Archive | July, 2011

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Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Posted on 31 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Crazy, Stupid, Love.  I guess by the book, this is just another ensemble rom-com, but who wrote that book anyway!

I ventured out this evening for a double-duty date night…my wife and I were celebrating both our 6th anniversary and her 33rd birthday.  She’s not yet old enough that she can get mad at me for saying her age, but maybe the next few years we will still be celebrating her 33rd as well.  We’ll see what she thinks after reading this.

We had a great dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s…a great bit of fine dining at really decent prices.  Tracie, as it so happens, worked for Andrew McCormick, the younger McCormick in the namesake lineage to that restaurant empire.  City Tavern was the bar and San Francisco was the city.  That was, of course, before I rescued her and brought her to the great metropolitan area of Kansas City.  Maybe that last part is debatable within the household, but hey, I think it’s pretty great here, minus the ridiculous heat.

This was the second year in a row we made dinner and movie of her birthday.  Hey, I won’t ever fight it, you know me.  This is also the second year in a row we made our choice in flick a Julianne Moore film, with last year’s being The Kids Are Alright.  And even more suspect, this is the second year in a row that we caught a Julianne Moore film in which the major conflict is kicked into play when Julianne Moore’s character is unfaithful to her partner.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. begins with an introduction to a long married couple, Steve Carell’s Cal  and Moore’s Emily.  We learn through the film that they have been married for many years, in fact going back to age 15, this pair seemingly linked for life.  Soulmate is a term thrown around quite loosely in this one…not since Buying the Cow has it been as such…which, by the way, is a much more fun film than you would ever guess…Ryan Reynolds resembling the Berg that made him so loveable on that old Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place…also a great series…but lest I digress.

In the early moments of the film, Emily declares that she wants a divorce and soon after, that she has been unfaithful with a co-worker.

Cal sets out at first to drink and sulk his misery in the open court of a local bar.  When a local has grown tired of hearing cry into his vodka-cranberries, that local beckons him to his table and offers to help him reform himself to something resembling a desirable mate.

Said barfly is none other than Ryan Gosling’s Jacob.  Gosling is quite elusive as an actor.  He is acclaimed in most everything that he appears, and according to my wife, he is also strikingly handsome.  That’s okay, I think Emma Stone is quite adorable my darn self.  Ralph Garman and I can duke it out over her, if it comes down to it. (See also, SIR’s Hollywood Babble On)

Gosling makes it his mission to hip-ify Cal and he is quite successful in his mission.

The Cal tale is but one of three story arcs that intertwine.  You have Cal and his post-divorce misery.  You have Jacob and his man-whoring, a practice that comes to a screeching halt when he falls head over heels for one Emma Stone, playing a young lawyer come lately named Hannah.  And finally, you have young Robbie (Jonah Bobo), the 13 year son to Cal and Emily.  Young Robbie is in love you see, with the family babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton).

Oh how crazy and stupid love can be…hey, that would be a great name for a movie.

So the first hour of this flick was slower than I would have liked.  That said, it was still enjoyable, but just slow.  The last half was redemption for this slow burn.  This was a romantic comedy, of the darker variety, but there were some fantastic laugh out loud moments in that back half of the film.  One sequence in particular literally had us laughing to tears.

This particular sequence kicks off the third act and it was actually quite cliché, but that is what made it so wonderful.  It wasn’t a single cliché, in fact, it was about ten clichés in a matter of minutes.  One alone would have been predictable, but this scene in particular was a series of so many predictable possibilities, it was truly and literally hilarious.

This film is darker than your average rom-com and if not for the stellar cast, it may have had too depressing of overtones.  That cast also included Marisa Tomei, John Carroll Lynch, Josh Groban, and Kevin Bacon.  Bacon plays David Lindhagen, the antagonist of sorts, who is the co-worker with who Emily shared her marital indiscretion.  Bacon has played foil in Super, X-Men: First Class, and now this, and he has been lined up as the baddie in the big screen adaptation of the genre comic R.I.P.D.

We may hear the words David Lindhagen uttered on screen by Carell more than any other combination of words in the film.  Carell is born into a man obsessed and really, he and his son embody some of the obsessive behaviors that are born of a broken heart.  Hey, I let my lady get away from me once.  Is it obsessive to burn 40 mix-CD’s and mail them to her…that was her birthday in 2002.  Fortunately for me, things turned around and in addition to celebrating this birthday, as I said, it was our anniversary as well.

From the get-go, I was feeling this flick out as a 3 horn go, but as that second half unfolded, it became entrenched as a very solid 4 of 5 horn effort.  Great work to co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and a really fun story written by Dan Fogelman.

Thanks for a fun night gang and Happy Birthday/Happy Anniverasry deah.

Reel Rhino

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Cowboys and Aliens

Posted on 31 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Howdy folks!  Glad I can check in again so soon…maybe it’s the manly man in me, not wanting the Winnie the Pooh post to sit on the home page for too long…or maybe it’s the old softy in me, bringing it up again so soon.  That was a damn fine flick and whether for the entertainment of your kiddies or your own trip down memory lane…check it out!

What’s opening this weekend?  It’s a doozy of a wide-release weekend, with three biggies..

Cowboys and Aliens; The Smurfs; and Crazy, Stupid, Love.  I plan on hitting another post in the next day or so with a review of Crazy, Stupid, Love and Friends With Benefits.  Stay tuned for that…

…for now, for the sake of the Reel Rhino loyal, I braved an early departure from work to catch the latest from Jon Favreau, Cowboys and Aliens.

I know that as of this moment, C&A is sitting at a sub-par 44% at Rotten Tomatoes.  Let me tell you, that 44% is bunk.

This movie, bringing together Indiana Jones and James Bond, delivers on every level!  It is a unique adventure that successfully mixes the western and sci-fi genres in a way that perhaps only Favreau could pull off.  This is the man who humanized Iron Man…a property that in its first run, was adored by the masses, regardless of one’s preference for comic book fare.

Cowboys and Aliens tells the tale of a washed up gold mining town in the New Mexico Territory, whose sole successful businessman is the life blood of the town, but also a ruthless son-of-a-B.  That meanie is played by iconic Harrison Ford and goes by the name of Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde.  While he is seemingly ruthless, his son is a flat out ass, Percy Dolarhyde, played masterfully by the very talented Paul Dano.  PS…Harrison Ford is pure gold.  I’d watch him read the classifieds.  He channels a bit of Indy’s flair for adventure and a bit of Hans mean bastard with a heart of gold.  It is a memorable character for his resume, without question.

Enter our hero…we meet him left for dead in the desert, some bizarre bracelet on his wrist, his memory gone.  While he sits there and ponders his fate, three men on horseback approach.  We learn quite quickly how dangerous this memory-striped stranger may be.  The three men, as a sidenote, are portrayed by Buck, Matthew, and Taylor Cooper playing Wes, Luke, and Mose Claiborne…the Coopers, with patriarch Buck who is an old old school western character actor and his sons, two of the most talented stuntmen in Hollywood.  Favreau set out to authenticate this film as a Western first by including this trio, and it worked.

The stranger, Jake Lonergan, is an Americanized Daniel Craig who sports an accent that successfully sheds his British roots, but who keeps all the best aspects of his badass James Bond.

Lonergan makes waves quickly putting Percy, the town bully, square in his place.  Percy ends up in the clink for accidentally shooting a Deputy, and Lonergan ends up in there with him, once the Sheriff recognizes him from a wanted poster hanging at his office.  The problem for Lonergan, he has no idea what he is wanted for, as his memory of anything except the ability to kick ass, is gone.

Papa Dolarhyde comes to town to free his son and to take possession of Lonergan, who apparently among his past indiscretions, has wronged Dolarhyde in the form of robbing his stage coach of a load of gold.

All of this unfolds in the first 10 minutes, so worry not about this ruining your experience.  It is about at this point, that things take a turn for the weird.  A battery of alien aircraft approach the town and attack, killing some, taking others as prisoners.  It is also about this time that we learn more about that bracelet that old Lonergan is wearing (see also, the trailer for this flick).

Many citizens go missing and we are faced with the first challenge of the film.  Can Col. Dolarhyde work with Lonergan, putting their differences aside to save the townsfolk, and maybe find out something about what happened to him to cause his memory loss?

I will end my plot synopsis here, other than mentioning that the romantic interest in this film is wonderfully portrayed by Olivia Wilde…she is very much making a name for herself…Tron: Legacy, this, and the upcoming In Time, a sharp looking sci-fi flick that has a great premise.  And she is in talks to portray Linda Lovelace, in a biopic on the woman who would star in Deep Throat.  Wilde has piercing eyes, and so does Craig, for that matter.  When these two talk, its hard not to fall in love with the pair.  On the extreme close-ups, it almost feels like they are peering into your soul.

Favreau successfully sets this up as a Westerm, then integrates aspects of an alien invasion flick in a manner that seems believable and seemless.  We would be far more understanding of a real alien invasion these days, but in Western times, it is foreign beyond all understanding.

This film integrates Civil War time battle techniques, the tough life that existed in a true era of Cowboys and Indians, and the struggles that existed in frontier mining towns.  Supplement all of this with a great supporting cast with Keith Carradine, Sam Rockwell, and Clancy Brown and you have a real winner.

Favreau has honed his chops in CGI fare in the best set of films of the moment, laying a great foundation for The Avengers.  His work on Iron Man put him in a great place to film these daylight action scenes and let me tell you, these sequences are excellent.

I have heard the argument that the tone of this film shifts to wildly.  Yes, there are ups and downs, but that is what you get in a well-told story.  Ups and downs.  Maybe the problem is that we aren’t accustomed to successful high-concept, genre delivery.  Favreau delivers.

And much like I applauded the originality of Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch, I think that the originality of this high concept film is worthy of note.  The film is an adaptation of a graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley and was very much championed by Favreau from the get-go.

The screenplay was written by a casserole of talent in Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby.  Lindehof has some lineage in fantasy fair, having worked as a showrunner on Lost for sometime, and Kurtzman and Orci have given us a healthy dose of fantasy in the last few years, having created Fringe, whittled their teeth on Lost, and given us work in both the Transformers and Star Trek worlds.  With this kind of crew behind this film, I am not surprised I liked it so much.

For a fun day at the cinema, this may be the film for you…4 of 5 Horns from The Reel Rhino.

So what does Catfish, newly minted guest of The Reel Rhino, say about C&A?  Let’s see…

Admittedly I had genuine reservations about seeing Cowboys & Aliens.  This was truly a gamble.  This movie seemed to have the potential to entertain, but it had at least an equal opportunity of getting the Catfish “Chuck Barris gong”.  The intrigue, however, was enough to get me to the theater.

Daniel Craig was the main attraction in this movie.  I really like this guy in character.  He first caught my attention as the 007 of little words in Casino Royale.  Some say it’s blasphemy, but he quickly became my favorite James Bond.  He was cast perfectly for this role as alien fighting cowboy, Jake Lonergan.  He has an aura that does most of his speaking as his lines were just as scarce in this film as they were in his role as 007.  To his credit, I thought he pulled off an American accent quite well.  Then again, he didn’t have that many opportunities to butcher it.

The movie begins with Jake Lonergan waking up in the desert with basically no memory, a wound on his side, and an odd piece of metal on his wrist.  As things progress we see Jake piecing the puzzle together with the aid of the comely Ella Swenson played by real life hottie, Olivia Wilde.  We find that aliens have invaded Earth.  They plunder a valuable natural resource and steal humans for their devious studies.  Human enemies unite to fight a common foe – the aliens hell bent on conquering Earth.

For the most part I enjoyed this movie.  I liked Daniel Craig’s screen presence.  Colonel Dolarhyde (don’t call him Colonel) played by Harrison Ford was a good addition to the story.  The aliens were believable.  Noah Ringer’s role as of young Emmett Taggart wasn’t God-awful like his role as the Last Airbender last year.  Maybe with age and experience one’s acting skills improve.  There were, however, too many hackneyed scenes and story lines for my liking.  It was a bit convenient that multiple deaths were preceded by those final words of wisdom just before expiring in another’s supportive arms.  The tough S.O.B. is really a man with a heart of gold.  If this were a spoof I would have found those things amusing, but unless I missed something I don’t believe this was meant as a comedic piece.  Ella’s true nature didn’t sit well with me either, but then again, this was a movie about cowboys and aliens.

This film does have action and a storyline that should keep you interested.  The novelty alone is reason enough to roll the dice for a couple of hours of fun entertainment.

3 out of 5 Catfish Whiskers

Two comments, Catfish…

1)      Do you really need to prove you’re a super duper hetero male by talking about how hot each of the lead chickies are in these flicks we enjoy, and

2)      Do you really blame Noah Ringer for the God awful performance in The Last Airbender?  As a noted M. Night Shyamalan apologist, I put the blame for that trainwreck solely on his shoulders.

Oh, by the way, Olivia Wilde is smokin’ hot!  But Danial Craig is also one handsome chap…see Catfish, I can write for the ladies and the fellas…watch and learn, son…watch and learn.

Until later, happy movie going to all, and to all a good night…

Reel Rhino

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Swimming down Mee Chai Street

Posted on 30 July 2011 by ~baba

Rain Rain Rain… last few days whole trees have been floating down the Mekong along with dead animals and one body, massive flooding upstream. Last night it started raining, hard, very hard, trash bags were floating down the street and on my way home my bicycle got too deep to move forward anymore and I found myself swimming down the street, it was fun except for all the litter in the water. When I finally made it home half my room was wet, small leak in the roof above my space. The landlord had put several buckets and a sheet or something on the floor. I dried off as much as I could and got into bed, no fan that night, I was in a fetal position under the covers, a first for the Thailand experience. The room I’m in is a temporary one, on credit. My room at Mut Mee where I had been staying reached some credit limit even though I had an agreement to pay on the 4th when my SS was deposited. They renegged and kicked me out, keepin my passport. The place has a reputation for underhandedness and it’s deserved, I had little money and no place to stay. Fortunately the room I’m came about in conversation. The 4th I’m getting a NICE apartment with fridge, tv, HOT WATER!!!!, towels, sheets, all the stuff I don’t have. A fan is a little extra. I have alot of friends here, get invites for lunch, coffee all the time and try to bring some veggies, creamer, whatever to show my gratitude. The teaching job is over for now, they have fifteen volunteers scheduled to teach and only nine classes so three of us ‘residents’ are laid off for now, it’s actually a relief, teaching is easy but class prep work, lesson planning, copying, paperwork, is sorta like work.
My camera phone broke, my rowdy ex girlfriend called and when I opened it it came apart. I found another one for 680 baht, about $23US and am using that now, unfortunately there is no camera on the new phone so any photos will be older or borrowed with permission from owner from the internet. I’ll post again around the 4th when I can afford to get on a computer again…….baba

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My Week With Winnie

Posted on 28 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

No…not Winnie Cooper, my lover from a younger era…that dark haired vixen who eluded myself and Kevin Arnold and millions of other young boys across the country.  While she would be horrified to be objectified and would rather be doing math and diverting the innuendo to the other Danica…GO DADDY!  GO DADDY!  But my statement stands…I loved Winnie Cooper!

I am referred in the present sense to a different Winnie…more on that in a few lines.

My two weeks as a lone soldier have come and gone.  In 14 days I was able to take in 13 movies…not too shabby!

That did include a second viewing of Harry Potter, this time in IMAX.  Let me say, it was worth it.  The Harry Potter saga was drawn to a worthy conclusion and it was absolutely spectacular on the H-U-G-E screen.  The battle at Hogwarts was good the first time and it was great the second go around, with a more leisurely watching to take in all the nuance.

My 13 flicks also included two versions of Captain America: The First Avenger…on Friday night with The Kid and his lovely bride (who, by the way, needs a worthy nickname!  “The Bride” perhaps?).  we saw Cap in vivid 2-D and I was compelled to check it out again in 3-D.  I for one am a 3-D apologist.  Yes, I know it dulls the brightness a tinge, but the added depth of field control gives so much texture to the film.

I hope that 3-D is here to stay!

Perhaps the most interesting of the films I saw was Winnie the Pooh.

I don’t know if it was the nostalgia of seeing ol’ Pooh on the big screen or if it was the wholly competent animation and effective storytelling, but this movie just got me.

What a great soundtrack/score throughout with some wonderful and surprising tunes from Zooey Deschanel!  The original songs in general were great and the voice cast was spot on for the Pooh-crew, exactly as I remember them.  Jim Cummings voiced Tigger and Pooh, and while he wasn’t the Pooh from back in my day, this guy has quite the resume.  The only recognizable voice among them is Craig Ferguson as Owl.

Usually, plot is of no consequence in a film of this nature.  This is a well told story that is both touching and funny.  For starters, Eeyore has lost his tail and all of the gang sets out to find him a replacement.  While they are all out looking, Pooh head’s over to Christopher Robin’s and discovers a note: “Back Soon, CR.”

When Pooh brings the note to Owls, he sets the group in a panic…the “BACK-SON” has abducted CR!  Chaos ensues…

The movie is short, as a young children’s feature should be, at 63 minutes.  Fear not, though, for your hard earned movie dollar.  There is a great short before the feature, “The Ballad of Nessie,” an animated film telling the origin story for the Loch Ness Monster.   Now in and of itself it was cute, but narrated by Billy Connolly, it was sublime.

Take a trip down memory lane…check out the Pooh and crew!  5 of 5 Horns

Cowboys and Aliens and Crazy, Stupid, Love are both in my sights for this weekend.  Any thoughts on either?

Have a great movie going weekend!  Perhaps I’ll post more later…
Reel Rhino

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Posted on 23 July 2011 by ~baba

I’ve been busy, teaching a class at a public school, three classes at Isira, the free school and I have one private student now. Over the past few days I’ve been in Vientiene, Lao(Laos) getting my 6 month visa. We went by bus to the Thai Immigration checkpoint and did the appropriate paperwork to leave the country, then the same bus(they wait for everyone to finish)across the Mekong River bridge into Lao to the Lao Immigration, paid $35 for a visa and went into Vientiene to the Thia Embassy and took a number, I was #83 and an hour later I processed through, two photos, three copies of this and that, two pages of forms filled out and was told to come back after 1pm the next day….

Vientiene is a huge city that is slow paced like a small town. You can cross most streets safely and the largest ones if you’re careful, even where there are no crosswalks. The people are friendly there, in Thailand many of the people have been exposed to rowdy, rude, abusive foreigners and are hesitant to even look at you. In Lao they are friendly, approach you and ask where you’re from and are eager to show their English skills, I found myself correcting them and encouraging them to keep practicing. The women are incredibly beautiful and very sweet. If Thailand ends up to not be the place for me I will surely move to Lao next. I’ve heard that Viet Nam is even better, it’s no wonder that there are so many men my age over here living the life they’ve always wanted.

Well, I got my visa the next day with virtually no waiting and we decided to stay another night, I was with a shopaholic and she wanted to go to the markets. Everything under the sun! Rhinocerous horns to iphones, wow, lots of rhino horns from baby ones skinned off to huge ones still attached to the sawed off snout bones, horrible to think of the deaths of these unique animals for a truly useless product thought to give virility to older men. I had fun watching the shopping, I bought an English workbook for my private student and a back scratcher, and some excellent Lao coffee. The coffee crop in Lao is bought up by the French coffee companies immediately but some is saved for the nicest coffee houses, it’s awesome, I had two iced lattes that were indescribably good. Lao Coffee, the popular brand there is an import from South America.
I’m back in Thailand now, went to a friend’s birthday last night, a huge feast and 60 cent beer, went home early and caught up on my sleep. I’m starting to feel very comfortable here, dozens of friends both farang(foreigners), Thai and Lao. It feels good……..baba

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Superhero Movie Theme Songs

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Thraxxus

This is a fan video made by someone who really does get the idea behind theme songs. The basic message in this film is that a good theme song matters, and that Superman easily has the most memorable one ever made – John Williams anyone? Oh, and the video is hysterical.

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Preview Review: Captain America; Must See: BUCK

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

I stand here tonight for two reasons:

1)    To share with you my take on an amazing documentary that I had the chance to see this week, and,

2)    To introduce you to Catfish, a guest making his first appearances on the Reel Rhino column.

Catfish is currently the object of my utmost jealousy…he is here is give us his take on CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.  Yep, he caught the KC Star Wednesday night sneak preview.  Catfish, you rascal, you had the chance to take Reel Rhino, but nooooooo…you had to take your wife!  Thanks for nothin’, punk!  Kidding of course, at least you were gracious enough to give me some content.

BUCK – 5 of 5 Horns

A short, but very sweet, documentary by Cindy Meehl, introduces us to Buck Brannaman.  Who, you may ask, is Buck Brannaman?  He is the real life Horse Whisperer and every minute of this film is compelling.

In 1998, Robert Redford called on Buck as a technical advisor on his film, The Horse Whisperer.  Redford, who appears throughout the current doc at hand, talks endearingly on the effect Buck had on the ultimate tone of his film.  Buck became more of an inspiration, than an advisor.

Buck’s involvement in The Horse Whisperer is only a fraction of this film, and the majority looks at Buck’s life on the road, holding training sessions for those interested in becoming “horsemen,” or as we know them, cowboys and cowgirls.

The film looks at Buck’s early years, which were clearly formative on his philosophies on life.  He spent his early years as a trick roper in a show overseen by his father and performed with his brother.

Buck is a master at a technique known as “natural horsemanship,” and to see him in action is nothing short of breathtaking.  Buck is funny, sweet, and when necessary, firm, in his demeanor and teaching methods.  He always sets out to teach folks about their lives with their horses…he normally ends up teaching them about themselves.

See this movie…it is short and every minute leaves a mark.  Buck is touching, sweet, entertaining, and for a layperson like me in a field like cowboying, educational.

Buck’s lessons are as much about learning about yourself, as they are about learning your horse.  This is a must see and I give it a 5 horn, Reel Rhino salute.

I am not a horseman, not by a long shot…but given the chance, I will go see Buck in action.  This film is 100% an example of the power of film.


And now for his moment in the sun, I give you CATFISH.  Presented here, formatted to fit your screen, with limited commercial interruptions.  Catfish, you better not let me down!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER – 4 of 5 Horns (so says the Catfish)

I recently discovered the wonderful world of the pre-release movie screening lottery, so to speak.  It only took me 40 years to find this unburied treasure, but at least I didn’t go to my grave without experiencing early arrivals, long lines, rabid fans, and uncomfortable heat (and odors) given off by all the bodies stuffed in narrow lines hoping for a seat in the theater (first come first serve as overbooking ensures a full house…right) just for a free sneak peak at a major motion picture.

Now each time I see a chance to win advanced screening passes I enter my name, cross my fingers, and pray much like I did when I unsuccessfully tried to win the full size Pac Man video game from MTV, circa 1983.  I’m pretty sure it was rigged because I even put my own money in the church donation basket (ah, the naivety of a 12 year old).  To date, I’m batting .500 with screening passes with my only true disappointment being a Thor swing and a miss.

I was on vacation and had since accepted that I whiffed on another chance to see a movie I had been looking forward to when the e-mail arrived with the magic message that I had been selected to attend the advanced screening of Captain America: The First Avenger.  Superheroes have a special place in my heart.  I loved reading comic books when I was a kid.  I looked forward to our trips to Wal-Mart so I could pick out a fresh new comic book that can only be described as my childhood eye candy.  Comic books were an integral part of my childhood, which I can equate with happiness and contentment (all that changes when we grow up; that’s why most of us men never want to grow up and therefore never do).

Movie night, July 20th, finally arrived.  The line at the theater was long even though my wife and I showed up an hour early. I did hope and trust there would be room for us.  We did indeed get seats, and I wasn’t about to move because seats were more valuable than gold to this crowd.  Both of us were stuffed from our four course meal that we ate just prior to arriving at the theater.  I was satisfied on two counts.  First, my wife was quite pleased with her dinner (the cliché holds true: happy wife, happy life).  Secondly, having full bellies meant she wouldn’t be asking for overpriced garbage food at the concession stand, which would require me to leave my coveted seat.  We were seated for about five minutes when my wife expressed her growing itch for popcorn and a Diet Coke.  I suppose you know that I (not she) ended up waiting in line and purchasing popcorn and a Diet Coke (happy wife, happy life).

After all the hoopla in the theatre ended and my wife’s request fulfilled, I was ready for this baby to start.  A bonus in this whole affair was the fact the screening was in 3D.  As the initial Paramount credit screen flashed I knew something was awry.  I rhetorically asked my wife if the theater knew this was supposed to be 3D.  The movie began and the green and pink muddled picture elicited a head shake from me and my wife’s inquisitions as to why she couldn’t see anything.  The yells from the theater grew to a near chant of “fix the movie”.  The best line I heard was, “So this is the free version?”  Like clockwork I began questioning why God hated me so much.  Thankfully on this night He granted me mercy.  They fixed the movie within a few minutes and we were off and running.

First, I would not spend extra money to watch it in 3D.  There simply was very little in the movie that was enhanced by 3D technology.  I was concerned if Captain America could be translated from comics to the big screen and not come off as absolutely ridiculous.  Well, they did a great job with this movie.  I do, however, find it ironic that Captain America, who was created during wartime as an iconic patriotic hero who inspired national pride, was finally brought to the big screen in 2011 while we’re at the height of political correctness.  This is the same 2011 where the title of this very movie had to be modified for overseas release to “The First Avenger”, dropping “Captain America” from the title.  No more preaching.

Captain America was entertaining.  The casting was excellent (men who admire beautiful women will not be let down by Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter…smoking hot).   Tommy Lee Jones nearly stole the show with his performance.  The well placed humor worked amazingly well.  Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo was spot on with his one liner straight out of Roadhouse.  They even poked fun at the comic book-esque Captain America costume.  He got a bit of a makeover to make his character a bit more believable.

The movie was very much story driven as opposed to mindless action.  It was about hope, honor, integrity, heart, loyalty, persistence, perseverance, love, patriotism, leadership, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.  Bringing you back to WWII and watching the story unfold reminds us of the historical significance of that wartime era.  I’m not even going to mention that taboo concept of American exceptionalism.  Watch this movie and ask yourself if Steve Rogers resides in you.  Don’t be like one moviegoer who said it was the stupidest effing movie she’d ever seen.  For the love of God, let yourself be inspired.

When this movie ended my wife said this was her favorite superhero movie of the season.  She said, “The message was so good” (happy wife, happy life).  I hit a gold mine.  Dinner was good, movie was good, and that always bodes well for me at home.

4 out of 5 Fish Whiskers


(Reel Rhino note…first off, great review Catfish.  Secondly, there are only three countries dropping the title Captain America…Russia, Ukraine, and South Korea.  No surprise there, and I do give Marvel studios credit, from a business perspective.  Their goal is to sell tickets.  Giving countries the option, will help them put more foreign butts in the seats.  Also, China only shows 20 non-Chinese films a year…Cap didn’t make the cut, and I don’t think we can hold that against them.  It is regardless in China, anyone will likely be able to pick up the bootleg on the streets for a few bucks, in a few days.)

I’ll be back soon with my own two cents on the film, and perhaps Friends with Benefits as well, aka NO STRINGS ATTACHED 2.  And I am thinking double feature Sunday: Conan O’Brian Can’t Stop and Trollhunter, if I’m lucky.

Until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

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Adapting to Perception

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Thraxxus

I am Caucasian. I state this only to give you a point of reference. The truth is that I am less than half white, but the part that is has overshadowed the rest and thus I look very much the poster child for white male America. What this has got me in my life is, for the most part, a clean slate. What the heck does that mean? To me, being Caucasian, gets you certain things that most Caucasians don’t realize – for the most part you are invisible – in a way. I realized this early on in my life by witnessing my father have to deal with racism on a daily basis. We grew up in Southern California, he is very brown, and thus most locals looked at my father as being Mexican – at the time it wasn’t a great thing to be seen that way. It never really dawned on me what that cost him until he showed me.

We were standing outside of a grocery store and I recalled my father telling me that cashiers never handed him his change back, instead they sort of threw it at his hand. I thought that he must be either crazy or oversensitive – then we went shopping. The problem started while waiting in line to pay – the cashier wouldn’t really look at my dad – directly anyway. When he said hello she just kept swiping his goods. Whatever it was we bought cost under $20. My father handed over a twenty and thus had change coming. Sure enough about half a foot from his hand she threw it him. What the hell was going on here? That never happens to me.

I have had many African American friends in my life, all coming from different back grounds, but we always ended up discussing race. My friend from Haiti was the first one to enlighten me as to how Police often viewed blacks. He was the manager of a movie theater and thus always wore suits. One day he was going to work, picked up the assistant manager, a Caucasian guy, and was halfway to work when a Police care pulled in front of him. Weird? No. but when the other sides of his car were surrounded by other Police cars who then all turned on their lights there was something up. They pulled him over into a parking lot, surrounded the car, all got out of their cars with guns drawn, when one officer approached the car. He looked in at my friend. He looked at the passenger. He got back into his car and they all left. Not a word was said.

In the same town I personally witnessed a black kid walking home with groceries. He had five bags. A Police car pulled up, two cops got out, and proceeded to force him to empty the bags, his pockets, everything. No provocation. Once they were satisfied with whatever they were doing, they left him there with the groceries on the ground and a disgusted and confused look on his face. I asked him about it – he said they never gave him a reason – just empty your bags, your pockets, frisked him, ran a background check, and let him go.

I now work in software and the mainstay of our customers have their own call centers for customer support. Out customers, like us, are located in the mid west. About a year into the job (I am on year three) I noticed something odd – over 50% of all the agents in all of my customers’ call centers were black. Why? I turned to my niece – she is Caucasian but is dating an African American and worked in one of my customer’s call centers for a while. She made it simple, and tragically is accurate as I later confirmed with some of the reps in the call center and her boyfriend. “It is easier for a black person to get a job where they won’t be seen by customers.” WOW. What year is this?

Think about that. You are African American. You have no legal record of doing anything wrong. You are putting yourself through college, trying to get an education, like so many other people. You take pride in how you look – clean, well dressed, proper. Everything, if you weren’t Black, adds up to being able to get a job almost anywhere – and yet you feel compelled to get a job somewhere in which people won’t see you. Why? Because it is common knowledge within the African American community that you have a better shot at getting a job from an employer where the employer knows you won’t be seen. This revelation crushed me.

Back to my father. I brought this up to him and he confirmed the same issue for him. “Looking Mexican, even though I am not, people automatically assumed that I wanted to work outdoors – doing something with nature – like yard work –  gardener, etc. Every time I worked indoors, like at Titleist Golf Clubs, I was treated weird. That is the place where my boss flipped out on me. I never forgot that. Furthermore it was like I was expected to hang out with other Mexicans no matter where I worked. It was implied ‘The Mexicans site over there.'” Unreal.

It is now 2011 – we are now in the enlightened age it seems – except for the fact that many people “of color” still go by the old rules – work where you are hidden. Is is their problem? Are they being over paranoid? Over safe? Or is their perspective reality. Being Caucasian I cannot confirm on deny any of it because I will never experience that reality. What I do know is that no matter what the truth is – the very fact that the belief still exists, and appears to be accurate, is tragic and pathetic in a way that makes me ashamed to be human – again.

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Dine On the Movies With Me…

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

So I have been jammed up (mostly seeing movies) with not as much time to post as I would like…here is a taste of what I have been into…

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – 4 Horns
Ironclad – 4 Horns
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II: 4.5 Horns
The Zookeeper – 3 Horns
Cave of Forgotten Dreams – 4 Horns
Tree of Life – 4 Horns

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Saw this again in IMAX and as great as the AMC ETX sounded, the digital 3-D IMAX looked much better.  My rating of 4 of 5 Horns stands.

Ironclad – This hidden gem played in only a handful of theaters compared to other summer releases.  Paul Giamatti plays the tyrannical King John and we meet him as he is signing the Magna Carta…that would be 1215 folks, thank you Ms. Spafford, social studies coming though big time here!  As the movie tells you in an intro voice over, we know that the Magna Carta was signed, but its what happened after that is rarely discussed.   John, allied with a foreign power, rode the English countryside with the intention of taking revenge on each of the barons who forced his hand signing the Magna Carta.  With the support of the church, if not for the Siege at Rochester Castle, the subject of the film, he may have succeeded.  During the battle, the soon to be ex-communicated Archbishop travels to France to seek the support of the French.  The question is: will he return soon enough?  If you want to know the answer, you have two options: 1) grab a history book or 2) see this movie.  The film is worth watching, so I vote for option 2. A 4 of 5 Horn rating on this medieval battle film.  PS: Lots of digital blood and bone crushing action.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II – I have read so much on this movie so far, I feel belaboring the issue will do good for no one.  It’s a great movie, consistent with the production values and story that we have come to appreciate.  J.K. Rowling’s rich continue to grow as HP7.2 has become the all time biggest weekend open ($168.5 million) after becoming the all time biggest midnight release ($92.1 million).  It’s nice to be a part of history.  Personally, I liked Part I a hair better than Part II, but it is still a great filmic end to the saga of Harry Potter.  4.5 of 5 Horns.  PS: I was pretty excited to catch Part I on the big screen as a part of the famed opening night double feature.  For a few pictures of the festivities, check out my previous post on the affair.

The Zookeeper – So I get accused of being easily amused often enough I recognize it as a blessing and a curse.  The blessing: as a guy who likes pretty much everything I see, I can honestly say I rarely feel cheated of my hard earned movie cash.  The curse: when I tell someone I liked a movie, they take it with a greater grain of salt than when heading movie advice for other more critical critics.  The Zookeeper is a family friendly film that was completely passable as summer fun.  I am preferential to Kevin James as a leading man and if Reel Rhino had been blogging in the era of Paul Blart, I would have told you how much I enjoyed that film as well.  We are too expectant of Hangover-like gross-out laughs, when done right, are excellent.  But Eff-Bombs and dick jokes should not be mandatory for enjoyment of a comedy.  I enjoyed this film and feel comfortable giving it a 3 of 5 Horn rating.  It is meant to be silly and it is, which is why I call this film a success.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams – With every major release in the bucket (minus Winnie the Pooh), I had to venture to the art house downtown…so I forgot my wallet and had to barter my way in $2 cheaper than the actual ticket price.  Thanks to that sympathetic ticket taker!!  Werner Herzog was given access to the Chauvet caves in Southern France, capturing on film the oldest known paintings in human history, dating back around 32000 years.  The footage bobbles back and forth between footage of the actual caves and standard talking heads, but the time spent in the cave is breathtaking.  Herzog filmed this in 3-D, but sadly I missed the far too brief run at the big house, and catching this at the art house meant seeing it projected digitally, but in flat ol’ 2-D.  If this ever makes a return to the big screen in 3-D, I will be seeing it, and you should too.  A well-told narrative of the caves discovery and subsequent study, Herzog has created a very enjoyable film that is appropriate for all ages.  I am sure that this film will become standard viewing in high school World History classes and it is deservedly so.  See this film if you can.  4 of 5 Horns

The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick’s fifth directorial feature in 38 years and every film he delivers is a gem.  This film is no different, but it is definitely not for everyone.  It is long at 2 hrs 19 minutes and unless you are into it, that is an eternity.  Especially when there is actually a 20 minute sequence in the film that depicts all of eternity…or at least from the creation of earth up through the existence of dinosaurs on earth.  It was about 4 minutes into this sequence that my theater had its first walkout.  But beyond the existential, this film tells the tale of a family in Texas in the 1950’s.  Brad Pitt is the patriarch and he is raising his three boys with a stern demeanor.  We spend most of the film with the boys themselves, in particular Jack, the middle brother.  We witness the bond of these brothers but also the effect of living in a strict Christian household in Texas in the 50’s.  Jack is a normal boy, who at the heart of the conflict of the film, seems troubled.  I think his behaviors are no different than most boys go through in their youth, taken to extremes.  This film won the coveted Palm d’Ore at Cannes this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s for you.  It touches heavily on spirituality and the nature of God in the lives of the devout.  How can God let bad things happen to good people?  It is quite a film, but please heed this piece of advice.  If you are feeling adventurous and sick of the same old stuff…be brave…go see this film.  It is unlike any movie you have ever seen.  4 of 5 Horns

I’m going to try and catch a couple more flicks this week, so I’ll report back when I can.  Only a few more days and we continue on with the Avengers saga with Captain America.  If you recall, I was not competely taken with Thor, so I hope that The First Avenger can spin up my excitement level and hold me over until next summer.  I am pretty stoked and as I sit hear and type, my background distraction is none other than Iron Man.  Tony Stark inspires my muse…okay, that’s just weird.

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

I saw the double feature, Harry Potter 7, Parts I & II, last night at AMC and I was going to wait until I had more time to write this post, but…I couldn’t wait.   I wanted to make sure that I spread this word…if you are going to see this movie, go this weekend!  I promise you that if you at all remotely like the Harry Potter phenomenon, seeing this flick in a crowded theater with a bunch of HP fans, will enhance the moviegoing experience.

I very much enjoyed Part II and I put it at just behind Part I in terms of quality and enjoyment.  With the year so young, I’ll be surprised if this entry cracks my top 10 of 2011 like Part I did last year.  This was a fitting and very well-made end to this series and the crowd was thoroughly entertained.  This film continued with the high production values and high entertainment value of all of the previous films.  It was fun growing up with these kids.  While I will may write more on this later, let me say that if you can, see this movie:

  • as mentioned above, with many HP fans.
  • in a big, loud, 3-D theater…it is worth it.
  • only after seeing all other movies in the HP series, it will be worth it.

Reel Rhino Rating: 4.5 of 5 HORNS

Enjoy your Friday and I’ll see you around the weekend!


P.S. Didn’t hit the midnight show?  Here’s a taste of what you missed…

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Teacher Dave

Posted on 13 July 2011 by ~baba

Isarn, I believe is the name of the group that funds the school I checked out yesterday. They teach Thai children and young adults the English language, I applied. Last night I assisted two classes and observed a third, it’s awesome! The younger children were less interested and it was a zoo but the 10ish and older were very interested and competitive. One class last night was geography, continents and countries. The teacher asked me where I was from and I said Hawaii. He asked the class to look up Hawaii and find out what country it was in and what continent it was on. It was fun.

Working there as a volunteer will give me credentials to look for paying jobs and the deeper into the backwoods here the higher the pay. I prefer the rural areas anyway, I don’t drink other than a beer or two a month and I’m in bed by 9pm, I don’t need no city!!! I’m also house hunting, one of the other volunteers knows of a house for 3000 baht, probably empty of furniture but I’ve slept on a floor before and having a house would be nice, get some roommates, share the rent and live for 30-40 US a month, it may work out…..baba(the little dealie doesn’t work on this computer, sorry)

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State Bank – A Modest Proposal

Posted on 13 July 2011 by Thraxxus

To: The United States of America Public

From: – Those Snarky Bastages.

Subject: Unites States of America People’s Bank

Date: July 13, 2011

Problem: The United States of America has a severe set of economic problems that is affecting the rest of the world. These problems started to snowball when the Real Estate Market crashed in 2007 leading to several major financial institutions crumbling to dust. The United States of America’s leaders deemed that some of these institutions were to big to fail and thus bailed them out with Billions in tax payer dollars – this was known as Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Furthermore a stimulus package was then voted into effect by Congress to stimulate the economy by releasing tax dollars back into the public sector with the plan to push the economy away from Depression and hopefully out of Recession. According to NPR, that did not completely work. The debate rages on regarding whether or not the USA is still in Recession, with some arguing that this is in fact a Depression (the Second Great Depression).

The problem remains – the real estate market and the banks that caused the issue are both still very volatile. With that being the case the foundation of the American Economy is still in question – and thus both big and small business owners and operators are afraid of what is to come – and thus are holding all of their money tight to their chest – equating to an economic Growth Rate of 2% – where 3% is needed to create jobs.

Proposed Project and Purpose: The United States Government needs to establish a State Bank utilizing both Tax Payer Dollars and money borrowed from the Federal Reserve (Link provided describes the Federal Reserve with some disdain – but is accurate in the description). The purpose of this bank is to establish loans to Home Owners and proposed Home Owners at an interest rate of 2% above the rate the USA borrows from the Federal Reserve for 30 year loans and 1% for 15 year loans. For Example: If the Federal Lending rate is 1%, the home loan rate for single family home loans by the State Bank is 3% for a 30 year loan and 2% for a 15 year loan.

What does this accomplish?

  1. A constant form of revenue for the United States Government and People.
  2. An honest bank with public records that citizens of the USA can get a loan from at an established and constant rate.
  3. An investment opportunity for the USA People that has an actual return on investment that can be mapped – not a proposed return with no clear path.
  4. Competition for Big Banks outside of the Big Banking groups  – this fosters Big Banks to rethink and potentially change their business practices, or die.
  5. Empowers the citizens of the USA to get their hands back on the promised dreams of all citizens of the USA established in the 1950s – a home. Granting someone a home grants them the belief in hope – and thus in the nation. Taking it from them does the opposite – which is evident in the present state of the economy: Fear.

The simple truth here is that the USA State Bank is set to more than double its investment. Thus if 1 Trillion is lent the State Bank makes back, on a simple average, 2 Trillion over 30 years.

1 Trillion in equates to 2,152,794,297,410.87 out. Nice return.

Plan of Activity and Deadlines: Clearly the finer details of this proposal would need to be established publicly but that requirement does not make this proposal impossible – just realistic. Simply put, find the right people that are not bound to any established private bank to setup and manage the State Bank.

Evaluation: This is not, as many pro big bank will say, Socialism. This is the Government doing something responsible with Tax dollars for the people those tax dollars came from – instead of doing something irresponsible with tax dollars for big business. In effect, jump starting the economy by establishing a new form of income for the Government, and thus the people, while at the same time giving the public a way to reestablish themselves is a solid scenario whereas giving away more money in hopes that it might help someone somewhere is a path to a place we are all too familiar with – destruction.

If you believe that this plan may have even a little merit, please let us know in the comments section below.

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Nothing COOL to say…

Posted on 12 July 2011 by ~baba

I’m in Nang Khai two days now, yesterday I went to Lao, Vientiene and got my visa on time, no cost!!!! Well, $35 to get into Lao(Laos) but that’s a 30 day visa and I’ll only need to get one every third time I go if I watch the calendar closely. While in Vientiene I went to a pharmacy, almost everything is legal over the counter there and got my antimalaria med and prednisone for my left knee, recent surgery, and the cost for 60 of each was 180 baht, about $6. Not bad.

Coming back there was a drug search and I thought what if these aren’t legal in Thailand, I had a prescription bottle for one though and swung my bag up towards the search table. The guy waved me past…

I went to a hostel called Mut Mee, 150 baht a night and very nice, the room is basic and small but the place has many thached roof huts with tables, electricity, fans, chairs with cushions, wifi, etc, upscale for the area and price.

There are dozens of tourists and locals hanging out there and I’ve met several and hang out with them too, went to a sculpture park recently with a pretty French girl and had alot of fun, what a sweetie. We rode bikes, she’s about 5′ 10″ and was wearing shorts and gave over a hundred guys whiplash as she cycled by. The sculpture park was awesome, 16yrs of work by a wealthy artist who went on to do two more parks in Lao. Gotta go now, can’t be squandering all my SS check on the internet, keep the comments rolling in, next to my daily Dilbert comic strip they’re my favorite diversion……..~baba

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It’s the economy stupid.

Posted on 12 July 2011 by scanjack

My wait is over. MSM has finally started putting out the talking points for the next raping of America. Over the weekend, on one of the talking head “news” program, one of Obama’s many Czars referred to our economy in terms such as “…this great recession…”. If you have not figured it out yet, this is a depression, but at this point it’s all semantics as the U.S. is bankrupt. This morning on NPR we get the other talking points in relation to the abysmal jobs market, and a 2% growth rate really equating to an actual decline. Welcome to the “new normal”. Stated unemployment rate above 9%, actually much closer to 20%+. The new normal. Think about that for a minute. Think about how you were doing financially 3 years ago as compared to now.

In 2008 members of congress were actually threatened that there would be martial law on the streets of America if they didn’t go along with the T.A.R.P. program, banker bailout, whatever you care to call it, and that doing so would fix the economy. QE1, QE2 printing hundreds, and hundreds of billions of dollars that mostly went out of the country for propping up foreign banks; this is called “hot money” (over $23.7 trillion – old link, but search Bloomberg sometime; it’s gone up).

Like I have said over the past year plus, we have lost millions of jobs, and I don’t care what anyone says, they are NOT coming back. The commonwealth of the United States is faced with decades of this decline. The great depression was nothing compared to what we have entered into now.

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The Nature of Blinkinblogs

Posted on 11 July 2011 by Thraxxus

Blinkinblogs, the website you somehow found yourself on, reading this article (look at the address bar), is an odd community of self appointed intelligent people (nobody on here really is, me especially) trying to give their seemingly random thoughts in a cohesive format to anyone who might connect with those thoughts, or directly oppose them, leading to, hopefully, some grand debate. Caravaggio was a big fan of the idea of grand debate, and it really is a cool idea, unfortunately on BB it rarely ever happens (I can remember like three articles that acheived this). Instead what happens is a rather common phenomona that you can find anywhere on the internet, and less so in face to face real life. First let us look at what occurs, and then let us briefly discuss why this almost never occurs in face to face real life.

  1. Someone writes an article. They put some time in, who knows how much really, make a series of statements that think have something to do with something, in my case this is almost never true, and typically finish off with some snarky summation like “And we elected these morons!?!?” Note the use of the exclamation point/question mark combo – so powerful!
  2. Other people read the article instead of doing their real life jobs. Something in the article strikes a bone, matters in some weird way, smells like total BS, or the reader just wants to throw a small stone into a puddle.
  3. Reader makes a series of comments. Sometimes, albeit rarely, these are intelligent. Some are written rather intelligently using a series of amazing vocabulary, but actually don’t say much. Other comments are more directly abusive like “Dear Moron, please print this article off no less than one thousand times. Take those print offs, glue them together, and stuff them down your throat and choke to death on them. Good day sir!” (starting to wish I had made a tree diagram of what happens here.)
  4. The auther gets an email that someone made a comment on his article. He reads the article and one of two things happens: The author smiles, logs in to BB, and makes a counter point  – either an intelligent one, or a counter flame to what he thinks was a troll attempt (what happens next is the funny part – to me anyway). The second thing he does is logs into the system to make a grand statement about how pissed he is that people can treat his work thus and immediately announces his permanent departure from all things BB.
  5. The dude who originally made the comment on the article, the Commentator if you will (I know right?), goes back to the site and reads what the Author said back. If the author quit the Commentator does one of to things : Gee it sucks to see you go OR dude, its the internet, get over it. If the Commentator reads a counter flame or troll to his trolling statements he either trolls back, and a flame war ensues (this rarely happens oddly enough) or the Commentator gets flummoxed that the dude Author he flamed would have the gall to respond in kind as the Commentator’s words were clearly taken entirely out of context, and the Commentator makes a hasty exit, announcing to never return.

What is clear here is that emotions and tempers run hot on BB – over things I have never understood. So understand this: Blinkinblogs is on the internet, and thus akin to all other internet sites, if one writes an article or comments on an article that person is now in the crosshairs to be randomly assaulted by others. Period. I am not saying that I like that fact, but having been on the internet before it was the internet (BBSes and the like) I am quite used to being flamed, trolled, and textually pillaged by someone I most likely will never meet (not always the case on BB as many people on here know each other). If you are not cool with that happening then you should take a quite seat in the corner, read articles, never post, and be safe.

Onto why this sort of activity doesn’t seem to happen often in real life – a lack of anonymity. The internet allows people to be total douchebags with no shot at real recourse. Sure someone could ban your account, or you could be flamed or whatever – but the chances of anything real happening, like a punch in the noggin, is slim to none. Consequently, often times, the darker side of humanity comes out on the internet – meaning people say things they wouldn’t normally say to your face. Oddly enough I have no issue saying what I say on the internet to someone’s face, but then I am totally antisocial and rarely interact with other people to begin with. The part gets me is that I was raised being told the following rule, something lots of other people don’t seem to get or live by – “Don’t throw a punch unless you are willing to get hit.”

So if you don’t like being flamed, or trolled, in any fashion I strongly suggest you stay off the internet – its like the wild west out there – you never know will take the first shot.

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2011 Part 1, The Best (So Far) at the Movies

Posted on 10 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

(REEL RHINO NOTE: There is far too little feedback on these posts…do one of two things for me PLEASE…in the comments section, post your top 3 films of 2011 OR post your #1 favorite movie of the year so far.  Thanks!!)

So I got called into work yesterday, keeping me from two things:

1)    Enjoying a nice family Saturday evening .

2)    Seeing a movie.

Since I didn’t get to anything yesterday, Larry Crown stands as the last flick I have reviewed…that is unacceptable Rhino!

I do plan on seeing Horrible Bosses today and The Zookeeper at some point.  Yes, Zookeeper has been getting raked over the coals, but I am a sucker for Kevin James in anything and since I am quite easy to entertain, I think I will like it.  Paul Blart: Mall Cop is an exceptionally fun and family friendly movie.  Not that I intentionally shoot for family friendly, but I think that they pulled off a great movie without getting remotely dirty, and that is something to be applauded.

Given that we are at the halfway point through the year, I have decided to offer my humble vision of the best of 2011 (so far).  I will give you my top 5 and some honorable mentions and I will drop in some of my original reviews from the site.  I give you:

2011: The Cinema World According to Reel Rhino
So this list is basically just my five and four and a half horn reviews.  I hope this might help guide your rentals as these find their way to On-Demand and home video options, and for two of them, at least, a chance to see them in the theater when they are released later this year.  These are excerpts from my posts earlier this year…hit the link for the full write-up on each.

1. The Adjustment Bureau (5 of 5 Horns) —

“I absolutely loved this movie!  It was made with the highest of production values and the city of New York is a palpable character in this film.  Matt Damon is stellar (as always) and Emily Blunt is clearly established as one of Hollywood’s finest young actresses.  Don’t agree with me?  Go see this movie.  Yes, it is high concept and it is full of rich characters with roots in the oldest of human literature.  It is based on the short story “Adjustment Team” by a legend in Science Fiction, Phillip K. Dick.  I have heard complaints that this is more a romance than a sci-fi, but I disagree.  There is such thing as a romantic sci-fi…it is this film.”

2. Win Win (5 of 5 Horns) —

“Win Win is an indie drama built around the spine of a sports film, loaded with comedic wit. I have never been a huge fan of Greco-Roman wrestling.  Of course there was Vision Quest in the 1980’s, but otherwise, when it came to wrestling, I was always more of a WWF guy.  As far as the wrestling goes in this film, you will want more.  The hunger that you have for a stronger ending to the wrestling story will be satiated by the resolution of the drama.”

3. Super 8 (5 of 5 Horns) —

“I’d like to say J.J. is a wunderkind director, but he’s been in the biz for over 20 years. In the 1980’s Abrams helped Steven Spielberg repair home movies he had made as a kid. That’s a pretty good break for a young wannabe filmmaker and this was just the first of Abrams/Spielberg interactions that would ultimately lead to this project. While Abrams calls Spielberg the Grandfather of Super 8; Spielberg maintains that Abrams could have travelled this road on his own. Super 8 is something of a Goonies meets E.T. alien adventure film, that is surrounded by all the mystery that both directors love. Well Super 8 is loaded with mystery. For starters, the mystery of who the hell are these kid actors? If they were to remake the Goonies, I would vote these folks in. Elle Fanning is charming and a chip off the old family block and she is the only recognizable face in that crowd of younglings.  Super 8 is pure adventure from start to finish.

4. Everything Must Go (4.5 of 5 Horns) —

Will Ferrell in an uncharacteristic role, shines playing Nick Halsey, a man who finds himself, but only after losing everything.  “This film is darker than I would have expected. There is less comedy and more drama than I would have expected. Folks, this is a great film. I would call it feel good, but only for the catharsis that you experience alongside Nick as he fights off his demons. Through Nick, we learn about life from his sequence of tragedy of errors, but never really to the point that we pity him, but instead mostly where we actually will root for him to succeed.”

5. Hanna (4.5 of 5 Horns) —

“Hanna is not a perfect movie, but it is cool as can be.  It may have released through an American studio, but with Wright at the helm and with the exotic locales, this flick has European sensibilities and I mean that as the greatest of compliment.  The tone is darker and the overall look is more gritty than say SALT, by comparison, another spy thriller that I felt came off as very commercial.  I will say that this film was greatly fueled by the COMPELLING original score from The Chemical Brothers.  Yes, the Block Rockin’ Beats, Chemical Brothers.  It is just enough retro with lots of rockin’ to fuel this jet forward in a big way.  Single-handedly, this score upped Hanna a full notch in my book.”

The Way Back (4.5 of 5 Horns) – A group of prisoners from a Siberian gulag escape and walk 4000 miles to freedom, travelling all the way to India, completely on foot….compelling AND TRUE.  Peter Wier is one of the all-time great directors and the cast includes  Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan, and another great Colin Farrell role…see also, In Bruges.  Seriously, see In Bruges ASAP…a truly great film with a wonderful performance b y Farrell…Oscar nominated as well for In Bruges.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (5 of 5 Horns) – Maybe it was just Bieber-Fever, but I was enthralled by the life story of this young man.  While it is filled with a variety of catchy tween-pop tunes, this movie is more documentary than musical and it delivers a wholly enjoyable tale.

Cedar Rapids (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Ed Helms can carry a film, but having John C. Reilly, Sigourney Weaver, and Anne Heche along for the ride doesn’t hurt.  This film is funny and sweet, but wholly an adult comedy.

Barney’s Version (4.5 of 5 Horns) – A well-made film weaving a well-told story.  Paul Giamatti shines as the titular Barney and the air of mystery wrapped in something of a love story is both touching and edge-of-your-seat mysterious.

Battle: Los Angeles (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Vivid, action-packed, and for fleeting moments, touching.  This movie would have been a fine summer blockbuster release.  Aaron Eckhart is always entertaining.

Rango (4.5 of 5 Horns) – The anti-animation-animation, this movie is a spaghetti western for adults, presented as a kids film with Nickelodeon Studios release and all.  An extremely unique film that was the vision of Wolfgang Peterson, a director who has brought you more films than you might imagine: Air Force One, Troy, Outbreak, Enemy Mine, and The Neverending Story, for a few highlights.  Rango is bizarre, but a super-duper awesome bizarre.

These two films are yet to receive a wide theatrical release, but when they do, run…don’t walk, to the nearest theater and see them.

Red State (5 of 5 Horns) – Kevin Smith delivers in this thriller that is wholly mislabeled as a horror film.  Yes, some of the characters are horrific, but this satirical look at the cult of the Westboro Baptist Church is both entertaining and well made.  John Goodman and Michael Parks embody the term, Tour de Force.  Coming to a theater near you, October 2011.

Attack The Block (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Joe Wright has created a unique film that fits snugly in the canon of Edgar Wright-like flicks (Wright is a producer on this), while existing on its own merit with a cast that resembles a cadre of hard core British Goonies.  This played as a /Filmcast sponsored preview in cities across the US, and it will hopefully get a Fall 2011 release.

Also, there have been a number of movies I haven’t seen this year, that would be good to take in for the widespread critical acclaim they have garnered: (1) Meek’s Cutoff and (2) Tree of Life.

That’s all for now, folks…till later, take care!

Reel Rhino

Comments (2)


Posted on 08 July 2011 by ~baba

I’ve mentioned massage in passing here but I never had one this good… I’m getting ahead of myself here. As you know if you read here often I had a bad case of impecuniosity which has been alleviated by my debit card being activated recently. I felt I owed many of the people here in Chaing Mai something for helping me when I was down. I took friends to eat at the restaurants that had helped me, flipped off the bookseller who wouldn’t give me credit(ok, kidding on that one), and got a massage from Phung the massage girl who had given me fruit and crackers during my ordeal. I’ve had massages, great massages where I was dizzy when I was done, where I blissed out and woke up alone. I had a ‘tourist massage’ in Bangkok, pay, lie down, get worked over for an hour, leave while the next customer is getting ready.

On my first trip thru Chaing Mai I got an oil massage, unlike the regular clothed Thai massage, I undressed and was oiled up, it was good and I needed it after having ridden the bus from Bangkok all night but it seemed pretty sexual, alot of the strokes ended up near my genital area. After the massage I talked with the massage girl, Katya and we exchanged phone numbers. She called twice wanting me to come get massage and being out of town once and on my penniless era the second time I said no thanks. The third time she called she said ‘Ok, if I come over will you give me a massage?’ Wow, I finally got it, sometimes I’m a little dense, someone wanted to go out with me. We had alot of fun, drank alot of beer and she’s the only girl I’ve dated here in the last month, but I’m talking about massage, and Phung is the Master, or rather mistress. First she dressed me in loose Thai pants and I left on my tshirt, and she started to work on me, pain, pleasure, once I came to consciousness and thought I was on my own bed for a moment. An hour and a half of serious bodywork, I gave her 300 baht, a bargain for me and her….~baba

Comments (12)


Posted on 07 July 2011 by ~baba

I’ve finally gotten the bank to let me use my debit card at the ATMs here in Thailand! Yea! Double Yea!!, I went and took out 5000 baht, didnt’ need that much but it felt good to have some folding money in my pocket(I was jingling when I walked the last few days) So, I bought a ticket to Nang Khai this morning, 800 baht for an overnight bus trip to the Thai bordertown with Laos. I can walk across the bridge whenever I need a visa stamp from there. There are job opportunities there too I hear and a job would be nice about now.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a girl walking down the street, I knew immediately I wanted her. She went into a restaurant and I did too, she was beautiful and pregnant. We sat at different tables and had dinner together, talking, laughing, she’s very personable. Last night I was walking home and saw her at another restaurant and went over to talk. She said her boyfriend was coming back from England on Monday, introduced me to her daughter, told me her other daughter was in college, her baby was going to be a boy, and on and on. We talked for an hour or so and exchanged phone numbers so if I needed a translator in my travels I could call her. I’m in love, never have been able to control who, when, how it happens, crap! Anyway I’m headed out of town, I’ll stay in touch, sometimes relationships don’t work out, new baby, won’t marry her, whatever… Anyway I feel so stupid, my crazy life.
I’m closing things down here, not much to carry, a duffle bag and a backpack but I’ve met so many wonderful people here, the Thai people are so nice, fed me when I was broke, found me an apartment, invited me to do things, they’re pretty good people. If I can’t get some type of life together in Nong Khai I will probably come back here before leaving the beaten path on another journey. Thank you for all your comments and your plan to rescue me, I do really appreciate all of you….~baba

Comments (0)

Living without access…

Posted on 06 July 2011 by ~baba

I’ve found out what happened to my account, first when I knew I was coming over here I joined asiafriendfinder and got a one month membership and one month of allowing those without memberships to write me. I thought that would be a good way to meet people in the places I was going. Well, they auto renewed my month in two 18-19 dollar fees every month for the last two months. About $80 gone there. The USPS charged me for sending my passport quickly, $37 for that, then charged me $25 and $50 for something else, I have no idea on this, Postman’s Ball tickets? I didn’t authorize any other charges than my passport.

The bank, FIRST HAWAIIAN BANK, has not replied to any of my emails, probably wait till the watercooler is empty to do that, I’ve emailed every place associated with them and no reply. I had a friend call them and ask them to turn on my debit card, read my emails, and to actually do some banking, their reply to her was to call them collect and they could help me. I called three times, they refused the calls. If anyone would like to call them it’s 1-888-844-4444 and tell them to please read the emails on from David M Robins. I would greatly appreciate it, you can relay the contents of this note too if you want.

I’m eating again, it feels gooooood! I got $50 wired to me via Western Union and caught up on a few things, got an iced coffee!!!!! fried noodles in a brown gravy sauce!!!! and some rambutan, a fuzzy fruit here and in Hawaii!!!!! It took awhile for my digestion to kick in, had cramping and bloating but in a day it was going in the right direction. I’ve decided to move from here if (when) I get some money, I still need to get across a border every two weeks to get my visa renewed so I’m going to move to the Laos border to Nong Khai. There is a bridge to Laos there and I can go across every two weeks with little expense and spend an afternoon in Laos, not two days in Burma fighting off bedbugs. Well, that’s all the complaining I have for today, I need to get the card reactivated soon or I’m in another ‘illegal’ status, please feel free to call my bank and ask them to read my emails and thanks for all of your support, glad you are there commenting………..~baba

Comments (2)

Let It Fail

Posted on 06 July 2011 by Thraxxus

The past few months have been spent by our glorious elected officials arguing over politics – not solutions. See the USA has reached its debt limit, and thus unless that is raised (we’ll talk about that in a minute) the government will go into a state of default, and thus, in effect, shut down. This sounds ominous – as NPR put it today “The USA will no longer be the largest, most stable economy on the Earth.” Bah! I argue that we already aren’t – why? Because again the government is fighting over the debt limit – meaning how to find a way to owe even more money than we already do. Note the use of the word “we” there – that includes you if you are a USA citizen.

Debt Limit, as defined in wikipedia, is :

“The United States public debt is a measure of the obligations of the United States federal government and is presented by the United States Treasury in two components and one total:

  • Debt Held by the Public, representing all federal[1] securities held by institutions or individuals outside the United States Government;
  • Intragovernmental Holdings, representing U.S. Treasury securities held in accounts which are administered by the United States Government, such as the OASI Trust fund administered by the Social Security Administration; and
  • Total Public Debt Outstanding, which is the sum of the above components.[2]

As of June 29th, 2011, the Total Public Debt Outstanding of the United States of America was $14.46 trillion and was approximately 98.6% of calendar year 2010’s annualgross domestic product (GDP) of $14.66 trillion.[2][3][4] Using 2010 figures, the total debt (96.3% of GDP) ranked 12th highest against other nations.”

Note the use of the term PUBLIC  there; again that is you. So the government is being political instead of solution oriented in finding a way to owe even more cash. Read this. It explains quite a bit of what this is all about.

What they are failing to address here is the HOW the Public owes so much. See Congress, in its infinite wisdom, is arguing over what to cut. They do that a lot. The tragedy here is that nobody ever agrees – ever. Why? Because these “representatives” answer to a higher power. No not a celestial entity; a lobbyist! That’s right! These idiots were bought way back when they ran for office by contributors – and thus they can’t piss those folks off – btw this is why Republicans are so against any tax changes for corporations if you haven’t figured that out already.

So HOW do we owe so much, or rather, or do we stop spending so much? You can’t consider cuts, that never works as people find a way to to keep everything. No what you must do is start from zero. We have nothing, and a pile of money. What do we NEED to buy to exist. Sounds stupid I know but think about it. You are standing on the street, your family next to you, your daughter holding your hand. In the your other hand is your check book, balance in bold numbers. What do you need? A roof? Food? What else. You’d be surprised how short that list really is – but it is easier to construct that list than to stand in a full house, one of many you own, and determine what you can get rid of – you can always justify keeping everything.

The vase? Aunt Edna gave you that – sure it is empty, but it has sentimental value. The 7th TV in the bathroom? You do enjoy watching Rapid Fire while doing your business. Etc. But say you had nothing, really nothing, what do you need?

I do know this – Baba knows what people need.

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More whining

Posted on 04 July 2011 by ~baba

Well, at 4:30am I jumped up and dressed, went to the ATM to get some cash and some food for the first time in several days and guess what? It’s still the 4th of July back in America and my bank isn’t open and didn’t recieve yet my urgent plea to please please please turn on my debit card so I can eat, jeeeeeeezzzzzze. I found the reason I overdrafted, I joined asiafriendfinder a month before I came here to try to meet locals here, it was 39.95, one time deal for a month, well they have been charging me twice a month, 19.95, total of a hundred dollars, three overdrafts from them and one from me because I thought I had the hundred in my account. I know now, only one more day of hunger until I can put this mistake behind me…~baba

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Larry Crowne: A Reel Rhino Review

Posted on 04 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Happy 4th of July to ALL!
I caught a little grief for my Transformers review…but I stand strong as a uber-TF-fan and I ask for no forgiveness.  I say there is nothing wrong with a film that plays to the teenager-tweenager in us, and while Transformers has some aspects that is geared towards mature, adult viewers, it was mainly is a fan-fricken-tastic nostalgic trip into the days of my youth.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Nothing.  I will never ask for forgiveness for my indulgences and I stand by that my maturity as a filmgoer is beyond reproach.
So there.  Nah nah nah nah nah neeeee nah.
Speaking of maturity as a filmgoer, how about that Larry Crowne.  Tom Hanks…Julia Roberts…nothing screams adult audience, like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts!!!
Larry Crowne is the second feature directorial effort from Tom Hanks.  I think this movie very much falls into the category of a vanity project…Tom Hanks made this funny, all-around enjoyable film, just because he could.  He co-wrote the flick with Nia Vardalos, who he formerly paired with in producing Vardalos’s breakout hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
I find Tom Hanks to be one of the all-time most watchable actors and this effort is no different, you see, as Hanks is both director and star of Larry Crowne.
And what is wrong with all of this?  Absolutely nothing!  I’ll take all the Tom Hanks I can get.
Membership has its privileges as along for the ride here is Julia Roberts, who plays Mercy, ne Mercedes Tainot, the troubled Professor who leads the speech class that Larry enrolls in as he embarks on his new role as college freshman.
The message at the outset of the film is bleak: Larry, a Navy man, is laid off for not having a college degree preventing him from advancing through the ranks at the retail outlet where he is quite clearly the most proud and most knowledgeable employee in their ranks.  Twenty years in the Navy…around the world in the school of hard knocks should count for something, but not so as otherwise we wouldn’t have a flick. 
Early on we have cameos from Dale Dye and Rob Riggles.  Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson have supporting roles as do Wilder Valderrama, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston, a great part for George Takai, and a breakout performance by Larry’s new college buddy, Talia, as played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw.  Heck, even Vardalas has a cameo (in voice only), her hubby Ian Gomez, and Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson show up. I bet this film was a blast to shoot!
Once Larry loses his job, we learn quickly that he is a divorcee, and with no job and no job prospects, he is in loads of trouble with his mortgage.  Fortunately, he doesn’t rally up some old Navy buddies and start robbing banks…that’s an entirely different film altogether…maybe for Larry Crowne 2: The Revenge.
Larry doesn’t fold…he enrolls in school and takes positive steps towards improving his future.  The tone of the film is lighthearted and the message is positive.  There is but one carefully placed F-bomb kept this flick well within the confines of a PG-13 rating, which is good because it is wholly enjoyable for just about any moviegoer.
At 99 minutes, this movies exists for just long enough to be a great time, then…cue credits. 
The movie would be much more mundane with a lesser cast, but fortunately Hanks has plenty of friends in high places and fortunately also, we end up with the film that was delivered.
Crowne’s adventure through a semester of college is steeped in many more ups than downs.  The romance angle is subtle and the various bits through the movie play out as a well-written sequence of events that present a complete and enjoyable film.
With another cast, I may have given Larry Crowne a 3.5, but it was just such an enjoyable time in the theater, I couldn’t help but bump up to a 4 of 5 Horn rating.
Check this flick out…you won’t be upset is you do.  I promise, this is the anti-blockbuster summer flick loaded with a blockbuster cast.  And it is further proof that I can refine my palate to more adult content, even if it is a load of fun.
Happy 4th of July to all those celebrating…to those in other parts of the world…Happy Monday.
Until later…take care!
Reel Rhino

Comments (1)

This is my life now

Posted on 04 July 2011 by ~baba

Still waiting for the bank to turn back on my debit card, i have enough to last me till my next pitiful social security check when they do. I have thought and thought what may have happened to cause the overdraft and I guess I must have just overspent, don’t recall what it could have been. Living without anything here, eating whatever was offered and finding a mango today for my only meal has taught me that it’s only me, no one will take care of me. I can’t go back, I can’t depend on someone to send me ten fucking dollars so I can eat for three days, it’s just me. I’m going on, I’m going to leave here and head out. I’ll sleep sitting up in the bus station, I’ll eat the least expensive meals I can find and I’ll get by, it’s the cards I’ve been dealt and I have no option but to play them…~baba

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Just when everything’s going great….

Posted on 02 July 2011 by ~baba

It all goes kaflooey, I try not to cuss in polite company. My ‘date’ is postponed till the 6th, not good or bad, just disappointing, I’m looking forward to meeting her, she’s been looking at my profile on asiafrienfinder twice a day, so I’m probably ok there. My Social Security(I hesitate to capitolize those words because my check is so small)check arrived in my bank account, only $435 after the overdrafts or whatever caused the -$135 balance, still can’t get an accounting on that. So I skip, whistling to the nearest ATM to withdraw it all so I’ll know what I have at every moment of the day all month long and… my card doesn’t work, apparently they’ve cancelled it. I’ve written them and asked them to reinstate it or whatever they can do but it’s Saturday there, two days till they get the message, who knows what and when they’ll do whatever it is that financial people do. I’ve never had much luck with banking or money either for that matter. I spend most of my money on alcohol and women and I guess I waste the rest…Willie Nelson. The good news is that since I’ve been in Thailand I’ve lost 22.3 pounds, that’s TEN KILOS! And I’m going to lose more this week………~baba

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Transformers 3: GREATEST MOVIE EVER!

Posted on 02 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Did that title grab your attention?  I bet it did!  Nothing like a little hyperbole to get the ball rolling!
Transformers is not the only thing happening this weekend…I do hope to catch Tom Hanks directing himself in the titular role in Larry Crowne this weekend. I am not crazy about Julia Roberts, but I always seem to enjoy when she and Hanks get together…SEE ALSO: Charlie Wilson’s War.
I did have the pleasure of seeing Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the Tuesday night, 9:00pm showing. Thank you Paramount for helping me from staying up till 3:00am…TF 3 was the flick I had allocated myself for a midnight showing, so I am just as happy waiting on that midnight show for HP7, Pt. 2.
Dark of the Moon is getting middling to poor reviews, but Jimmy Crack Corn, and I DON’T CARE!! I greatly enjoyed this flick and I borderline loved it.
No, I didn’t love it in the way I love The Godfather, Part II, Apollo 13, 12 Angry Men, The Lady Vanishes, etc…
I loved Transformers: Dark of the Moon with that continued state of wide-eyed wonder with my childhood brought to life in vivid living color and live action.  In fact all of the Transformers movies played out in this way for me and this trilogy will always be a special set of movies in my pantheon of films, even if many others consider these in my guilty pleasures category.
I am a Michael Bay apologist and I am proud of it.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was kind of a cluster, but I enjoyed it for its visual spectacle. The story in Dark of the Moon was dialed way down to a much simpler sequence of events and it helped. The combo of the simpler story and pure triumph in the visual effects makes this the most exciting of the series so far.
Bay is a visual genius. Hands down. Shockwave = Excellent; Retro-moon scenes: Excellent; The End of the World as seen in Chicago = HOLY S***!  Unreal…
Keep in mind that all of this is playing out under the somewhat watchful eye of Steven Spielberg. That’s not a bad eye to have in your creative corner…SEE ALSO: Super 8.  Spielberg is becoming kind of a guru to younger filmmakers.  The world can use as much Steven Spielberg as he is willing to give.
So rather than getting into the story and breaking down how this film is better than anyone has given it credit for, let me just say again that I loved it.
PS: Megan Fox OUT, Rosie Huntington-Wheatley IN – A non-factor.
PPS: Leonard Nimoy = Great Cameo (Star Trek fans will appreciate a spin on a classic bit of Spock dialogue).
Check out Transformers: Dark of the Moon…check it out in IMAX or in one of AMC’s ETX theaters. Bay sent a letter out to projectionists imploring them to check their settings when showing this flick…he utilized some light accentuation technology to improve the brightness of the 3-D showings, when viewing the movie through the polarized glasses.
Happy 4th of July to all! Nothing screams the weekend of the 4th like BIG BLOCKBUSTER!
Sound off if you disagree with me on TF 3! My position as a Michael Bay apologist probably skews me to some extents. Wargs, I fully expect to hear it from you too…BUT I LOVE IT!
The cast for this is an even wider range of big names and the focus of TF3 is very much on the humans…Ehren Kruger is an effective storyteller…Bay is an effective Director…this flick just worked for me!!
Have a great 4th everyone!  Baba, continued safe travels to you and a special shout out to all of the Blinkin family!!

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