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Movie Review: Black Dynamite (2009)

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Montage of Black Dynamite characters.Summary:
When Black Dynamite’s brother turns up dead, he comes out of ass kicking retirement to clean up the city streets.  There’s more going on than originally met his eye, though.  It’s a damn good thing the CIA reissued him his license to kill.

Review:
There’s not much that I love more in my movies than ones that are knowingly making fun of themselves.  Black Dynamite is simultaneously a satire of 1970s blaxploitation films and a mockery of itself.  The dialogue, characters, outfits, and story are so bad that they’re good, and it’s that bad on purpose.  That makes it awesome in my book.

The acting  is excellent.  You believe in the characters in spite of the ridiculous situations and conversations they’re having.  The soundtrack is amazing.  It sounds just like 1970s music, only it has specially written lyrics that go along with the story.  The storyline is so outlandish that it lands in the awesome zone.  If you enjoyed Bill Murray’s appearance in Zombieland, you’re going to like Black Dynamite‘s storyline.

Black Dynamite is hilarious and unique.  If you enjoy kitschy, crazy plot, dialogue, and characters, you’ll like it as much as I do.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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Movie Review: World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

February 5, 2010 2 comments

Robin Williams holding a coffee cup in his bathrobe.Summary:
Lance knows he’s a good writer with a voice that deserves to be heard, but somehow it gets lost in the shuffle of his everyday life as a divorced high school English teacher and dad to his teenage son.  His son is a jerk and a bit of a pervert, but Lance’s love for him helps him get through the day.  When he comes home to find his son dead from erotic asphyxiation, his world is turned upside down.

Review:
This movie is a wonderful study of multiple, well-rounded, three-dimensional characters.  From Lance to his hoarding neighbor to his art teacher, shallow, childish, love interest and everyone in-between, this movie is chock full of characters who are believable as real people.  You want to study them more in-depth.  You want to know what makes them tick.

Lance is such a likeable guy.  He’s sweet, loves old horror movies, strives to write the best he can.  All he wants out of life is to be recognized, not just on the level of his writing, but in his life over-all.  He desperately wants to be noticed and loved.  Parents will appreciate that whatever it is that makes Lance’s son such a jerk, it is never portrayed as Lance’s fault.

Beyond the wonderful characters, the movie makes a great commentary on what makes a book publishable.  It points out the hypocrisy of popularity surrounding a controversy and the general sheep-like quality of the masses.  This combined with the character studies makes it well worth the watch.

I recommend it to those who enjoy character-driven movies with a wry sense of humor.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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Movie Review: Moon (2009)

February 1, 2010 6 comments

Man in space suit holding helmet in front of a circle.Summary:
In the near future, a corporation has figured out how to harvest energy from the sun via a station on the the moon.  Sam Bell accepted a 3 year post as the sole human being in the station.  His only company is Gerty, a computer who is faceless save an emoticon that expresses the emotions behind his statements.  It starts to look like three years may have been too long of a stint for Sam.  Is he going crazy or is there something more sinister at work?

Review:
This movie largely consists of just one actor performing–Sam Rockwell, who plays Sam Bell.  This is not an easy task to pull off while maintaining audience interest, and he does a wonderful job.  Kevin Spacey, who voices Gerty, strikes just the right combination of mechanical and human sounding vocalizations.  He does a splendid job being creepy.

The concept of a future where one corporation provides most of the energy used by the planet is a great scifi concept to base a film on.  The technology and sociology necessary for this to occur are both believable enough that not too much effort is needed to suspend disbelief.  On the other hand, the movie never really explains how exactly the energy is harvested.  This struck me as a moderately important plot element to be missing.

The special effects were surprisingly good for a low budget film such as this.  In fact, I kept forgetting that it wasn’t a big blockbuster release.

I can’t say too much more without ruining the movie for you.  I will tell you that at first I thought it was just average, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days after watching it.  Particularly when I saw a bus with an emoticon on it that looked just like Gerty’s.  I love it when a movie affects you in a sneak attack way, and I highly recommend Moon if you enjoy scifi or thought provoking films.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Redbox

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Best Discoveries of 2009–Boston Places, Web Clips, and Recipes

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday you got to see my best discoveries–aka I encountered them for the first time–of 2009 in movies, tv shows, and websites.  The day before in my reading stats for 2009 you saw my favorite books I discovered.  Today I’ll be finishing up my discoveries lists with Boston places, web clips, and recipes!

Boston Places

  • The Friendly Toast (1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA)
    Known as a hipster joint, this restaurant serves breakfast/brunch foods all day long.  It’s decorated with fun vintage posters, many of which are scifi themed.  The portion sizes are huge!  You really get the bang for your buck here, and vegetarian options are numerous.  You even can get vegetarian sausage!  The servers are also super-friendly.  This is currently my favorite breakfast place in Boston.
  • Berk’s Store (50 JFK St, Cambridge, MA)
    I was hunting everywhere for waterproof knee-high boots without a heel, when I wandered into this store.  Crowded into a small space is the best shoe store I’ve found in Boston.  The styles reflect the needs of Bostonians–good for walking and the weather without sacrificing style.  The employees are friendly and–get this!–you can put a deposit on shoes and have them hold them for you to pick up later without paying anything extra.  This is great for if you find a great pair of shoes/boots but don’t want to drag them on your commute with you.
  • Boston Bed Company (1113 Comm Ave, Boston, MA)
    More than just mattresses, they offer bed frames, bedroom furniture, living room furniture, sofas, and chairs.  This business is locally-owned, and they understand Bostonian’s needs.  Everything is reasonably priced, the sales associates are friendly but also understand giving you space to wander about the store on your own, and you get free delivery (over a certain price point, which I forget right now, but I easily reached it when buying my mattress and box spring).  Definitely check them out for any furniture needs.
  • Hootenanny (36 JFK St aka The Garage, Cambridge, MA)
    The clothing off-shoot of Newbury Comics, this store is great for funky clothing, shoes, and bags.  I got my Glomits there, as well as a steampunk skirt and dress.  They also offer vegan shoes for my vegan friends.  The prices can be a bit steep on some items, but they have continuous sales which knocks them right down to reasonable.
  • Jacob Realty (279 Newbury St, Boston, MA)
    I had to apartment hunt this year, and after many phone calls that ended with me mad at an agent who couldn’t accept my price limit as a real price limit, I finally landed on Jacob Realty.  My realtor actually listened to me and treated me with respect, and she helped me land a great apartment!  Definitely check them out if you’re on the apartment hunt.

Web Clips (yes I know there’s a lot of cats on this list)

Recipes

  • Emeril’s Vegetarian Egg Rolls
    Confession.  I have a deep fryer, and for my housewarming party I wanted to use it.  I’d made egg rolls with my dad when I was a kid, but those were meat-filled (this was before I went veg).  Anyway, I was shocked to discover Emeril has a vegetarian recipe.  They require a bit of work what with making up the filling and wrapping them, but they came out very good.  Even my friends who don’t like egg rolls liked these.
  • Little House Apple Pie (The Little House Cookbook: Fronteir Food from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker)
    I’d gone apple picking with two of my best buddies, and I wanted to make apple pie.  The problem was that I’d never gotten the family recipe from my mother who I disowned, so I needed to find a good new recipe.  Omg, people, you should ditch family recipes more often.  This pie is so good!  Side-note, I always use Emeril’s Basic Sweet Pie Crust with my pies.
  • Vegan Sweet Potato Latkes (current issue of Vegetarian Times, apparently isn’t on their website yet)
    I wanted to make latkes for my Chrismukkah gathering, but wanted a healthier version than the traditional one.  I love sweet potatoes and already had a stash of them, so this seemed like it’d be cool to try.  Instead of eggs, the recipe has you boil some sweet potatoes and mash them to use for binding the shredded potato together.  I was skeptical as to whether this would work, but it totally did.  These were a big hit.

That’s it for my best-of lists!  Hopefully next year I’ll have more recipes to share with you guys.  I hope you all made some fun discoveries of your own in 2009.