Category Archives: Movies

Thoughts on films, directors, DVDs, theater experiences, Oscars and the occasional movie review.

With a Cold Sense of Recognition

In in full Short Attention Span Theater mode this day. Forgive.

  • ‘Twas not a good weekend for movies, it seems. We watched March of the Penguins—a film lavished with priase by one and all—and came away from it going, “meh.” I mean, it was a nice nature show and all, but why it was a feature film and not a regular Animal Planet special escapes me.
  • We also tried to watch The Break-Up as it was Nikki’s turn to pick a theater experience. I understand her choice in a way, she likes Jennifer Aniston, she likes comedies and she enjoys romance stories. You might infer from the title that this isn’t that romantic of a movie but then again it was advertised and billed as a romantic comedy. It isn’t. What it is most closely resembles a 105-minute torture session for humans claiming legitimate ownership to more than four brain cells. It isn’t exactly the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it is quite high up there among the most unpleasant movies I’ve had the displeasure to experience. Among the movie’s primary sins was that it was ostensibly a comedy that utterly failed at any point to be amusing (let alone actually funny) and the one part that could have been comedic was stretched on for ten times longer than the joke had steam to push through. Sad.
  • Got the DS Lite Sunday. After all my yammering about trade-ins and what not, I ended up trading in nothing except some recycled cans for about $25 and then GameStop had a “Buy 2 Used Games, Get 1 Used Game Free” promotion. Since they had Mario Kart DS, Advance Wars Dual Strike and Metroid Prime Hunters used, I got those.
  • Never did get a case or any screen protectors, but I’m ordering the screen protectors online and I’ll probably just do without a case. That’s roughly typical.
  • I like all the games but I have a hard time with the control scheme in Metroid because it involves the stylus, the D-Pad and several of the buttons and triggers and whatnot. It probably takes some practice is all, which I haven’t put in because I’ve been too preoccupied pwning Black Hole forces in Advance Wars.
  • As for the hardware I’m impressed with the unit as a whole. Good battery life, brilliant screens that make good-looking games (Mario Kart DS) remarkable and okay-looking games (Advance Wars) good, and reasonably comfortable. I must confess that I avoid the touchscreen business when possible, perhaps because I lack screen protectors and I don’t wish to tarnish a handsome new electronic device, but more likely because I just don’t dig on it as an improvement in terms of control over regular ol’ D-Pad and buttons. Also the DS Lite is heavier than I expected; it’s far lighter than the brick that was the original DS, but compared to the featherweight GBA SP it’s a beast. I suppose that’s the price to pay for sweet 3D graphics and WiFi capability.
  • My backpack that I carried my work laptop around in ripped last week. It was a really ugly carrying device but I liked it because it had a spot for my little fold-up umbrella, it would (in a pinch) accommodate two laptops, plus it had room for all my random do-dads, a book, a spare floppy drive for the laptop, the laptop’s bulky AC adpater plus my CD case. But it was cheaply made and the zippers were a huge pain to get to work right. Anyway now I’m back down to my old Samsonite laptop case that I originally got for the iBook which holds practically nothing except the laptop, my namebadge/key card and a pack of gum. But it is solid as a rock and I’ve never had any problems zipping it up.
  • Except that time I zipped my favorite shirt into it first thing in the morning and ended up with a big snaggy rip thing across my stomach all day. That was weak.
  • Speaking of weak, I’ve seen people (aside from my brother that is) using the phrase “Weak sauce” quite a lot lately. It even makes an appearance as a catch phrase for one of the (more annoying) characters in Advance Wars. Weird. I kind of assumed my brother had made that up. Unless he invented a meme… Gasp! Scott is Internet Famous!
  • Not really.
  • After much fiddling I think I got my IMAP email working from DreamHost. I love the new hosting company and they have some stellar features but sometimes it seems like getting things to work they way you expect them to is just a few centimeters short of being Really Totally Easy. I’ve noticed this a lot with computing tasks: No matter how good it is, it’s not like working a Microwave. The chasm between, say, a clever bit of software or a clean user interface and RTE is theoretically minute, but it seems like in practice it might as well be the Grand Canyon because no one (not even Apple a lot of the time) can get to that point where you have to want to do something quite unusual before you have to ask for some help.
  • Case in point: I was trying to set up the DS to use my home’s WiFi connection. I was able to do so after a couple of hours’ frustration (also time when I was not actually playing with my new game console so frustration falls a little short, description-wise) and the solution I came up with was to change the type of WEP encryption I was using. This worked great for the DS but of course immediately kicked all other wireless devices off the network. It was a temporary panic moment before I realized how to change the other devices’ settings to reflect the updated environment. My point is that I use Macs at home and it should have been like, “Oh, you want to get your DS on this network? Plink! There you go.”
  • I suppose if that were the case I (and half the people I know and call friends or loved ones) would be out of a job. Viva job security through ineptitude!
  • There is something wrong with me. My stomach starts to hurt and gurgle and get a general bathroom-y feeling after I eat dinner and occasionally after I eat other meals as well, if I eat too much or the wrong thing. I’m seeing a doctor about it, but it’s starting to (ahem) cramp my style.
  • We went up last week to see Beans graduate from eighth grade. I know I graduated from Jr. High with a similar level of pomp and circumstance (Ha! I kill me!), but I remember thinking it was a little overdone considering what our relative accomplishment level was and I had a thought-deja-vu in witnessing the proceedings at Beans’ event. Still, he was class president and got to give the opening speech and his girlfriend was Valedictorian (with something ridiculous like a 4.36 GPA… something I didn’t know was possible since that would mean getting straight A+’s and something else, like—I don’t know—saving twelve drowning people between classes or something). So it was at least quasi-entertaining. There were a couple of musical numbers, and while I don’t recall my mother actually ever telling me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say not to say anything at all, it sounds like a solid policy. One which I will employ at this time.
  • Seriously. Nothing nice to say.
  • I would like to submit, for the records, a few facts. It is June. I live in California. In an area widely regarded for mild weather. It is overcast and cold today. With a chance of rain. What?
  • Stupid non-summer.
  • I keep meaning to watch the World Cup. I actually like watching Futbol, but I think it’s usually on at freaky hours like 7:45 am. I suppose watching World Cup soccer beats working, but I doubt my boss would be thrilled with the “Ole Ole” chant while people are conducting business.
  • Plus he might take back the bonus he told me about yesterday. All things considered it was a lot better than I thought it would be, especially since the targets I and various parts of the company (such as our team, our division, etc) were supposed to meet were graded stuff like “Pretty good, but not great.” If this is what I get for “Pretty good,” I’m fairly intrigued to see what I get for “Great.”

Groans and Eye Rolls

A few links have managed to get my eyes rollin’ before I’ve even completely opened them for the day. Care to join me?

The first article is from Hardcore Gamer and is (yet another) article on getting girls to play video games. How original.

The problem with the article (aside from it saying the same basic things that every single other article with this same title has ever said) is that it falls into the same basic presumptive trap that all other similar articles fall into. The presumption is that there is some secret password or combination of tricks that can be executed to magically unlock the secret gamer in all females (not unlike solving a video game puzzle). I suggest that the very notion is patently false.

I think that in a broad sense there are probably a few games out there that any person could get into. Lots of people who have vicerally negative reactions to video games wouldn’t consider it untoward to play a few rounds of Tetris or Solitare. Of course those are actually video games, but they are so removed from what a lot of people percieve as “gamer games” that they find a class all their own which sits outside that realm in people’s minds, even if technically a distinction does not exist.

But the thrust of the article and the implication it puts forth is not that you might be able to find a handful of games that your girlfriend will tolerate but rather that you can actually convert her into (at least an approximation of) a full-fledged gamer. Which is, of course, a ridiculous notion. There is no more guarantee that you can convince your significant other to join your hobby than there is that she can convince you to get really excited about visiting Sephora, taking ballroom dance classes or shopping for fun. She might, but the guarantee is bogus and misleading.

My opinion is that games are self-selling in a very significant way. And I’m not just talking about video games, either. Lots of game companies and gaming communities spend a lot of time saying, “How can we get more people to play our game?” The truth is that you can market until the cows come home and maybe you’ll get lucky and start a fad or something (witness Pictionary which was everywhere for a while there in the late 80s but realistically is only a ho-hum game) but you generally won’t convince anyone to play a game that doesn’t already want to play it.

Certain things (games in this case) attract certain types of people. I love Science Fiction, strategy games, complex rules, artistic opportunities and collecting stuff: You could easily say that a game like Warhammer 40K was more or less made for me but it wasn’t Games Workshop that came calling to me saying, “Hey, try this game on for size, Mr. Collecting-Strategy-SF-Arty-Rules Guy!” They merely existed, and somewhere in my geekly travels I developed a conscious notion of Warhammer and what it was and what it represented to give it a shot. I wanted to play for years before I actually did not because of some marketing blitz but just because I had a sense before I even knew what the game was like in practice and what the hobby entailed that it was something I could “see myself getting into.” I think I used those exact words when describing it to Nik.

The point is that some girls are going to look at video games and say, “Hey, what’s that all about?” They’ll have a strange sort of passing interest in them. They may not actively play the games, but they could because the interest level is there. And it’s not that they are going to always be thrilled with gaming (especially their guys’ gaming habits), but just that there is either a tolerance or a certain set of preferences and predispositions that make video games more acceptable to them.

In the end it comes down to individuals. I know that Nik will probably very, very rarely—if ever—play a lot of video games. She’s picked up a few puzzle games now and again but for the most part her interest in video games has been hovering somewhere around nil. But for the most part she’s understanding when I play games and she’s more predisposed to other types of gaming (hence why she accompanies me to KublaCon and DunDraCon but probably would take a pass if I ever had a chance to go to E3 or PAX or something similar) which have more social aspects. That’s fine: There is something in there that we both have to accept about each other. But as much as she may love for me to be really excited about purse shopping or whatever, the fact is that I probably am going to only ever be capable of tolerating that she does it without ever really getting on the same page as her about it. I hope she’d be cool with that just as I feel it’s actually better for me to just accept that Nik isn’t a video gamer and if the best I can get is that she doesn’t actively fight me on game-playing (tossing out consoles and the like) that’s certainly good enough.

The second article is this surreal take on why Apple doesn’t care about gaming. The thrust of the article seems to be that video games are all violent death-and-destruction simulations and Apple is a lovey-dovey kind of peace-and-hippies enterprise which eschews video games as unpleasant by-products of an unenlightened Windows world.


Boy did this chump ever buy the Apple lifestyle line—including hook and sinker. Come on, buddy, do you really think that Apple is some love-and-harmony utopia with a lickable candy shell? Did Santa Claus tell you so and his story was corroborated by The Tooth Fairy and her entourage of Leprechauns? Cut me some slack. Apple is a business. They want profits.

I’m sorry, were you expecting more? Something profound, perhaps? Nope, sadly, they just want money. As a matter of fact, as a publicly traded company, they are obligated to make money. Anything else? That’s just marketing. Plain, simple and ugly.

I’ll tell you why Apple doesn’t care about gaming: They don’t think there is enough money in it. Could they put out a gaming rig? Sure. But they won’t because they don’t think it will increase sales enough to make a difference.

Florian Eckhardt thinks the reason is that game computers are centered around upgradeability and Apple would rather you buy a new computer than upgrade, which is a valid point. But it still comes down to money: It would cost Apple money in upgrade-system sales to provide an open box system suitable for gaming.

It’s kind of unfortunate, but it is what it is. For the most part I’m content to use Macs for computing stuff and play video games on consoles. The crazy thing about open markets is that I actually have that choice. Not as crazy as the notion that a company would turn down the opportunity to improve their products’ capabilities for some sort of altruism or bravura of concern for the family unit, but still.

Finally, (and this one didn’t annoy me, really, I just wanted to link to it) Tales of a Scorched Earth reviews X-Men 3 and hates it. Or at least compares it unfavorably to the uncomfortably campy Batman Forever (which of course hearalded the second worst movie of all time, Batman and Robin), so I think we agree on one thing: If there is an X-Men 4, it’s going to be dirty booty pants.

The Last (One I Can) Stand

We went out on a sort of triple-date with two other couples to see X-Men 3. Not a date movie you say? Perhaps. But consider that the three guys each have a strong geek streak running through them (though some may hide it a little better) and our respective significant others all have a high threshold for… well, us.

In any case I guess there was enough consensus that there was very little grumbling (if any, I really don’t remember any dissent) and so X-Men it was.

Now I liked the first X-Men. The second was okay but unlike many folks I thought there was something lacking with it. It seemed like they were still stumbling with the same problem they had before which is that there are way too many X-Men characters to make for anything even remotely resembling character development in a two hour action film. So they try to cram as many in as possible but they usually just end up with a slew of cameos as the big name stars (McKellan, Stewart, Berry, Jackman and Paquin) steal all the screen time.

It was forgivable in the first movie (“An X-Men movie came out!”) and reluctantly tolerable in the second (“Well, they got in some cool new guys like Nightcrawler”) but at this point it’s getting stale. And bizarrely, they still struggled with too many characters but they managed to kill or disable a ton of them and generally took massive liberties with characters, alignments and introductions such that it was difficult while reading the credits to determine when, exactly, some of the characters had actually appeared. For example, I defy you to identify Psylocke or Jubilee first time through the movie. That I only know they were in it because we watched the credits (there is a credit cookie at the end) means, to me, someone didn’t do their job completely.

I swear this is the last time I mention it, but if you want to do X-Men right, you need to do what they did in the comic book and split them into multiple teams. I still maintain that if you made two movies with the same basic storyline but with each following a different group of mutants through the narrative arc with copious crossover (you could see the same scene with all X-Men from two different perspectives, for example, or the actions of the villains in one movie could make a setback encountered by the other team more clear in the second movie), you could ping the fanboys’ wallets twice and you would at least have the opportunity to give the characters the attention they deserve (and in a way, demand).

Anyway, the main problem with The Last Stand is that I’m tired of Magneto. Sure McKellan is a good actor, but the mutant-vs.-mutant theme has gotten a bit stale. Where’s the Sentinels? Apocalypse? Omega Red? But even if they felt compelled to bring Magneto back in, the film’s secondary plot revolving around a cure for the mutant X gene fails on so many levels. For one thing it’s boring: Who wants to watch a super hero movie where they lose their powers? For another it isn’t properly handled because in situations where it could be useful it is mostly ignored and the mutant who’s mutant ability is to undo mutant abilities is both paradoxal (wouldn’t he cancel his own mutant ability out?) is treated like some kind of artifact since they never even bother to try and explain how they were able to synthesize his ability. If that were possible, why not sythesize Storm’s ability, or Wolverine’s healing factor? Pharmecuetical companies could make a mint with a regeneration injection, so why would they bother curing mutants? Scott Kurtz on PvP has similar complaints and I concur with some of his gripes.

The whole thing is sorta cheap and cop-out-y. Even the credit cookie is bogus, as is the event that necessitated it. In tandem the two events cheapen the entire movie. The Dark Phoenix thing is handled better than I expected, which is the one bright spot (hurr) in the script. I would have preferred the entire movie revolve around the Phoenix storyline. At least from here on out we can fully expect any additional movies to be complete crap since Hugh Jackman will probably splinter off and do solo Wolverine movies and with most of the other big name stars either facing dead characters or expressing clear disinterest in further sequels, X-Men 4 would end up looking like a second rate New Mutants adaptation.

An Unstoppable Flood

As the song says, pardon me while I burst… into discussion. Or whatever.

I spent some time this weekend holed up in shower-less squallor as the rank stench of geek wafted ’round the apartment. My wife was spared only by her hasty retreat into lands untold with aspirations of “fixing” her “hair” into some complex structure of waves and flow which my mind could neither comprehend nor even process into appropriate visual imagery. The corrent response to such stimuli, I have learned, is: “It looks very nice, honey.” Venturing far beyond the script leads only to heartache and, should your other of significance be the type, possibly physical aching as well.

The aspiration of the stench-wallowing was a day of co-operative XBox Live play with one Doctor of Macintoshology in the latest chapter of our previously conquered Full Spectrum Warrior, in this case mysteriously titled Ten Hammers. I certainly didn’t see any hammer power-ups or collectible items, much less ten of them, but then again our progress in the game was—I’m being careful with my words here—limited.

Ten Hammers’ is very much like the first Full Spectrum Warrior: You have a fire squad of four soldiers called Alpha Squadron, whom to pass orders to and with appropriate realism they carry them out. Move here, set up a fire zone over there, suppress the enemy behind that car, toss a grenade into this vicinity, and so on. In the single-player mode you get a second team (wait for it: “Bravo”) which you control to try and outflank opponents or bail the other team(s) out of trouble. The minor enhancements of Ten Hammers are welcome, especially the ability to use Riflemen and Team Leaders to target enemies behind light cover with a sort of “aim and fire” order which sometimes prevents having to execute flanking maneuvers.

Still, the best part of FSW was the co-op, by far. The game was only so-so except that in this age of woefully lacking co-op gaming it was very welcome to be able to complete the entire game with one player acting as Alpha Squad and the other issuing orders (I hesitate to use the word “control”) to Bravo. And while there were quibbles to be made, for the most part it was an enjoyable experience. Far more enjoyable than, say, wading through the flood of ignoramuses packing the Halo 2 servers.

So we (Dr. Mac and I) greeted the arrival of Ten Hammers with a sort of contented sadness: Would that other games allowed such co-operative fun, but at least we could take advantage where it was offered.

It is for that false sense of happy expectation and misguided faith put in a franchise we had successfully gambled on in the past which raised our hopes only to squash them like one might a particularly repulsive insect that I curse the names of Pandemic and THQ.

In truth there is very little difference between what was available in FSW and Ten Hammers’ offerings. Many people have pointed to the versus mode in Ten Hammers as a welcome addition. Fine. Compete as you might with your cursing ten-year old opponents and your team killers and what not. My threshold for such tomfoolery has been met for this gaming generation/cycle and I will not be swayed. There is no multiplayer joy for me to have when facing Dr. Mac in versus battles where our amused banter falls on the apathetic ears of our collective pets, lounging in nap-time at our respective feet since the voice chat feature of Live works only on a teammate basis for most games. No, I come to share the experience and work through loss and victory together rather than revel in it at a friend’s expense.

What does differ is that levels available in co-operative mode are “unlocked” via completion in single-player mode. Which means that at least one of us (Dr. Mac or myself) needed to play the level solo and then we could host the co-op game with that particular mission. And the interface to access this is less than friendly to boot. Still, quibbling again. The concern for poor UI design is storied in video games and computerized entertainment. If it is simply unable to be cracked as by an ill-prepared theif versus a state-of-the-art safe, you move on. We managed to muddle through and execute the game start. What we found there was the real showstopper.

As you play through the levels in single-player mode, you reach various locations where the medical truck moves up to your current position or you clear out enough real estate behind you that the game notes significant progress has been made and auto-saves from that spot so that new and unexpected enounters just up ahead don’t grind you into needless frustration by sending you back to before you had achieved a modicum of victory; rather you start from that very spot and try until you reach the next checkpoint. This, as far as my gaming experience (it is considerable—belie’ dat) has shown is standard operating procedure. To be perfectly lucid: This was the way it was with the original Full Spectrum Warrior. Even in co-op, as you moved from one insurgent-infested location to a point of relative calm you were saved from having to repeat, ad infinitum, past victories/defeats.

Now let me continue my lucidity and get right to the point: This feature is either broken or missing from Ten Hammers. That means that no matter how close you get to the end of a level on a single try, if you fail you must go back to the beginning. All. The. Way. Back. Frustration is too kind of a word to describe what we felt after several hours of this. When you add to the equation the fact that Ten Hammers is somewhat more challenging than FSW was (even on the easiest setting) since there seem to be fewer absolutes (as covered foes are not invincible as they once may have been, so too are your teams at risk even when otherwise acceptably covered), you end up with portions where Doc and I would die at very early stages of the mission ten, twelve times in a row only to finally succeed and get to the next segment where we were unprepared and failed soon after having just recently tapped our tongues against the sweet morsel of success.

The disappointment was harsh and embittering. What should have been a fun (if somewhat smelly) afternoon of time-killing bliss was marred by a poor showing/showstopper bug.

Additional Linkage

Some things to pass your time:

  • Sigh. Some doofus from Minnesota (State Query: “What’s up with our Canadian border? Who put that little hump there? Is that the ten thousandth lake or something?”) is trying to introduce legislation that will fine the consumer for purchasing M or AO rated games if they are not of age. My question is, how is this even going to work? Like some kid is going to get away with buying Grand Theft Auto and then turn himself in? If the retailer was savvy enough to realize the kid was breaking the rules (laws?), why wouldn’t they just not sell it to them in the first place? Unenforceable and misguided equals utterly retarded. Yay lawmakers!
  • Apparently Nintendo hasn’t decided what product they’re trying to sell with their new European DS campaign, but they know one thing: It’s gotta be teh sexy. Because you know, all the people I know who want a DS look like Gap models and not pencil necks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.</pot att=”black”>
  • Whoa. Check out this crazy Russian dude acting like Jackie Chan/Sam Fisher. I don’t know what’s up with the bizarre Russian rap on the soundtrack, but it’s just as good with the mute button engaged. Courtesy of the sharp-eyed Dr. Mac.
  • Also, the latest rant on Penny Arcade is less profanity-riddled than usual but well written as always discussing why the PS3 fails (yet again); this time with regards to online play. It’s true that they might come up with some midnight hour Live-like service but let’s face it, Microsoft has had several years to get this right and if you think Sony is going to learn from MS’ mistakes, you apparently forgot about how badly they mocked the 360’s two-tiered pricing plan only to introduce one of their own which made the 360’s look downright reasonable. All I’m saying is that you have to work pretty hard to make Microsoft look like they really have the customers in mind, you know?

Da Vinci Had a Code

We checked out The Da Vinci Code last night. I read the book and while I understand why some people were a bit perturbed by it (particularly the little blurb in the front of the book that suggested, perhaps surreptitiously, that the contents within were factual) but it was no more offensive to me than Indiana Jones’ quest for the Holy Grail. I mean, in all honesty I don’t even find mention of the Holy Grail in the bible in terms of it being some mystical artifact so if someone wants to write a story about it… you know. Whatever.

The movie actually tells the story better than the book does (and without as much pretension at that) but it skims over some of the more interesting art history aspects. In general it was pretty good although maybe not worth the opening weekend crowd hassles. I’d say if you had an interest in it you’d be better served catching a matinee or waiting for the DVD.

Movie Meditations

I’ve watched a bunch of movies lately, partly because I’ve been sick but I’ve also just slipped into one of those moods. I mostly wanted to ruminate on horror movies but I realize that the number of people interested in such a subject is probably 1/32 the number of people who actually read this site which means roughly -25 people. So before I start talking to less than nobody, I should point out a movie that does not involve teenagers being stabbed in the spleen with a crowbar or whatever. I’m talking about “An Unfinished Life” with Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez.

I realize I kind of have to sell this movie because for one thing it has J.Lo in it which I fully understand would turn some people off to it right away but if you can forget all the Jenny From the Block–Bennifer–”Gigli”–Tabloid stuff for a second you might recall that she first hit a lot of people’s radars with a fine performance in a pretty good movie called “Out of Sight.” So regardless of anything else she can, when she bothers to, actually act. For another thing it’s a very low-key, quiet sort of movie that I can best describe as old-fashioned. There’s not a lot of high intensity happening here, the performances don’t involve people channeling dead celebrities and the most action you get is a short scene of an old man kicking a domestic abuser around a bit. It’s not even your average emotional drama where they play the tearjerker card half a dozen times to get the wimmin folk to break out the hankies.

And yet, it’s absorbing and it’s subtly funny and a bit touching but most of all it’s entertaining and—how’s this for a shock—when it’s over you just might feel better than you did before you started watching. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll love it, I’m just saying you might want to give it a shot because you might be surprised, pleasantly, like I was.

Okay, now let’s talk about movies with axe murders.

The Decline of Horror

There was a time when I would have gone as far as to say I was a fan of horror movies. Somewhere between my youthful fear of pretty much everything and my adult cynicism for everything else I absorbed cheesy slasher flicks and serials with a pretty impressive appetite. Part of it is that I really like special effects. Of course my favorite special effects are more of the Sci-Fi variety with spaceships and robotic warmachines but SF movies are usually expensive and tend to be event pictures which really don’t get made that often. But I like make-up effects, too, and since latex suits and red corn syrup are cheap, lots of horror movies get made. Special effects geeks have to either get used to droughts of new material to pore over, learn to live with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Segal or learn to appreciate horror movies.

The other part is that I think scary stuff is fun. The psychology of horror fans has been discussed a lot since people started paying to get frightened and it usually comes down to something like “we’d rather do it voluntarily in a way we know isn’t truly dangerous” and/or “the adrenaline rush from fear is addicting in a similar way to the pain of eating spicy food.” Whatever it is that makes people like to be safely frightened, count me among their number.

But lately I’ve gotten tired of horror. More than tired really, I’ve gotten just about downright sick of it. And it isn’t that it started scaring me more or even that it started scaring me less (although that’s sort of true—I’ll make more sense in a minute) it’s that horror has changed in recent years. Horror isn’t horror anymore, movies that are billed as genre flicks are becoming almost exclusively murder pictures. And that’s the opposite of what I like about horror movies.

I think about it like this: Graphic gore doesn’t really bug me in movies. It’s all special effects. And like I said before, I like the special effects. The thing is, I want there to be at least a passing stab made at giving those effects some kind of context. I want them to be the climax of a building suspense. I want them to be shocking or frightening or something—anything except for what they’ve become which is numbing. I’m going to annoy some horror fans here and say that gore is not scary in and of itself. Gore without a sense of psychological fear is just… well, gross. And I’m going to take another stand and say that psychological fear wrought by putting some human villain behind the machete or scalpel or whatever is a different kind of horror than what I’m looking for.

Look, I know that people are sick and sadistic and twisted and capable of revoltingly unspeakable acts of cruelty against each other. I got it. If I need reminding, I can watch the nine o’clock news. So thanks but no thanks when it comes to movies whose only idea of what might be scary is some dude with a pitchfork or an axe. That’s not really all that scary, it’s just depressing. It’s also about as uncreative as you can get. As clear as I am on how stupidly evil people can be, I know everyone else is, too, including Mr. Screenwriter. So if that’s the best you can come up with: Spare me. Spare us.

Give me some supernatural terror. Give me Jason. Give me Freddy or zombies or ghosts or vampires or something. Come up with something new. Make a twist on something old. Bring me a giant mutant termite or a living doll or a rampaging possessed washing machine, anything. Let those things spatter fake blood all over your set and give you a reason to cast decapitated molds of your actor’s heads, but I can’t stand to watch another pointless murder shown without any hint of subtlety or even fun (quick hint: extra sadism does not equal fun) just to put another point on the make-up guys’ resume. Seriously. Count me out.

If you want to have a human killer, it’s called a mystery. Give me some suspense. Make me guess. Show me a character I can root for who is trying to figure out who it is or why they do it so they can stop it from happening. Don’t toss in some fourth-rate teen idol on the way to a career making bad Japanese soap commercials as a hapless stooge just running away for 45 minutes. If you want to do real horror then do it right, come up with a monster. Give me some camp, a little cheese and a few laughs. Make it fun and then turn off the lights and give me a creepy score as the pajama-clad heroine goes the wrong way up a flight of stairs.

Or do it good and give me some fiction I can sink my teeth into. Move me to the edge of my seat like in Alien. If you can’t write it well enough to suspend my disbelief then head back to community college and pick up your accounting degree ’cause this just ain’t your bag, man. Write me something scary, not something sad. Not something sick. I’m tired of it.

Okay, deep breath. Rant off. I feel better. Now maybe I should go work on that possessed washing machine story. Someone’s gotta show these idiots how it’s done.

Rebarbative Rally

I’m lazy today but I want to update. This sounds like a job for…

Bullet Points

  • I attended a corporate meeting in San Francisco today. It was an hour bus trip (one-way) with some company provided snacks of dubious quality as an incentive. Unlike the Microsoft company rallies you see in famous internet clips, this was less of a pep rally as a sort of drab, state-of-the-company report. Turns out, the state of our company is “pretty okay, probably.” Inspiring!
  • I’ll count it as acceptable that the Sharks managed to draw a tie from the opening road games in their series. That basically puts them in a best-of-five with home ice advanatge. What I don’t find acceptable is the officiating so far in the series. It’s not that they call too many penalties (although I’d prefer a lot fewer, thanks) it’s more that they are so mind-numbingly inconsistent with them. Both ways. Each team has alternated in the young series from penalty box parade to getting away with murder. The series is tied but I’d basically give both games to the refs had the Predators managed to make the game yesterday even remotely interesting. As it is I’d say the Sharks were robbed of any legitimate chance to win on Friday and the Preds had the wind sucked out of their sails by a bunch of really random calls on Sunday. Going forward with the series I really hope these refs can get out of the way and let the teams decide who wins.
  • I caught Silent Hill on Saturday with HB since both of us are pretty big fans of the game(s). The movie wasn’t preview screened for critics (bad sign) and got a lot of bad reviews from those who made the effort to give it a rating. I don’t necessarily disagree with some of the criticisms (bad dialogue, some questionable acting, too much/not enough exposition) but I think considering the source material games are basically incomprehensible as well and horror movies aren’t exactly the place to go to see fine Academy Award-worthy performances that it did what it was trying to do pretty admirably. At the very least I was entertained for a couple of hours. I can’t exactly recommend it, but I wasn’t sorry to have seen it. What I was sorry about was spending $4.00 for a small diet soda that tasted like regular soda that had been sitting in melted ice for about eight hours.
  • I went over to HB’s place on Friday to catch the game and while I was there I tried to do a bit more work on the network I messed up. I was able to determine that their net connection was fine by plugging the ethernet cable right into my laptop so with no other troubleshooting steps revealing any useful information I diagnosed the AirPort Express as having some sort of issue; possibly a faulty ethernet connector. After we caught the movie we headed over to the nearest Apple store for our appointment at the Genius Bar to have it looked at. The Genius plugged it in and it worked fine for him which left us back at square one. I had to take Nik out to Whimsy‘s place for some tea party/Mary Kay pusher meeting so I couldn’t follow through with the new info, but HB called and said that he got home and just unplugged everything and plugged it all back in and stuff started working again so the final diagnosis is: Who knows? Man I love computers.
  • We caught the end of The Next Food Network Star last night and Guy won, which is what I was hoping. The funny thing is, I don’t know that I’d actually watch his show or not because I get kind of tired of generic in-studio cooking shows, but at least that unpleasantly-shaped, uncomfortably effeminate goofball Reggie didn’t win. Seriously, dude, dry up the waterworks. Even the chicks weren’t as weepy as you.
  • I picked up Indigo Prophecy for the XBox over the weekend as well. It’s a very curious game that I knew only from a comment made by a friend and the description on the back of the box so I had very few preconceptions going in. It works like an adventure game, mostly, where you wander around and try to figure out what to do. Usually it isn’t too hard to determine and the story is cinematic and intriguing enough to keep you pushing along, trying not to get stuck up in the game so the story can fight its way out. The strange thing is that all the “gameplay” elements are very abstracted from the action on the screen, such that action sequences are handled via a series of rythym game-style follow-the-leader joystick movements. In this way it’s kind of like Dragon’s Lair, which is sort of unfortunate because it kinda pulls you out of the action and forces you to think about something other than what your avatar is actually doing. It works in certain cases like when playing a guitar (the rythym element makes logical sense there) but when fleeing from a horde of mutated insects or kickboxing a punching bag it feels divorced from what the character is actually doing. Also failing in certain tasks merely ends the game forcing a restart which, for a game that is trying really hard to be an interactive movie, feels forced and simply reminds the player that—despite the sheen of freedom—they really are still on a rail. What’s almost the most frustrating is that I’m really interested in the story but I feel like I’m being needlessly thrust into interaction where it doesn’t add to the enjoyment. I’d almost rather be watching Indigo Prophecy: The Movie than guiding these characters through their morning shower routines and whatever.
  • Nik and I stopped by the mall for a bit yesterday so I could look for a plain black zip-up sweatshirt now that the weather is finally threatening to get nicer. My agitation at being shut down in this endeavour has led me to a brilliant business idea: Normal Clothes. I’d sell plain T-shirts without any Socially Inexcusable If Spoken Aloud and Largely Offensive Statements Played For Laughs Because They Appear On a T-Shirt; clothing that doesn’t force one to become a walking billboard; jeans that don’t cost enough to dent the National Deficit and seasonal clothing available year-round because weather doesn’t really care about our human calendars. Okay so maybe as a business it isn’t brilliant, but if such an establishment existed, I’d be their #1 customer.
  • I did find a pair of sunglasses that were relatively cheap. Of course, they were broken and I had to take them back.
  • Whomever said that shopping was therapeutic does not own a dictionary and clearly mistook “therapeutic” to mean “capable of inducing suicide.”

No Gnus is Good Gnus

CALIFORNIA—Law enforcement officals noted today that a stolen 1997 Saturn SC2 was found only a few miles from the scene of the crime, parked near an elementary school. It is reportedly in rather good condition, parked with the doors locked. It has been towed to an undisclosed location for review by the owners’ insurance adjuster.

Short Attention Span Theat—Hey, Who Has Some Gum?

  • So I caught the Sharks game on Saturday with HB, which was a lot of fun. Afterward we convinced Nik and Gin to drive out and meet us at Lister and Whimsy’s pad with a cameo by RR for a fairly raucous but tasty trip to a local steakhouse.
  • So, Saturday was the second game I managed to attend this year. Jonathan Cheechoo scored a hat trick at the game I went to see for my birthday back in January. Cheechoo scored a hat trick on Saturday, too. I’m only saying.
  • Sadly after Saturday’s winning performance and eighth victory in a row, they basically rolled over on Monday for the Kings whom they most certainly could have beaten. Yeah, the game didn’t matter for much and no one wants to go out with an injury in a “pointless” game (anyone else get kind of jittery when Cheechoo went down from that collision?) but getting shut out? Not a good note to start the postseason on, I’m afraid.
  • So Thornton and Cheechoo managed, despite getting blanked by the Kings, to take home some league hardware for points and goals scored, respectively. Congrats to them both as I think they very much deserved to win. I doubt Thornton will be able to shine bright enough for the east coasters to have a legitimate shot at the Hart trophy for league MVP, but we can all rest assured that he is the most valuable player, trophy or no.
  • You know, ever since I saw Waking Life I’ve thought that animation-over-film is a very nifty effect. Check out the trailer for the upcoming film A Scanner Darkly and tell me that doesn’t look super rad.
  • I rented Tomb Raider: Legend over the weekend. Of course by weekend I mean “Monday I took off because I couldn’t stomach the thought of working another five days in a row,” but whatever. I beat the game in a day which suggests that the game is way too short (which it is) but does not suggest much about the quality of that brief experience. Overall I’d say Lara has her mojo back, although the combat needed more slow-mo effects than the one or two moves that provided it because those involved getting all up in some thug’s face (putting one scantily-clad adventurer in rather perilous circumstances). The story was a bit hard to follow since I haven’t completed a Tomb Raider game… uh… ever, I think. And I haven’t even picked one up since the Sega Dreamcast days so, you know, it’s been a couple of weeks. The fun factor of the puzzles and the visuals are quite nice but I really feel sorry for anyone who actually dropped the coin on the game. Ten hours. At most.
  • Beating TRL so quickly got me thinking about the sweet spot for game purchases. Basically it’s like this: Either you buy a game hoping you’ll play it for months and months and never really bother trading it in (lots of sports games fall into this category, as do really good multiplayer games like Counter-Strike and Halo 2) or you hope that you buy a popular game and manage to push through it in a reasonably short amount of time—but not so short that you would have been better served just renting it. For example, a $50 game will, within about a month of release, get you maybe $35 in trade-in value. Which means you take a $15 hit from buying the game. If you can make up that amount of gameplay in a shorter amount of time than it would take you to rack up $15 in rental fees, you come out on top. Since most rentals are about $1 per day, you’re looking at games that can be finished (without getting too stuck in one spot) in roughly 30 hours.
  • Finding 30 hours in a few weeks to devote to a video game… you’re on your own there.
  • The one bad thing about the car being found (okay, not bad per se, but sort of sad) is that the rental car we got from the insurance company, despite being a crummy Ford, is much nicer than the Saturn. It even has a CD player that understands MP3 discs. Mmmm…. 700MB commute goodness…
  • Public Service Annoucement: Roast Beef + Beano’s Horseradish Sauce = teh yum.
  • Also tasty: Woebler’s Spicy Mustard. Semi-related lameness: Woebler’s does not have a web presence to speak of.
  • Finally, Ryan points out that last week was the first time, at least since switching to the server, that I’ve updated five days in a row. Nice eye, Ryan. In other news, my buddy Ryan has no life. Film at 11.


If you were to say that I’m a fairly rabid consumer of entertainment in the sense that rags like “Entertainment Weekly” and the E! network use the word, you would not be incorrect. Music, movies, TV, books: These are my launchpads for shared experiences, backdrops to lively discussions and time-markers for set pieces of my life. I devour this stuff because it is pop art, accessible at times and utterly repulsive at others, its whole point is to be fascinating and the way in which it defines its terms must be revealed by the interaction between creator and observer.

I don’t know, it’s a curious interaction and I keep investigating it because, partly, I know that it is a common thing to devote time persuing and the mentality behind lifting what amounts to disposable artistic creation onto revered platforms is intrisically (or perhaps morbidly) engaging but also because that process itself occasionally creates things that I feel are not without value in their own right.

Consider that on one hand you have a movie like Fahrenheit 9/11 which sets its agenda as something less than art (at least art for its own sake) and something more than escapism: It is a vessel for a message (nevermind the message itself for now, you can substitute any politically charged movie/documentary here). On the other hand you have a film like Sahara which has very little (if any) aspirations to make a statement about anything but which is determined to be escapism at all costs. Then you can look at something like Waking Life which perhaps struggles as a cohesive narrative film (therefore eschewing escapism) and perhaps touches briefly on a message it wants to send but is so wrapped up in being pure art that it ends up being only truly remarkable when other contexts can be set aside.

Occasionally you may find a film that has something to say, does so with a sense of artistic style and manages to entertain at the same time. These are rare films, rarer television shows, and usually interpretive in terms of how well a given book or piece of music achieves this goal, assuming it was ever a goal at all.

I’m not trying to say anything, really, I’m just pointing out why I like entertainment. Searching for the elusive example of the boldly artistic, thought-provoking example of pop culture that also manages to be something you really want to experience versus doing so because you feel like, culturally, you ought to—it’s pretty fun.

King Kong

I’m pretty sure I’ve already bemoaned the fact that I don’t get out to the theater too often. Despite the fact that most modern movie megaplexes are flawed operations completely worthy of the scorn heaped on them, I still like going to the movies. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that while I don’t mind watching DVDs at home, I don’t exactly have some awe-inspiring home theater set up going. Who knows. But I sorta like seeing big action flicks on the big screen. Stuff like comedies or talking head dramas I can certainly wait to see at home. I mean, what difference does it make? But there is something really cool about watching an explosion on a 40 foot screen instead of my little 36″ TV, you know?

Now I’m not a huge fan of King Kong. I saw the original black and white movie when I was younger and I was decidedly apathetic about it. I mean, that ape looked pretty bad by the time I saw it and I sort of walked away thinking that people in the 30’s who were scared by the movie and thought there must be a real 25 foot gorilla somewhere must have been pretty retarded. But when I saw that Peter Jackson was going to re-make the movie and it was this summer popcorn flick, my first thought was, “Yeah, okay cool. Maybe I’ll go see that.”

Then I saw rough cuts of the effects on a preview or trailer somewhere. The effects looked pretty sorry and I was almost ready to say “forget it” when I saw some newer clips that made it look like it might be at least tolerable. But once again the stigma of the modern theater got the best of all my acquaintances and I never got around to it. So I figured I’d drop it in the Netflix queue and catch it on DVD.

So here’s the thing about the new King Kong: It’s a lot better than I expected. Considering that I was initially unimpressed with the effects and not a huge fan of the story to begin with, I managed to somehow really like this movie.

A couple of beefs: First, they didn’t fix all the effects. Kong looks a lot better in some shots than others. Also certain lighting effects show the warts of the technology more than others (most of the scenes in the jungle at daylight are fantastic, but at night it’s less impressive). There’s nothing particularly wrong with any of the bazillion effects shots in the film, but whenever I found myself noticing the Uncanny Valley it worked to pull me out of the story and start reflecting on technological limitations which is not really what you want from your audience. Secondly, they rarely get the effect of Kong clutching Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) correct, and it usually looks either fake or like she’d naturally be crushed.

Lastly, PJ has a serious problem with his editor: Jamie Selkirk. I don’t know who Selkirk is, but he really needs to learn to tell Jackson “No.” This is a three hour movie that granted needs to be a bit longer than the two hour standard, but certainly doesn’t need to be as long as it is. There are about four too many rescue scenes, the fight between Kong and the T-Rexes goes on for about ten too many minutes and a fairly disgusting and pointless scene in a canyon with a horde of giant insects both defies logic (a guy shoots a bunch of squirming bugs off of a guy from point blank range with a tommy gun and never even grazes the human) and wastes time. There are dozens of other scenes where the camera just stays on too long.

But once you get over all that, it’s actually a pretty great movie. What impresses me the most is that I don’t recall the original doing enough to give Kong his motivation. Why would he be so fixated on Darrow? It also had a creepy element in the Darrow (Fay Wray)/Kong scenes since the ape model was incapable of realistic emotions so he had a kind of creepy smile and an angry scowl, but that’s it. Here, Kong’s emotions come through in a more animalistic yet completely natural way. Rather than trying to project full human emotions on Kong, Jackson manages to make him like a giant pet. Anyone with a dog or a cat at home can understand the personality of animals and the connection that can happen between human and animal. It is this bond that Kong and Darrow show. Kong is dangerous, there is no doubt, but he has a persona and a compassion that we learn as the characters do.

Which would all be useless and even laughable if not for Watts’ stunning acting. Why she didn’t get an Oscar for her work here is beyond me. She manages to juggle her swing from desperate Depression casualty to hopeful dreamer to terrified captive to concerned protector with a remarkable ease and never once makes it seem hokey or implausible. Consider that she does all this while mostly playing off of a green-suited stand-in and you have to marvel at the result.

Coming Attractions

A couple of movies I’m excited about that are new or coming up: Brick, the neo-noir flick set in a high school and Silent Hill which looks like it might be the first really good movie based on a video game. Although why no one has re-done that game for modern consoles totally escapes me.


Today’s repulsive moment: A book bound with human skin. Yet somehow the phrase “anthropodermic bibliopegy” is about the coolest thing I’ve seen all day. Say it a couple times. It’s awesome!


The words emitting from my keyboard yesterday in regards to Lost were joyous. Enthusiastic. I really like that show and I look forward to it each week. I even get a little bummed out when the repeat-streak comes.

Let me quickly set about deflating any of that happy, positive vibe before it starts to spread. The only thing we like to spread around here is vitriol.

Oh, and jam. But that’s a whole other deal.

Top Chef

Nik and I started watching a couple of dumb shows that came on around the same time. One is Top Chef and the other is The Next Food Network Star. Now, both shows are ostensibly about finding out which of a pool of candidates is best suited to have their culinary skills put on display. The execution of each is night and day.

I’m not even going to bother “reviewing” The Next Food Network Star. It’s a decent show that has a fairly likeable ensemble who seem to be cordial to each other even if they are technically in competition and it works as both a reality contest and a sort of backstage look at the staple Food Network shows. They don’t focus on forced interpersonal drama and the prize being offered is clearly one of obvious tangible value. I’ll keep watching it.

Top Chef, on the other hand, is an unmitigated disaster of a TV show that I’m almost inclined to carry on with it just to have the object lesson of how not to execute a reality show—or for that reason any style of TV show. It is only the fact that I have zero interest in ever actually creating a reality show that prevents me from persuing this particular lesson.

First of all, they focus almost entirely on the drama between the differing personalities of the chefs/contestants. In case you haven’t heard me say it before, I have no problem repeating myself: The absolute worst, most un-entertaining, deplorable part about “reality” TV is the constant bickering, arguing, intelligence-deprived raving we’re subjected to that is I guess supposed to approximate drama. Actually it’s like listening to cats fight: All sound and fury with no real purpose but to annoy the crap out of anyone in earshot. And this is 85% of the show.

A large part of this negativity comes from them having cast The World’s Most Unlikeable Contestants featuring six of the seven character traits most likely to cause spontaneous migranes followed by blackouts and vast chasms of lost time leading to bewildering arrests and insanity pleas. I mean, that Steven guy? That simply must be an act for the camera because I simply cannot believe in a world where someone that repulsive and supererogatorily smug finds a way to function in society. Anyone I ever met that took themselves so seriously as to suggest that they might be unfamiliar with a hot dog due to its base nature would, by definition, require ejection into the void of space. “I’m accustomed to four-star dining,” indeed.

But you know, I watch Survivor (against my better judgement, but that has yet to stop me for longer than one season) so I’m pretty familiar with the “repugnant fame-seekers” routine here. I may not like it, I may gripe about it incessantly, but I can cope with it. What I cannot abide by is the utterly asinine and completely farcical nature of this so-called competition.

To recap, the prize at stake here is $100,000, a full line of high-end kitchen applicances, a write-up in a respected culinary magazine and a job catering a high-profile event. For a budding chef, this is pretty huge I’d imagine. You would think, with so much riding on the line, that the producers of the show would make an effort to try and both cast people of roughly equal skill and then follow that up by creating fair and reasonable tasks for them to compete in which would allow the judges to fairly identify which was most deserving.

Apparently that never entered anyone’s mind in setting up these “challenges,” or even the premise of the show itself.

First of all, each show has two competitions, the “Quickfire” challenge which is a fairly short test of some kind where the winner is given immunity (using Survivor parlance) from the second elimination challenge in the second half of the show. The first flaw in the logic starts right there because while having immunity prevents a contestant from being booted, the person who is eliminated is the person who performs the worst in the challenge. So if the person who won the Quickfire challenge performs poorly in the elimination challenge, the eliminated contestant is the second worst person, which is a pretty massive injustice to begin with. But that ignores the fact that you have a negative contest, which in and of itself is a very poor game mechanic. Think about it this way: They give one player the title of “winner” from each elimination challenge. But it means nothing. Literally, nothing happens from winning. It is only the ultimate loser who suffers which means that the contest becomes (once you factor in the immunity granted from the Quickfire challenge) “be at least the third worst.”

Put another way, you are only ever—ever—competing to be better than just two other contestants.

But it gets even better. Assuming that was simply the case, you still might have a decent competition if the playing field remained level. But it doesn’t. For starters the contestants range from a twentysomething ex-model trying to start a new career who has practically negative real world chefing experience to competitors who have owned and operating their own restaurants for years. The above mentioned Steven isn’t even a chef, but rather a Sommelier. It turns out he does have at least a modicum of cooking skill but he could have easily spent the whole show just handing the judges various glasses of wine. Even if you assume that it would be more or less impossible to get a group of chefs who were of roughly equal skill and experience, you would have to at least assume that the challenges themselves were balanced, right?


Consider the most recent episode. The contestants were divided into teams of two. Now, right off the bat that’s a suspect condition because remember we’re trying to decide which individual chef is worthy of a massive reward and now we have them working with randomly drawn partners which, if improperly paired, might result in someone’s dismissal due to any number of non-cooking-skill related factors (managerial miscues, personality conflicts, poor performance by the teammate, etc). If that weren’t bad enough, the challenge was to create street food that fused two distinct culinary styles. The common thread was that all had “Latin cuisine” as one of the styles. In the interest of fairness I would assume the other style would be identical across the board. Nope. Instead there were as many different secondary styles as there were teams.

When you note that one of the styles was Japanese while another was Moroccan you realize that there is simply no way that the results of the contest could be fairly and accurately compared, much less quantified into some sort of heirarchal structure. On top of all this there is a different “celebrity” judge each week, usually a respected local chef from a restaurant in San Francisco where the show is filmed. But this too is another problem because these chefs are under (apparently) no direction to keep their opinions limited to the taste of the food; rather they judge contestants (in turn) by their attitudes, their execution of the specifics of the challenge, their personalities, their choice of ingredients or any other thing they might choose to use as criteria. In one case last episode the guest judge remarked a number of times that he absolutely loved a particular kind of pork, which one of the teams had just happened to use. A happy coincidence but one wonders if the team in question might have suffered if a different judge who did not care for the dish had been involved.

I realize that these types of shows are not exactly fair. Survivor isn’t fair. But the one thing about Survivor and its clones is that at least of the ones I’ve seen they manage to stay internally consistent. The biggest clue that Top Chef can’t even manage to work within its own context? Each contestant has, at one point or another, been among the lower tier of the players at elimination time and facing a potential punting from the show. Explain to me how you can award someone a title and a prize if at some point in your own competition designed to find the best, they (in theory at least) had performed poorly enough to warrant ejection from the game?


I’ve caught a couple of movies this week. Among them are The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Derailed. Narnia is fantastic (it is difficult for me to pry my fond childhood memories of the Narnia stories when my dad read them aloud to my brother and I from that idealized context, but fortunately the movie doesn’t make me need to) and Nik actually bought me the two-disc extended collector’s edition. I’m pretty happy that worked out well.

Derailed, though, is a mess. I had zero expectations going in, even not knowing what genere it fell under. In spite of this handicap I had the movie’s plot, twist and outcome nailed within twenty minutes and was actively annoyed when the plot of the whole movie hinges on the lead character acting like a complete simpleton twice in the span of ten minutes. Do yourself a favor and miss this movie.