Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams 1951 - 2014

Last night I learned of the sad news that comedian and actor Robin Williams passed away yesterday at only 63. To add to the shock of losing such a master craftsman we learned that it appeared that he took his own life. I hope that I will never truly understand the terrible disease that is substance addiction and the depression he sought help with but I cannot condone his choice which I regard as an act of utter selfishness.

Nevertheless, one cannot deny the contribution that Williams gave to the entertainment industry and the world of comedy over the past 40 years. Williams was firstly a stand-up comedian and performed on stage every chance he got all throughout his professional career. His big break was in 1978 when he portrayed the alien Mork in an episode of Happy Days. The character was such a hit he soon had his own spin-off TV Series Mork & Mindy which lasted four seasons and made him a household name.

Williams made dozens of movies throughout his illustrious and prolific career. He made family favourites like Hook, Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire. He delivered 4 Academy Award nominated performances including Dead Poets Society and won for his performance in Good Will Hunting. Like most actors who have worked as long as he did, he also made some monumental disasters like Popeye and Cadillac Man. He explored his darkside in Insomnia and One-Hour Photo. He lent his voice to dozens of animated characters from Aladdin to Happy Feet. Two of his final roles will be as U.S. Presidents - Eisenhower in The Butler and Roosevelt in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

Everyone who watches movies has their own favourite Robin Williams movie. Mine is Good Morning Vietnam. Despite what I think is Williams' greatest performance for which he received his first Oscar nomination, the movie taught me about censorship [and why it's needed] and that no matter how shitty the job is, even if it's against your personal beliefs - if you're the best at it, you have to do it.

In life, Williams was a D&D and tabletop RPG player and an avid video gamer playing Battlefield 2 and and World of Warcraft. He named his daughter after Princess Zelda and it's believed his son Cody is named for the character in Final Fight.

There have been many tributes on TV, online and in the press today from actors, comedians, writers, directors and even President Obama but one that I was most surprised to see was when I read today's Press Releases from the Pentagon and among the usual DoD and military announcements issued daily was official note from the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE     No. NR-424-14
August 11, 2014
Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the Passing of Robin Williams

The entire of Department of Defense community mourns the loss of Robin Williams. Robin was a gifted actor and comedian, but he was also a true friend and supporter of our troops. From entertaining thousands of service men and women in war zones, to his philanthropy that helped veterans struggling with hidden wounds of war, he was a loyal and compassionate advocate for all who serve this nation in uniform. He will be dearly missed by the men and women of DoD - so many of whom were personally touched by his humor and generosity.



I know other entertainers who have died in recent years have done USO shows but I honestly can't say I recall reading an official DoD press release for someone who has not served in uniform or in office for the Department of Defence, so this is truly special, just like he was.

RIP O Captain! My Captain!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Skellig Michael becomes alien world

There's a 54 acre 715 ft high unpopulated rock off the coast of Co. Kerry that's about to become one of the most famous places on the face of the planet.


Apparently J.J. Abrams, the custodian of my religious beliefs has been given permission by the OPW to film scenes for Star Wars VII on Skellig Michael of all places.

I'm hoping that it will be where they find the crazy old hermit Jedi Master Luke Skywalker living because that would be class and Hamill is sporting a beard [left] that would not look out of place amongst the locals down that direction.

But of course anything they doe will bring an influx of tourism to the island is it has to places like Tunisia and as it also contains a 6th century monastery, part of a UNESCO world heritage site, they may come away with more knowledge than they could possible imagine... ...as well as see some puffins.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Godzilla


Since last year, due to increased responsibility elsewhere, I stopped jumping to the cinema to see absolutely every movie that may have a hook for me. This policy shift has for about 80% of the time, saved me from [according to trusted sources] wasting my valuable time. However the final 20% seems to be split unevenly between movies that I perhaps should have gone to see [4%], and movies I should not have gone to but did [16%]. Godzilla is one such movie in the latter case.

This new Godzilla, apparently an homage to the old Tohiro movies is easily one of the best examples of lazy, pointless, unstructured, maddening, vacant, unentertaining film-making of the decade. For some unfathomable reason, Warner Bros. gave $160m to Gareth Edwards, a completely green first-time director whose only previous work of note was some monster effects for something, I know I read it somewhere but can’t recall now. It’s obvious that the man does indeed have some skill in that field as I’m unable to fault the overall quality of the special effects, pyrotechnics, CGI, modelwork and art direction. However everything else that makes up a movie was almost entirely missing, and sadly it’s a big part.

Edwards quotes three major influences on his career that’s only several years old now – George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, three of the most successful film creators in the world. Sadly Edwards captured almost none of what these men are known for. The movie has action, without sense of adventure and thus displays none of Lucas’ influence on him. It does have a plot but it’s without story and it’s soulless which is not how Spielberg would have influenced him, and despite having some of the screens’ more competent acting ensembles as Tarantino often does, Edwards wastes their talent with uninspired direction on top of already bland dialogue. There was one moment where Ken Batman Begins Watanabe reveals the creature’s name as Godzilla, it’s supposed to be a dramatic movie-defining moment to send chills down everyone’s spine but instead elicited shrieks of laughter from the audience. I’m glad some people had something to enjoy anyway, but this wasn’t overall a “so bad it’s funny” effort, this was just “bad.”


I don’t understand fully at what point in the process a story from David Callaham who competently penned the story and screenplays for both Doom and The Expendables could be so damaged by Max Borenstein and or further incompetently handled by Edwards. Neither Borenstein nor Edwards have such credits to their names so logically the fault must be with one or both of them. Not at fault were the actors who did their best with what they got. BAFTA nominated Aaron Kick-Ass Taylor Johnson took the lead as Lt. Ford Brody, a Naval EOD technician who for some reason could execute a perfect HALO jump? [but if I started listing all the military issues I had with this movie, I’d be here all day], the aforementioned SAG, Golden Globe and Oscar nominated Ken Watanabe as the obligatory scientist who ‘understands’ Godzilla, Brian Breaking Bad Cranston who has been nominated or won every TV acting award for the past 10 years is the scientist who speaks the truth but no one listens until it’s too late and of course we must mention Godzilla himself, except he’s really only a supporting character in this shoddy flick.

One major issue I must address was that the sound quality was horrendous. In all my years, I’ve never had such a terrible aural experience in the cinema, and I include the few times I’ve been in the back row far corner with some now-forgotten female conquest, away from the true surround experience in the centre area I insist on today. It was like as if they resampled the sound into 128kbps MP3 with some points sounding as tinny and warbled as 96kbps! It may have been an issue with the cinema sound itself [but I've since been in that cinema without issue] but it’s more likely the movie, and it suits me to blame the movie as I’m hating on it anyway. The sound issue certainly did not help Alexander Desplat’s music score but considering it was only marginally less droning, derivative, uninspired and toneless than the rest of that talentless hack’s other efforts, I don’t think it would have made much difference.

A few weeks back I read and subsequently tweeted that the USMC Hollywood liaison office decided to stay well clear of this. I should have followed suit.

Whopper Rating: *

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tonight on the main evening bias....

I'm so genuinely appalled at the news coming from the Israeli/Gaza conflict that I'll have to turn off the news. While I acknowledge the loss of life is indeed a tragedy and the war crimes on both sides of the conflict will continue, I'm fairly desensitised to that now. No I see the near global media bias against Israel as just as worrying.

Many news outlets have their own narrow-minded agenda like Fox News, Russia Today or The Guardian but thankfully they can be switched off/ignored, but when I see bias on this overwhelming scale that it can't be avoided it makes me sick. This reprehensible media bias is turning people who likely don't even know what the conflict is even about towards anti-Jewish hate-crime that make Mel Gibson at his drunken worst look like a moderate humanitarian! Many of these crimes are being committed against people of Jewish descent who may never even have ever been to Israel.

For the past two years during what was supposed to be a ceasefire, Hamas have been figuratively prodding the Israeli tiger with sticks, provoking it but to no avail. Finally they kidnap and kill three of the tiger's cubs and then they cry foul when the tiger gets pissed off and retaliates? Bollox to the media and anyone who can't see through it.

My words are full of wisdom but why not read from a holy man, a Rabbi who lives in Berkley [the cesspool of liberalism] and blogged to the normally leftist bastion of commentary The Huffington Post.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I won't miss him this time.

One can count the number of live appearances of one Hans Florian Zimmer on their fingers even if they're missing some. Needless to say it's a pretty rare occurrence. He has done a select few live events over the years usually as publicity pieces for movies he's scored. 

In 2000 he did a live concert at the Flanders Music Festival in Ghent, Belgium which was deemed quite remarkable for the lucky folk who attended. That event was captured on "Wings of a Film" an album made from the performance.

I was pretty shocked to see him on Saturday Night Live earlier in the year with Pharell Williams who worked with Zimmer on his Amazing Spider-Man 2 score and Zimmer did another live event with whom he dubbed The Sinister Six, the musicians who helped create the songs and sounds of the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack including The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.

I believe I have a CD or MP3 copy of every commercially available piece of music that Zimmer has scored on as well as plenty that's not publicly available so I'd be considered a true fan. He's without a single doubt the living musician I most admire.

So when he announced a concert series to debut in London in October, I vowed not to miss him again and I already have my ticket for his first performance.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Star Wars VII: Original Trilogy trio return

I don't think that just because I'm young and handsome that it somehow gives me the right to criticise the appearance of others, especially celebrities who are ageing naturally. No human being looks exactly the same after 30 or 40 years [unless you're Patrick Stewart]. Sure some folks look great for their age but there are others who do not. When some move out of the spotlight for a while and re-emerge like Val Kilmer, the result can be a shock.

Last year Mark Hamill was seen really dying for a fag and he rummaged through a public ash can to get a few puffs of sweet nicotine. This act was almost as reprehensible as the paparazzi who photographed him doing it after coming out of a burger joint which as Hamill's neck and waistline could attest to, he visited quite frequently [left]. 

This no doubt worried people about the original trilogy stars reprising their roles for Star Wars Episode VII. To be honest it also worried me a little, far more than knowing that I'd be losing almost 15 years of post ROTJ continuity begun by Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire. I mean we don't need [or want] 57 year old Carrie Fisher in her gold bikini but we do need to still see Princess Leia in her and the worry is that while active in Hollywood, both she and Hamill have been away from the front of the camera lens for quite some time.

Seeing her in person assuaged my fear somewhat. I was in the audience for a convention panel in Atlanta a few years back and there was little doubt Fisher [whom I share a Birthday with] commanded the love, attention and respect of those in the audience. While she said a couple of months back that she was made lose 30lbs for her new role, I'm convinced that this was something she'd have done herself anyway, to stay true to a character that obviously means so much to so many middle-aged men.

Hamill recently posed with Jedi Micky, a Jedi personification of Disney icon Micky Mouse. It's pretty obvious that Hamill not only aced the treadmill but every other piece of equipment in the gym as well and looks like a wise old Jedi Master which he damn well should be by now.

And then there's Harrison Ford who has had a stellar career on the silver screen with over 25 major appearances since ROTJ. He was considered the safe bet for being great in Star Wars VII but sadly he's turned into a grumpy old fart and broke his leg on set delaying production and causing rewrites.

Well two of of three ain't bad.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Lord of the Blogs: The Return of The King

The biggest shock I got when I jumped in grade last year was that apparently general officers attached to non CONUS commands are afforded a shitload of vacation compared with the field grades. And if you don't take it, they send around medical personnel to evaluate you if it's deemed that you've been working for too long.

I've been probed enough by both medical and non-medical personnel throughout my career so if they want me to take a month then that what I'll do. To be honest I fucking deserve it. Why? Well you're all still alive aren't you?

So I grew a beard and went off on vacation, in a south easterly direction with some other folks who similarly were forced to take accrued vacation. We went somewhere with sun, sea and sand, well actually not too much sea as we were pretty far inland. We partied hard and it's unlikely the locals will forget us soon. Those that lived. We lost a couple of our own. Well I did say we partied hard. 

Normal service will now resume.

Whopper.