Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Colbert destroys Bill O' Reilly's defense of inequality

Hold on. Did Fox News' Bill O' Reilly defend inequality? Bill O' made some ridiculous comparisons about the differences between individual people to support inequality. Thank you Stephen Colbert for taking down O' Reilly. Here's his very funny piece.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 3D review

In Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), it was easy to see who the bad guys were. The Nazis. In the sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's not that clear.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place after The Avengers. (2012) Captain America aka Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still trying to catch up with the twenty first century after being frozen for over sixty years. His current occupation is to undertake missions from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a director of S.H.I.E.L.D. On a mission to rescue hostages aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. tanker, he's accompanied by the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) aka Natasha Romanoff. She has a secret mission which is to recover data from the tanker's computers. She downloads the information onto a flash drive. Rogers confronts Fury about the secrecy of Romanoff's mission and he shows him what S.H.I.E.L.D. has been working on. Deep underground, S.H.I.E.D. has been building three helicarriers, similar to the one seen in The Avengers. They're designed to make preemptive strikes. After Fury cannot retrieve the data, he becomes the target of an assassination attempt. Wounded, he travels to Rogers apartment and gives Rogers he flash drive.

There's serious fish to fry in this popcorn movie. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely's screenplay asks some contemporary questions. How much freedom do you sacrifice to obtain more security? By the way, that theme should sound familiar to anyone who's seen Star Trek Into Darkness. (2013) The screenplay's story and plot points are more interesting than the action scenes. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo handle those action scenes well for the most part. But it's their use of fast cutting and hand-camera shots that detract. They're not needed and confuse the action. However, it's the mystery of the flash drive that drives this movie. And I was captivated by what was on that flash drive and the question of who was trying to kill Fury.

The cast is solid. Chris Evans is noble, idealistic and shows a lot of heart as Steve Rogers. Scarlett Johansson shows a lot of guts as the super spy Black Widow. There's also a spark between her and Rogers. Samuel L. Jackson again portrays Fury as the single minded director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nothing gets in the way to what he perceives as needed to maintain security. And look quickly for Pulp Fiction Jules reference. Robert Redford makes a surprise appearance as a senior director of S.H.I.E.D. I would never have seen Redford in a big budget superhero movie. Let me just say this without giving anything away. He plays his character against type, more cerebral than emotional.

As for the 3D version of the film, avoid it. First, it's a conversion from 2D. There's no pop, just depth. Nothing in the movie in 3D made it special. Second, as stated before there's an overuse of hand-held camera shots. That's bad for 3D. Those shots don't look good in 3D because they're hard to capture the subjects. Additionally, they make moviegoers nauseous. I got mildly sick after watching some of the action scenes. It's similar to motion sickness.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fine action packed and thought provoking film. I found the questions raised more compelling than all the explosions. The grade is A.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Best Film of the Year 2013

Yep. I know it's late for the announcement of The Best Film. Hey, I had reasons. But you know what they say. Better late than never. And unlike some memebers of he Academy, I have seen this year's nominees which are 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity. And the winner of the Basement Blog Film of the Year is:

American Hustle.

American Hustle is a story of survival in the early eighties. And unlike the Academy, I do think a movie with comic elements can be the best film of the year. Anyway, you won't get a better ensemble cast performance than American Hustle.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

12 Years a Slave review

There's a scene in director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave which depicts the surreal horror of American slavery of the early nineteenth century. In it, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a slave, is lynched but not raised off the ground. He struggles to breathe. Against this act of inhumanity, is a pastoral scene of the plantation and the slaves who work around Northup as if he doesn't exist. It's one of many scenes in a magnificent piece of filmmaking.

12 Years a Slave is the true story of Solomon Northup, an African American living in Saratoga Springs, New York. He's a free black man and a talented violin player. He's given an opportunity to play in a circus but it's a ruse by two white men who drug him and sell him to slavery. The film covers Northup's twelve years of life as a slave. Based on Northup's book of the same name, John Ridley composed a screenplay that often tells the story in flashbacks. At first, it's disjointed but as the film goes on, the narrative makes sense and works well. You see the movie depicts Northup when he's a slave but shows us his other life, one that he had before he was kidnapped. It's a a depiction of Northup's humanity. He had a wife and two children in New York.

McQueen and Ridley don't sugarcoat the despicable nature of slavery. There's beatings, lynching and rape. McQueen juxtaposes the peaceful agrarian countryside with scenes of great inhumanity. His camera angles, editing and framing of shots display not just a competent director but a brilliant artist who understands the artistic nature of film. McQueen doesn't rely on fast cutting to maintain your interest. It's his eye for visual that will captivate you. He's a painter with film. Yet, he doesn't let anything detract from the narrative.

12 Years a Slave is the American horror story. It's one that tells of slavery, inhumanity and prejudice. It is one of the best movies of 2013. The grade is A.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Riotous: "Exclusive Alternate Scene" from "Gravity" featuring Christopher Reeve as Superman

Okay, some smart aleck decided to make this fake deleted scene from Gravity which features Christoper Reeves as Superman. The result? Hilarious.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Chinese American's view of #CancelColbert

There's been a movement to cancel Stephen Colbert for a piece he did making fun of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his charitable organization "Washington Redskins for Original Americans." You see Colbert announced his own organization called "The Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever." The point of the piece was to show how clueless Snyder was by continuing using a racist term for his team and then naming a charitable organization with the same racist term, "Redskin."

Look, I'm a racially Chinese man. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. I've endured racist epithets all my life. One of the most common is what I call "Chinese speak." That's when a person uses nonsensical Chinese sounds to make fun of me. So I understand Colbert's use of those rhyming words to describe a character he uses on his show.

But was Colbert's piece racist? Stephen Colbert plays a fake conservative. Think Archie Bunker. He often accurately portrays their positions. And he's usually clueless. He's lampooning Fox News' Bill O' Reilly. And frankly, when I hear or get a racist comment, most of the time, it almost always comes from a conservative. So, Colbert's racist character Ching Chong Ding Dong is character invented by a fake conservative to make fun of some conservatives. You can see why conservatives hate Colbert. Regardless, it's brilliant. Hey, he's won Peabodys and Emmys. But take it from this Chinese American. It was not racist. You've got to take it in context. Colbert was making fun of racism. Dan Snyder uses a racist term for Native Americans to name a charity to help them. Colbert uses a racist Chinese term to name a foundation to help Asians. Get the insanity? He's not trying to put down Asians.

Below is Stephen Colbert's very funny response to the controversy. It features "traitor" Asian actors.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stephen Colbert takes down ABC's Good Morning America's new set to appeal to Millennials

ABC's Good Morning America introduced a new set to appeal to millennials. It's ludicrous as it features gigantic smartphone computer screens where young people can interact. And did I forget? It has a fooseball table. Great comic fodder for Stephen Colbert. Here's his riotous video.