Posts Tagged ‘Catching Fire’

The day has finally passed that I honestly never knew was ever going to happen or not. My college career has drawn to a close. I have graduated.

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Not only did I, but once grades were posted, I’ve come to find out that I had all A’s and boosted my overall GPA up to a 3.583, which should have earned me the Cum Laude designation. What can I say, I’m a genius.
As I entered my first week of freedom, it still didn’t really feel real, and it continues…like I’m any other college student that’s simply on break right now. I thought it would hit me on Monday, when I didn’t have to go to class, but I just went about my business buying Christmas presents and spreading holiday cheer.
Now that certainly sounds nothing like me, maybe the new adult in me doesn’t feel requisite of being so dark and broody about holiday fanfare. Maybe.
I don’t think it’s really going to hit me that I’m a graduate until I see a lot of my friends return back to their studies in January, and I’m still here twiddling my thumbs…trying to find a real job.

It’s hard to tell right now how that process is going to go about happening. For the first time in my life, I’m worried about building my career path, a path that could lead me the hell out of Texas. Before, I would have told everyone that travel was not a possibility, that I’m staying right here. Now, I feel like I’d be ridiculous turning down a good job virtually anywhere…even if that means dropping everything and moving out to California.
With my chosen industry, I may not have the option of settling down in central Texas…it’s kind of scary. I’ve talked a lot of game for a while, that I’d probably end up in Los Angeles at some point…but now is the time where I have to see if I have the balls to actually play my cards if I’m dealt that hand. Time to put on the big boy pants and where the tie like an adult.
Could I really just drop everything and move halfway across the country, at a moments notice, if someone told me that a job was waiting for me? Hmm…let’s leave that at, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

As for now, Christmas is only days away, and that’s all I can think about, as it should be. It might just be because I’m now an educated man, but I have been absolutely cracking full of holiday cheer.

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…and I mean, if I’m genuinely going to be in the spirit this year, by all means, I’m going to spread it. If I could, I’d go out there and give absolutely everyone presents. Unfortunately, my pockets aren’t that deep…so maybe I can find some other way of being rewardious…it’s a word.
Hmm…

Heck, I have an idea, how about some Best of the Year Blog Awards? A Backstage Accolades if you will. I’m thinking we can take a look back at the years best movies, tv shows, video games, etc. and try and figure out our favorites.

This has been a strange year for movies. There have been a lot of good ones, but there haven’t been any that were truly exceptional as far as I’m concerned. For instance…Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, The Great and Powerful Oz, Oblivion, World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Elysium, Kick-Ass 2, The Wolverine, The World’s End…most all of these were excellent movies, but most all of them were also extremely forgettable. I could name a dozen more, all the same story…great in their own right, but remarkably unremarkable.
Regardless, I don’t want to make this decision, or any of these decisions. I’d like to have a dialogue, get y’all involved in the awarding process. So…you’ve got 5 picks each, what are you feeling this year?

That’s…a bit substantial, but I think I got everything. If I missed something though, feel free to add it to the list and give it a vote.
Moving on, I’ve got a few more categories I’d like to explore. The next one, is one that I’d definitely have a struggle with if forced to find a true winner on my own, as I don’t really watch a whole lot of TV…but I know there have been some very good TV shows that have aired this year. After a quick glance, this is what I can come up with.
Grab another 5.

I don’t know if I’m stepping out of bounds by slipping “Orange is the New Black” in the list, as it’s never aired on a TV station, being a Netflix original series. Things are changing…it’s the future. The ways in which we watch shows and movies are changing. Might as well go with the times.
For the next category, I want to take a look at interactive media. In less fancy terms…video games. With the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 released in the fall, and companies trying to milk every last bit of functionality out of the 360 and PS3, there have been some amazing developments. Nintendo has been doing some interesting things with WiiU games as well. And you can’t ever count out the PC market.
These are my findings. Choose another 5.

As before, if I missed anything, feel free to add it. Remember, 5 choices for each of the polls, so that nobody feels forced to decide which of their babies they love the most. You’ve probably figured that out by now though. Y’all are smart people.
I figure I’ll leave those open for a couple of weeks so that there’s plenty of time for y’all to get your votes in. Then, I’ll bring it down for a Top 5 for each, and we can figure out what our favorites were this year.

Well, I’ve been concentrating on finals and projects for so long, I don’t really know all to talk about here. I didn’t do my research for this post…my apologies.
I’m remembering though that I promised at some point in the past that once I had time to post my film projects, I would do so here…I guess I finally have that opportunity now.

So…Project 1, our guidelines were to establish tone, in 90 seconds, without the use of dialogue…just visuals. It was kind of a hard task. One of the first things I was ever taught at TCC was that dialogue was the most important element of any story. I’ve learned though that all your elements need to be strong to best tell a story, and sometimes…an extremely good story can exist without any dialogue at all. How did I do?

Our next project was a 4 minute film with dialogue, that had to incorporate elements from indoors and outdoors, day and night. I originally had a pretty good narrative idea planned out, but I couldn’t get enough support from my people in Denton to be able to execute it. What I ended up doing was switching to a documentary idea, and going solo down in Arlington. I enlisted the help of my buddy Jason to be the starring role. So, I decided to make him do what he’s best at…make delicious food, and let me document it.

The final project of the year was a group project where we were simply told to use all we’ve been taught, and make something cool. Our instructor kind of flipped the script on us, and let the class, as a whole define what the project requirements were. He had faith in us that we would all want to do our best to do our best work possible, and that we would all push each other to be our best. It was up to us to determine how many people per group, how long each group had to shoot, how long our projects were to be, and any other miscellaneous guidelines we had to follow. We ended up deciding that each group would have 5-7 people, have 3 days to shoot once issued equipment, and that each project needed to be 4-6 minutes long. Also, each group had to incorporate the line of dialogue, “Let’s just get this over with.” as kind a statement that we were all ready for the semester to be over.
My group decided that we wanted a more comedic idea, so we came up with a script pretty quick that each of us loved. We heard of other groups having no end of trouble getting their equipment to work, or negotiating with the elements, actors, etc. Their were several horror stories. When our turn came around though, we had a blast. The whole process was a load of fun, and an experience I wouldn’t ever trade if given the chance. That includes the night spent in the edit lab, finalizing the project until about 4:30 in the morning. It was fun. And here is what we produced as a result of all of it…

I suppose I could also give you a review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but while I like it, and would probably end up giving…
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – 7 out of 10
…all I really want to talk about is the trilogy middle child syndrome. That is, the stigma that typically befalls the second film in most trilogies. Most trilogies, whether or not it was planned out from the beginning to have three films, or just the first, they usually end up following the same format. The first film is usually a perfectly good stand alone film, as in if they had never decided to make a 2nd or a 3rd, the first could be a perfectly encapsulated story that doesn’t require any elaboration. Great examples are the original Star Wars trilogy, and The Matrix trilogy. Believe it or not, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was never intended to be the beginning of a trilogy. It was supposed to be a stand alone film, and it was decided in post that it could be expanded on in further films. It was after that when it was decided to add the crawl at the beginning, and the whole “episode iv” business. Think about it though…the Emperor had yet to be introduced, Darth Vader was sent flying out into space, and the main conquest…the Death Star, was completely destroyed. Everyone is happy at the end, Luke and Han are both given medals…end of story. It could have ended right there.
The makers decided however that one just wasn’t enough, so they shoe ended the other 2 into the story and made it work. I’m not saying that they didn’t do it well in the case of Star Wars, but The Empire Strikes Back does suffer some downfalls as an individual film. There are a lot of different problems I could name, but the big one that I’ll keep coming back to is that it is not a story that can stand on it’s own two feet. If it weren’t for the crawl, we wouldn’t have any form of proper introduction to characters, or the overarching story. The most annoying thing however is the ending. In A New Hope, you get a clear sense of resolution. The Empire Strikes back leaves you with the Rebellion on the run, the Empire with the upper hand, Luke lacking a hand, and Han frozen in Carbonite. You would think that there is no possible way that you could end a movie on such terms, but right then and there…fade up music, roll credits. The Matrix trilogy, same problem. The Nebuchadnezzar is destroyed, Neo is brain dead after taking on a Sentinel, and the ending scene shows him laying right next to the mortal embodiment of his greatest nemesis. Fade up music, roll credits. Catching Fire is exactly the same way. The story is interrupted rather suddenly through a plot device, you get dumped with some massive heavy information bombs, you get a stern look from Katniss, and, predictably…fade up music, roll credits.
Now, before you begin griping at me that the movies were made that way because, in a lot of cases, that was how the books were written…my argument can be applied to the books as well, in that they are following the same trilogy function that the movies do.

It’s not all trilogies that do this, but you know them when you see them. The expression you make at the very end bares a striking resemblance to this…

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I’ve griped long enough.

This post has been everywhere, but I’ll have my senses together next post. I’d love Love LOVE y’alls help with those Backstage Accolades polls…without it, I can’t really give y’all your true winners of the year, a people’s champion.
Hopefully next time the polls will have some good progress, or I can move on to the Top 5’s. I’ll try to have some other topics planned out for you too. Till next time.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Salmon and Crab Stuffed Flounder

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Salmon and Crab Stuffed Flounder

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As I speak, children everywhere are crying out in misery as they are being forced back on the bus and back off to school. I myself shall resume my studies here in a few days, but for now, I shall cherish these last few days of summer. For me, that probably means steak, some adult beverages, and a few more movies. My Summer Movie List has also seen it’s finish. So without any further basking in the glory of the final summer hours, let’s get on with it.

Fittingly, we shall begin with…

The World’s End

Poster designed by Alex Pardee

Poster designed by Alex Pardee

Five friends from high school are brought back together by nostalgic Gary King (Simon Pegg) decides he wants to get the gang back together for another go at a legendary pub crawl, all culminating at a pub called The World’s End. Due to a series of events, the gang comes to find out that there home town has become overrun by robots, and their only chance to make it out alive is to blend in and complete their journey to The World’s End.
This is the third installment of what has come to be known as the “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” of films directed Edgar Wright and featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Also featured in this film are Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddy Marsan, Rosamund Pike, and even a few brief cameos from Pierce Brosnan.
This flick was full of quick-witted laughs, and the unabashed gore and violence was on point, but something felt kind of off. I felt like this film was written to follow its’ two predecessors, instead of to really stand on its own. The film felt reliant on the humor and fan base of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to keep its’ audience grounded. I feel what I’m really trying to gripe about hear is that the film didn’t bring anything new to the trilogy, and as a stand alone film it borrowed heavily from the past works of its creators.
It’s still a great film, and you’ll laugh all the way through, but don’t expect any new life to be breathed into it.
The World’s End – 7 out of 10

I also happened to see another movie this past weekend that wasn’t on my list…

Two Guns
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When I first saw the ads for this flick, I honestly wasn’t that excited. It looked like kind of a generic buddy cop movie, so I guess the marketing just didn’t quite do it justice. A DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence officer team up team up to recoup some money, not knowing their partner’s true identity, or who the money truly belongs to. They end up stealing money from the wrong people, and must figure out how to work with one another, and get each other out of their unexpected situation. Mark Wahlberg made this movie for me. His character was just so quick-witted, and loved to run his mouth…I was unexpectedly laughing my butt off in a couple of places. Washington‘s character had a pretty smart mouth on him too, but not near as snarky as Wahlberg’s. The unexpected brief nudity was also rather nice. I didn’t know it going in, but Paula Patton very briefly bares her chest for all to see. Very brief, if you blink, you might miss it. The story wasn’t very original, but you’re not really expecting innovative with a buddy cop flick. It’s good, it’d definitely get the intentional walk at the Roman Coliseum.
2 Guns – 7 out of 10

Well, with that, we’ve come to the end of what I would consider the summer movie season, and have entered the Fall season for movie releases. From here until next summer there is a drop in the volume of movies, and we also begin to see movies of a different caliber. Ever since Jaws, summer is the season for big hollywood blockbusters, and in between summers are we see more indie films, dramas, and documentaries.
The following list are the movies that stand out in my mind for the upcoming fall season.

Riddick – 9/06
Vin Diesel reprises his role as Riddick, the enigmatic and reluctant last son of the Furyan people. In his last film, Riddick just wanted to be left alone, now all he wants is revenge. Every bounty hunter in the galaxy is out get him, but for Riddick, that’s just part of the plan. Still directed by David Twohy, we can probably expect the same caliber of story and story telling that we’ve come to expect from the previous two movies of the franchise.

The Family – 9/13
Robert DeNiro is a former mobster turned witness against his former mafia clan. He and his family are forced to move to Normandy, France in the witness protection program to keep the mob from finding them. They must learn to live in their new surroundings while keeping a low profile so the mob doesn’t catch wind of where they’ve been relocated. I almost didn’t add this to my list, this just looks like it’s going to fall flat. I think this is going to end up being one of the huge bombs that Relativity Media has built a poor reputation on. I was surprised though by 2 Guns, so I decided to throw this in there.

Prisoners – 9/20
Two little girls go missing, and the only lead is a ratty looking old RV parked on the same street that the girls live on. The driver is arrested, but with nothing to hold him on he is soon released. With time wearing on, the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) decides to take matters into his own hands. How far will he go to get his daughter back?

Machete Kills – 10/11
The Mad Mexican named Machete returns, this time under the employment of the U.S. government. His mission is to go deep into Mexico to take out a cartel leader and a billionaire arms dealer. An army will stand in the way to his objective, but they’ll have probably wished they brought more guns.
I never saw the first Machete, or the short in between the 2007 double feature, Planet Terror/Grindhouse…for which I am reluctant. Just never got around to it, but I’ll probably make the effort before this comes out. The cast here is star studded; Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, Amber Heard, Jessica Alba, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga, Carlos Estevez…yes, Carlos Esteves. Charlie Sheen has decided for the first time to drop his stage name and use his legal name. What role is he playing? President of The United States…this is bound to be good.

Carrie – 10/18
Under the torment of her peers, a sheltered high school discovers that she has telekinetic powers, and unleashes them. This is a remake of the 1976 classic under the same name. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as the title role. (Still too early to say she’s hot? Still 16? Crap.) Julianne Moore will play the role of Carrie’s overprotective mother. You know I’ll go and see this.

Bad Grandpa – 10/25
Johnny Knoxville stars in this 4th film of the Jackass franchise. Instead of the usual crazy instincts of the entire crew, this film will center on the character created for him, Irving Zisman…or Bad Grandpa. It seems a strange turn for the Jackass guys to make a movie about one person, and a “character” at that, but supposedly this movie will still be very grounded in reality, and the interactions and reactions of others. I’ve still never seen a Jackass film in theaters, and may wait for the DVD to come out, but let’s see what’s going on that weekend.

Ender’s Game – 11/01
The film adaptation Orson Scott Card’s 1984 novel is finally being brought into the light! The script has technically been ready since 2009, but Lionsgate didn’t pick it up for distribution until 2011. I’m torn here; I’ve read one of the books which it is based on, and I can tell you from a sci-fi perspective that Card’s vision of the future is amazing…but from a socio-political standpoint it’s catching a lot of flack. Card evidently has a very heavy bias against the LGBT lifestyle and movement, and a strong boycott movement has been aimed at the film. Lionsgate is trying to distance themselves and the film from its creator, but I guess we’ll see how well that goes. I’m a real fan of the story, and I feel like despite Card’s personal views, the story should speak for itself.
The story: after barely fending off an attack from an alien race called Formics, more commonly know as Buggers, the world’s military strategists begin training children from an early age to one day be proficient enough to lead Earth’s forces against the Buggers. But, is there enough time to get these children up to speed, and at what cost to the children?

Thor: The Dark World – 11/08
One year after the events in The Avengers has passed, Thor finds himself in a fight to save the 9 Realms from an enemy older than the Cosmos itself…and no, the Chitauri and Thanos are in no way involved with this film. The villain[s] of this film are Malekith the Accursed, and his Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. The Marvel Universe has such a huge catalog of villains, it’s hard to keep up with them. Since getting into the modern Marvel Avengers franchise, I’ve become interested enough that I’ll most likely go and see it.

Catching Fire – 11/22
The sequel to the mildly loved Hunger Games is on its way. Jennifer Lawrence, and Josh Hutcherson step back into their roles as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, having just returned from their victory at the 74th Annual Hunger Games, and having to set off on a victory tour of the the other districts. Revolution however brews on the heels of their victory, and everyone can sense it. The capital however remains firmly in control though as the President prepares for the 75th Annual Hunger Games: the Quarter Quell. The downfall of this film, like its predecessor, is the film’s rating. PG-13 is not an appropriate rating to properly convey the events. Hunger Games was supposed to depict children killing one another, extremely brutally in some cases. The only way to accomplish this in a PG-13 movie is to quickly cut away from the action. I fear that Catching Fire will target itself at the same audience, and ultimately end up suffering the same fate. An R rating could save this franchise. In reality though, I’ll hope for the best, and expect the worst.

My list ends at the end of November. I know that Texas rarely ever gets a true winter, but it still doesn’t feel right grouping December flicks in on the Fall List. Like I said though…not much. There will be even fewer once my Winter List comes out.

While on the subject of upcoming movies, there was an announcement this past week that’s had the info tubes up in a huge tizzy. Warner Brothers and Zach Snyder have cast a new Batman in the new title, Batman vs. Superman, slated right now to be released in July of 2015. Ben Affleck is the man that has been chosen.

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Everyone is having an extremely visceral reaction to this news, and though I really don’t want to rush to form an opinion on this too quick, I really do want to talk about it. I’m pretty sure that most of the people that are responding negatively are remembering his portrayal of Daredevil back in 2003.

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I’m sure I speak for…the majority when I say that it wasn’t good. I’m pretty sure that even Affleck himself said after Daredevil flopped that he would never play a superhero again. 10 years have passed between then and now though, and he’s had a lot of time to grow as an actor. Anyone who saw Argo (2012) will know that he is very capable of powerful dramatic roles. Stepping into the role as a superhero again is a big step, but I think he’s ready for it.
Let’s not forget either, the huge backlash that occurred when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker in The Dark Knight. People were outraged at that news, and his performance of the villain went on to be the one that most everyone will agree as the best in the history of the role. I think Affleck will surprise us, and actually put on a good show. I’m honestly more interested to see if there will be a Robin.

I want to say that this next thing is big news as well, but it’s more speculation of big news. Rumor has it that on September 10th, Apple will unveil their next range of new products across the whole spectrum with which they operate.

Apple Sep 10

They will supposedly unveil the new iPhone (the 5s or whatever they want to call it), and also a cut-down, lower cost version of the phone, for those that want a smart phone on a budget. iOS 7 has been beta testing for a few months now, and it’s reasonable to assume that the new phones will come with the final build of that. It is also expected that Apple will also launch, if not at this event then sometime extremely soon, the new version of Mac OS X, referred to as Mavericks (I guess they’re getting tired of the big cats motif). I’m just guessing here, but maybe they’ll have a new iPad as well? We’ll see I guess…2 weeks and some change, let’s see if I’m right.

How about some real news? Video games save lives. This isn’t what you normally hear in the news. You usually hear about video games killing cops or shooting up schools. Well, about 4 weeks or so ago, the tables turned.
In Colorado, a 10-year-old boy named Gryffin was the passenger in a car with his younger brother and 74-year-old grandmother. The grandmother passed out at the wheel for unknown reasons, and young Gryffin, thinking quickly, seized the wheel of the 60 mph car and directed it into a muddy ditch before the car could veer into oncoming traffic. When asked where he learned to do what he did, his response was Mario Kart. Thorough training in the Nintendo racing game decreased little Gryffin’s reaction time, and increased his decision-making ability. Confusion or panic could easily have been Gryffin’s instinctual reaction, but his training took over and he jumped behind the wheel.
Thanks to video games, Gryffin was able to save the life of his grandmother, his little brother, and himself. We should be thankful though that he didn’t have any banana peels or tortoise shells to contend with.
It’s nice to see something positive about video games popping up in the news from time to time. Thank you Gryffin, for breaking the stereotype that video games are the bad guy.

Finally, a good story with which to end this post. I guess that means I’m at my stopping point for the day. With school starting back up here this week, I’ll try and cook up some school related material for next week. I’m having a thought. Something that I used to do for my roommates was put together a schedule of big college football games for the week, so that we’d know at a quick glance where and when big games were being played, and try plan accordingly. If time permits, I may try and work that into blog here.

Alright lads and lasses. It’s been fun. Till next week…

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Scratching the Itch at J Sushi in Denton

Scratching the Itch at J Sushi in Denton