Archive for December, 2008

29
Dec
08

Oh, you crazy googlers…

In celebration of the end of the year, I think I’ll do what so many blogs do and post the various weird searches that lead people here. Ready? Here are some of my faves:

 

anna paquin 3
bullet hell system 2
bullet hell games 2
strange canadian mineshaft 1
“the wire” hbo 1
the reddingmineshaft 1  
movie where a ring is left by a mine sha 1  
quarantine drill scene 1  
redding mine shaft 1  
hbo game of thrones 1  
zombie slaveboy 1  
reddingmineshaft 1  
redding mineshaft 1  
“she can suck on sunlight” 1  
quarantine brain 1  
bullet ode 1  
ode bullet compared 1  
“interactive fiction” 1  
redding computer 1
hitbox bullet hell

 

My comments? Well, it’s nice to see that a little bit of brand recognition is happening with the name of this blog. What I never would have believed is the amount of traffic generated by the bullet hell post. I figured that would be an obscure one that got no attention, but look at all those searches! Bullet Hell was evidently a hot topic. My absolute fave, and the reason I decided to do a post like this, is “zombie slaveboy”. This one showed up just the other day, perhaps in some veiled connection to the I Am Legend post

That’s why these search posts are fun sometimes. They show you what’s inside the mind of people when they google. I’m thinking “Strange Canadian Mineshaft” must lead some other awesome places. It’s also very clear that I need to make more posts that feature Anna Paquin and her boobage. 

We’ll be back to regular rant style posting on Thursday. I enjoyed taking the one day off posting last week, but I found it left me itching for a few entries… and I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. I’ll be back on the regular schedule of Monday and Thursday posts starting now as well. Happy New Year everyone!

22
Dec
08

Be Sure to Watch Your Christmas Story

Merry Christmas everyone. I hear there’s another holiday that involves oil that burned for a while … and another one that involves presents and children, but myyyy holiday involves indoor trees and old fat men that defy physics.

In the Christmas spirit, I immediately reached for my copy of A Christmas Story. I think this film holds a special places in many people’s hearts, even if it’s been completely “overplayed” by TBS every December. I’ve noticed more and more people complaining about being sick of it each year. It’s weird, I thought that only radio stations could overplay material, but apparently TBS proves that tv stations can do it too.

Still, this movie rules. It’s a great comedy and a great Christmas movie. It manages to quite brutally make fun of many of the Christmas traditions and cliches, as well as the cliches of childhood, while cherishing these moments at the same time. 

Quickly, for those of you who miss out on the beauty of the TBS Christmas Story marathon, it’s a film from 1983 about a boy who really wants a BB gun for Christmas. The rest is subplot and childhood fantasy. 

It plays like a series of short stories, each one demonstrating an aspect of Ralphie’s childhood. Many of them have to do with horrible disappointment of some sort. One good one is when he waits and waits to get his decoder so that he can read a “secret message” from his favorite radio show, only to find out that its an advertisement. My absolute favorite scene is when he goes to see Santa in the mall, only to be completely betrayed by his own expectations. 

It’s damn funny too. If you put it in the category of Christmas films, it completely destroys everything else. The character of Ralphie’s father is particularly great. He reminds me of a grumpier version of the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Without a doubt, it’s the funniest Christmas movie you’ll ever find. Seriously.

There’s a reason that this airs constantly in the Christmas season though. It isn’t just mean joke about how the dreams and hopes of childhood never quite match up to real life. It also carries with it some great nostalgia and an appreciation for the better side of Christmas. The film doesn’t go waaaay out of its way to harp on this, like A Wonderful Life kinda does.

In the end we see a really shitty Christmas tree and a kinda mediocre family. We’ve learned all their horrible faults and quirks. Yet, without spelling it out, the film brings the awful family together the same way that only Christmas can. Yeah, okay, if you watched it three times last year, go ahead and count yourself out of this one. 

But if you haven’t seen A Christmas Story in a while go check it out… and watch for how they balance the comedy with the tender Christmas spirit. I triple dog dare ya 🙂

note : there may or may not be a post on the 25th. Big things are coming to the reddingmineshaft in the new year!

18
Dec
08

You are legend? Really?

Oook this one has been brewing for a while. The recent (third!) adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic book I Am Legend came out last year starring Will Smith. I was absolutely amazed at the reviews and reception that this movie got. Gear up kiddies, it’s time for a film review.

Let’s start with the positive. Like everyone else did, I thought that the shots of an empty New York city were cool. I even thought the initial concept behind the way the disease was released was a pretty cool science fiction idea. Some of the scares were quite well handled. Will Smith did a good job as the somewhat tortured protagonist…. yeah this is a short paragraph.

The negatives begin with the monsters themselves. For some stupid reason, they decided to CG all of the vampires/zombies/infecteds. I don’t know how people can bitch about how King Kong looked in Peter Jackson’s Kong, or how every human looked in the recent Beowulf movie, and NOT complain about the monsters in this movie. It makes sense to CG a gigantic fucking ape. People with pointy teeth and blood on ’em? We can find those! They looked awful. Fans of the movie can’t even defend that. If they just used the 28 Days Later approach and threw some weird eyes and makeup around, it would have worked much better. 

I’ll skip over the poorly handled psychological deterioration of Will Smith’s character and jump to the ending. Wow. Okay, first a little background info. The original story by Matheson, although it was about vampires, created the zombie genre as we know it. It’s what made Romero make Night of the Living Dead. It’s extremely influential. I won’t spoil the ending, but much like many other science fiction and horror short stories, the ending has a surprise that is absolutely key. In fact, the fucking TITLE doesn’t even make sense without it.

This current adaptation completely did away with the ending and put in a heroic ending where Neville dies valiantly and takes an army of the monsters with him. Again, I have no idea why people weren’t upset by this. I want you to realize that this isn’t your usual fanboy accuracy bitching. This is on the level with changing the ending of War of the Worlds so that the aliens are stopped by Godzilla. It’s like changing the ending to Lord of the Rings so that the one ring is stolen at the last second by the elves, who promise to use it for good. Or changing Beowulf so that he sleeps with Grendel’s mother and then… oh wait, those fuckers did that. Seriously though, in terms of classic influential genre fiction, I Am Legend is up there and I’m surprised more weren’t outraged by this.

I don’t get to really do the usual “remakes suck” dance though. The other two adaptations of I Am Legend weren’t exactly spot on either. They both have some strengths and weaknesses, but they’re both horrendously dated and cheesy now. I don’t really get to point to a better version this time, other than the original story. I like to end these blog posts with some sort of positive recommendation…

So go read it.

16
Dec
08

James Cameron, we love you, stop swimming.

James Cameron is one of the greatest directors ever. I think quite a few people are willing to go with me on that one. As a kid, James Cameron movies ruled my life. Aliens was one of the first “scary movies” that I saw… and Terminator 2 is still one of my absolute favorites. I got into The Abyss when I was a little older. I’d still probably stick True Lies in a top 10 action films of the 90s list. 

A while ago he found the remains of Christ. How could the man who directed Terminator 2 NOT find the remains of Christ. Even as a kid… I was kinda expecting that one. How the hell that story wasn’t bigger news is absolutely beyond me. I was really hoping for him to helm Aliens 5 or something… but I’ll take raiding Jesus’ tomb if necessary. Dude he raided a tomb! He’s a tomb raider! It’s not just any tomb either… it’s the most important tomb for the history of Christianity! What I’m saying is the man is awesome no matter what he does.

Let’s not forget that he made Titanic… the highest grossing movie EVER. He’s done so much for movie making in general, both on an artistic and technical level. So… why is he only doing documentaries these days? I think it’s a cool enough diversion… and maybe I’m selfish, but I want more Cameron films! Stop swimming around in your super awesome submarine thingy and do a movie!

It looks like he’s going back to filmmaking though. He’s making a film called Avatar that is science fictiony and 3D. Hopefully it won’t be gimmicky and will show good writing as well as good technical execution. By the way it has nothing to do with that last airbender show that those kids love these days. That’s territory for that dummy M. Night. My pal James Cameron is also working on a feature film version of Battle Angel Alita. It’s about robots and he’s behind it … I’ll buy my goddamn ticket now.

For years I’ve been telling James Cameron to get out of the water and back behind the camera… and it looks like he finally will. Hooray! 

I apologize for the lateness of this post. It’s only late by a few hours, and even that is due to a flight delay. For the next little while your reddingmineshaft material will be posted by correspondence from the far off tundra of Nova Scotia. Now, I’m going to go hunker down with a copy of The Abyss… I suggest you do the same.

11
Dec
08

HBO – Historical Bullshit’s On

Okay… I feel like I throw up disclaimers quite a bit, but let me do just one. Let me preface this by saying I enjoy HBO. I really do. I think The Wire was criminally underrated. They do great things for stand ups. I’m really psyched about the Game of Thrones series finally getting made.

Buuuuut…

For some reason I can’t force myself to get into Deadwood or Rome. For Deadwood I tried for two seasons. For Rome I tried for half a season. I find that these shows are AMAZINGLY well produced. They’re really accurate, I’m sure. I bet that’s how they really dressed and how they really spoke…. but is that enough to make it worthwhile?

I find these shows really cool to look at and to just kind of … marvel at the production of it, but I find that they very rarely have anything cool going on in the story that pulls me in. In Rome, if you know even a little history (and I’m not exactly a history buff), you pretty much know where it’s headed. Perhaps you wanna stick around for the spectacle of it. I never find myself diving for the next DVD to watch the next one.

I know considerably less about the history of Deadwood, but I have the same problem with getting into it. The language of the show is really cool at first, but it gets more and more indecipherable as the show continues. The actual story in Deadwood goes absolutely nowhere as well, and that’s coming from a fan of The Wire. At least in that show each season has a beginning, middle, and end. Deadwood just kinda meanders. So-and-so buys a horse from this old dude. This guy starts working for so-and-so. At any given point there are several plotlines running at once, and none of them really carry any tension with them.

The thing is, all these criticisms could be pointed at The Wire as well, but for some reason I find The Wire really compelling by comparison. It’s still really slowly paced and you still really need to be paying attention at all times, but it knows how to pay off at the right time and when to rob you of the payoff that you want. The Wire also has the same emphasis on accuracy, but there’s a really good original story in there as well.

Like I said, if you’re a fan of the era for any of these, the spectacle alone will take you for the ride. Huge historical nerds are going to really like seeing the naked slave boy because OMG THE SLAVE BOYS WERE ACTUALLY NAKED. HBO snobs like to say that the shows are too sophisticated and intelligent for mainstream audiences. I think that historical accuracy alone is not enough to bring in viewers.

The Wire still absolutely rules though.

08
Dec
08

A Tale of Two Sisters

I don’t normally spring for the Asian horror flicks. I think some of them are extremely creepy and effective, but most of them are just a little bit too similar to one another. I’m going to recommend one though. My all time favorite Asian horror film is A Tale of Two Sisters.

If you’ve seen it, you probably know it kicks ass. If you haven’t, see it now. I suppose I should elaborate just a tad. 

This movie works both as a horror film and as a drama. It has some of the best acting I’ve ever seen in the genre. The cinematography is really outstanding too. I don’t want to outwardly spoil anything in it for you, but I will be treading ever so slightly into spoiler territory. I won’t ruin any surprises for you, but if you want a truly pure experience, just run and watch it now.

One of the reasons the film really works for me is that it allows for every incident of a “ghostly vision” be interpreted as either a real ghost, or as more of a metaphorical ghost, a manifestation of guilt. I don’t mean that it tries to be arty and pretentious with it. I’m saying that the scenes that do have some supernatural element to them make sense in terms of the characters that are experiencing them. They don’t have good looking people and stock characters that are there just so that they can die, each scary scene is carefully thought out.

Hopefully the people who don’t mind a little spoiler info are gone here. I wrote in “a twisted post” about movies that have twist endings and that artificially inflating people’s view of them. This movie has some twists and surprises for sure. These are not thrown in to make you watch the movie twice, they all make a certain kind of sense.

Like so many of these movies where you see clue after clue and then it “all comes together”, you are eventually shown in a flashback the entire story that fills in all the blanks. I may have made that sound disappointing. It isn’t. By the end of the film, you aren’t left with a sense of fear of whatever might appear in your room when you are trying to go to sleep, you’re left with a kind of crushing sadness. Pay attention to the last few moments. They’re some of the most beautiful and sad moments ever in a horror film.

I’ve tried to sell it as a drama and well written film with ghosts in it, but let’s talk about the scares and creepy stuff. There aren’t wall to wall scares in this film. The creepy scenes that are there will petrify you. Like I said, they won’t continue to haunt you afterwards … although a few lines and images might stay with you. “There was a girl under the sink” springs to mind.

I hear they’re doing a remake. I think you can say that phrase for almost any horror film that was halfway good. I implore you, if you can handle any type of subtitles, and any degree of horror film, check this out. I recommend this even for the non horror fans (apparently a bunch of you wordpressers are up on your Alice Munro knowledge and something tells me there isn’t a huge crossover audience). 

Check this movie out. If you disagree, you can follow me around like a ghost.

04
Dec
08

Alice Munblows.

Oooh we’re gonna get a little literary with the redding mineshaft today. Bullet Hell fanatics need not apply here. I try to avoid the phony outrage and anger that so many internet postings have, but this one absolutely makes my blood boil for some reason

I’m so sick of watching Alice Munro come of age. I’ve read one collection of short stories, and one novel… they both did exactly the same thing. In fact, the novel was arguably a connection of short stories. One reviewer said that these stories function as “puzzle pieces” that let us figure out the main character as a whole. I prefer to see it as disjointed stories that take advantage of the fact that she doesn’t have to actually create a consistent plot, eventually tying up with an ending that pretty much says “and then I wrote a bunch of stories”.

One thing that I bring up probably a bit too much when I discuss literature is the importance of a strong conclusion. Alice Munro redefines meandering. We follow a character through a loose series of events that only take us to the fact that she realizes her life is made up of a loose series of events! 

I don’t understand the praise this woman gets as a writer either. I find myself zoning in and out while reading her work.  Her writing is amazingly plain. There is no sense of hidden beauty or truth behind her mundane nonsense.  There’s no humor, no emotion, and no tension. I never identify with the characters, and I never have a stake in the outcome because of the aforementioned ending problems. The story never moves anywhere. Within a few minutes after an Alice Munro story, I find I’m left with nothing to sink my teeth into. 

I think the fact that she’s Canadian is the only reason why I’ve had to be exposed to so much of her work. I’ll go so far as to say that she is celebrated only because of the fact that she’s a female Canadian writer during a literary movement that celebrated female Canadian writers. There are many other writers that do the coming of age story much better than Munro. There are many other female Canadian writers that absolutely destroy her as well.

Munro relies on some pretty hacky material as well. Innocent but vaguely sexual childhood experiences. Involvement with an alluring academic in her teenaged years that of course condescends to her and doesn’t treat her like an equal. A brief stint at a church before deciding that a truly spiritual person makes their own faith. She always ends up single, but happily so… a little more bitter, a little wiser, and ready to take on life at the end of it.

I think much like Munro’s writing… this post lacks closure. But hey, I wrote it… so … yeah….