Thursday, January 21, 2010

Puppet Master

Had a dream where I was attending a casual social for our building where everyone was welcoming this new couple into our complex. This couple was annoyingly excited to visit the latest play from the ICT theater group in downtown, just a hop-skip-&-a-jump away from our building. So didn't want to go but the wife wanted to so I got dragged along. As the wife as getting tickets the venue was offering free food, so in the name of getting the most out of the excursion, I loaded up on food and just as I was about to dig in the curtain call sounds and I had to abandon my bounty. So the show was supposed to be this interactive theater experience where performers would show up on stage and play to video projections and massive mechanically animated sets. On top of the that the seats would move and according to the scene but since this was a dream, the chair movements were ridiculously roller coaster like where we'd be flying around the room as independently moving rows. So the subject of the show itself was some kind of murder mystery and throughout the course of the show, someone in the audience would get bumped off and instructed to move to a waiting area. So as I was watching the show, much more amused by the level of interactivity, I started to feel my seat rumble and realized that I was pegged to be killed within the context of the story. So then my seat goes flying in the air and at some point everyone gasps because I'm literally falling off my seat 100 feet up in the air. But the whole time I'm having a blast. Then finally it ends and I'm instructed to go to the "dead" people's waiting area. That's where the fun stopped because apparently the theater people hired prison inmates to chaperone that room and these guys would randomly pick-off people and beat their face. I wasn't immune to such treatment and when they harassed me I broke into a full on martial arts action sequence kicking and chopping my way to broken bones and shattered prides. By the end of the whole ordeal I was screaming and threatening the theater owners as I was walking home with the wife. Then I woke up.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sam Bam's Top 15 Films of the Decade... and Why

Ok so I bit. Here are my top 15 films of the decade 2000-2009. Of course there are plenty of great films I haven't seen and I basically looked up films I rated 5 stars on my Netflix account. They're not in any particular order (somewhat alphabetical) and because I hate "top" lists (they're so arbitrary without any context from the author), I tried to one-up other lists by typing a short blurb about how each film affected me.

Brick (2005) - Modern day Hammett with a teen twist, the movie I've always wanted to write/direct. Screw you Rian Johnson.

Children of Men (2006) - I may have to re-watch this one to see if it holds up but I was sucked into the reality of all young people dying and what that meant and/or represented.

City of God (2002) - So foreign yet so familiar. Stylistically flashy but I always felt it was truthful and sincere in telling it's story.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - The scene where Michelle Yeoh confesses her love right when Chow Yun Fat is dying, just makes me want to look up every girl that I ever secretly loved and then die in front of them in hopes that they'd confess their affections for me in the same way.

The Dark Knight (2008) - This is how action movies should be - epic, brooding, deep, unrelenting, kicking ass.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - I liked it as a funky love story with conceptually interesting metaphors for all the thralls of love and love lost.

Hero (2002) - Gorgeous. One of the few movies I've watched multiple times - studied.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004) - Such a unique world and way of expressing universal themes. Superb mixture of wonderment and affection.

Man on Fire (2004) - Denzel speaking Spanish like a bad-ass and killer graphical subtitles to remind you he's a bad-ass.

Mulholland Dr. (2001) - I hated this movie on 1st viewing. But the 2nd time around (admittedly to watch a blonde and a brunette get it on) I was enraptured by how black the blacks were - I'm not sure how else to describe it.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - Another film I hated on 1st viewing but when I paid attention to the dialog and subtleties of the performances (not to mention appreciating the photography) the humor just came roaring through.

Spider-Man 2 (2004) - The only Spiderman movie we ever needed.

Spirited Away (2001) - One of the best coming of age stories I can recall. It really highlights how we appreciate things once our horizons expand, once we grow up a little.

Traffic (2000) - Just a solid effort. Truly gritty photography, performances fluid to the story, intriguing to the end.

Whale Rider (2003) - Like City of God it's a window into a culture that endures universal sufferings - sufferings we tend to forget. It gets a little dusty for me when I watch this film.

Memento (2000) - The current benchmark (for me) of Neo Noir / Modern Hardboiled Fiction.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - The scene where the hobbit sings for the king, cross cut with slow motion of the king's son charging into battle - I just hold my breath.

Oldboy (2003) - Being a big fan of Hardboiled Fiction, namely Hammett, I'm fascinated with the lineage of that tradition from Kurosawa samurai movies to Hong Kong shoot'em ups. Oldboy is another hallmark in that tradition: 1. A lone hero that must follow a code. 2. A harsh and violent city. 3. A dangerous woman. 4. Corrupt figures in power, figures of authority, and/or figures of affluence. 5. All is not what it seems.

The Prestige (2006) - At this point I'm just really kissing Nolan's ass, but the very process of misdirection to create the illusion of other worldly abilities is how I perceive the filmmaking process and this film encapsulates the thrill of that pursuit.

There Will Be Blood (2007) - I feel like this movie represents my American heritage, good and bad - as opposed to what I take from being part of the Japanese culture as well.