Sunday, February 28, 2010

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games or We Won at Hockey

Well they got off to a shaky start what with the unfortunate death and the faulty hydraulics, but they ended on an incredible high with a series of ups and downs in between. Rather than write a giant block of text on my final impressions I decided to put my review into list format so here's my Top 10 Best Things and Worst Things about the Olympics:

The Best

10. Jennifer Hiel wins our first medal of the games with a silver in Women's Moguls. The first is always a good one.

9. Mael Ricker wins gold in Women's Snowboard Cross. Although we won a lot of gold at this Olympics (a record breaking 14 as I am sure you already know) I found this one particularly memorable. How well she raced, the smile on her face afterwards, the fact that she wasn't even thought to be our best competitor in the event, and the commentary when she crossed the finish line all combined to create a classic Olympic moment.

8. Clara Hughes wins bronze in the Women's 5000m in the final race of her career. Hughes is considered to be one of Canada's greatest athlete and the only person int he world to win medals in both the summer and winter games. What an excellent way to cap off an astounding career.

7. Tessa Moir and Scott Virtue win gold in ice dancing. I have to admit I don't really understand this sport, but their skate was beautiful and it put an end to Russian dominance of figure skating. Plus they had some rather amusing reactions.

6. Jon Montgomery wins the Men's Skeleton. For me this was all in how he treated the win with rowdy cheering while marching through Whistler drinking from a pitcher of beer. They say it takes Olympic athletes some time before they realize that they've won, but I think Montgomery figured it out right away and seized the moment.

5. Jasey Jay Anderson wins gold in Snowboard PGS moments after we won gold in the Speed Skating Men's Team Pursuit. Both races were incredibly close and there was a second where it seemed like we wouldn't win either which made victory all the more sweeter.

4. Winning gold and silver in 2 Women Bobsleigh. It always awesome to be the best twice over. Now if only we had a third team to win bronze.

3. Joannie Rochette wins bronze in Figure Skating just days after the death of her mother. To many Canadians this medal was as good as gold (especially considering her competition). It was an emotional short program that left even me choked up a little bit. She also got the Terry Fox Award and the distinction of carrying our flag at the closing ceremony in reward for her efforts.

2. Alexandre Bilodeau wins gold in Men's Moguls, the first gold ever won by a Canadian on our own soil. This was quite a moment for all of Canada made all the more poignant due to Bilodeau's relationship with his brother (which I think the media exploited just bit too much).

1. We won at Hockey!

The Worst

10. Lineups everywhere. This is one of those annoyances that one expects when an event such as the Olympics comes to town and it was slightly remedied by the fact that everybody was in a good mood.

9. Annoying advertising. Although this is true of all Olympics I cannot help but be bothered by how corporatized this event is. Thus became most apparent upon entering the Coca-Cola Pavilion.

8. There were too many crappy bands at the closing ceremony especially Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, Simple Plan and Hedley. Though on the flip side there was Neil Young, Michael Buble, and k.d. Lang at the opening ceremony. At least there was no Celine Dion.

7. Olympic naysayers such as the rioters on the first day, the British press, and a few other groups expended quite a bit of effort to rain on everybody's parade and although they were obnoxious I think its safe to say that they failed in their goal.

6. Any women's hockey game that's not Canada vs. U.S.A. just simply isn't all that exciting. In fact they're downright painful to watch. I am sorry to say it ladies, but if you don't get other countries interested in the sport then I just don't see how they can keep this in the Olympics.

5. The bad weather at Cypress was a pain in the ass, but VANOC and the volunteers did their best to keep it going.

4. At every Olympic games there is victory, but for many there is also disappointment and Canada had its fair share with a few medals that got away. I won't pick out any specific athlete, but I am sure we all saw at least one fall short of expectations.

3. There were numerous problems regarding the torch starting at the opening ceremony when the hydraulics broke down on one of the legs leave Catrina Le May Doan looking rather awkward. Then there was the lack of access to the outdoor torch which raised the ire of many people who wanted a photograph. Both of these problems were taken care of in their own way.

2. One thing I absolutely despise is that goddamn song they play every goddamn time we win a goddamn medal, that "I believe in miracles" tripe. Not only is it incredibly sappy, but I always forget that they're going to play it because I am so excited that we won. Then it comes on like a crotch shot to my national pride.

1. The Olympics opened with the tragic death of Nodar the Georgian luger which is a pretty terrible way to start off any event.

So there you have the best and the worst of it although I left out some pretty important things like all our other medalists, Stephen Colbert, and of course the jubilant attitude of all Canadians during these Olympics especially after we won hockey gold. These games were a tremendous positive in my opinion, and something that I won't soon forget.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amazon Women on the Moon

So I was in Victoria this weekend (which is why I am posting late) and some friends and I were channel surfing and stumbled across this very peculiar movie. At first we thought it was going to be a terrible 1950's sci-fi flick, but then it turned out to be a comedy spoof of sci-fi, infomercials, and late-night television. It's quite the oddball film with a Monty Pythonish flair to it and it's hilarious.

There's no point in discussing the plot to this film since it doesn't have on. Amazon Women on the Moon is mostly just a series of sketches with the actual film in the title interspersed between them. It starts off rather weakly with a slapstick sketch featuring Arsenio Hall getting hurt by household appliances in various ways. But after that does it ever pick up steam. There's a day in the life of a porn star, a man who gets trapped inside his television, the Smithsonian going out of business sale, a young man attempting to buy a condom, the not-quite-so-invisible man, and of course the titular adventure on Earth's largest satellite among many others. This movie is freewheeling, completely unpredictable and delivers plenty of laughs.

Overall Amazon Women on the Moon was a pleasantly surprising find. What's more surprising is how it seems to have been forgotten without even a cult following (that I know of). A cursory glance of Rotten Tomatoes reveals that this movie is not a critical darling either. Which is not all that surprsing given the raunchiness, lack of overall cohesion, and no discenrnable moral. For me these are the things that make it so funny. Its a crazy joyride that serves no purpose other than to make you laugh and boy does it get the job done. I won't say anymore becasue its impossible to describe this film any further without sucking all the fun out of it, so go out, find it if you can, get some friends together, and have a grand ol' time.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


So some time in December this movie called Avatar came out and I guess it was kinda a big deal. I almost didn't see it, but then my dad said he'd pay for my ticket and that seemed like a good idea to me so away I went. They gave us some 3D glasses, the movie started, we oohed and ahhed for about 2 hours, the movie ended, and then we went home. A week later I am writing this review, because its taken me about that long to figure out what I thought of the whole thing.
For those of you who don't like to read here's the short version of my review:it was pretty cliche, the effects were great, its not gonna revolutionize anything.

Anyone who's seen this movie and has also seen Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas will tell you that the plots are almost identical. For those of you who haven't seen either it goes something like this: White man represses the native savages, white man is forced to integrate with said savages, white man realizes that the savages lead a noble, perhaps even superior, way of life, white man becomes one of them and falls in love with/marries chief's daughter, white man must now fend off the other white oppressors with his new kin.

Its all pretty formulaic and its a storyline that I don't very much care for. I read it as a way for white people to cope with the guilt they feel over the oppression/displacement/destruction of indigenous populations which began when Columbus discovered the New World and continues to this day in various forms. In this Dances with Wolves formula the evils of colonialism are laid bare and the audience is able to disapprove of it, but the fact that the white man is still the hero insures that they never become too uncomfortable (ever notice how if whitey hadn't come along then the natives never would have been able to fend for themselves?).

So the plot isn't anything special, but what about the characters? The actors all do a fine job, but the people they play are all pretty archetypal: the battle-hardened warhawk (often with a southern accent), the grumpy intellectual with a rough exterior, but a soft interior (often at odds with the warhawk), and of course the John Smith who discovers the noble savage. But blaming an action movie for using stock characters is like condemning a fantasy game for having elves or dwarfs; its something that you expect and I don't hold it against the movie.

I've been talking a lot about plot and characters, but I've ignored the most important aspect of Avatar, and perhaps the main reason why so many people have paid good money to see it: the spectacle, and indeed Avatar delivers on this level. The superb special effects combines well with the 3D to temporarily take you out of the theatre and immerse you in the world of Pandora. There is plenty of exotic, brightly coloured flora and fauna to attract the eye, but which are reminiscent of animals from earth (dogs, rhinos, etc.) to keep the audience rooted in the familiar. The Na'ri themselves are also impressive and its hard to believe they aren't real when they're standing next to an actual human.

Avatar is all about the spectacle and it is definitely an "event movie", but is it revolutionary as some critics are saying? Perhaps some of the techniques Cameron used my affect how special effects are done, but I saw nothing particularly revolutionary about the film. As I said earlier the plot and characters are nothing new, and its not like I've never seen a movie with dazzling special effects before. Though Transformers is not my favourite movie, the robots do look spectacular and are just as good, if not better, than the mechas and other war machines that appear in this film. Lord of the Rings had awesome effects (especially Golum who, like the Na'ri, seemed very real) paired with a great story and dynamic characters on a grander scale.Or District 9 for example which came out in the same year, is also sci-fi, had amazing special effects, and was made on a budget a tenth of the size. And Avatar isn't the first movie to be made in 3D, though due to its success we can probably look forward to many more 3D films in the future. In the end I just don't think its done anything particularly revolutionary other than make a fuckton of money so I don't see how it can revolutionize film making. Of course I am a just a lowly blogger with 6 followers so what the hell do I know?

P.S. Sorry this review was late. I don't have a good excuse (I was playing Guild Wars).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pokemon: The First Movie

In the comments section of my post on The Room, one Kevin Rey asked me to review Pokemon: The First Movie. I was a little iffy on the subject at first and refused. But, being the benevolent man that I am, I decided to grant his wish, though he may find that you should be careful what you wish for.

What I wrote on the subject of Pokemon: The First Movie has been deemed so offensive that I am required by law to make it as difficult as possible to read, to apologize in advance (on that note I am deeply sorry), and to include the following disclaimer:


If I were to force a six year-old starving African child to suck the diarrhea of an undead skunk out my dick in exchange for a bite of my month old Big Mac, it still would not be as disgusting a crime against humanity as Pokemon: The First Movie.

Yep. That about does it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Monty Python and The Holy Grail

During my birthday party I watched two movies. The first was that inhumane abuse of celluloid I reviewed last week known as The Room. After suffering through that it was very refreshing to watch a film of quality. That film is Monty Python and The Holy Grail which just so happens to be the funniest movie ever made.

Unlike certain other comedies (ie Borat) which lose some or most of their humour upon repeated viewings The Holy Grail never gets old. This is my third time watching it and everythime there's always a few jokes or scenes that I forgot or missed (the ridiculous names of the ladies in Castle Anthrax, the bizarre actions of some of the peasants, the french pronunciation of the word "knights" just to name a few), and even those that I do remember are just as funny as they were before, perhaps more so because I know they are funny and I look forward to them. Monty Python has a lot to offer and, like any great film, in order to get everything out of it you have to watch it more than once.

It begins with the most hilarious opening credits sequence of any movie I have ever seen. Once you reach the llamas portion of the credits you'll probably have a pretty good idea of what's in store. The film begins proper with a sound of hooves which turns out to just be a man clapping coconut halves together while King Arthur mimes riding a horse. At this point you'll know whether or not this movie is for you. Most people are under the impression that this movie is for geeks only, or more specifically, male geeks, but I don't think this is the case. I know a large number of women who find this movie just as hilarious as I do, and when I went to see the musical stage play version, Spammalot, even I was surprised to see how many ladies were in the audience. I also don't really buy in to the whole "geeks only" mentality, but since pretty much all of my friends are geeks I can't say for sure that non-geeks would enjoy this movie.

One thing I particularly admire in Monty Python is how they seamlessly mix together whip-smart intellligent humour with slapstick. An early scene features King Arthur arguing with a peasant named Dennis over how government should work and the class system. This scene is immediately followed by one where King Arthur duels the Black Knight and proceeds to dismember him in a comical fashion. It's hard to believe that both 0f these can be in the same movie, but somehow it works.

Another thing I enjoy is their close attention to deatil. Not only does the movie look and feel like it takes place in a gonzo version of Medieval England, but throughout the film there are all thse subtle little jokes going on in the background. When we first see Sir Bedivere, he releases a swallow carrying a coconut into the air, a reference to an earlier scene. When Lancelot crashes the wedding and murders many of the guests, the dancers continue to dance despite the slaughter. And as mentionned earlier peasants can always be seen doing crazy things such as stabbing the ground, building mud piles, hitting water with a stick, or beating a cat against a post. The closer you pay attention, the more you'll enjoy.

The basic plot of the film is that King Arthur and his knights must track down the Holy Grail (as you can probably gather from the title), but in the longt run the plot doesn't really matter and is just a vehicle for a string of loosely connected sketches and gags. Though keep in mind that this does not detract from the film, but in fact serves its purpose well and is in keeping with the Monty Python traditon (which is of course sketch comedy). By not worrying to much about the plot it allows them to focus on jokes and they will sometimes even bend the plot to serve these jokes (such as when Lancelot inexplicably shows up to save Galahad from almost certain temptation). In a way this style also reflects the layout of the epic stories The Holy Grail lampoons. If you read into Arthurian legend and Greek mythology then you 'll see how they are composed of smaller stories that are connnected together by a larger metanarrative.

On a related note I really get a kick out of they make a complete mockery out of the history and heroic ideal that we tend to romaticize. This is perhaps best exemplified by Dennis when he thoroughly debunks the Lady of the Lake legend with the line, "strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government," which is funny because it's true, but we all buy into it anyway. The Holy Grail does similar things with other common conceptions such as Lancelot's bravery (the wedding scene), Galahad's purity (Castle Anthrax), and heroic battles (the Black Knight and the Killer Bunny).

I find this movie to be an absolute riot from beggining to end, though some would probably debate with me on the merit of the ending which is very sudden and provides no resolution. But to me this is also in keeping with the Monty Python tradition of sketches that they just didn't know how to end and were generally quite absurd. I can't think of a more Monty Pythonish ending than having it look as though an epic battle is about to occur and then have the cops appear thus breaking the timeline (and the audience's suspension of disbelief) and have everybody get arrested followed by a cut to black (and if you're like me then you waited a while after expecting something else to happen). It shatters your conception of what an ending is supposed to be, craps all over the heroic ideal, and doesn't pay any attention at all "the natural order of things," and despite what you may think at first, you have to admit it is pretty funny.

Monty Python and The Holy Grail has more memorable scenes and quotable lines than any movie I can think of (including Casablanca AND The Godfather) half of which I can probably reenact or cite off of the top of my head. It beats out Airplane!, Blazing Saddles, and This is Spinal Tap in terms of hilarity. If you were expecting me to make jokes or crack wise about this movie then too bad for you, because this movie is awesome.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Zach's Penis

Today I am doing something a little different and reviewing a body part of a friend of mine. I saw it yesterday while he was attempting to pick up a girl in a washroom. Don't ask me why this seemed like a good idea to him, I don't know the answer to that. The important thing is the impression it left on me. I have never been more shocked nor disgusted in my whole life. I'd rather watch Pokemon the First Movie again from beginning to end than see his penis for one more second. It is the most shriveled, twisted, disgusting piece of human anatomy that I have ever seen. Just writing this makes the whole incident replay again in my mind which makes me want to vomit. For the sake of my health I am going to have to stop writing now. God help us all.