Thursday, April 29, 2010

Movie Review: Kick Ass

I know what you're thinking. "Stevie, what the hell is wrong with you? You're done school and yet you're still writing?!" To you I say, good sir or miss, writing is a life skill and it's more of a hobby then a chore. So suck on that!

This Tuesday, Chloe, Frank, Al and I decided to catch a movie. Nothing else was playing past 10 except for the new comic inspired action/comedy, Kick Ass. I've seen the trailers and the movie looked pretty awesome. I've heard pretty decent things so I figured "What the hey? What kind of asshole says 'what the hey' ?"

The film is based on a comic book of the same name that is distributed through Marvel Comics. It follows the life of Dave Lizewski, a sort of 'everyman' character for the geeky comic crowd. Dave is an ordinary American teenager who spends most of his time floating though the shadows of high school while dealing with the existential issues of identity and angst. Dave spends most of his waking days hanging out at the comic book store with his equally geeky friends or in his bed room 'freeing the soldiers of love', so to speak. But after a few run ins with numerous street thugs, Dave decides that the people need a hero. Taking inspiration from the comic books which he admires so, Dave puts together a costume composed of a scuba suit. Armed with billy clubs and a taser, Dave sets off to save the world but he may have stumbled into something that is way bigger then he was ever prepared for.

The film stars Aaron Johnson, whose curly hair and self-effacing demeanour made me reflect on one of my childhood favorites; the Wonder Years and their lovable protagonist, Fred Savage. Who didn't think that the experiences of Kevin Arnold weren't based on their own experiences?! Seriously, everyone was able to relate with the kid. His narration was always on point; at times hilarious and at others extremely profound. And if it weren't for the Wonder Years, I wouldn't have known the 60's. If it weren't for Kevin Arnold, I wouldn't have known how to love. And if it weren't for Joe Cocker, I wouldn't have known the majesty of a stoned buffoon playing the air guitar on acid (no disrespect to Mr. Cocker, his Woodstock performance was epic). But what my digression proves is that Kick Ass understood this formula for success and employed it effectively through their character Dave Lizewski.

The Film also stars Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz. This was by far the best role Cage has played since Matchstick Men. Cage had to almost play two roles, one as the sharp and dark avenger, and the other as the nurturing and dainty father. Moretz shines hardest though, in what is sure to be her break-through role. Some may recognize Moretz from her role in (500) Days of Summer which was very minor at best. However, in Kick Ass, Moretz shows some extreme depth and displays some excellent acting skills. Her character was extremely tenacious and presumptuous while also displaying a light of innocence and vulnerability. What all these contradictions reveal is a film that has more depth then one would associate with comic book fan fare that will appeal to film goers at large.

The film was also technically brilliant. Comic books have a certain knack for capturing blood, violence, and gore; things we should all employ in our every day lives. It created the comic book feel very well and utilized zooms, slow motion and special effects to put the audience into the front seat of all the action. One scene that stands out in my mind is a slow motion of Moretz character set back to a strobe light. Absolutely brilliant!

Kick Ass is a great movie. It had some hardcore action, some great laughs, excellent talent and also looks at a the issue of social apathy that plagues our cities. It certainly is not okay to allow someone to be beaten or mugged, but how far are you willing to go to help your fellow man? Kick Ass is a highly irresponsible answer to that question, but is also a cool f'n movie!



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Diners, No-Looks and Crack Dens

Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been so busy with exams. It's not easy to cram an entire semesters worth of information into one week.

One lazy Sunday, Chloe and I decided that we wanted to go out and try eating somewhere new. As devout fans of the Food Network monstrosity, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives we thought it would be fun to check out the Galaxie Diner on 11th st. S.W. to fill our gluttonous appetites with artery clogging, ass fattening goodness.

Upon arrival to the small commercial block in Connaught Calgary, I became intrigued by what is in my opinion the ugliest building in Calgary. It was so awful that even crack heads would find it unsuitable to smoke crack in. What was this building prior to becoming such a public eyesore? The door looked so beaten, it seems like it had some sort of professional and romantic relationship with Ike Turner. Oddly enough, there was a door mat on the sidewalk. It may be hard to believe but squatters are incredibly polite individuals and they never enter a shit-hole without clearing their shoes of dirt, gravel and human feces. But the entire ugliness of this building truly makes it beautiful to look at.

After waiting outside the diner for what seemed like an hour, we finally got a table; a massive booth at the very back. I was seriously surprised when I got inside. Lets just say that it didn't have vaulted ceilings, a ballroom floor and Rembrandt paintings on the wall. Nope, this place was definitely a diner through and through. It had the required cheesey 50's interior, but it still managed to feel comfortable inside. The building has some serious character and I managed to pull myself away from my corn beef hash and vanilla shake to snap a no-look photo from the hip. I think the guy with the beard is either (a) recieving some bad news or (b) concentrating on not breaking wind in front of his alternative girlfriend.

So check out the Galaxie Diner. It's got good food. It's funky inside. And when you're done you don't need to use the restroom because that dumpy building is just a few meters away! And they say Calgary doesn't have culture!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There's Something About the Look in Your Eyes

Something I noticed when the light was just right
It reminded me twice that I was alive
And it reminded me that you’re so worth the fight

My biggest fear will be the rescue of me
Strange how it turns out that way, yeah
Could you show me dear?
Something I've not seen.
Something infinitely interesting
Incubus - Echo


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Childs Play

Remember when you were a little kid and you were so small that you could make a fort out of a television or refrigerator box? All you needed were some sofa cushions and some blankets and you had yourself a bonafide bomb-proof lair. Remember when the floor was lava? You used to jump from couch to chair to table like a damn maniac. Now a days I can't jump on a couch or bed without breaking it. Remember playing hide and seek? I used to be able to hide under the sink in the bathroom. I used to be able to climb to the top of a closet and hide on the shelves. Remember being a kid? I sure do. Those were the days, but my baby cousins keep me young.



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hello there, Beautiful

My girlfriend has one of the most interesting faces on the planet! I know she's reading this and thinking "WTF EVES!", so let me explain: Her face has so much character. First, her eyes are breathtaking. They change colour depending on her mood and I can stare at them for days. Second, her skin is very light and creamy. She has numerous little freckles on her cheeks, nose and lips and are so subtle that you don't notice them until you're up close and personal. Third, she has those amazingly full and soft lips and, might I mention, a great smile. She's got it going on, and I'm a pretty lucky dude. It's always an inspiration to take photos of her. She thinks she isn't photogenic; what do you think?



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fire in the Sky

Does the weather shift have you down too? Don't fret folks, let these fiery photos of the clouds warm you up! I always have my head up in the clouds and find plenty of inspiration from cloudscapes. We're pretty lucky in Calgary to have natural phenomena like this regularly. Hope you like 'em!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Better Days To Come

I try to be optimistic, but things need to start looking up. Better days are to come and they need come quick. I haven't felt such fear before but I also haven't felt so empowered. I'm focused again.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Have You Lost Your Marbles?

"Sometimes crazy is a label the average place on the exceptional" - K.West

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lolita's Big Bicycle Make Over

The nu shooz that I ordered for Lolita from the good folks at Campiones finally arrived and were built! In celebration of the monumental event, I made a little video; a sort of ode to bicycle maintanence and my dear bicycle, Lolita.

Lolita's Big Bicycle Make Over from Small Time Visionary on Vimeo.

And to think I wanted to replace this bike just last week. She looks so good right now, I think I might hang on to her for the year.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon

To be quite honest, when I first heard about How to Train Your Dragon, I was rather uninterested. Sure, dragons are pretty cool and all, but it just seemed like another movie aimed towards the kiddies. Think of the animation flicks that have come out recently and bombed; Planet 51 or Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeekqual. I was about ready to place How to.. into that same list of lackluster and doomed famliy films, until I read the initial reviews. Remarkably, How to.. got ranked very well and I needed to find out what all the hub bub was about.

How to.. follows an ancient Viking village as they deal with a bit of a pest problem; dragons! Hiccup is the son of the burly, tough village General and is having a hard time finding acceptance because he is so different from the rest of the villagers. Hiccup is desperate for fame and glory, which is reserved for those who are victorious in battle with a dragon. When Hiccup's opportunity to trap and kill the most feared dragon around arrives, he realizes who he truly is and develops an unimaginable relationship with an unlikely individual; together paving his own road to fame and glory and perhaps securing the future of his village forever.

First of all, I watched the film at the IMAX theatre in Chinook center. IMAX never fails to impress me, and this was no different. I love the massive screen, the elite 3D glasses and the monumental sound system. it's a wee bit on the steep side; $17 per person, but totally worth it.

The animation in the film was breathtaking, practically on the same level as Avatar. Generally, I have believed the Pixar is far superior then Dreamworks in terms of animation quality, but How to.. proves that Dreamworks can produce animation just as good or even better than Pixar. I have to level with you. This movie got me a little emotional. Before you laugh and ridicule me, let me explain. My biggest dream is to fly. If I could have any super power for a day it would be the ability to fly. If I could fly or teleport, I would rather fly. Nearly once a week, I dream of flying. Catch my drift? The scenes in which Hiccup flies upon a dragon were magnificent! Dreamworks managed to effectively place the audience in the saddle of a dragon as it glided along the clouds, swooped around the rocky beaches and dove through the crisp Norwegian air. I was completely emerged into the scenes, catching myself gripping the arm rests and pushing my feet off the ground with every nose dive. Honestly, these are the most beautiful scenes in animation history ranking up there with the "Love Montage" from Up. Critically, it took a while to adjust to the faces of the characters; they are a little too cartoony, but that could be because of my Pixar bias.

I have not read the book that the movie is based upon, but I found the story to be fantastic. It has been reviewed as having great dramatic depth, and I can't help but agree entirely with that statement. This is not your normal family film. This movie dares to delve deeper into human emotions then most animation films have, with exception to Up, and does so very effectively. It is definitely a challenge for film makers to effectively make the audience empathize with the protagonist of their film but this was masterfully achieved with How to Train Your Dragon. The movie ends with a bit of a twist and while I don’t want to give it away, let me just say that it just further sets this movie apart in terms of depth and character. The film also has deeper implications as it criticizes brash American war mongering like in Vietnam and Afghanistan/Iraq and the Military Industrial Complex. I'm seriously not reaching! Watch it and tell me you don't see it too!

In summary, How to Train Your Dragon is my favorite movie of the year thus far and it would definitely take a lot to knock it off the top spot. It was amazing visually and heart-touching emotionally. It has everything that makes a great movie, without having to be too dramatic. How To Train Your Dragon is an extremely mature movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. I absolutely loved it and I'm sure you will too; trust me!