19 July 2014

LIVING IN OBLIVION/1995/TOM DICILLO

LIVING IN OBLIVION

1995/Director: Tom DiCillo/Writer: Tom DiCillo

Cast: Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, James Le Gros, Peter Dinklage Peter Dinklage, Kevin Corrigan

The 90’s were the heyday of the independent film, when everyone with a 16mm camera and a few lights wanted to the next Tarantino. It was before entire movies were shot on video and like when there used to be magic to listening to vinyl there was still magic to trimming and editing actual film. And all an aspiring film auteur needed was a great script, some actors and some funding and he was on his way. Piece of cake right? Well, Tom Dicillo’s 2nd feature film Living in Oblivion takes a comical but painful look at the bleak realities of making an independent movie on a low budget, or in the actual case of this film where the actors worked for free and funded the film themselves, no budget indie film. Living in Oblivion tells the story of inspired and ambitious but essentially mediocre film director Nick Reve (played by one of my all time favorite actors Steve Buscemi, an icon of 90’s indie films if there ever was one) and his cast and crew and of just one day on the set trying to get through simple shot. The struggle is told from inside three different vignettes and a couple are from inside dreams. The shots seem simple enough and hardly occupy and length of film time, but sensitive and supportive is driven to emotional outbursts and minor breakdowns from the pressure he is et with constantly from difficult and egoistical actors, incompetent crew and faulty equipment that is constantly breaking down. Nick’s credo of “roll with it” is tested constantly and at times he is on the verge of just sacking the whole project in despair and frustration. But Nick is not the only one having a crisis on the set.

The film’s star Nicole (Catherine Keener, from Dicillo’s debut film Johnny Suede) has doubts about her acting ability and future in the film world. Her claim to fame so far is a shower scene in a Richard Gere film, and on top of that she is having conflicts with the film’s leading man Chad Palomino (James Le Gros from Drugstore Cowboy, Point Break and Singles) because they had a sex driven one night stand the night before. Palomino is the film’s big Hollywood name and while at first he seems gung ho and ready to rock the set, Nick, Nicole and crew are all soon at the mercy of his raging ego that seems to want to all the shots to be about his grinning face and the back of Nicole’s head. Cinematographer Wolf (Dermot Mulroney) is serious about his craft but is having life issues himself because girlfriend Wanda seems ready to ditch their relationship in exchange for a possible one nighter with Palomino. Dwarf actor Tito (Peter Dinklage in his first role) is none to happy with being cast as a dwarf in the film’s dream sequence. And just when things can’t seem to get any worse Nick’s addled minded mother escapes from the nursing home and shows up on the set.

The film was meant as a satire not only on the world of 90’s low budget indie films, but a bit of Dicillo’s personal interpretation of the issues making his first film Johnny Suede, a musical comedy starring Brad Pitt. As mentioned already Dicillo’s 2nd film, based an idea for a short, was almost not made either as he could not get funding for it but the actors were so into the project they agreed to work for free and even help put up money. People who help fund the film, including producers, were given roles in exchange for their support. I have not seen much written about this but the credits are totally clever and I will not say anything more to see if you can get the gag. Of all the film genres out there I have the hardest time enjoying comedies (except for chick flicks I guess) but this is my type of funny stuff. Buscemi is just great as Nick, as are everyone else in this well received little film that really not too many people have heard about. Now you have, so go check it out.

17 July 2014

CROSSED/COMIC BOOK

I recently began getting back into reading comic books here and there. Before I left Seattle for China I was still buying the occasional comic now and then and even when I could not afford them I would loiter suspiciously around the comic book store and thumb through the books that were not wrapped in plastic. For the most part after arriving to China my comic book world sort of ended. They do not do comic books in China except for a few manga or anime type things. Most of my students here have no idea really that Spiderman And Batman are characters in a comic book. When I say there is a zero comic book culture in China I shit you not. But I began collecting comics in digital format a few years back, and at such a rate I could not keep up with things. But I had issues with viewing them on a computer monitor, at least on my old one. They just looked weird. Now I have a snazzy new fangled wide, flat screen type and I am really impressed with the way the images look. Nothing like reading a real comic book of course, but I sadly have little choice here in China. And to be honest I use bittorrent sites (like The Pirate Bay and the recently resurrected Demonoid) and do not pay a penny for any of the stuff, so that is a good deal too.


Well, the focus of this post is one pretty freaked out (or fucked up actually) little series called Crossed, by original story arc writer Garth Ennis and artist Jacen Burrows. Later writer David Lapham and a series of artists revive the series with a new set of stories like Badlands and Pyschopath, but I have not gotten to them yet as I am only about half way through the first story. I cannot read a comic book if I do not like the drawings and that is that. And no problems in that department here. I like Burrows' style and I peeked ahead and like some of the later artists even more. It is finely detailed pen and ink work (Looks like some Photoshopping here and there as well, but that is still art... I guess) and some of the later stuff by Raulo Cacares reminds me of the work of underground cartoonist Rand Holmes (Harold Hedd and many of the old Death Rattle comics). The story is basically a post apocalyptic zombie type thing really, but the twist on the formula here is that the "zombies" are the infected type (not the return from the dead types) and they retain some dangerous degree of intelligence and can communicate even. They also use guns and drive cars. And they are a nasty lot, driven by the infection, which "brands" them with a cross pattern on their faces, to carry out the most unimaginable acts not only on the uninfected but on each other when they are bored. Of course there is the tattered group of survivors trying to get to Alaska who have to not only wrestle with the Crossed but with each other and themselves, in true zombie apocalypse fashion. I am telling you folks, this in not for everyone and I am a bit ashamed that it seems to be for me. I am posting some covers here and some art and the more intense stuff in in the "Read More" section. Maybe nothing to look at while eating lasagna okay.


14 July 2014

FROM NECROTIC CINEMA/TORMENTED/2009

This “slipped under the radar” British horror film by Jon Wright hit me in the hit places so well that I watched it twice in one week. Well, the first version I watched on a Chinese streaming site called PPTV had over 20 minutes of the film cut from it, including all the death scenes, and so I wanted to see what I may have missed, but that was not the only reason I rewatched it. The film is very well made on all fronts, including direction, editing, acting, and score. While not a perfect horror film in any sense, if there is really such a thing, the movie delivers all the goods using a pretty simple premise; bullied teenager returns from the dead to wreck havoc and revenge on his tormentors. It is never explained why he is able to return from the dead and there is no occult subplot (thank God) to muck up the storyline with. I have long felt too that British films in general deal with the whole social class issues better than their American counterparts, were the class struggle concerns are not as relevant or explored storylines. Seems a lot of films like this have come out in Britain since the late 50’s and the old b/w angry young man films of the 60’s are some of the best movies ever made. And there is some element of that class struggle in Tormented, though it is more amongst the members of some sort of elite prep school meaning most likely they all come from money. But here we have the more modern spin on things with the conflicts being between the upper preps and jocks, and the nerds and emos. But the film presents the conflict with elements of snooty British snobbery that you just do not find in American high school type dealing with the same themes. But to be clear, the movie is not really addressing any such issues on a deep level, anymore than it is addressing the problems with bullying. In fact that social issue things are not the reason I watch horror movies, not all. I watch horror movies for the tension and jolts, and to be quite frank, some blood and a bit of gore delivered in just the jut doses at just right time. And it is in that department that Tormented sits well with me. And as well as the horror and violence, it has some of that special dry British humor you either like or do not like, and which fortunately I like a lot when it is done right as it was in Shaun of the Dead. But Tormented is not meant as a spoof or parody of slasher or high school body count films, and while imbued with black humor and at times campiness the film over all takes itself pretty seriously. That can backfire on many horror films, but I do not think it does here despite a glitch or two every now and then.

Poor geeky fat kid Darren Mullet (Calvin Dean) is so bullied by the school’s popular crowd, led by pretty boy Bradley (Alex Pettyfer) that he is ultimately driven to commit suicide. He secretly holds a love for head girl Justin (played just right by Tuppence Middleton in her first role) and it is the last straw when she appears turns against him along with the gang of evil preppies. A party is help after Darrel’s funeral and Justine develops a quick romance with slightly nicer preppie dick head Alexis (Dimitri Leonidas) and soon Justine herself in with the popular crowd herself. There is basically one death and one deafening of an emo during the first half of the film, but the deaths start piling up quickly in the film’s second half, and they are a batch of grisly demises to say the least. The relationship between Justine and Alexis is actually handled rather well, and the role of asinine, spoiled Bradley is played to the hilt by Pettyfer. We do not see much of ghost/killer Darren or what happened with him and the bullies until later in the film, and as is often case you find yourself rooting for the bullied kid and hoping he gets all the bastards even if you have learned to like one or two of them. Does he get them all or not? I think you can check it out and find out for your self. It does have a twist of an ending, but not a ridiculous one that seems tacked on later in the editing room, the way many such slasher films end off these days. I saw another British bullying/suicide film recently as well called Truth or Dare and I want to review that one soon, maybe next, as there are some comparisons I want to make between this film and that one, and why I think this one worked better in the end, though truth or Dare verged on the edge of becoming a great horror/revenge movie. In closing I will say that I have not seen Tuppence Middleton (wow, I love that name) in anything else but and trying to find something. She was great in this one and was simply lovely to behold. The films listed for her on IMDB do not look at that great in a way and she certainly seems like a good actress able to do more than slasher material. I can recommend this film. If you are fan of slasher films with a bit of gore you will like it I think, and if you are not I doubt it will do much for you, but if you’re not why the hell are you reading this friggin’ blog in the first place?!

Note: At the end of this post and some others in the future you will see a banner link to my other blog Necrotic Cinema. Why am I doing that? A couple reasons. This site gets much more traffic than that one and I want to promote my modern horror movie reviews as well. Also, I just see no reason not to spice up this site too with somethings a little different now and then. Both sites need more maintenance and support and this is one way to do that. There was some thought about stopping the other site and merging the material here but I decided to keep it and do things this way for now. I am pandering and promoting my own material too so it is only a so so slimy thing to do. I hope one day my other site can get half the traffic each day this one does. Please support Necrotic Cinema with all the love and hugs you guys and gals have shown this site. 

This was originally posted at Necrotic Cinema
  http://necroticcinema.blogspot.com

13 July 2014

MIASMA INC./ORIGINAL MUSIC PROJECTS



THE MENDELBROT SET


HEADS OR TAILS


LIBER 777 (BOOK I)

My audio files at Internet Archives

13 June 2014

THE URANIUM CAFE PODCAST/EPISODE 08


The eighth Uranium Cafe Podcast. Almost two in one month! Testing out some new recording software yet again and hoping to resolve some issues with audio quality. An impromptu podcast that meanders more than a little. I do touch on my seeing the new X-Men movie and my feelings about the new Marvel movies. Seen too many movies recently to really focus on just one with this unrehearsed podcast. Kept it to about 30 minutes so it is  listenable in that regard. I really hate super long podcasts so I need to stop making them, like my last one was. One correction, I refer to a recent comic book about Stars Wars found in Shanghai as a "Japanese" comic and I should have said Chinese comic book. An obvious slip but in case you want to look this up online I want to make that clear.  Enjoy.


THE URANIUM CAFE PODCAST 08
DOWNLOAD AND/OR EMBED PODCAST AND OTHER AUDIO HERE



 Pictures of the wife and I at the new X-Men movie here in Kunming China.

06 June 2014

THE URANIUM CAFE VIDEO CAPTURE COLLECTION/LOVE FOR AN IDIOT (CHIJIN NO AI)

Well I got so excited about uploading some of these old screen captures that have been sitting on my hard drive for so long I thought I would do one more post. And there are the screen captures for the film Chijin No Ai, or Love for an Idiot as it is usually translated. This is a 1967 movie by Japanese director Yasuzo Masumuro and starring as the Lolitaesque Naomi (the name of the book by Junichiro Tanizaki) is the waifish but equally antagonistic Michiyo Okusu. I really developed a connection with film over time. I feel it kept pretty close to the book and recreated the bedroom scene (you'll now what I mean if you watch it) as well as it was laid out in the novel. I picked this up here in China on DVD while I was living up in Jilin City (not too far south from Siberia and North Korea) and was distressed that it did not have English subtitles. It was in Japanese with Chinese subtitles and i held on to it. Fast forward a few years and I am ripping DVDs and even ripping subtitles from DVDs for use with video files I am uploading to Cinemageddon and The Horror Charnel. I even tried a few at Karagarga but those uppity bastards pissed me off so I stopped dealing with them. Ripping subtitles in some sort of Roman character font (like English) is one thing, and it is nerve racking enough,  but it really cannot be done using Chinese characters. You are trying to go from the DVD subtitle file to something called an srt file and it is impossible basically using Chinese characters. I won't get into why, but just trust me. However I was able to get the time stamps in the srt file, the little sections where the dialog begins and ends for each person. This is really important and time saving. My wife is Chinese and we sat down to the task of her translating the Chinese into a rough English and me polishing up her sentences with my rather conservative but still colorful style of English. 

That was a job in itself as my wife and I do not always cooperate without conflicts on things like this, but the job got done eventually and it was quite the hit for a while at CG. A guy with more ripping savvy than I was able to add the subtitles to a DVD version and another chap really polished up my AVI file. It is my most downloaded upload over there and if you have an account there or want to get one (they are still an open private tracker but with strict rules as far ratios go) you can get the file from here:


It links from there to the DVD version as well I am sure. A few typos got past past me and I have since corrected those on my own private version and a while back some friends and my wife and I watched it together and it really is a nice film. BTW this is the first time the film has been translated into English and so it is a semi-historic moment. I beat the big studios to it. Now on to those screen captures.




THE URANIUM CAFE VIDEO CAPTURE COLLECTION/A CHINESE TORTURE CHAMBERSTORY




I have lots of cool videos captures I need to share here. I started this project a while back but actually forgot all about it. These come from a couple sources. Captures I made for post reviews (which I tend not to do really any more and rely on found images on the net for a few reasons I may discuss another time) and captures I made for BT sites like Cinemageddon, where I think I uploaded about 80 movies there over a period of time. I do not do that stuff anymore but may get back into it. The high point in my uploading career came for me when I uploaded a version of Masumura's Love of an Idiot (Chijin No Ai and vidcaps of that will be coming) and my wife and I collaborated on the subtitles, and it was the first time the film had ever been subbed into English.  It was, as I said, my high point in myuploading endevours and the only reason I would do any upping these days is to simply maintain my ratio. But in the process of all of this I have lots and lots of video captures I made for promoting the video quality at CG or for a post here at the UCafe. And those days of original screen shots may well over here as it is too much work really and I am not sure the effort is appreciated (I'm a sensitive guy anymore) so I can put that time and energy into something else. This post features captures from the really not too good Golden Harvest interpretation of a Chinese folk story about Xiao Bai Cai ( literally Little Cabbage), an adulterous young girl and the torture inflicted on her and her lover. There are some other stories mixed in as well but I really did not follow much of what was going on. I upped these to Cinemageddon as full DVDs to boost my ratio during a free leech period basically. But I think a lot of people, like me, like looking over video captures. They should be in chronological order as far as the story line goes. More coming soon.

16 May 2014

TORMENTED/1960/BERT I. GORDON

TORMENTED
1960/Director: Bert I. Gordon/Writers: Bert I. Gordon (story), George Worthing Yates (screenplay)
Cast: Richard Carlson, Susan Gordon, Lugene Sanders

I mostly, actually only, know Bert I. Gordon for his AIP giant bugs or giant people movies. In fact until I watched Tormented the other night I did not know he did any pictures outside the giant themed ones that earned him the title Mr. B.I.G. (get it? B.I.G. = Bert I. Gordon?). I watched the MST3K version of this film in the manner I watch a lot of movies recently, on my iPad using a media player that will play AVI, MKV or MP4 files. I guess some flicks like this are a little more easy to digest in the Mystery Science format and Gordon has the dubious distinction of having the most films by a single director being done up by either Joel or Mike and the bots. Eight in total. I just saw Village of the Giants ala MST3K not long ago too and plan on writing about that someday, but thought I would mention 1960’s Tormented as it struck me as a bit of an oddity for Gordon. I feel Bert I. Gordon wanted so bad to be a special effects wizard though most of his attempts have come to be regarded as rather hokey and sub-par as time has gone on. Lessons in how not to do special effects. But his movies tend to have a fan base of cheesy film lovers (like myself) and for the most part still remain popular with the so bad it's good movie crowd.

Tormented was Gordon’s first (but not last) venture away from the sci-fi themed giant bug and people films that he made for AIP during the 50’s. It is a big leap away really and into the relatively unexplored genre –for the time at least in American horror- of the basic ghost story. There had been haunted house movies and even a few ghost stories before of course but it was still a area not much covered much by 1960 really. The film stars Richard Carlson (It Came from Outerspace, Creature from the Black Lagoon) as jazz pianist Tom Stewart who becomes nvolved in murder one night while meeting his secret lover. Tom actually does not murder his mistress, but rather does not rescue her after she dangles from a lighthouse after fallings through an old rusty, broken railing. Tom is engaged to be married and soon the ghost of Vi (Juli Reding who, by the way, had some nude scenes included in the European release and I hope I can find that one day) is haunting him and tormenting him, assuring him nobody else will ever have him. Along with his fiancée is a pesky kid named Sandy (played by Gordan’s own daughter Susan) who seems to be in every other scene and a hip talking beatnik blackmailer named Nik (Joe Turkel,  Dr. Tyrell in Blade Runner), whose character provided for some of the best jokes by the MST3K crew. I do not know much about how special effects are done, but most here seem to be low budget uses of things like rear projection and traveling mattes. Many of these things looked pretty weak in those days outside the way a few special effects giants like Ray Harryhausen used them along with other things like stop motion photography and detailed puppet making. I think Bert I. Gordon really wanted to do things like that but just wound up doing camp classics Cyclops and The Amazing Colossal Man instead.

In Tormented he does try to get away from all of that -and deserves some creative risk taking credit I guess- and plays with a story of a guilt ridden man whose conscience is his real tormenter. The direction and photography (by the actually very good and Oscar nominated many times over Ernst Lazslo, cinematographer for films like D.O.A., Stalag 17, Vera Cruz and The Fantastic Voyage) are none too exciting. Thes tory drags and lacks any suspense or tension.  The effects are unintentionally comical at times, and yet the movies is not to be totally written off. It is an attempt at doing an atmospheric ghost story -though it fails miserably in this department, sorry Bert- at a time when such stories were not really being done in American films. The ghost story then was more a product of the classic Japanese studios -and those were great stories and films- and of course the Gothic horror out of Europe, and I might take an uneducated guess and say out of Italy in particular. For some reason I can’t help but feel maybe Robert Zemeckis may have been somewhat influenced by this for his 2000 film What Lies Beneath. Maybe or maybe not, but I thought of that film a couple times while watching this one. If you are fan of Mr. B.I.G. (not the Paul Gilbert band) and American International Pictures in general I think you may want to check this one out. You can do the MST3K version to be safe and it is on Youtube as of this writing. I like the guy's stuff myself and do not take it all too seriously. Just good clean fun.


03 May 2014

THE DOORS/WHEN YOU'RE STRANGE/WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE GOLD MINE

A couple interesting Doors related items came my way over the last week or two. Been a fan of the The Dorrs before I even knew who they were. It would have been about late 1970 or early 1971 and I used to lie in bed at night with a crappy clock radio with a dimly lit dial that you could only find AM stations on waiting to hear a few songs I really liked before I could fall off asleep. One of those was Riders on the Storm from The Door’s last album LA  Woman. I had no idea who The Doors were or even what FM radio was. But I just remember hearing some crooning voice moaning about a twisted highway killer’s brain “squirming like a toad’s” and I thought to myself, “yea, this is my type of music!” I was maybe 11 years old. Well of course later I learned more abut them and Jim Morrison. I vaguely remember news about Jim Morrison dying, the way I remember The Beatles breaking up. I have since always had all their stuff either on vinyl, CD or, now, on MP3 and am listening to Morrison Hotel now as I type this out. One things that was really cool about The Doors was that they go back to 1965 actually with their wild songs and stage shows that really no one else was doing anything similar to, including bad boys The Rolling Stones.They were doing long 7 and even 10 minute songs before Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Yes made it all common place.  And Jim Morrison was the true tortured, poet rock star who did not really want to be a rock star and who burned out way too early in life. 

Well a lot of that wild energy is captured now in a documentary by writer/director Tom DeCillo (Johnny Suede, Living in Oblivion, Delirious) and narrated by Johnny Depp. In fact I had this film before and it was dubbed in Dutch or something so I deleted it. I read DeCillo had did the original narration but audiences just hated his monotone voice and so later Depp was hired to do the chores and his voice is fitting to tell the tale of the The Doors and their gifted but more than slightly troubled lead singer. Most of the footage here has never been seen before and it was awesome to behold, and in particular the shots with Jim Morrison in his different moods, from playful and comical, to drunk, drugged and burned out, to a little more than crazy and dangerous. Plenty of scenes as well with the three gifted musicians who made up the band as well, John Densmore, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek. The band members give their approval to this documentary, something they did not do with the Oliver Stone biopic The Doors, claiming it made Morrison into an unlikable ass and monster and never showed his kinder and gentle side as well. There is not much one can say other than if you’re a Doors fan you have to see it. It basically follows the band from before the first album and their rise to fame fortune and troubles onto the end where Morrison dies in a bathtub in Paris France. This footage is just fantastic, I assure you. 


The other item is a small note really, but I managed to find a copy of Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine, an early greatest hits compilation that is being circulated once again on BT sites. A far as I know this has not been released on CD and the version I have is a vinyl rip but of great quality and sound. I am looking at a vinyl version on Amazon now selling for $299.99. One left in stock! Well, why this album is so special to me is that it was a gift from my late cousin Brent back in San Antonio, who tried to convince me there was more to music than Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. I did not really know who The Doors were in the mid-70's and this  album was my introdustion to their music. I did not know they were the guys who did Riders on the Storm and that was it for me! Brent opened me up to a lot of music (sorry, still hate Mott the Hoople though) and sadly he is no longer with us. I had this double LP on vinyl until I left for China in 2004. Lot of hits albums for The Doors but this one is considered one of the rarer and cooler ones and if you know how to do bittorrents you can find it.  Or buy one on amazon for $300. All I can say is this is just great music, still to this day  from a unique American band at a time when the British Invasion was taking off. Dark and deviant but also delicate and innocent at times.



02 May 2014

FROM NECROTIC CINEMA/THE FOLLOWING


I like watching TV shows when I can get them to stream on my iPad here in China, as that is only one of three ways I can see any real TV here. There are no American or foreign shows to mention of here in China. Okay, they have Sponge Bob I think. All TV programming is done by the communist party and the only network is CCTV and the local variations on it that are still the same thing -news reports about perfect China is- but with specialty shows on local tourist attractions or food  basically. CCTV really sucks and I never watch it really unless I am holed up in a hotel somewhere and bored shitless. There is some outside programming and in particular the soap operas from South Korea are popular here, but the commie government deems them as a threat to something  like a harmonious society too and they too are getting restricted more and more. So the other options are these; 1) Buy the full season on pirated DVD discs. The episodes are ripped from HD TV recorders or whatever it is that captures them and complied onto a diskc after a season completes. Problem is DVD stores here are getting fewer and far between and the quality can really be bad at times, especially the audio. I hardly buy DVDs here anymore as the quality is just getting poorer and poorer. I still get one now and then, but the newer option has become 2) streaming movies and TV. I have to correct myself and say that I discovered most of the movies and TV shows they show here (not all) are not actually pirated. The streaming companies here like PPTV, TuDou, AiQiYi and SoHu (to name only a few) pay big bucks to outside suppliers or distributers to use the shows legally and so advertise over them legally. A big commercial here lately is one with Brad Pitt promoting a car. Yea, Brad Pitt did a Chinese TV commercial and I saw a Johnny Depp on a billboard advertisemtn the other for a car. For the streaming sites to legally use that commercial the programming itself should be legal too or there can be issues. I found out a lot about this recently when The Big Bang Theory was banned in China and all streaming sites (like the above ones) was ordered that they must stop showing this subversive show immediately or face serious consequences. Why is Big Bang subversive? Who knows. The government here only has to say it is. Or not say anything other than “take it down” and that is it.

But there can be other problems with streaming TV here as well. And a big one is the lousy ass Chinese Internet. I read somewhere that China was developing a super high tech Internet that would be superior to anything in the US or Europe or South Korea. Well, maybe that is fine for the commie party fat cats who will have it and want to flaunt it and proclaim "we are better than thewest again!", but the rest of the people here, Chinese and foreign alike,  are all stuck  with ADSL type connections that are dial-up speed at best back in the States. For some things I manage quite well, but for watching movies and TV it can be hit or miss. Mostly miss here lately. The shows just stream so slow as to make them unwatchable. So that leaves one with the last option and that is 3) downloading via bittorrent type sites. I am good at this and used to be quite the ripper and uploader as well. I am able to find the shows, like Big Bang, and can even find Chinese subtitles (http://shooter.cn)  and pair them up with the AVI or MP4 file for my wife to follow. She can speak English but it can be hard to follow native speakers when they speak quickly, a problem I have trying to listen to Chinese native speakers to be sure. So subs help. And for the most part that is what I do to get shows and movies (I also download old movies from Youtube now and in MP4 but maybe more on that another time) but the glory days of bittorrents (R.I.P Demonoid) are over and I worry about all of that, but for now I get my TV shows via this method. My wife does not watch most of them really. She does not like cannibals and guys who wear masks made from the flesh of teenagers faces the way I do. Ah, go figure.

So here are a few shows I have been watching (or trying to watch) lately. Actually, only one show for this post as my intro went on a bit longer than I intended. Some new coffee beans, sorry. This show here I gave up on before the end of the first season. It is called The Following and is put out by FOX TV. It stars the reliable Kevin Bacon as burned-out  FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who is dragged in from retirement to seek out serial killer and cult leader Joe Carroll, played, I think, with tongue firmly in cheek by James Purefoy. The whole FBI/cop in retirement or semi-retirement because of of a dead partner or because they shot a kid with a water blaster one night in Compton being cajoled into returning to duty because they are the only one who can do it formula is getting pretty goddamned old to me. "I need the old Bladerunner." But Kevin Bacon handles it okay. I like the guy over all and the fact that a lot of the cool old movie actors from the 80’s and 90’s who are turning up in these TV shows now (like Kiefer Sutherland and Laurence Fishburne) is welcome to me. Those guys can still act better than the new generation and while they are not spring chickens they are still young enough to carry a good drama or action lead and even have a believable romantic relationship, but they are also old enough to be totally jaded and worn out with life and all it's bullshit. And Bacon’s Ryan Hardy is just that and an alcoholic to boot. I got pulled in to the first couple shows but soon got burned out with the strain on my suspension of disbelief with the continuous implausibility’s and plot holes. 

For one thing the entire premise is too unbelievable for me. That the character of Joe Carroll could be so charismatic and his followers so needy and easily misled and manipulated that they all could develop a murderous Charles Manson like family built around the writings of Edgar Allan Poe is not something I swallow easily. And not only that, but to develop the cult-family while Carroll is still in prison -and meets many of his followers via prison visits- for murdering some sorority girls one night takes it even further from the realm of believability. And that night not only finds Carroll doing a soroity house Ted Bundy routine but has him stabbing Ryan Hardly in the heart and  therefore having Hardly need a pacemaker implanted in his chest. The pacemaker thing seems totally unnecessary and leads to some goofy situations really later in the series, like where a female killer tortures hardy with some batteries she hovers over the pacemaker. And that is really only part of the issues for me. Hell I could handle that stuff. But it gets keeps get getting deeper and deeper in terms of what I can sit and accecpt. My malarky meter was always in the red.

That this cult could be so powerful that they have technology that is beyond the FBI’s is ridiculous. Carroll calls Hardy and taunts him constantly on some satellite but the dopey, stuck n the stone ages FBI can never trace the calls because the bad guys are so smart and organized and one step ahead of the cops and feds. But when a call is made from Hardy to Carroll’s ex-wife in a witness protection program -who Hardly loves but can’t commit to cos’ he is a distant brooding loner and he will just get her hurt in the end cos' everybody he loves dies... and, and she does die later- and a window of a few seconds opens up on the phone line security because of a virus the cult memebers put there and the feds can't get off  the killers trace the call immediately and are there as quickly with machine guns and armored vests shooting up everybody in broad daylight. The family also stays in a huge multi-million dollar mansion somewhere in Virginia or Delaware. This is a palace, and they can stay there because one of Carroll’s top followers is the local sheriff. As if being a local small town sheriff suddenly means you have access to places that look like Buckingham Palace. And that is another issue I had. The family is not located in the mountains of Idaho or the deserts of Southern California or some mountains in west Pakistan. They actually seem to staying about a twenty minute drive from the FBI headquarters and never get caught at anything until after the fact, and sometimes not even then. 

You never know who is or who is not a family member. Well, okay, after a while you do. Once you catch on it is a story gimmick that some of people you least suspect are members then you started getting the hang of figuring it out pretty quickly. Could it be the helpful cop or FBI agent next to you? Or the kind, committed gay couple next door? Or maybe your trusted nanny? Or even the friggin’ president of the United States himself! I don’t think I even finished the entire first season now that I think about it. I may have been thinking when I went into this that there would be different stories over the back story of Hardy’s tainted past and drinking problems and inability to love and trust and stay focused on his healing chakras. I thought it would be a profiler show like Criminal Minds. In Criminal Minds the back stories not explored deeply enough really (these new shows are only like 40 minutes long, compared to the 50 minutes old TV shows were, so you cannot explore too much as a commericial break is needed all the time) but there was not a stretched out over all the episodes connecting theme that focused on something as unplausible as an Edgar Allan Poe and a murder family built around his writings. I love Poe, but I cannot except the premise of a frenzied murder cult built around The Raven or The Tell Tale Heart. That’s like saying people today even read Poe that much. I have my doubts. And what about the local sheriff with the hillbilly accent? Am I to assume he is an avid Poe reader? I now Poe was asouthern gentlman and all himself, but I don't think the sheriff here is the type to get all sucked into a Poe cult.  Yes, one has to suspend disbelief to a degree for most any movie or TV show I know. There has to be plot holes in order for the story to move along briskly. People are going to do things they would not do in real life or no one is going to die or get kidnapped. But enough is enough. And in the end I just did not buy the villain enough to continue watching. Purefoy’s acting style and weird accent from another time and place just began to annoy me. And there was one last major problem; I was watching ths via streaming TV here and it got so slow I could not finish the last episode I watched. It did not intrigue me enough to download and finish it. Bad sign. I could possibly watch a few more if the streaming worked again, but I doubt I will download this odd little series.


Note: At the end of this post and some others in the future you will see a banner link to my other blog Necrotic Cinema. Why am I doing that? A couple reasons. This site gets much more traffic than that one and I want to promote my modern horror movie reviews as well. Also, I just see no reason not to spice up this site too with somethings a little different now and then. Both sites need more maintenance and support and this is one way to do that. There was some thought about stopping the other site and merging the material here but I decided to keep it and do things this way for now. I am pandering and promoting my own material too so it is only a so so slimy thing to do. I hope one day my other site can get half the traffic each day this one does. Please support Necrotic Cinema with all the love and hugs you guys and gals have shown this site.


TV show reviews coming up: Hannibal, American Horror Story,  Bones, Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory. Stay tuned!

This was originally posted at my other blog Necrotic Cinema
http://necroticcinema.blogspot.com