May 2005

Law & Order: The Third Year

by Aaron on May 31, 2005

in Uncategorized

Dick Wolf’s legal behemoth is set to become the longest running police procedural show, and second longest running drama in television history. To date there are three spin-offs, and I’ll wager we’ll be seeing Law & Order: Hall Monitors, and L&O: Bathroom Key Attendants before this decade is through. All kidding aside though, Law & Order has earned it’s longevity by keeping current, handling it’s material as un-sensationally as television will allow, and by having a stellar cast portraying interesting characters. Universal has just released the third season on DVD, so we sat down for some 17 hours worth of hard-hitting justice.

Law & Order: The Third Year
4 Stars

The Babyfaces meets Mr. Craggly

Dick Wolf’s legal behemoth is set to become the longest running police procedural show, and second longest running drama in television history. To date there are three spin-offs, and I’ll wager we’ll be seeing Law & Order: Hall Monitors, and L&O: Bathroom Key Attendants before this decade is through. All kidding aside though, Law & Order has earned it’s longevity by keeping current, handling it’s material as un-sensationally as television will allow, and by having a stellar cast portraying interesting characters. Universal has just released the third season on DVD, so we sat down for some 17 hours worth of hard-hitting justice.

For the unfamiliar, Law & Order broke new ground for police shows by spending the first half of the show detailing the detective and police work and the second half detailing the criminal trial. While on occasion this can lend itself to some unduly compressed storylines, all in all the format is infinitely more rewarding than just seeing either story by itself. The 1992-1993 season saw the introduction of Det. Lennie Briscoe, played by fan favorite Jerry Orbach (who passed away late last year), and the exit of Paul Sorvino, but otherwise the show was business as usual. Across the 22 episodes included in this set, the topics range from straight-up murder, to corporate fraud & malfeasance, sweatshops, new partners, drug-running, computer crimes, weapons dealing, mentally handicapped defendents, government cover-ups, and animal rights activists. It’s a pretty breathtaking list of subjects to cover, and they’re all handled with L&O’s trademark style and heft.

As a set this is a pretty satisfying collection, with 3 double sided discs covering the show along with deleted scenes and a tribute to Jerry Orbach. Few television show sets have deleted scenes, and it’s interesting to see what gets cut on a show like Law & Order. Most often you can assume it’s due to running time, but occasionally you can see that some scenes either just don’t work, or detract from episode as a whole. The picture and audio quality is top notch, so you can chuck your A&E taped episodes and enjoy it in digital glory.

There’s a six-minute interview with Jerry Orbach that’s interesting, if a little dry, but the tribute is mostly just clips of various cast members talking about the star.  Strangely, a lot of the actors are from the recent spin-offs of Law & Order, and the whole thing seems like a good idea that wasn’t given much care or attention.  Who cares what the cast of Trial By Jury thought of Orbach?  Bring on the Sam Waterson!

While my own interest in Law & Order has waned over the years, the third season was one in which they’d hit a creative stride that would continue for some time, and this set showcases a show at it’s absolute best. At a standard retail price of $59 dollars, it might be a bit pricey for a show that’s constantly in re-runs on TV, but the great storylines, excellent chemistry between Chris Noth & Orbach, and the overall quality of the show should make this a must have for fans.

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Happy Memorial Day, everybody!

by Aaron on May 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

It’s a holiday. Why are you on the computer?
We’re taking the day off to celebrate. Back tomorrow with DVD reviews of Law & Order Season 3, Airwolf Season One, and more!

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Madagascar

by Aaron on May 27, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Madagascar
  • IMDB: link

madagascar-movie-posterSince the inception of its computer animation department, Dreamworks has consistently played second fiddle to the powerhouse of Pixar. Not in sheer numbers, but in the quality of their stories and the sophistication of their delivery. With Madagascar, Dreamworks has made a signifigant step toward making quality animated films that have something to say that’s as important as the jokes.

In what has to be the single best designed animated effort to date from Dreamworks, Madagascar tells the story of Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), four Central Park Zoo attractions who eventually find themselves stranded in the wilds of Madagascar, unprepared for demands of wild life and the changes it brings upon them.

[click to continue…]

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The Longest Yard, Indeed

by Aaron on May 27, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

This is a no-brain summer comedy that has a built in audience of frats boys, frat boys to be, and former glory frat men. While certainly not a laugh riot, The Longest Yard is actually awful per se, and filmgoers who want a break from the special effects orgies but don’t want kids fare or teen drama will most likely flock to it in droves.

The Longest Yard
2 Stars

At the recent New York premier of The Longest Yard, Burt Reynolds slapped a reporter for not ever having seen the 1974 version of the seminal football film. (You can read my review of the recent DVD release HERE) While Reynolds’ publicist has tried to laugh off the incident by saying it was a playful jest, I’m left to wonder if star Adam Sandler and director Pete Segal got similar treatment on the set, because obviously they haven’t seen it either.

See that expression. Get used to it

This time around Sandler takes the role of Paul “Wrecking” Crewe a former NFL quarterback who was booted from the league for points shaving. Sick of his life as a kept boy-toy for a harridan-like Courtney Cox, Crewe goes on a wild, drunken joyride through the city and ending up in hoosegow. Unbeknownst to him, the warden (James Cromwell) has had Crewe sent to his facility in the hopes that Crewe will help his guards’ struggling semi-pro team. Soon enough Crewe and ace hustler The Caretaker (Chris Rock) are putting together an inmate team to give the guards an easy win and the inmates some much desired payback. Along the way friendships are forged The Man gets it stuck to, and no real lessons are learned.

I try to avoid comparing remakes to their source material, but in this case what’s missing from The Longest Yard makes it impossible to avoid. Sandler’s Crewe isn’t the selfish and amoral cad that Reynolds portrayed in the original, nor does Sandler experience any form of character arc or change of heart. He’s playing it straight here, which means a nearly comatose delivery almost devoid of likability. To make matters worse, Sandler has to share the screen with Reynolds, who in even his diminished role still bears the charm and aura that made him such a ubiquitous screen presence in the 70’s. Where Sandler can do barely-contained rage, Reynolds is the epitome of macho cool, an ingredient sorely lacking from this film.

Chris Rock continues his unwavering tradition of bug-eyed delivery of invariably racial jokes, but sadly he’s the comedic highlight of the film. The cast of criminal losers they assemble to form the inmate team feel like the kind of caricatures more suited to a Rob Schneider vehicle, all man-childs and morons. There’s no hint of the brutal sociopaths that filled the original, and their desire to inflict brutal revenge on the guards that torment them is mostly talked about but rarely felt.

But this is a football movie, so no matter the plot or characters a film like has to live or die on the quality of the sports action, and yet again this remake falls far short of the superb gamesmanship of the original. Either due to direction, cinematography, or editing the football game that comprises the third act of the film is just a jumbled mass of quick cuts and hit shots with jokes thrown in willy-nilly. The original, while no masterpiece, earned its place in the canon of great sports films on the weight of the game itself as much as it’s anti-establishment underdog story. Sandler’s version plays like it was designed by someone who knew of football, but not what makes it such a compelling sport to watch.

This is a no-brain summer comedy that has a built in audience of frats boys, frat boys to be, and former glory frat men. While certainly not a laugh riot, The Longest Yard is actually awful per se, and filmgoers who want a break from the special effects orgies but don’t want kids fare or teen drama will most likely flock to it in droves.

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ZolarCzakl takes a sip of magic brew and contemplates his place in the universe

Imagine a black-magic voodoo priest whipping up a blood-tinted bubbling cauldron of mystical potion. He’s standing there, outside at night at some sort of voodoo camp and he’s all decked out in the feathers and the long things hanging from his hair and he’s even got a bone through his nose. He’s chanting in an ancient language while carefully placing an array of sketchy items into the brew: pieces of bats, assorted insects, cups of various blood-like substances, and even a few powders (which he takes a snort of from time to time). When the ingredients have all been well mixed and the voodoo soup simmers for just the right amount of time, the chanting reaches an orgiastic climax as the priest yells the magic incantation and he gets the crazy eyes, full of fire and full of death.
He raises a clay cup of the heated brew to the sky and speaks one final incantation, and for just a quick moment the thousands of visible stars in the sky seem to shift ever so slightly. You are standing a few feet in front of him, taking all of this in. You see the stars do their thing but try not to be freaked out. You feel a strange rumbling in the ground but think it’s maybe just that Poncho’s burrito you somewhat foolishly ate for dinner. Then the priest, whose name is Benny, steps forward and brings the cup close to your face, right up to your now trembling lips. His crazy-eyed stare has you captive and you have no choice but to ingest a mouthful of the rather warm and truly horrible-tasting brew… then comes the biggest change you’ve ever experienced in your life.
Suddenly you’re flying high above the ground, soaring over houses and Vietnamese restaurants that you know and adore. Time seems to have stopped, for there is no motion on the ground. Everything and everyone are frozen in their tracks, some people in mid-walk on the sidewalks, others in their cars with the lights on and the exhaust streaming from the tailpipes. You now exist outside time and outside the laws of physics, soaring high straight into the mind of what you can only imagine is God.
After flying around in a daze for what seems like quite a while (time is non-existent at this point so you don’t really have much of a concept of it) you feel very overwhelmed and find yourself flying into a glowing white room high up in the clouds. You arrive at the room and float into a very regal-looking but rather comfortable reclining chair. It takes a few moments for you to collect yourself and regain your wits, but once you do you look around the room and see that there is a rather nice widescreen television set suspended in front of you. To the right of your recliner is a TV tray with a bitchin’ assortment of snacks and drinks. To the left is another stand with a remote control on it. A loud booming voice erupts in your eardrums and you nearly leap from your bones. It says, “Watch now as the secrets of all the universe are revealed to you oh special one, for you have been chosen to taste of the holy voodoo brew and be imparted with my perfect knowledge so you can spread the word of true enlightenment to all your fellow man.”
The lights dim, the remote floats into your sweaty hand, and you instinctively press play as the television comes to life.

What you see for the next three hours is a close-cropped dark-haired goofball doing a plethora of shitty and retarded things to himself and to others. He snorts salt into his nasal cavities, takes a shot of tequila and has someone from the audience squeeze a lime into his eyes. He has people staple dollar bills to his shirtless torso and arms. He takes broken glass, slashes his tongue, chews up the glass and swallows it. He goes to a used car lot and pisses himself while trying to test-drive a car. He dresses up in a funny wig and jogging suit (the ass of which he has filled with chocolate pudding) and runs around asking people if he can use their bathroom. He wraps his legs with saran wrap and hires a hooker to pee on him. He climbs up onto the roof of a hotel and jumps into the pool. He and his buddies repeatedly smash their heads into a pumpkin in an attempt to break it. He loads his head with hairspray and has a friend spit fire onto his hair, singing it and burning his face. He dresses up like a clown, gets drunk, vomits a lot, goes to a bar, and gets the shit kicked out of him by a bunch of rednecks. He walks around in a park on stilts, juggling and entertaining families until he falls over and acts like he’s been seriously injured. He dresses in that funny wig and half of the jogging suit and dances around the city while listening to music. He dresses in a suit and hangs out at a train stop, acting like a lunatic until the cops show up. Him and his buddies rub down a barely-clothed crack whore’s ass with Vaseline and light her ass on fire as he skateboards over it. He also balances a rather large knife on his nose.
And all of this only takes place in the first half-hour!
By this point your mind is so overloaded with these images that you realize that your consciousness has forever been altered. After watching such disturbingly banal acts with no hint of social value, not even to mention any real hint of true entertainment, you have reached an almost Zen-like state. Millions of non-sequiturs pop into your mind. Random thoughts, complex questions and juvenile, ridiculous situations all fight for space in your mind and try to find their proper place in the universe. As the voodoo stew has melted your brain into a primordial soup, only one thing snaps you out of this corpse-like sleep of stupidity: the voice of God.
“What you have seen is a sampling of what humanity truly has to offer from this point in history until the end of mankind, which will be in 34,262 years, but that doesn’t really mean anything to you… anyway, now that you have been imparted with this very important information, you must make a choice.
“You must either
1) Accept that humans are silly, stupid, selfish, gross, idiotic, hurtful, mean, nasty, evil, and wasteful and not let it eat you up inside… be ok with it… let all of your bad feelings toward people and society go… just be happy, live your life, and don’t be so gosh-darn angry all the time, or
2) Kill yourself.
God out.”
At precisely this moment you are transported to a ledge outside a very tall building. You have to stand up straight against the side of the building in order not to go tumbling over the edge to your death. This is no longer a weird dream – this is real. To your left you see an open window, which you can easily crawl into and be safe. You’re about to make your move then your mind is filled with images of that close-cropped, dark haired goofball getting peed on by a hooker…

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As with most sports films, you know how the final game ends up. What makes it such a treat is how director Robert Aldrich gets you there. The Longest Yard jumps from comedy to sports film to drama with equal ease, and the level of cynicism and bleakness inside each jumps out with alarming intensity. This is the film for football fans, and anyone interested in catching the upcoming Adam Sandler remake should skip the theater and just give the far superior original a go.

The Longest Yard: Lockdown Edition
4 & 1/2 Stars

Burt is dead sexy

When people think of the great sports movies, football-themed films are always conspicuously absent from the list. Baseball, of course, rules the genre, with basketball and golf taking up the next two slots. So why, when football is such a massive part of American sports, are there no great movies about it? Well, to tell the truth, there is a great football movie, and no it’s not Any Given Sunday or Rudy. It’s the 1974 Burt Reynolds classic, The Longest Yard.

Seriously. Why? Well for one, it’s just a great movie. Man vs. The Man. Underdogs bucking authority for one last shot at dignity and pride. Great stuff, that. But most importantly it’s the football. The last 1/3 rd of The Longest Yard is the game between the Burt Reynolds led convicts and the prison guards and, if you took out the talky bits, it’s as if you’re watching a semi-pro game. It moves like a football game, and boy does it hit like one. They didn’t pull any punches filming this, and that shows up on the screen. Having the bulk of the teams comprised of ex football pros certainly makes it feel all the more real.

The gist of the story is this: former All Pro quarterback Paul Crewe hasn’t played a game since he was kicked out of the NFL for points shaving. Fed up with his kept life, he steals his gal’s car, tears through the city in a high speed chase, dumps the car in the bay, and then beats up two cops. Needless to say, he goes to jail. He ends up in Citrus State Prison, where the warden (a phenomenal Eddie Albert) has pulled some strings to bring the ex NFL great to his little facility in the hopes that Crewe will coach his guards’ semi-pro team to a national championship. Crewe refuses to help, but eventually agrees to lead a team of convicts against the guards in an exhibition match which Albert thinks will be an easy win for his law-lovin’ boys.

Boy, is he wrong. Crewe collects an assortment of violent offenders and near-sociopaths that manage to come together for their own pride, dignity, and a shot at crippling the guards who torment them every day.

As with most sports films, you know how the final game ends up. What makes it such a treat is how director Robert Aldrich gets you there. The Longest Yard jumps from comedy to sports film to drama with equal ease, and the level of cynicism and bleakness inside each jumps out with alarming intensity. This is the film for football fans, and anyone interested in catching the upcoming Adam Sandler remake should skip the theater and just give the far superior original a go.

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Goodbye Surfing, Hello God

by Tim Dodd on May 23, 2005

in Uncategorized

Brian Wilson gives us a live recording of the legendary lost Smile album

The story of Smile, the legendary lost Beach Boys album of 1966-67, is a long and sordid tale, a classic rock and roll myth borne out of creator Brian Wilson’s growing insanity and steady drug intake. In the early 60′s the Beach Boys had been the quintessential American pop band, churning out finely crafted songs about cars and girls whose often-times intricate arrangements were overshadowed by the sheer melodicism and commerciability of the tunes.
The mastermind behind the writing, arranging, and production of the Beach Boys’ hits was Brain Wilson, a boy wonder of sorts who in a few short years had become one of the top producers in all of pop music. By 1966 he had tired of the group’s “fun in the sun” image and wanted to express himself on a more emotional and mature level. This was accomplished with the critical favorite Pet Sounds, which is now universally recognized as a masterpiece but at the time was a relative commercial failure.
Pet Sounds differed from the Boys’ fluffier output but still contained enough material with commercial appeal so as not to freak out the other guys in the band too much. By this point Brian had retired from stage performances to concentrate on making the albums while the other members of the group toured and showed up occasionally at the studio to record their vocals. There was a bit of resistance from the others at first when they heard the songs Brian had been working on; he was using a larger number of studio musicians than before and was coming up with arrangements that were almost orchestral at times. This was not the music of teenagers going to the drive in and groping each other’s horny little bodies. This was music that expressed feelings of inadequacy, longing, love, and not fitting in, yet still contained an underlying hope that everything would come out alright. Pet Sounds is perhaps one of the greatest statements of the hopelessly romantic ideal.
After this there was only one place for Brian to go: straight into the heart of God.
But before he sent himself spiraling out into the cosmos, Brian worked on what most consider to be his best single, his “pocket symphony” known as Good Vibrations. The impact that this song had in 1966 may be hard for us to understand now, especially after hearing it on those tacky Sunkist commercials throughout the 80′s, not to mention on oldies radio every single day. It was the wacky structure, the endlessly hopeful message, and that so very avant-garde Theremin on Good Vibrations that propelled Brian into the hippest of hip circles, which in turn was his introduction to the drug culture of the late 60′s. Brian smoked lots of grass and did acid, which slowly started to warp his already-fragile mind, but more on that later…
The success of Good Vibrations led to Brian’s desire to make an album above all other rock albums that had ever been produced. This new album would be his “teenage symphony to God”, his grand statement, his artistic and emotional breakthrough. What he didn’t know is that it would be his artistic and emotional death-knell. Work on Dumb Angel, later Smile, began in mid-1966 with a projected release date of Christmas of that year. As had been done before, Brian crafted the musical backings with a bevy of the industry’s top studio musicians while the Beach Boys slugged away the hits on tour. Brian’s music became much more experimental than before, probably as a result of the drugs that were simultaneously opening the doors to unbridled creativity and cracking open the dank, dirty basement of his mind’s worst nightmares. Spooky and sinister sounds appeared in the music alongside the more hopeful and positive sounds. Brian partied a lot and things started to get crazy in the studio. Then the other Boys showed up and wondered what the fuck Brian had been doing in their absence.
Even though now-balding wearer of captain’s hats Mike Love claims that he never hated Smile, all other reports show that he thought the experimental leanings of the music and the mystical lyrics of collaborator Van Dyke Parks were utter shit. This didn’t keep the guys from supplying vocals for a good portion of the sessions, but their involvement was fairly minimal. On Brian’s side of things, life was getting out of hand. Long story short, he started getting crazy and paranoid and work slowed down drastically on his masterwork. The release date was pushed back to mid 1967 but plans for the album were still in full force as artwork had already been readied. He later cited competition with the Beatles as a major factor in Smile’s breakdown and when they released Sgt. Pepper’s in June of 1967, Smile was officially dead. Brian never really recovered from his own breakdown and the Beach Boys returned to making friendly, albeit mostly bland, pop music.
Over the ensuing years Smile became the most legendary unreleased album in rock history. Bootlegs of the sessions leaked out and fans were allowed the opportunity to hear the fragments that were recorded. As more and more complete versions of these sessions became available in the underground market, it became apparent that Smile would have been a very important work in the history and development of popular music. The myth continued to grow. Over the years Brian and various other members of the Beach Boys mentioned putting together the bits and pieces of Smile and even completing work on the album, but nothing ever came of it. As time went on Brian tried to distance himself from the work as much as possible and it seemed that Smile would forever be lost to the annals of rock history.

Brian’s career has had a definite revival over the last few years, mainly due to his overcoming many of the demons that plagued him throughout the 70′s and 80′s. In recent years he went on tour with a new band, performing Pet Sounds in its entirety and receiving much acclaim for his efforts, especially in England. So I guess it seems only natural that the only way to top Pet Sounds would be to complete Smile and perform it live. I just didn’t think he would have the ability, creatively and mentally, to do it. Well, I was wrong.
Late last year Brain released a new studio recording of the completed Smile. This was after performing it live many times in both England and the United States. It is from this tour that the new Smile DVD comes at us from Rhino records. Featuring a full live performance from Los Angeles and a documentary covering all the sordid business I just discussed, this two disc set is a pretty good document for those of us who have wondered and waited all these years for anything to be released on this important album.
The documentary, Beautiful Dreamer, is an entertaining affair, but if you’ve read anything about Smile (especially Domenie Priore’s exhaustive tome “Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile!”) or seen any of the other few good documentaries made about the band, you’ll realize quickly that this is a fairly sanitized version of the story that reeks of revisionist history. The drug factor is downplayed and Brian’s post-Smile disaster years are essentially skipped over (they don’t even mention his 80′s fiasco with crackpot therapist Dr. Eugene Landy. C’mon!). Although the bulk of the film is spent on the Smile years, the sessions aren’t really discussed in much detail. Instead we get Brian and Van Dyke randomly commenting on individual songs and giving a fuzzy narrative of how things progressed and fell apart. Also, none of the original recordings are used (probably because of copyright issues with Capitol records – the new Smile is on Nonesuch), which provides those who haven’t heard the bootlegs no real grasp of the sound of the 60′s recordings.
These points will probably not be much of a problem for those that are new to Smile, but for those who have spent endless hours piecing together the story through articles, books, documentaries, and recordings, Beautiful Dreamer will fall a little flat.
The live disc, however, is a real treat. Brian’s band gives an enthusiastic, expertly played performance that is very comparable to the new Smile CD. It is very interesting to see all of the different instruments employed in Smile’s aural palette, and Brian’s giant band pulls off the intricacies of the studio recording in an effortless manner. It is also nice to see Brian in such good spirits while performing. In various TV performances that he’s made in the last few years he’s often looked petrified and lost, but in this he seems very in control. He states in the documentary that performing Smile has freed him of his mental and emotional demons, and this live performance is proof of that.

Even with its few faults, this DVD set is a worthwhile purchase for any Beach Boys fan or even anyone who has the slightest bit of interest in this mysterious album. It retails for $29.98 and also contains many bonus features in the way of extra live performances, additional interviews, Brian Wilson solo piano performances, a featurette on the recording sessions, a photo gallery, and a video for “Heroes and Villains”.
So what will Brian Wilson do next? Since Smile was the last unexplored frontier in the Beach Boys canon, it may be difficult for him to find another project of equal stature to embark upon. Who knows? With his demons exercised and his dark past exhumed, he may just be able to channel into that creativity that seemed to escape him all those years ago. All we can do is wait.

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Ludicrous Hullabulloo

by Alan Rapp on May 23, 2005

in Uncategorized

What ever happened to Michael Keaton’s career?  Seriously folks, I’m asking you, the guy was Batman for cris’sake!  I can only assume that his latest film, White Noise, is a very loud and extremely painful cry for help from a guy who looks to be about one year away from doing gay porn.  I personally do not believe in EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), contacting dead people through the static in your television, and I have to say the movie only made me sorry for those that do, which I sincerely doubt if that was the director’s objective.

White Noise
1/2 Star

What ever happened to Michael Keaton’s career?  Seriously folks, I’m asking you, the guy was Batman for cris’sake!  I can only assume that his latest film, White Noise, is a very loud and extremely painful cry for help from a guy who looks to be about one year away from doing gay porn.  I personally do not believe in EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), contacting dead people through the static in your television, and I have to say the movie only made me sorry for those that do, which I sincerely doubt if that was the director’s objective.

Jonathon Rivers (Keaton) is a successful architect with a young son and a hot new second wife (Chandra West) who mysteriously disappears one night on her way home.  Paranormal expert Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) approaches Rivers and explains his wife is dead and trying to contact him through his television set.  At first Rivers is skeptical, but after his wife turns up dead, rather than going to the police, he buys into the guy’s rather flimsy story with ridiculous speed, never looking back.  He joins with Price and Sarah Tate (Deborah Kara Unger), a young woman who is trying to reach her dead fiance, into discovering what messages his wife is trying to send him from beyond the grave. 

Rivers becomes increasingly obsessed after hearing his wife on a tape Price plays for him; he buys thousands of dollars of computer equipment, recording equipment, television monitors, and VCRs to spend 20 hours a day recording looking for messages from his wife.  He totally ignores his job and his son, sending him off to live with his ex-wife.  After several attempts he discovers his wife always comes to contact him through the white noise at exactly 2:30 (am or pm seems to not matter to ghosts).  In her message she seems to warn him against some danger. 

Along with seeing his wife he also finds images of people in danger which he later discovers are people still alive that he has a chance to save if he follows the clues his wife has given him (I can’t believe I watched this whole movie!).  Also in the static are three mysterious strangers that have some stake or control in all of this very odd tale.  I won’t tell you anymore about them, not because there’s any kind of plot twist, but simply because that’s as far as these guys were developed.  Even from watching the director’s commentary I was unable to learn anything of interest about them, except that the director thought they were “really cool.”

The extras include 3 documentaries about EVP presented by the experts in the field.  As laughable as the movie is it looks sullen compared to these people walking around hotel rooms with microphones asking ghosts to talk to them.  One of the extras even shows you how you to can record voices from white noise, giving you lists of the equipment you will need and a nice step by step how to guide on how to record.  After watching moments of these extras I seriously wondered whether the makers of this DVD think EVP is complete crap and used this opportunity to let these people show how laughable their “science” is.

Also included are a commentary track with director Geoffrey Sax and Keaton which gives some nice shooting and production stories, but does nothing to explain this stupid, stupid script.  Of course a DVD wouldn’t be complete with out some useless deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director on why they weren’t worthy to be included in this gem of a movie.  Also included are some previews to movies you could be watching rather than this one.
As for the sound and picture quality they are what you would expect from a major studio DVD, with the optional different languages and subtitles. 

The problems in the movie are too numerous to go into much detail, but here are a few.  The movie never explains how people still alive are contacting Keaton’s character through the white noise that only the dead can use (let alone how the dead are doing it).  The three odd gentlemen/creatures are never developed nor explained, nor is the reason why all contact happens at exactly 2:30.  Rivers never once stops to consider he is being hustled, part of an elaborate hoax, or is going insane, all much better explanations for what happens than any given in the movie.  The police never think it’s suspicious when Keaton keeps ending up finding dead bodies, or when the people helping him turn up dead or injured.
The documentaries are unintentionally laugh out loud funny if you can manage to sit through them.  The seriousness that these people take to finding sounds in radio waves or television signals is just so bizarre you can only chuckle.

I can’t really recommend this to anyone; if you believe in EVP you won’t after watching this, and if you don’t you will just see this experience as a terrible waste of time.

One final note, the movie begins with a quote from Thomas Edison, who I honestly believe would have electrocuted himself on his first light bulb if he knew his name would ever be associated to such…….noise.

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Monster Garage – Season Two (2003-2004)

by December Lambeth on May 20, 2005

in Uncategorized

Scarlet gets even more heavy metal with season 2 of Monster Garage.

Monster Garage – Season Two (2003-2004)

[B]Released on DVD May 10[/B]

Outlaw Jesse James hand picks a monster building team to convert ordinary vehicles into beasts that devour the pavement.

Jesse James returns to hosts Discovery Channel’s reality game show Monster Garage Season 2. The show is based on a challenge amongst a team of metal welding body building competitors, that must rebuild a vehicle into a stock car that can be transformed into the assigned machine. The show has increased the budget to $5,000 and has kept the 7 day deadline.

Season 2:

Mega Mulcher – Just imagine a PT Cruiser as a monster munching wood chipper.

Snowmobile – Mini Cooper race in the snowy mountains of Wyoming.

Wedding on Wheels – 94’ Chevrolet Suburban is turned into a wedding chapel on wheels. Here comes the bride.

Dune Demon – The team turns a 90’ Mazda into a dune jumping buggy.

Ultimate Half Pipe – Jesse and his team, with a little help from Tony Hawk, turns a 87’ Winnebago Itasca into the ultimate skate ramp.

Mud Trasher – Not a 73 Corvette Sting Ray, yes it is or was, now it’s a mud-slinging off road dragster.

Hog Dogster – A NYC hot dog vending stand is turned into a high powered dragster.

The Rock Crawler – Visit Monster Cars across the Country with the crew of Monster Garage.

Tundranator – A Toyota Tundra is Terminized with the look of Terminator 3 movie motif. With a little help from Jesse and his crew this Tundra is turned into a motorcycle launcher.

The Demolisher – 70’s Pink Cadillac Coupe Deville gets an all chic makeover. Don’t let that fool you, this car is no wimp, it’s a demolition-derby monster baby.

Low – Ridin’ Rodeo – 70 Ford Ranchero is turned into one mean steam shooting bronco busting 4,300 bound mechanical bull.

Shark Boat – Complete with cage, a 28-foot Kayot pontoon is turned into a super party shark-observation boat.

Donut Shop Squad Vehicle – An all-cop team, minus the few experts, took a squad car and turned it into a mobile doughnut shop with pastry display case and coffee maker.

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That 70’s Show – Season Two (1998)

by December Lambeth on May 19, 2005

in Uncategorized

Scarlet goes all flower power for That 70′s Show with the help of little sis.

That 70’s Show – Season Two (1998): 4 Stars

[B]Released on DVD April 19[/B]

Season 2 of That 70′s Show starts off a riot and you don’t stop laughing until way after the last episode.

Even when we are suppose to be sadden by the state of Donna’s home life, we have Kelso and Jackie having a fight over how many stuffed animals can fit into Kelso’s van. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we should start with Disc 1: Episode 1 and move on from there.

[B]Disc 1[/B]

Garage Sale – Hyde bakes his “special” brownies for the garage sale and Jackie is kissed by Fez.

Red’s Last Day – Kelso purchases a van that gets him some action from Eric’s sister and red gets Eric, Hyde and Fez drunk.

The Velvet Rope – Eric takes Donna out to a club to cheer her up and ends up left on the wrong side of the little red rope.

Laurie and the Professor – Laurie is caught by Eric kissing her professor and when he goes to tell Red, she turns the tables and says the professor forced himself on her.

Halloween – Trying to find something exciting to do on Halloween, the gang breaks into their old elementary school and dig into their old records.

Vanstock – Donna finds out Kelso is cheating on her with Laurie; what made matters worse is that Eric knew and didn’t tell her.

I Love Cake – Donna finally tells Eric she loves him and he tells her in return, “I Love Cake”

[B]Disc 2[/B]

Sleep Over – Eric & Donna’s relationship gets a little steamy when Donna sleeps over.

Eric Gets Suspended – Donna is on a rebellious streak for attention and Eric gets stuck in the middle, resulting in his suspension.

Red’s Birthday – Red’s Birthday starts with a hole in the ceiling and ends with him and Kitty naked in the basement.

Laurie Moves Out – Laurie gets a place of her own with roommates that Red does not agree with.

Eric’s Stash – When Eric goes to buy Donna a nice gift for their anniversary, he discovers his “secret” stash of money missing.

Hunting – While the boys are out hunting, the girls stay home to play a little poker.

Red Gets a Job – Laurie gives Kelso an ultimatum and Red gets a job at Pricemart with Eric.

[B]Disc 3[/B]

Burning Down the House – Trying to be the big man, Kelso sets the house on fire during Jackie’s dinner party.

The First Time – Donna’s parents makeup and renew their wedding vowels.

After Glow – Red goes out and buys a motorcycle. The gang slips up and lets Eric know how Donna really feels about his techniques in bed.

Kitty & Eric’s Night Out – Fez has a new girlfriend, now Jackie realizes she truly does like Fez.

Parents Find Out – Donna and Eric are caught in the act.

Kiss of Death – Laurie steps up the heat by kissing Kelso in front of Jackie.

Kelso’s Serenade – Jackie tries a little revenge on Kelso by asking Hyde out on a date.

[B]Disc 4[/B]

Jackie Move On – Fez tries to make his move on Jackie, now that she and Kelso has broken up.

Holy Crap – Red, Eric and Laurie decide church isn’t their bag and this fires up Kitty to bring them back.

Red Fired Up – Kelso gets bold and openly dates Laurie.

Cat Fight Club – The storm comes to a head when Jackie and Laurie go toe to toe over Kelso.

Moon Over Point Place – End of the year is here and so is the yearbook, Donna adds a special little picture to make it one to remember.

[click to continue…]

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