influenced everything from Grand Theft Auto to The Dark Knight, as Mann’s masterpiece. Those people haven’t seen Miami Vice. If they have they probably hated it despite everything those two movies have in common – which is everything. You know how auteurs seem to do the same thing over and over in different ways?



Phantasy Star II: Heartrending

August 21, 2009

In my ongoing attempt to catch up on the overlooked RPG series, we revisit Phantasy Star II. Released a scant seven months after the Genesis’ launch, Phantasy Star II was hurried into development soon after the completion of the original Phantasy Star. Of course, this was back in the days where RPGs didn’t take five years to develop. Phantasy Star was one of the last games to hit SEGA’s Master System, and with newer, shinier technology at their grasp, Rieko Kodama & Co. decided to reach for the stars…



Ponyo: The Extra-Terrestrial

August 19, 2009

Do you know who Hayao Miyazaki is? If you’re reading this blog, you should. But just in case you wandered in here accidentally while trying to google lolcats, Here’s the skinny: Hayao Miyazaki is basically the Steven Spielberg of animation in Japan. He makes animated feature films with his production company, Studio Ghibli, and is considered a master at what he does. He’s responsible for such anime classics as Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke and the Oscar-winner Spirited Away, and Japan basically considers him a national treasure.

And I sometimes find it difficult to stand the guy.

Don’t get your feathers ruffled just yet. I adore most of his movies, such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso, The Castle of Cagliostro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s the other half I have trouble stomaching. I think Nausicaa is a pretty standard fantasy adventure starring one of the most insufferably optimistic heroines I’ve ever seen.  The character Nausicaa pisses sunshine and farts rainbows. I cant stand it! Castle in the Sky is basically the blueprint for every Japanese RPG ever made, so by the time I saw it, there wasn’t much new for me to glean from its picked-over bones. I don’t really enjoy Princess Mononoke‘s setting or the fact that the ending doesn’t do any of the preceding 119 minutes any justice. In fact, it’s a huge problem with Miyazaki’s movies in general. They don’t end; they just stop. You’re lucky if you have even a few minutes of falling action after the climax. And then there’s probably my least favorite: My Neighbor Totoro. It’s a movie aimed at very young children, so I probably wasn’t the target audience when I saw it, but it’s still an aimless creature that tries to get by on cuteness and whimsy in lieu of having story or even the barest shred of conflict. I’m sure if I was a toddler I’d love it. I can’t ever say that Miyazaki’s movies are outright crap. They’re always beautifully, painstakingly animated. But I do occasionally have problems with what Miyazaki chooses to do with all his abundance of talent and resources.

And recently, Miyazaki’s latest yarn, the child-oriented Ponyo, washed up on our shores. Was this a hit or a miss?

y helo thar


Grump Haiku – Summer Edition

August 12, 2009

The Hurt Locker

The tension is thick,

a fearless lead character-

what’s Kate doing here?

X-men Origins: Wolverine

All I can say is,

“Adamantium Bullets!?

Just go fuck yourselves!”


BreakOut meets shooter,

it’s a steal at twice the price;

buy this up right now!

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Poor ideas made flesh,

its message is simplistic:

Buy more toys, shit kids~!

Red Faction: Guerrilla

Mars, barren and dead.

Don’t mind the terrorist themes;

just go smash some shit.


(500) Days of Summer: (500) Reasons This Is Baloney

August 7, 2009

I knew it. Exactly what I was afraid would happen has happened.

America, we’re under attack by indie hipster romantic comedies.