Me and My Nine Iron

July 24, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 3:37 pm
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With so much hype around this movie and then the event that occurred at the midnight showing in Colorado, this, if now dubiously, is without a doubt the biggest movie of the year. For so many reasons, I feel like no one can look at this movie from a truly unbiased standpoint, and while many will overrate this movie, I’m trying not to undercut it.

Why, you ask? Batman. The last part in the amazing trilogy. Christopher Nolan. Being epic (2-hour, 45-minute length). Huge action summer blockbuster ($250 million budget). Just to name a few, but I believe each one of these things subconsciously factored into everyone’s mindset about this movie.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the death threats against the critics who wrote reviews that didn’t give it a perfect rating. And how Rotten Tomatoes had to disable user commentary for the movie because of all the fan backlash against critics. Seriously. People who didn’t see the movie got enraged by people who did see the movie and didn’t think it was the best movie in the world. Its current IMDb rating as a top 10 movie of all-time? Please.

While I haven’t looked up these so-called negative reviews, I do agree with the one-liners posted on its Wiki page. Here are a few:

Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, stating “the film begins slowly with a murky plot and too many new characters, but builds to a sensational climax.”

The Daily Mail’s Chris Tookey said that the film was bloated and overly long as well as criticizing the sombre tone and lack of humor, despite praising the film’s visually impressive set pieces.

I completely agree with the pros and cons from both reviews. Before I read Ebert’s review, I too used the word “murky” to describe the second scene, and I was quickly disengaged from all the quick cuts and overload of plot points. I thought it was at least half an hour longer than it needed to be. The third act started two hours into the movie, and though I was the only one in my group of friends who struggled to pay attention, it just took way too long to set up the satisfying payoff.

If there’s one thing you can count on from Nolan, it’s that he’s an amazing filmmaker who will provide you visually cinematic pieces on a grand scale. The opening scene attests to that, as well as the destruction of the football field scene shown in the trailer. The third act provided great closure and was highly entertaining, if only to rid of the talking heads that consumed the previous act, and it made The Avengers‘ third act almost look cheesy in comparison.

Brief actor/character comments:

Christian Bale – Unlike The Dark Knight where he was overshadowed by the Joker, this movie was about Batman. With a great mystery around the 8-year layoff of the superhero and the internal struggles to suit up again, a great return to form for Batman.

Tom Hardy – A more traditional villain than the Joker with a physical force that rivaled Darth Vader’s death grip. Not the most exciting villain, but a force to be reckoned with. In a traditional sense, it’s much cooler to dress up in a costume and throw blows with the city’s baddest than play mind games like in The Dark Knight. Oh, and Batman gets his shit owned.

Anne Hathaway – A nice Catwoman, definitely got the slender body for it and doesn’t make you question how a woman is kicking men’s asses.

Marion Cotillard – Nice to look at, but with all due respect, thought her role would’ve been better suited for an American. Damn Inception residue.

I found The Dark Knight to have a more entertaining opening scene introducing the villain–though this one is as large-scale as a hatch gets–and a much more concise second act (The Dark Knight Rises, like Tookey said, was so serious) while The Dark Knight Rises had a much clearer and obviously, more complete third act.

Overall, a great conclusion to the trilogy. Thanks to Nolan for an amazing reboot of one of the two most popular superheroes of all-time.

Now, please no spinoffs (Halle Berry‘s Catwoman, anyone? 3.2 IMDb rating.), remakes or reboots for at least 10 years (Spider-Man only lasted a dismal five years).

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 9.1 (T-8th all-time)
What it should be: 8.1

Recommend

BJ

July 19, 2012

This and that

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 7:17 pm
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  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a girlfriend. And while I appreciated our adult conversations on politics and other matters of relative importance, I’m just not looking for that right now. I want a girl who likes to talk celebrity gossip. Someone who looks boring. Someone like Kristen Stewart.
  2. Being an uncle really is the coolest thing because you really can have all the fun with them and then just bounce whenever they need to be fed, changed, bathed or put to sleep. They’re like an awesome pet that’s not yours.
  3. The notion that golf is a relaxing sport is complete bullshit. There’s no doubt everyone walks off the golf course with a higher BP than when they stepped on. I don’t understand the stereotype of husbands getting away from the wife and kids for an even bigger stress fest. I mean, if it’s this hard for pros who have to restrain themselves on TV, we have no shot.
  4. Speaking of golf, it’s funny how it’s supposed to be this hoity toity sport, yet I find so many assholes on the golf course. Mostly when you almost hit them with your ball, one would think you just fucked their sister. Even though it happens so often, they invented a word for it (“Fore!”). Chucking your ball back is obviously a good one, but this young dad put up a good act when my friend almost hit him. On the last hole, he and his young children were chilling by the pond when my friend’s drive came within ten yards of him. He didn’t move, didn’t say anything and just stared down my friend as he took his second shot. Not until after we finished up the hole and were heading to the parking lot did he finally accuse my friend of deliberately attempting to hit them, which is obviously the most absurd thing ever, considering my friend couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn from ten yards out. But who says something ten minutes after the fact? If it bothered you so much, say something from the start, you overly defensive parent.
  5. I might be the only one who looks over my right shoulder to change to the right lane. There is no way all you guys cover all your blind spots by just looking at the rearview and sideview mirrors. Just sayin’.
  6. I hate running into people from high school. Oh, and when you tell me I’m being awkward, you just made the situation even more awkward than it was. And I’m not saying much because I want you to get the hint that I don’t want to talk to you, which you obviously failed at.
  7. Don’t directly joke with people you don’t know…unless you’re flirting. For some reason, guys I just met constantly joke with me like so, “That’ll be $30.” “What?” (thinking it’s free). “I’m just kidding.” I don’t know if you’re serious, it makes things weird and it’s never funny. Because I don’t know you. Just stop it.
  8. Don’t correct people…especially if you’re wrong. I went to use a coupon for a free popcorn at the movie theater, and I used the word ‘redeem’ to the young girl. She gave me a condescending, “What? You mean ‘use’?” and I immediately regretted not giving her a piece of my mind. Or maybe, I should’ve used the ten-minute rule. I don’t know if you’re too stupid to know the definition of ‘redeem’, which is probably the better word to use (to exchange for money or goods; I can’t believe I looked that up), or you thought ‘use’ was the only correct word to use, but you’re wrong, popcorn girl. I should’ve thrown the free popcorn in her face. Or taken it up with management. That was ridiculous. I was a fucking customer.
  9. I had the strangest phone conversation with a guy from the DMV. When I told him my name, he said, “That’s two first names.” Okay…and then in response to my last name, his next insightful remark was, “That’s Korean.” Yeah, and you’re black. I could tell by your voice. Your point?
  10. I will argue to the death that the DMV is the hardest place to get ahold of. In particular, (866) 682-2151; conveniently, the refund department. I’ve given up on getting my vehicle license fee refund. I left a call back number and never heard back. They had over five hours to call me back that day. Every other time is a recording saying they’re so busy, call back later. And they hang up. They don’t even give you another option. Fucking shady. If you can reach this number, you deserve a slow clap.
  11. When did farting become socially accepted? I must have missed the memo. I can understand if an 80-year-old man rips one in front of everyone because old-man-don’t-give-a-shit, but these are friends from different groups and random people who feel that it’s totally okay to drop a silent-but-deadly while walking in a crowd or my favorite, on a packed subway, where a black lady gave me the dirtiest look thinking it was me. I’m going to start Occupy Stop the Farting.
  12. Another socially unacceptable norm: PDA. Even homophobes don’t want to see excessive PDA from straight couples, and the things they do are way more disgusting. Things like repeated pecks or anything cutesy where they act like they’re the only ones there, smooches, tongue, more than a few kisses throughout an entire sitting, ass grabbing or slapping and waddling like ducks while holding her from behind. Get that shit outta here.
  13. I went to a rock show last month, and I worried for my hearing, sad that I didn’t bring ear plugs. I swear the sound reached the threshold of my ear drums popping. But I know I’m not that old…
  14. …because I have friends who listen to talk radio. If I want to hear people talk, I’ll call my mother. If I want to hear people’s opinions, I’ll ask my friends. The radio is meant to play music…and give freeway updates.
  15. If you want something, don’t wait for it to come to you. Bruce Springsteen on playing a Whitney Houston tribute with Paul McCartney at this year’s Grammys, “I’ve been waiting for the phone call to play with Paul since 1964.” The ultimate I’m-going-to-wait-for-him-to-reach-out-to-me that took almost 50 years and a black woman’s death to make it happen.

BJ

July 12, 2012

Videos

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 11:59 pm
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Re-post from my Facebook friends:

Real Music

For those that don’t know, I like a very small selection of dubstep, including Skrillex. A dope video by Mike Tompkins.

Parody Music

For reasons I can’t understand, Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” is the most covered song ever. The few I’ve seen are pretty lame, but this one’s a funny take on the pop hit.

ebaum’s World Video.

And for the sushi lovers, sushi etiquette accuracy confirmed by my Japanese friend.

BJ

July 11, 2012

The Counter review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 12:02 am
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There’s a couple of custom build-your-burger joints around like Slater’s 50/50, but this time I went to go check out The Counter in Newport Beach. The place was pretty crackin’, and the seating was a little more comfortable this time, unlike my experience at Umami Burger. The concept behind these restaurants is genius, and the opportunity is something to get excited about…if you know what you’re doing.

Yeah, you can choose from pre-set burgers made by the restaurant, which I have no doubt are amazing, but what fun is that? Just make your selections from this 5-step process, and hopefully, your burger can turn out as good as my Greek Feta Burger with Jalapenos and Roasted Green Chiles.

With much better prices than Umami Burger, too. A 1/3 lb. burger and french fries for $10.45. My burger and side at Umami Burger – $15.50.

The Counter has 22 locations in California.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Recommend

BJ

July 10, 2012

Village Pizzeria vs. Lamonicas

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 11:33 pm
Tags: ,

I don’t know about y’all, but my friends are always about finding the best New York-style pizza…here in Southern California. I might get shit for this, but to me, pizza–like burgers and most other foods–gets to a point where the quality tops off somewhere, and the difference on top of that, though maybe noticeable, is minimal. Everything under a miscroscope, I’d put Pedone’s as the best pizza place I’ve tried.

The next tier or the A- level would be Lamonicas and Village Pizzeria. In the Lamonicas video, the owner states that they ship the dough from Brooklyn using Brooklyn city tap water. How fucking tight is that?

I’m not going to break it down by sauce, dough, crust, etc., except simply to say I’ve tried both the cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza at all three places. While the cheese pizza seems to be universally solid, I found that the pepperoni from Village Pizzeria was one of a few things where the quality faltered. While they have a very unique, fancy-looking pepperoni–cute, little circles with the edges raised–it was salty to the point I didn’t want to eat them all…on my first slice.

Village Pizzeria also offers a thick-crust pizza (is that even New York anymore?), which was significantly worse than the traditional thin-crust. Overall, it’s a solid place, but they have a salty pepperoni pizza, and they close earlier than the other two places; generally, 9:30p while the other two are around 11p, 2:30a at Pedone’s Hermosa Beach location.

Locations

Village Pizzeria – Two, in Los Angeles.

Lamonicas – One, in Los Angeles (Westwood).

Pedone’s – Two, in Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach. (Though, the one in Redondo Beach is said to be better.)

Prices

Village Pizzeria – Regular slice – $2.35, w/ Pepperoni – $2.75, Regular thick crust – $2.40, w/ Pepperoni – $2.85; 18″ Cheese – $15.95

Lamonicas -Regular slice – $2.35, w/ Pepperoni – $3.10; 17″ Cheese – $15.50, 17″ 1 Topping – $17.00

Pedone’s (Hermosa Beach) – Regular slice – $2.70, w/ Pepperoni – $2.95; 18″ Cheese – $13.75, 18″ 1 Topping – $15.75

Village Pizzeria has the cheapest prices by the slice, about the only thing it can claim over its rivals.

Rating

Village Pizzeria – 4 stars out of 5

Lamonicas – 4.5 stars out of 5

Pedone’s – 5 stars out of 5

Interestingly, all three hold the same 4 stars on Yelp. But like I said, all solid places I would recommend for New York-style pizza.

BJ

July 9, 2012

Forget TSE

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 9:03 pm
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Contrary to popular belief, movie screenings are not all early viewings and fun, fun, fun. In addition to the horrendous drive to often Los Angeles, long wait times due to the first-come, first-serve basis (over an hour before the showtime) and sometimes, showing unfinished movies that really take out of the viewing experience, the companies that hold the screenings can really sour the experience as well.

Actually, the only company I’m referring to is The Screening Exchange. In short, they’re a bunch of Nazi power-tripping, incompetent assholes. But let me elaborate. For reasons unbeknownst to anyone, TSE makes it seem like holding willing people in line is a near-insurmountable task. And the contrast is quite clear because none of the other companies have such a difficult time and nearly the manpower, and they still run a smoother movie screening.

But the biggest annoyance is how much they gate-check the shit out of you. While waiting in line, they make you sign a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement (fair enough) and one of their own forms, where you have to fill out all of your contact information (unnecessary, but okay, fine). They then check your I.D. to see that the name matches up with the confidentiality agreement, another person takes a digital picture of every single person in line holding their I.D. (an outrageous and unnecessary violation of privacy, in my opinion; and of course, he’s the creepy guy) and yet another asks you for your age before handing you your admittance pass to ensure they meet an undisclosed quota by year of age.

Never mind that the invitation already narrows the invitees with a qualifying age range (e.g. 15-44) and the first-come, first-serve policy. If there’s only 20 seats left, we’re just going to stop admitting from the front of the line and choose 20 18-year-olds, most of whom came way too late to have a remote shot of getting in, at our own discretion. Absolute bullshit.

I’m familiar with most of the employees as I see the same ones at every screening, and they’re all terribly overstressed by what seems like a fairly easy job. And I blame it all on this one particular asshole who oversees everything and who is the only one I’m referring to when I described TSE as “Nazi power-tripping assholes.” At the Lovelace screening, I merely asked this man if I could sit in one of the dozens of reserved seating that were going to remain empty throughout the movie, and he said something similar to, “If you don’t sit down right now, I’m going to kick you out.” If he wasn’t in the position he was in, I’d have him repeat that phrase without some of his teeth.

At the next screening, I heard him tell an employee, “Why aren’t these people being taken care of?” When she went over to the group he pointed at, he said the exact same thing regarding another group like the prick of a boss you could never please. She was visibly humiliated, and before she could respond, he walked away. Doing absolutely nothing.

Note: I asked for better seats because I was sitting in the front row, which was less than 10 feet from the screen. They need to make it a law that the closest seat to the screen cannot be within 30 feet. Anything within that is not a fucking seat to watch a movie. Who would pay $12 for that ungodly angle and neck-cranker? Absolutely absurd.

Here’s the rest of the terrible month of May:

  • I don’t know when May Day became National Protest Day, but I ran right into the buttcrack of the street closures near Pershing Square, and it took me exactly two hours to get to the End of Watch screening. I could’ve driven 100 miles down to San Diego in that same time.

Very briefly and not just because of this one experience, let me just say that the overuse and exploitation of the 1st Amendment is one of the major downfalls of our country. In fact, I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say it. Allowing people to take over streets, most of whom are admittedly only there to be part of the experience, not only disrupts motorists just trying to get home after a long day at work but sends a wrong signal to the whole notion of democracy. I recognize that protests sometimes lead to changes, but I also believe there’s such a thing as too many rights, and this country lets way too many people run amuck. Make changes through votes, not by bitching and whining like so many Americans do.

  • After I posted a review of a Cloud Atlas screening, I received an email from an attorney representing Warner Bros. telling me to remove the post or face millions in financial damages arising from a loss at the box office I may have cost the movie from my negative review. Re-read that last sentence if you found that possibility as preposterous as I did. I wouldn’t even believe that if my name was Ashton Kutcher.

I obliged, but it did make me think: there’s no way I’m getting this notice had my review been positive. And I love how attorneys throw in a disparaging word here and there because they’re all snide fucking assholes, in this case unnecessarily calling my blog “amateur.” If I’m an “amateur” with no known following, I’m flattered that I’m at the top of your list of blogs to shut down.

Nevertheless, with screenings held by TSE, I’ve made a point to withhold those reviews until an appropriate time.

Nevertheless, fuck TSE.

BJ

July 6, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 4:40 pm
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If you liked Wanted, you’ll enjoy this movie from the same director, Timur Bekmambetov. What was especially noteworthy were all the fight scenes, and the kills–like in The Raid: Redemption–were all cool and refreshingly unique – all via the almighty axe. It’s what I expect and get disappointed by in every other action movie for not being able to successfully provide this crucial piece of entertainment to the movie–you know, the action–and what I applaud Timur for achieving a visually stunning style.

Notable performances: Dominic Cooper as Abraham Lincoln’s buddy, and the lovely Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) as Mary Todd Lincoln.

A serious movie, highly entertaining and looking forward to Wanted 2 moving forward, after Timur stated just a few weeks ago it’s picking up steam again without Angelina Jolie.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.5
What it should be: 7.0

Consider

BJ

July 5, 2012

Ridiculousness pt. 2

Have you actually seen some of the contributions you can make on the CA state tax return? Here’s just a few of the absurd ones.

California Sea Otter Fund
Municipal Shelter-Spay Neuter Fund
Arts Council Fund

Arts Council? What does that even mean? There’s a group of people who decide and act on the arts [and crafts] of the state of California?

On a serious note, in May, another case involving the controversial “stand your ground” law in Florida arose in a hypocritical take on George Zimmerman‘s case. Marissa Alexander, like Zimmerman, could’ve fled the scene yet Zimmerman is using the “stand your ground” defense while Alexander had her right thrown out by the judge. Instead, the mother of three with a master’s degree will go down for doing 20 years for simply firing a warning shot in her house at her husband, who she had a restraining order against and felt threatened by.

See, the state also has a controversial “10-20-life” law, which works as follows. “Anyone who shows a gun in the commission of certain felonies gets an automatic 10 years in prison. Fire the gun, and it’s an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone, and it’s 25 years to life.”

Even the state legislator who drew up the bill disagrees with its effect in this case. What did you expect when you wrote out the “20” part? It’s way too forward and allows no exceptions. You just ruined someone’s life – all in 12 minutes of jury deliberations.

The point of this is it’s crazy how different all of the states are, even though we as a country try to give the impression that we are one. Committing the same crime in different states can have vastly different consequences, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. One last point…

And they say California’s a terrible place to live.

Check out the article here.

Going from ending lives to ending friendships, my dad had the awesomest story that I had to share. He had dinner with some friends, including his divorced friend and his new much-younger girlfriend, and this man ended up picking up the bill.

A week later, my dad gets a call from this friend, who goes on a minute-long rant about how my dad didn’t call him to thank him for dinner and that he doesn’t need a friend like him. Let me remind you that these men are in their late 50’s, and there’s just no place for that even in my 20’s. My dad wasn’t even able to get out a word before he was hung up on, but he probably wouldn’t have said anything nice anyway.

I don’t think I need to say anything about how ridiculous this story is, but I will. Don’t be an emo bitch. And don’t be with one that’ll manipulate you into being a tactless human being. You think you’ve done the right thing by cutting off the friendship over that? Let me tell you, sir, you’ve done my dad a huge favor.

Hope he’s not sitting by the phone waiting for an apology.

BJ

July 3, 2012

Brave review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 12:32 am
Tags: ,

Just from watching the previews, my friends and I were duped into thinking this movie was entirely about something else. And I’m sure millions others were too. I didn’t even know the movie was about a curse, which isn’t at all shown in the trailer, although I now see that on its IMDb page. But I’m positive they kept the specifics of the curse under wraps because adults wouldn’t watch this silly story if they knew what it was really about. I had a strong urge to just spill its guts right now, being that you find out what it is 20 minutes in, and when the rest of the movie is about that, it’s not really a secret. But I’ll refrain from doing so for those who haven’t watched it and don’t want to know.

As dark and mature as it seems and as people say it is, I couldn’t disagree more. It didn’t even compare on an emotional level to the likes of Up and Toy Story 3. Not even close. After an extravagant setup of the kingdom of Scotland, the way the story turned was utterly disappointing.

I agree wholeheartedly with Roger Ebert, who said “The good news is that the kids will probably love it, and the bad news is that parents will be disappointed if they’re hoping for another Pixar groundbreaker.” It’s more Disney than Pixar in its first fairy tale film, and while it’s a very good movie for what it is, if you’re looking for another Pixar classic, I strongly urge you to skip it in the theaters because it’s nothing like what Pixar’s adult fans expect.

True target age range: 4-13. To put it another way, this movie is for kids.

I was a little irritated by Merida’s voice, played by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald after Reese Witherspoon was originally cast. I’m curious to know how Witherspoon’s Scottish accent would’ve been.

A nice moralistic tale about mothers and daughters, but hardly with the same magic that its previous films have all brought.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 7.7
What it should be: 7.2

Consider

La Luna

This Oscar-nominated short was as low-key and unsatisfying as the feature. A novel idea with a mediocre ending; a notch below Day & Night. An unusually disappointing Pixar doubleheader for one with the highest of expectations.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 7.8
What it should be: 7.3

Consider

BJ

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