Monday, September 30, 2013

People who talk during movies: The FINAL solution

I’m a fairly agreeable person. It takes a lot to really get under my skin.
                Wait a minute, that’s not true at all. Just ask my poor beleaguered girlfriend. I basically have to leave the room anytime she eats anything. Not because of anything she’s doing either, I just can’t stand the sound of chewing. It’s worse than nails on a chalkboard to me. If I don’t leave, then I usually just keep nagging her to chew more quietly until she either finishes or leaves.
                I’m such a joy.
                Aside from chewing, loud or otherwise, another thing that drives me absolutely insane? People who talk in movie theaters.
                The things I would do or have done to these people aren’t fit to be printed on the internet.
                The other weekend, my girlfriend and I went to see “Insidious: Chapter II.” It was a risky proposition because, despite my love of horror movies, more times than not I’ll wait until they come out on DVD.
                Part of that is because my girlfriend hates horror movies. The other part is that people just love to talk during horror movies. More so than any other genre.
And once our movie started, so did some other members of the audience.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: 'Insidious: Chapter 2' is kinda sorta a mixed bag

Over the weekend I ventured to theaters to see one of the more anticipated horror offerings of the year: “Insidious: Chapter 2.”
                I enjoyed the first film very much when I saw it many moons ago, so I had moderately high expectations for the sequel.
                Anyway, after a brief opening where we meet young Josh, young Josh’s mom and young Josh’s two psychic pals, we flash forward to the more or less present day and we pick up where the first film left off.
So spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the first one yet, but then why would you be seeing the sequel anyway? Who knows, people are weird.
Anyway there we meet present day Josh (the lovely Patrick Wilson), his present day wife Renai (the lovelier Rose Byrne), their family, some paranormal investigators and one of the psychic’s from Josh’s youth, who is now dead.
Lost yet? Hopefully not.
Back to the aftermath from part one. Josh has just pulled his young son back from the land of the dead, but somehow in the process, his psychic helper has gone and gotten herself strangled. Now dead psychics usually arouse police suspicion and cops don’t usually take “The spirits killed her” as an excuse.
Naturally, everyone thinks Josh killed her, even Renai isn’t so sure. Who spells Renee like that, by the way? Josh isn’t really helping his case because he keeps acting like a crazy robot person.
And since this is a movie about ghosts, more supernatural stuff starts going down, this time involving an apparition in a nurse’s uniform – not the sexy kind either – and most of it is centered around Josh and Renai’s infant daughter.   
Enough with the plot summary, let's get to your biggest question, is part two any good?
Well, if you’re familiar with part one, never fear, the delightful paranormal investigating team of Specs (Leigh Whannell, who’s also wrote the screenplay) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) are back and once again steal the show. In fact, I haven’t seen part one in a bit as I said, but it seems like they have way more to do this time around, nearly splitting screen time with our lovely leading couple.
That’s definitely a good thing. The rest of the movie is kind of hit or miss.
It retains a lot of the amusement park haunted mansion feel of part one, only that movie kept the leash on the campiness a little bit better. The screwiness of part two sometimes overshadows the pretty dark stuff that’s supposed to be going on.   
Wilson especially falls victim to a lot of cringe worthy, over-the-top lines and situations, especially during his robotic, post-trip-to-the-land-of-the-dead phase.
The movie still relies super-heavily on boo scares and most especially on insanely loud musical stings to make audiences jump. Thinking back on it now, there isn’t much tension to be found here, outside of maybe the opening trip to the past and pretty awesome bit involving a tin-can phone the kids build.
There are some other jumpy moments, but nothing that burns like the wall-to-wall tension I remember from part one.
Part two’s storyline seems a little overwritten, too. Part of that is probably to give the paranormal investigators something more to do. There ends up being a ton of stuff to follow and it sometimes gets confusing.
For example at a certain point it  became a chore to remember who exactly was possessing who.
And one of the spirit’s motivations: an abusive mother who imbued a good deal of sexual confusion on him, isn’t all that original. Not only that, but it sort of clashes with the ample humor provided by Specs and Carl, as well as the intentional or not humor of watching Patrick Wilson walk around like a malfunctioning terminator.
Much of the third act is spent in the spooky spirit world which remains the franchise's signature set piece. Lots of creepy rolling mists, endless shadows and the occasional spirit jumping out at you. Although, again, it wasn't really easy to follow how and why the things that happened there impacted the real world.
End result? “Insidious: Chapter 2” is a good, not great movie. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you jump, even if the jumps feel a little less earned this time around. I’m right in the middle on it, but I’d recommend checking it out if only to fill the void left by the “Paranormal Activity” franchise this Halloween season.
Grade: C+   

Monday, September 16, 2013

Babies and weddings or what to expect when you put them on the guestlist

So this blog entry is going to be about babies. Again. Sorry, but this is what happens when you start getting old.
            Even if you don’t have an actual human baby to cart around, babies somehow find start playing a bigger role in your life. People you know have them. Those same people expect you to interact with the baby. They want you to hold it, fawn over it, call it cute and such.
            I was at a family member’s wedding the other day. It was a pleasant affair. There was boozing, dancing, cheesy wedding music. Good times.
On the list of cons was the unfortunate church ceremony, but whatevs. To each their own on the subject of religion.
Another con? One of the bridesmaids had a baby. So naturally, this meant the baby had to be very, very involved in the process of helping my cousin and her boyfriend join their lives together as one in the eyes of the church.
Because obviously, duh. Wherever babies go, their parents just assume people want the little monsters involved and heavily.
So really my problem isn’t with the baby itself, more so the parents. What a not-so-shocking twist.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A song of bees and puppy dogs: Township Day 2013

So yesterday was Township Day in the area where I reside.
                This meant a chance to have friends and loved ones over for some BBQ-ing, boozing and all-around merriment.
                It also meant a trip across the street to a nearby park where we’d been told the real party could be found. We were promised the opportunity to view a wide-range of arts and crafts, hob knob with local merchants, and see a variety of live and in-person demonstrations and performances.
                Two items on the list of demonstrations stood out to me in particular. Well three, actually. The first was a wilderness survival club presentation which was supposed to last about 45 minutes. That stood out to me because it seemed about 39 minutes longer than I thought you could sustain a wilderness survival talk in a public park, surrounded on all sides by major road ways. I mean, I watched Bear Grylls show for years and if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that you can’t talk about wilderness survival, you must live it.
                It’s not enough to simply instruct people how to escape from quicksand, you must first throw yourself in headfirst and show them how it’s done. Much like any story teller worth his or her salt, you gotta show not tell, ya’ll.
                So we didn’t go see those guys because meh.
                But we did plan on two others: a beekeeper demonstration and a police dog demonstration.
                The beekeeper one appealed to me because there was the chance that the bees would rise up and attack their cruel keeper. Yeah I know, it’s morbid and ugly. So be it. As much as I try to distance myself from my fellow man at all times, I have at least that one thing in common with the rest of the 7 billion people on this planet: We all can’t help but slow down and stare at a car wreck.
                The police dog thing appealed to me because dogs. Duh.

Monday, September 2, 2013

This date in the history of mankind: The birth of Brag-plaining

I’m weird. No, don’t worry, it’s OK. I’ve made peace with it.
Part of the blame goes to my own unique blend of genes, chromosomes and electrons, all misfiring together in some sort of strange, off-beat symphony.
The rest of the blame? The bigger chunk? Well, that comes from the fact that I’m a person. All people are weird, even if they don’t know it. Especially if they don’t know it.
It’s a subject I’ve covered before and I’m sure I’ll cover again.
Today’s reason why people are weird is something I’ve been noticing quite a bit of recently: People complaining about an issue they have no interest whatsoever in seeing resolved.
Example: “This thing I have to do sucks.”
                 “So, don’t do it. You don’t have to. It’s a volunteer thing. Say you’re sick. No one will care.”
                “No, I can’t do that. Ugh. I just really don’t want to go.”
                “So … don’t?”
                “No I have to. God it’s going to suck.”
What kind of lunacy is this? Any animal in the world that’s ever witnessed one of these kinds of exchanges must just shake its head and ponder how we – people – ever made it to the top of the food chain.