Dreaming (a death poem)

Dreaming (a death poem)

Black

I dreamt last while that I killed a man
That me and some friends
I use the term loosely
Beat a man to death for no reason

We were drunk
We were high
There was a devil there
Who started it off
But we all joined in just the same

When I woke
No matter how I tried
I couldn’t get it out of my mind
It was disturbing

So much so that
I dreamt again the following night
It started with a family
Me on a couch watching TV
Mother-in-law in the next room

I dreamt about guilt
Then the investigation
A phone call from a man
An image that showed my face
Near a heinous crime

I dreamt of how quickly I cracked
Under the pressure
And how much this bothered
My friends
Their wives
Their mothers
And laws
And the man we killed had a name

When I woke
No matter how I tried
I couldn’t get it out of my head
It was unnerving

So much so that
I dreamt again
About the trial
And how bad a liar I am in dreams
And how deathrow smells like cold turkey

My execution was barbaric
Execution always is
It doesn’t bring back the dead
More than add to the death toll

I died looking into my own face
If we are everyone in our dreams

Then I was the man
I was the devil
I was the friends
The wives
The mothers
The judge
The executioner

If we are everyone in our dreams
Then I died staring into my own
Disappointed eyes

And then the dream stopped
All the dreams stopped
All of the dreaming stopped
And now I don’t dream at all

- Mel

5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for September (The Return of the Quick Review)

This month’s installment of 5 Quick Reviews is a little late. I hope you didn’t have to suffer through any bad films because of me. If so I’m sorry.

The Chief

“He’s sorry?”

I got a little carried away in last month’s installment of 5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVDs. First of all there were EIGHT of them. The reviews weren’t QUICK at all. And actually they were more rants that REVIEWS. I’m sorry for that.

Watanabe

“Oh my god. He said it again.”

This month I’ve calmed it down a bit and returned to form. This time around there are only SEVEN movie reviews, only ONE could be considered a rant (well maybe two) and the rest are all pretty damn QUICK.

Party Time

“Woohoo! Party time!”

There’s a lot of sci-fi this time out. And half of these movies are pretty damn good. There are four (count ‘em four) science fiction films, one comedy, one animated and one love story. One… epic… love… story.

To the reviews!!!

Snowpiercer Banner

First up

Godzilla (2014) (Warner Bros. Pictures, Toho)

Godzilla Poster

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Written by Max Borenstein and David Callaham  Based on Godzilla
by Toho

Starring Aaron Taylor-JohnsonKen WatanabeElizabeth OlsenJuliette BinocheSally HawkinsDavid Strathairn & Bryan Cranston

Godzilla in the Water

Godzilla (2014) is a surprisingly good movie after a string of bad Godzilla films.

Ken Watanabe

A prehistoric and (perhaps) extraterrestrial giant fire-breathing lizard is tasked with saving the world. Godzilla is the king of all monsters. You better recognize.

Bryan Cranston

The cast is good. Including the amazingly versatile Bryan Cranston who plays a man obsessed with finding out what actually happened to create the nuclear meltdown that destroyed his life. The plot is good. The effects are good. The fights are epic.

Ashley Olsen

Finally!! someone gets Godzilla right. Well done guys.

Godzilla

“Woo hoo!”

Rent it. (Godzilla is a fun giant monster movie)

Next up… we learn that an epic love does not have to be a long one.

The Fault in Our Stars (20th Century Fox)

The Fault in our Poster

Directed by Josh Boone

Written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber  Based on The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

Starring Shailene WoodleyAnsel ElgortNat WolffLaura DernSam Trammell & Willem Dafoe

The Fault in our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is a very good story. Well-written. You can tell it’s a great book. In fact, I’m pretty sure that anything I liked about the movie is likely straight from the book because I didn’t much like the direction or the screenplay. But the story and choice bits of writing; important quotes, (probably directly from the book) were sensational.

The Fault in our Sofa

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of a young girl dying of cancer who meets a boy in a support gr- You know what. It’s about the specialness of first love. And it’s about how life is temporary. So live it to the fullest. At least that’s what I got out of it, as I played a game with myself to see how long I could go without crying. And in my defense, I kept from crying for a while. I didn’t cry until the main character started to cry (that always gets me).

Shailene Woodley

I don’t like to watch tear-jerkers because I cry anyway. I don’t need to be made to cry with some heavy-handed emotional manipulations. It’s the same reason I don’t like Horror Films. a well-done thriller will scare the shit out of me already. I don’t need the contrivance. The whole thing seems too on the nose. Like we are going to make you cry now. But the love story in The Fault in Our Stars is amazing. The actors are fantastic. I was already falling in love with Shailene Woodley from her last few movies and this one just cements it.

The Fault in our Date Night

She is one of my favorite young actresses.

The Fault in our Cast

“Dude, you cried like a woman.” “Ha ha.”

Wow. What a good story. They tell you going in that it’s a sad one, so be ready. But what it actually is is a great love story. What it actually is is fucking Romeo and Juliet done well. Done REALLY well. Still I didn’t like the direction. And the writing is only good because the book is good. And the movie is only good because the book is good. And there’s this one added scene in the DVD where John Green makes a cameo and I just wanted to stand up and applaud him. Dude, well done. Great story. Don’t believe me? Listen to this guy.

“John Green, methinks thou hast written a greater love story than even I.”

- William Shakespeare

Rent it (OR read the book. Read the book. Just read the book)

Next up… there be dragons here…

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (20th Century Fox)

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Directed by Dean DeBlois

Written by Dean DeBlois  Based on How to Train Your Dragon
by Cressida Cowell

Starring Jay BaruchelCate BlanchettGerard ButlerCraig FergusonAmerica FerreraJonah HillChristopher Mintz-PlasseT.J. MillerKristen WiigDjimon Hounsou & Kit Harington

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Well guys, the first movie about a town that learns to co-exist with dragons did well? Time to make a sequel. Let’s see what kind of trouble little Hiccup can get his friends into.

Valka

Any plot ideas? Nope? Screw it. We’ll do a sequel anyway. We’ll just make Hiccup do something stupid and hope the characters from the first movie are lovable enough to carry a second one. Those idiots will see anything with loveable characters.

how-to-train-your-dragon 2

“I don’t like this guy’s attitude.” “It’s okay. He likes us. He likes us.”

And they are loveable. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a fun movie without much of a plot.

Rent it. (Fun with dragons)

Next…

Neighbors (Universal Pictures)

Neighbors Poster

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Written by Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O’Brien

Starring Seth RogenZac EfronRose ByrneChristopher Mintz-PlasseDave FrancoIke Barinholtz & Carla Gallo

Neighbors

Neighbors is very funny and very very sweet. (Surprised the hell out of me).

neighbors frat house

“What you think a frat movie can’t have heart?”

A young couple gets into a hilarious feud with a college fraternity that moves into the house next door. This movie is a surprisingly sweet and a very funny film in spite of that hokey premise. Mostly because the cast is sensational.

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne

“Does he mean us or them?”

The story is simple but the entire cast is amazing. From the young married parents who still live in their college town: Seth Rogen, and the incredible Rose Byrne, to their best friends played by Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo, to their next door nemeses played by two of the prettiest young comedy actors in film:

Zac Efron and Dave Franco

“You talkin’ to me?” “You talkin’ to us?”

The very funny Dave Franco (James Franco’s younger brother) and the lovely abs of Zac Efron (who spends much of the film without a shirt). No seriously, he does.

Efron and Rogen

Rent it. (It’s very funny and Zac Efron is very hot)

Next up a little indie sci-fi… (R U Agitated)

The Signal (Entertainment OneFocus Features)

The Signal Poster

Directed by William Eubank

Written by Carlyle EubankDavid Frigerio and William Eubank

Starring Laurence FishburneBrenton ThwaitesOlivia Cooke & Lin Shaye

The Signal

The Signal moves through movie genres at the speed of light. It starts off as a hacker thriller, turns into an indie horror, then slides through four more genres that would spoil the plot. It pretends to be about three college computer hackers on a cross-country road trip that are being harassed by a mysterious cyber stalker. And it is not much of spoiler to tell you that it ain’t true. That ain’t what it is at all.

The Signal Movie

The Signal is a grand mystery but with a weak pay-off. Literally, the film’s pay-off is a special effect. In fact every major discovery in this film is presented as a special effect.

The Signal Still

The movie is very interesting. And it’s intriguing. But it sets up these great mysteries and pays them off visually. It’s unsatisfying and kind of cliché. And yet, I kind of recommend it for sci-fi fans, even though the movie starts like it doesn’t know what it wants to be and ends like the writer and director never saw a Twilight Zone episode.

Hacking in the bathroom

“What’s Twilight Zone?”

Rent it. (It’s not that good but it’s interesting enough so that it’s not a total waste of time)

Next up… a very LOUD sequel…

Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount Pictures)

Transformers 4 Poster

Directed by Michael Bay

Written by Ehren Kruger  Based on Transformers by Hasbro

Starring Mark WahlbergStanley TucciNicola PeltzKelsey GrammerJack ReynorSophia Myles & Li Bingbing

Bad. Bad bad movie. Bad movie. Bad movie. Bad.

Transformers

Transformers 4 is a bad movie. Not as bad as the last Transformers and there’s the beautifully sublime absence of Shia LeBeouf (Thank you for that). But the writing is horrible. The dialogue is unbelievably insipid. The plot is unfollowable. And the rules of the magic system are re-written somewhere in the middle.

Lockdown

Once again, the Earth is in danger and the big dumb robots have to destroy a city in order to save it from the other big dumb robots. It’s bad. But what really annoyed me is its inconsistency with the robot powers. How when a robot is broken all it has to do is scan an automotive of the same type and it’s all fixed. What?

Mark Wahberg

And the destruction. The awesome destruction of everything around. The death count is astronomical. But just as long as the three humans that we’re supposed to care about don’t die, it’s party time. And don’t get me started on the maddening fact that these are metal robots shooting metal bullets at each other. So since all of it; the gun, the bullets, whatever, are just a part of their body, in a sense they’re shooting their own DNA at each other. It’s all just one big circle jerk. One massive money shot.

Bumblebee

Age of Extinction is yet another incredibly bad Transformers movie from a franchise that continues to make millions at the box-office releasing incredibly bad movies.

Transformers Age of Extinction

Skip it or Rent it. It really doesn’t matter. They’ve made a really bad movie but it won’t stop people from sending them lots of money. It didn’t stop me from wanting to see it.

Dino Bots

You win Michael Bay. You’ve made idiots of us all.

And lastly… half American, half Korean, All French and all weird…

Snowpiercer (RADiUS-TWC (North America), CJ Entertainment (South Korea))

Snowpiercer Poster

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Written by Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson  Based on Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette

Starring Chris EvansSong Kang-hoTilda SwintonJamie BellOctavia SpencerJohn Hurt & Ed Harris

Snowpiercer Cast

“You think he’s gonna like us?”

In Snowpiercer, based on the French graphic novel, the last of the human race, after a man-made global ice age, live on a moving train that takes a year to circumnavigate the global land mass. (Well that seems like a good premise doesn’t it?). There are major plot holes and logistic leaps of fancy in the movie. The movie glosses over much of the basics in the graphic novel and it is noticeably missing.

snowpiercer-train

For instance: Who exists outside to repair the tracks? Where do all these people sleep? The director keeps the same number of passengers but shrinks the train down significantly to only 60 cars. (then he creates this silly spatially challenged inter-train-car shootout that just made me fucking angry).

snowpiercer-train-diagram-bong-joon-ho

Here the director attempts to explain the shootout and the logistics. He fails.

Snowpiercer is the story of a passenger revolt. The poor passengers in the back of the train, that live off of protein cubes made from god-knows-what, have decided to push their way forward. That’s the whole movie. (two minutes per car).

Snowpiercer

This movie makes me want to…

The plot is linear and so is the train. We start at the back and work our way to the front. It’s a fantasy so we’re supposed to forgive that the layout of the train makes no sense.

Snowpiercer-teacher-with-gun

“I could help you with that.”

But what also makes no sense is the movie’s grasp of morality. The bad guy is the guy who makes the hard decisions about how to keep the population controlled (in more ways than one) and the train moving. While the good guy is the guy who wants to destroy the balance and possibly cause the extinction of the human race. It’s a madhouse!

The Tail Section

“What did he say?” “I think he said the movie makes him want a bullet in the head.”

Still the story makes you think even as it misses the mark logically. And it has a great cast. It feels at times like a fable or a fairy tale. A fantasy film that almost reminds me of the best of Terry Gilliam mixed with Ridley Scott mixed with Andrei Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train (a great movie) with some early Jean-Pierre Jeunet thrown in for good measure. But it misses the mark and is instead infuriatingly pedestrian and in the end just all kinds of fucking stupid. Did they even read the graphic novel?

Tilda Swinton

“Please end it well.”

But I guess they did the best they could with what they had to work with (three languages and an epic story). And it is kind of interesting… NAH

Skip it. (The movie is a total waste of time. We learn nothing. They learn nothing)

So to recap…

We had two movies about giants that either want to destroy or save the planet but end up destroying most of it; Transformers: Age of Extinction and Godzilla (2014). The first one is yet another bad movie in a series of bad movies and the other is pretty good.

We had two movies about a couple in love who fight against the odds while holding on to their sense of humor; The Fault in Our Stars and Neighbors. One of them may make you laugh until you cry. While the other one will make you laugh until you cry.  Both good.

We had two movies about a society trying to live in balance with destructive forces; How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Snowpiercer. Both of them cartoonish and silly. But only one of them takes itself seriously and thinks it’s trying to teach us something.

And we had a movie called The Signal. Where any description of it is a spoiler. But it’s worth a look for the clever special effects touches.

And that’s it for September (Captain America: The Winter Soldier was pushed back a month but I reviewed it last month)

Until next time, I’ll see you guys on the couch.

I’ve got a train to catch.

Snowpiercer The Escape

One thousand and one (not sixty).

- Mel

Photos From Around The Block (Return to University)

I had to make another appointment today. So I was forced to step outside my “comfort zone” (aka my home). As always I took my camera with me. Unfortunately, it rained and I didn’t get a lot of good shots but I will post the ones I got.

This time out, it was the eye doctor’s. I’m either reading or staring at a screen all day. And I don’t do enough eye stretching (when you look away from the screen and focus long focus short and focus long again). So my eyes are getting pretty screwed.

This is the way my camera sees the world…

Subway Candy Stand

How my camera sees the world.

And this is how my eyes see it…

Subway Bizzarro Candy Stand

How I see the world without glasses.

Not really but I still need new glasses.

My ophthalmologist is near Columbia University so most of these are of the campus and students. Even the more famous ones.

I saw this brave woman…

Raped on this Mattress

Emma Sulkowicz and her burden.

She was raped on this mattress and now she carries it with her everywhere to raise awareness and also in protest. As of my writing this, her alleged rapist has not been charged with anything.

It’s been two decades since I was in college but not a lot has changed.

To the pics…

Columbia Statue

First off. I saw this woman here. She really likes her book. What you got there, lady?

Yellow Bike

I saw a big yellow bike, today. With very tassely saddlebags.

Street Flowers

And of course, I saw the obligatory street flowers.

Oh yeah and I saw Batman

Oh yeah. And I also saw Batman.

Wait for him...

No seriously, I saw Batman. Wait for him…

There he is!

There he goes! Who knew Batman went here.

Keep off the grass. No seriously it kills brain cells.

Keep off the grass, students. Keep off the grass. No seriously, it kills brain cells.

Libraries don't kill brain cells. They promote brain growth.

Big beautiful libraries don’t kill brain cells. Nope. Quite the opposite.

Crowded Farmer's Market

There was a farmer’s market there. I’d show you If this guy would get out of the way.

Farmer's Market

It was crowded but there was lots of good stuff out there.

Farmer's Market

You can’t really see what they’re offering in this picture. I’ll try to get closer.

Journalism School

The surveillance state in full effect. Somehow, I think Joseph Pulitzer would approve.

She's not reading that book.

Just realized something… She’s not reading that book. She’s showing it to us.

Journalism

The school of journalism… NO PICTURES!!!

Church

I think I’ve snapped this church from a different angle before.

Gothic

This pic is pretty gothic.

Creepy Building

If I were Batman. I would be up there. But I’m not…

Vegetables

Ooh exotic fruits & vegetables at the farmer’s market.

Farmer's Market

And the fruits & vegetables we’re more used to seeing.

Neighborhood

I like this shot of the neighborhood buildings.

My Favorite Shot

But this one was my favorite.

That’s all I got.

It started to rain.

I went home.

Next time,

- Mel