01 January 2019

RADIOACTIVE IMAGES

Random images sometimes gathered together for some other purpose and meant to be deleted but in the end are fairly share worthy.





10 December 2018

iPad SCREEN CAPTURES OF TAKASHI MIIKE'S AUDITION


Takashi Miike's 1999 crime/horror film Audition is without a doubt one of my favorite's of the genre. I am not going to do a review here but I may shortly as I recently rewatched the film and it seemed to leave a new impression on me. I have seen it about six times I am sure. I cannot say I really enjoyed most of the Miike films I watched. They had moments but in the end I prefer something with a more linear narrative. Many of his films are hard to follow storyline wise but Audition is not. In fact it a brilliant piece of filmmaking and storytelling but not an easy watch for most people. So I made some nifty screen captures on my iPad and some came out pretty good and I thought I might share them with the reader here.  I left the subtitles in as it can create a cool effect. If you have not seen the film and want to I advise not looking at them as they are set up in a sequential order and would most definitely add a spoiler effect to the viewing later. 






OPEN FOR LOTS MORE AUDITION SCREEN CAPTURES

21 November 2018

THE TARKOVSKY EXPERIMENT




I am not the biggest fan of what one might label "art house" films but not because I have not put in many long hours trying to be. Especially during my ten years in Seattle I watched quite a few such films as they were so readily available there. Saw some in the cozy little theaters they have there that seat maybe 20 or 30 desperate souls. Many I even rented on VHS from the legendary Scarecrow Video store. A lot of stuff I liked, such as SOME films by Fellini, Truffaut, Bergman, and Kurosawa. I emphasize the word some, because I did not like a lot of stuff by those guys and the films I liked tended to be more linear in narrative style. Some other directors like Jordorowsky, Terrence Malick and Wim Wenders did not appeal much to me though they have at least one film I liked. However, longer is the list of these "avant-garde" auteurs that I have never seen a single film by. One person on that long list of filmmakers, whom to many is the epitome of high brow cinema, is Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.  I often find him to the fist name dropped by people who can either be called, flatteringly, film connoisseurs, or, insultingly, film snobs. These are people who know and appreciate "real" cinema. Like a foodie know good food. Of course one has to be honest that there exists a type of reverse snobbism as well. Where people who tend to like more popular or even low brow fare like to insult and ridicule people who favor the "finer films in life". I guess I would have to fall into this latter category, but I want to point out I served in my time in the art house trenches. I tried my best and yet in the end found myself often trying to attach meaning and significance to films that really seemed simply like poor film making in the end. Bad camera work for the most part, poor acting and poor editing. Not in all cases. But in quite a few. Gilded lilies at best. And in the end many so called art house films to me have a big problem in that they lack a linear story line that is somehow or another resolved by the film's end. This is important to me, especially if a film is like three fucking hours long! And two hours of that is hot in one room!!!  When the film connoisseur tries to defend the work they can reveal their near misanthropic disdain for the common film buff's lack of philosophical and intellectual depth. They may say something like "each scene is a metaphor for something deeper" and the common film buff may be left wondering, rightfully, what the hell that even means. It means nothing of course. It means they don't know what it means either. But in "art" something can have no meaning and yet mean something.

Okay, this is not a real Tarkovsky qoute. This is one of my clever, witty little memes that really pissed off a couple film snobs in a Facebook group. Truth can be painful folks.

So I have decided to watch three Andrei Tarkovsky films I downloaded from the film site Karagarga because I want to little by little close out my account there. It is too hard to maintain a good ratio on just seeding alone and I no longer rip DVDs and upload them like I did years ago. This begins my process of getting some films from there regardless of the impact on my once good ratio. I have actually never seen a Tarkovsky film and I will try to go into the viewing with an open mind. Like trying a new food. One has to put  the new food in his mouth and chew it and try a couple swallows first. Unless you live in China like I do, and sometimes the food comes flying out quickly. I will try the films Solaris, Mirror and Stalker. My wife just watched Stalker and I will wait to share her opinion on it until I have seen it myself. I did watch some of the film with her and my curiosity was piqued a little. I did not watch the film with her as she is Chinese and so she watched the Russian version with Chinese subs. I may well be at a time in life when some of these film may appeal to me a little more than when I was younger. But I equally may well not like them in the least. One way or the other I will write up a post here when the Tarkovsky Experiment is finished, in a week or two. I will not claim I liked them if I do not just to appear smart or refined, and conversely I will not dismiss them if I liked them just to sound hip and cool.

This quote however is real. But I think it is basically saying the 
same thing my wise ass meme above is saying. 

11 November 2018

A NEW - AND YET OLD - DIRECTION FOR THE URANIUM CAFE



When I started this blog way back whenever that was the focus was older horror and sci-fi, old exploitation style films, foreign films (usually older) and a few older movies that have had a lasting impact on me. Somewhere I got detoured and began doing more and more newer stuff. And that may well be okay if not for the fact I find myself really not liking anything anymore that is new. Well, I honestly cannot say I do not like anything new anymore tan I like everything that is old. A lot of old stuff is simply horrid. But I have grown sick of the over the top elements of newer films. I will give two quick examples of movies that left me uneasy lately: Terrifier and Wolf Creek 2. I just found them to be repulsive and I have never been a fan of ultra-violent films, the so called cinema of the extreme, like A Serbian Film or Irreversible. Even more excruciating than those films is when some "film critic" on Youtube reviews Irreversible and uses a french accent every time he says the word. And I have never seen the film and never will. I do not think it is too hard to make people feel uneasy or revolted. I would say that is the easiest thing to do. And I just do not want to explore those types of films any longer, either in viewing or writing. I am not anti-violence or even gore to some degree, but extreme cinema and torture porn type films are no longer my cup of tea. 

I will be returning to the types of films I enjoy writing about at least even if I do not always enjoy the total viewing experience. I will be sharing more old Japanese films and Mexican wrestling movies here, and giant bug movies and classic psychotronic fare. My period of trying to modernize the content is, for the most part, over. I may write some articles on the subject matter itself, like why I hate films like Terrifier. But I will not be reviewing those sorts of films any longer. Because I loathe them and see no reason why I should not. I will not review or write about movies the way I used to should you decided to check back to some of my early posts. Those posts were rather long and researched and often contained a lot of spoilers. I will go more for an over view these days and write no more than, let's say, a page and a half of a Word Document file. Thats enough. I may mention whether or not I liked the film and if it s real stinker I may suggest passing on it all together but will not tear it apart too much as I am prone to do with newer films. I will start with my next post and have no idea what it will be, but it will be before the 90's for sure. 


04 November 2018

TV SHOWS/DAREDEVIL



So I actually like the Daredevil TV series from Marvel and Netflix. There are a couple little problems I will mention but they are far from deal breakers. And while I am on the topic of Daredevil I will say I did not hate the 2003 movie version with Ben Affleck though most people seem to really give it a hard time. But lets not dwell on that. The comic book of Daredevil when I bought it (during the early 70's) was drawn mostly by Gene Colan with some issues drawn by Bill Everett. I was never a super fan of Colan's work but I loved Bill Everett. Everett has a lot of writing credits on the show and I think that is great though I am not sure whether he actually wrote anything or is given credit for story ideas from the original comic books. The character in the days I bought comic book (when it was about 15 cents) was not so dark as the one he evolved into later, becoming a sort of Marvel version of Batman's "Dark Knight" persona. The character had marginal super powers was a sort of an outsider and seemed a bit apart from the rest of the Marvel superheroes. I seldom recall him teaming up with other characters like Captain America or Spiderman. He was not Avenger material. And the TV show seems to capture that aspect of his personality. Daredevil/Matt Murdock is played pretty darn well by Charlie Cox. He is in great shape as Daredevil and as Matt Murdock the blind, sympathetic lawyer he is equally convincing. So far in my viewing he has dealt with Wilson Fisk (I am assuming he is King Pin from the comic books) and now he is scrapping with Frank Castle (The Punisher), played by Jon Bernthal. Elektra has entered the drama and I know from reading ahead that Dex will be introduced soon. As allies he is partnered up with law associates and friends Karen Page and Foggy Nelson. 



What I like about the series is the dark mood and eye to detail in the shots and scenes. The camera work is really exceptional. The fight scenes are never boring. Rather bloody and violent and super fast paced. I quit watching Iron Fist because I found the kung fu sequences to be pretty weak and dull. But here they are carefully choreographed and shot to near perfection. In one recent episode there is an almost single shot sequence where Daredevil fights a bunch of Irish mobsters as he goes down a staircase  and it is simply of the highest calibre of filmmaking. The acting for the most part is pretty good as is the most of the dialog. Of course there is some padding here and there and some parts drag on a little longer than necessary, but for the most part (not 100%) I can handle it. And I will mention that Matt Murdock has a hell of a work ethic. He gets his ass beat, shot and stabbed the night before and for the most part misses a lot less time on the job than I ever did in my prime. I will watch it as long as it stays on the air so that is as good a recommendation i can give to a TV show. Iron Fist didn't make it too long with me and I can explore that in another post. TV shows are not like a movie. In a movie you may have to lose, if you choose, ninety minutes to two hours of your time. A TV series requires more of a commitment. I had read that Netflix may even pull the plug on the series after season three but I hope not. 



I have a couple problems and will mention them just because I like to talk about things I don't like. One problem I have is the use now and then (not all the time) of shaky cam work. Usually when two or more people are in a room talking. I hate shaky cam work. I just hate it, but I hate it more when it is a situation where a steady cam seems the only option. In a fight sequence or battle scene (like the beginning of Saving Private Ryan) it can work. But in a room with two people talking I do not want to be reminded there is a hungover guy walking around with a hand held camera. I also feel like some of those talking scenes go on a bit too long. Like, way too long. In fact last night I just could not take a scene where Frank Castle is opening up to Daredevil on top of a building about the roots of his anger. Good grief it just went on and on. I even began to click the advance scene button on my video player, moving it forward ten seconds. And it just kept clicking and clicking! Maybe they don't have another scene to cut back and forth to or something, but it just has the feeling of gratuitous padding. "We need to fill in five minutes of film time here folks, so... ah...talk a lot." I do find myself skipping forward during some of these type of scenes. Another small peeve I have is about the shapely Karen Page character. Seems every time Foggy or Matt makes a piercing legal pint to an opposing member of the legal community the camera pans to Karen and shows her snickering and gloating in the background. I really is a cheap shot in terms of laying out the scene's message and does not look professional at all. It has happened so far three or four times and it just does not fit in with how the characters should be evolving or whatever it is characters do. But she's pretty hot in those office dresses so I can let it slide. (NOTE: A few episodes later and this issue with Karen snickering and smirking while Foggy or Matt is talking some heavy duty law stuff to the DA or whomever is still going on. Really annoying.)

And the last thing that bothers me, and bothers me the most, is the character of Foggy Nelson. Not only does actor Elden Henson annoy me whenever he is on screen but Foggy seems to be the most poorly written character of the show. His shaggy long hair, pot belly and baggy pants and attempts at comic relief are just off putting. It is as if the writers and director and Henson himself decided they would try to recreate one of those goofy sidekicks from the old matinee movies whose sole function is to make the hero look even better. Even worse are scenes where he becomes serious and emotional, or even tough. He is a necessary character and the comic book character was a tad slovenly as well with his bad suits and bow tie. But to be honest I do not think this actor pulls off whatever it is he is trying to do with the character.

One cannot have everything the way they want it in life and I can live with one irritating character and a few quirks in an otherwise well made TV adaptation of one of my favorite Marvel comic book superheroes.



31 October 2018

07 October 2018

TV SHOWS/MINDHUNTER


I thought I would do a few posts on some TV shows I have watched, or tried to watch, either recently or in the past year or two. Now I must make a couple things clear. I live in China and so none of these play on either Chinese TV or Chinese streaming services. I have to download them and I tend to binge on an entire season at a time or in some cases (like the current Better Call Saul episodes) I download online as they come out and watch them week to week. I also tend to not even know what is playing or what new shows are coming out. I do not scour the web that often looking for movies or TV shows. I find out about things from other people's blogs or from some place like IMDb. And I probably will not get into who the actors are since I usually do not care about the names of most TV actors. In some cases I do, but usually I don't care. They become something like "the guy who played the skinny genius on Criminal Minds".

So, with that as a background let me get to the first show here. It is Mindhunter from Netflix and I will assume that this show needs little introduction as it is considered super popular. Its what everybody at the water cooler is talking about these days. It is rated really high on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. But guess what? I didn't like it. I got sucked into It because David Fincher's name was attached to it so I figured it couldn't be too bad. To have the name of a renowned director like that involved in the project surely guaranteed success. Then I remembered goddamned Twin Peaks.

Mindhunter's general premise is the development of the FBI's serial killer profiler section back in the 70's. The storyline here is fictional but it is a compelling premise nonetheless. I have read loads of serial killer books in my life (comes from spending ten years in the Pacific Northwest) and so the names of the killers were familiar as were many of the terms. Of course for some reason the development of the department is met with detective show cliché resistance from superiors and in true form of newer crime shows at least one of the team will be a sexy, powerful and sophisticated female. All of this is okay. If these were obstacles I could not watch anything. The first two episodes directed by Fincher were nice looking (and I understand he directed the last two episodes of season one as well, but I did not make it that far) but one could really tell when he was not helming the camera and direction. The other directors were okay but they were not David Fincher. But even with that the first two episodes were really slow. Like, really fucking slow. And therein, along with a couple other issues, lies the paramount problem for me. The mood of every episode was just… well… boring. I kept waiting for things to get developed and move along. Even the interviews with infamous serial killers were dull and contrived.  The FBI interviewers employed all the routines, from good cop bad cop to  sympathizing with and even buddying up to the killers. But it was dull to me. Unless shifty eye glances is exciting. Okay, one sick ass guy whacked off on a high heel shoe. That was riveting I guess. I was looking forward to it all but I gave up on the series at about episode six or seven I think.


If you stare long and hard into the abyss 
you know what stares back? High ratings!

The series also had a social justice laden agenda against white men and I sensed a theme being espoused was that all men (especially white, straight  ones) were innately misogynistic an dangerous animals. The series seem to moving in a direction showing the similarities between the two male FBI agents and the killers they were interviewing. Like when the FBI guy looks in the mirror, maybe he sees a rapist killer looking back! Holy shit! It is so thought provoking. I also took issues with other obvious social justice messages that were progressively anti-American. For example the remark about (referring to Richard Nixon directly but methinks Donald Trump by way of "clever" innuendo) how could a person be the President of the USA and not be a sociopath. What? The? Fuck? And I also did not get into odd remarks about serial killers being the sick by products of a sick society. How can you not have serial killers in a decadent culture like America that spawns such confusing issues as the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War and (of course) Watergate. The young white FBI agents in training are painted as misogynistic, homophobic racists. Give me a break.I felt I was being clubbed over the head every episode with one message after the other.

I wanted to see serial killer drama and suspense, not another liberal Hollywood critique on evil white guys and conservative politics. And hell, I could have accepted that even. But the long drawn out scenes of people moping and brooding and being sour like a pack of European existentialists was just to much. You know, they staring into the abyss and it is staring back. The scenes are all washed and dark out and the score is always bleak. Okay, I get it, I get it. Serial killers and rotting America and the fermenting evil in the hearts of men and so we need all this artsy dark photography and actionless acting. Yea, I get it. Maybe for a two hour one shot movie it may have worked, but not for a TV series. Not for me anyway. I seem to be in the aesthetically enlightened minority here and the other people who did not dig it seem to have the same gripes. Pretentious liberal messages. Anti-American (at least anti conservative America, as liberal pot head hippies are all portrayed in a more favorable light), anti-white male and simply BORING.  Seemed like my cup of tea at first but I had enough pretty early on.


Well, from this scene can you guess who wears the pants on this team.