Sunday, February 19, 2012


So I just got done watching Chocolate, 85 minutes of watching an autistic teenage girl beat the shit out an endless supply of irate Thai men. Now, I came into this thinking that was exactly what I would get, but I wasn't counting on it being quite so awesome. If you watch past a few seconds of the end credits there's a little bonus sequence of out-takes, it's amazing to see just how real some of the stuff they were doing was. It's really kind of shocking to see Zen (the heroine) get hit in the face so much and then cry. The inclusion of these out-takes really drives home just how rough and rewarding this film must have been to complete, a nice little way to make viewers realize all the hard work that went into the film.

Visually, it's a kung-fu movie, you will see kicks, you will see flips, you will see punches. The fights take place in visually distinct areas that provide their own unique feels and challenges, it's very video game like in that sense. If you want to see grown men get their asses handed to them by a young girl, you will like what you see.

The music was very adequate, none of the pieces strike me as memorable but that may have been because I kept shouting "Holy shit!" when someone did something impressive, which is most of the time.

Overall, good watch. There was one point where I had to pause the action and take a break, just because my suspense of disbelief had been shredded to pieces completely. I don't want to spoil what this event was, but I will say it's pretty minor and the film picks up again once it's over. Basically anytime the movie isn't focusing on Zen fighting a room full of people you're going to be suffering and waiting for the action to start again. Aside from Zen and Moom, nobody really feels human or relate-able, they're all just there for the illusion of story. I should probably mention Moom, he's the chubby sidekick friend who tries to help but doesn't really do much. I feel like there's so much more I want to say about this movie, but I don't want to just describe particularly awesome kicks or flips or flip-kicks for an hour. At least not unless I can do so using my mouth to make crashing noises. Chocolate isn't a movie that's big on plot, but who needs plot when you've got action sequences this good?

Saturday, February 18, 2012


This is the first time I've spoken of something on this blog that was still running, it's also the first comic. So double whammy. I'm actually a big fan of the books Image puts out, and I've been reading maybe a dozen or so of their titles for the past few years. I don't read a whole lot of comics, aside from a brief interest with Marvel during the civil war event and a little Batman here and there it's almost been entirely Vertigo and Image titles for me. Chew's premise reads like a cross between Bones and Fear Factor, a tiny asian man eating gross stuff to learn it's history.

The art in this series is very fun, lots of interesting little details everywhere, some degree of caricature and generally very appealing to the eye. The artist's style serves the story well in it's transition from humorous moments to more serious ones. It strikes me as extremely redundant to say this about a comic but it's just generally very visually appealing, I at no point had to take a break to give me eyes a rest while reading it, the depth is there if you want it, but at no point is it forced upon the viewer. If that makes any sense.

The story packs on meat in every issue without fail, 23 chapters in and every book brings up new questions, some of which I'm sure are meant to remain unanswered, others feel like minor details which could very easily develop into their own arcs. I'm curious to see how complex it'll have become 50 chapters in. The characters are all very unique, vibrant and interesting in terms of both their visualizations and their personalities. Rather than being one giant story broken up by a few one-offs here and there the story is separated into 3-5 chapters arcs by case. It may not sound like it'd be somehow better grouping it into small arcs like that but I've appreciated it, it's still a long-form story but it gives a good indication of where particular parts of the story begin and end. For people who like to let the material build a while before reading through it allows them to pick up and go every few months rather than picking arbitrary times like catching up once every year.

Overall Chew is one of the best books in print right now, which I feel is saying something with so many other strong competitors out there right now. It's every bit the kind of story I got into comics to read. It oozes style, is packed with humor and knows how to shift to drama when it suits the story. There are elements of cheesy '70s cop flicks, cynicism and science fiction. Even if the idea of reading a comic that sounds suspiciously similar to Bones trust me when I say you'd be doing yourself a disservice to not read at least the first chapter, and it only gets better from there.

Blacks Books

So I watched season one of Portlandia on Netflix a few days back, I'd gone into it expecting some kind of documentary about hipsters, instead I got a sketch comedy show about hipsters. Sounds awful right? Surprisingly it wasn't, it felt a bit like Kids In The Hall, which is something I don't think I've ever said about a show since Kids In The Hall, so I see it as a very welcome thing. Anyways, I hop over to IMDB to check out all the pertinent facts and I find a review proclaiming Portlandia to be complete bollocks and in fact a rip off of an earlier BBC series called Black Books. Now, I'm generally a fan of what the BBC does, so a show that I liked being an inferior copy from a company that I find generally does above average work was exciting news indeed. I rushed to download the entire series and see what a marvelous wonder it was sure to be.

I cue up the first episode and I see two familiar looking faces who I'm sure can only be a good sign of things to come. Dylan Moran who I recalled as being a prominent character from Shaun of the Dead and Bill Bailey who I probably remember from some stand up television special. Being that Portlandia is supposedly derivative of this show I come into it expecting sketch comedy.

It's a sitcom, which is strike one. Sitcoms are where comedy goes to retire. The only exception to this rule is Spaced, and possibly the intentionally edgy sitcoms such as Married With Children and It's Always Sunny In Phillidelphia depending on how generous I'm being. Spaced is the only one that was genuinely good though. Seinfeld was pretty good for a while, it just went on for too long. Whatever, Black Books, it's funnier than Friends. That's about as much praise as I'm willing to give it in comparing it to other sitcoms.

Visually it's very boring outside of the opening credits. They ask you to imagine a lot of things, like vermin on the floor or filth at angles the camera never shoots. The two or three times they film outside of the studio it's quite refreshing, but these moments are quite brief. I really can't help but feel so much more could've been done in that regard.

The music...what's there ranges from unnoticeable to pretty good. The opening credits are by far my favorite part of the entire show. There's canned laughter, I'm never a fan of that. That's pretty much all there is on that front really

Overall, it's not a bad show, had I come into it objectively without such high expectations I'd probably not have been quite so disappointed with it. If you've got nothing better it's a pretty watchable series with one or two stand out episodes mostly in the second season. Fever in particular is an episode I remember getting a laugh out of, mostly because it didn't focus quite so much on the main character Bernard and instead focused more on his side-kicks, the ever quirky Manny and Fran who's kind of the normal one. There's a few celebrity guest appearances, most notably Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Shaun Of The Dead fame. So there's that going for it.