Casabloga: What’s Eating GIlbert Grape?

When I heard that Teen Wolf got a TV series, I was more than a little annoyed. Not so much because they turned that classic movie into a TV series (I have friends who watch it and from what I hear it’s actually quite good). It was because for every classic movie where a TV series wasn’t really needed but is made anyway, there is a classic movie that deserves a TV series that no one even considers making. In this case, that classic movie is the 1993 drama called What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

Set in fictional Endora, Iowa, the film is about Gilbert Grape (surprise!), played by Johnny Depp, as you’ve never seen him before:

 

Gilbert Grape

Normal

 

He takes his mentally challenged brother, Arney (Leonardo DiCaprio) with him wherever he goes, making sure nothing bad happens to him. But he can’t have his eye on him all the time, and shortly after the film starts, Arney runs off and climbs the town water tower, bringing the attention of the residence and the police. When they finally get him down, we’re told that this has happened before, and more than once.

I hadn’t seen this movie in years when I sat down to watch it for this review, and I seriously forgot that it was just one movie. Over the course of 119 minutes, so much happens that it kind of feels like a TV series. This is a real town and these are real people. The film has no central plot (as in, there is no real goal of the story). It’s just a bunch of stuff happening. It’s like it’s just a random week in Endora that we happen to get a glimpse of. And in that one week, whole story just happens to happen.

The characters each have their own story and relationships established. They already know each other, so we’re not told everything, but implied just enough to get a rich backstory.

While watching, I actually thought of three separate TV series based off this one movie. The first would be just a straight adaptation of the movie into one season of a show. The second series (which could even be the continuation of the first) would be the story of where the four people at the end (no spoilers in this post) go. Each episode they could go to another place. Becky said in the movie that her grandmother can’t stay still in one place for long, so the series would be them traveling around to different places. The third series would be called Endora and would be just a Twin Peaks/Northern Exposure-like series about the residence of Endora. The small glimpse we got of the town over the course of the movie makes me interested to know what goes on all the time.

With TV series popping up left and right based on existing material (Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, Bates Motel, Beauty and the Beast, Sleepy Hollow, Under the Dome, The Carrie Diaries, etc) I can honestly see (and want to see) this show made. Even if it’s just one of the three I listed, or if they combine them into one, there  is so much that can be done with this movie.

I haven’t even mentioned the music, which perfectly fits the mood of the movie. There is also an all-star cast, which includes Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, John C. Reilly, among others, all of which do an amazing job. There isn’t a single bad actor in this film. To me the “star” of this movie is Leonardo DiCaprio, playing mentally challenged Arney Grape. He does the role so convincingly that I actually tried telling myself throughout the movie, “This is Leo! He played Howard Hughes, Jack Dawson, and Gatsby!”, but I just couldn’t see it. That wasn’t Leonardo DiCaprio on screen, it was Arney Grape. This is in a pre-Titanic role, before he became a superstar, displaying the talent we’ve all come to expect from him now. This film proves that he’s been talented from the beginning.

Advertisements

The Elder Blog: Fallout 3

I am very annoyed as I type this. Moments ago I died on Fallout 3 for the thousandth time tonight. I played for two hours. I noticed in my save files I only played it twice before, 6 March 2014 (the day I got it) and 11 March 2014. I was wondering why I only played it twice, since it’s just like Skyrim, only set in post-apocalyptic DC. Well… I just was reminded as to why. . .

Ok, first off, I understand Bethesda was going more for a “realistic” feel with this game. Instead of having near-unlimited ammo, and ammo everywhere, they give you very limited ammo, and not much ammo refills. They also have “aids” to help replenish your health (much like potions in Skyrim), but most of the stuff is more likely to hurt you (via radiation) than help you, and it doesn’t replenish much life. Not to mention that the little ammo you do have does little damage. I had a pistol and was firing at a spider and it took 20 shots to kill  That’s ridiculous!!

Sure, you could say I just have to level up, but even when I started Skyrm and my character was weak, I was able to take out wolves with one or two arrows. You use all your ammo on one or two enemies, then have to run to escape the other. Oh, what’s that?  You can’t run in this game? Oh, then I guess you just have to die over and over.

I just made it to Rivet City, the on the sunken ship. This is where I turned it off, because when you enter, it autosaves and when you die you respawn right there, still under water and have to find your way around in the dark. You have five seconds to find the next room and resurface. You’re getting radiation poison the longer you stay in the water. When I finally work my way through to where there’s light, I am attacked by two creatures and die within seconds (because my health is low and the few “aids” I have give me radiation instead of health. So the second attempt I try to kill them…only to find out I can’t draw weapons while in the water.

I’ve never seen a game so set on killing you. Well, other than the Contra series. I am a huge fan of Bethesda, and I know Fallout 3 gets loads of praise, and I can see that it can be a great game, but right now I am really just sick of how difficult they made the game. I’ll stick to Elder Scrolls for now. I’m at least good at that one. Been playing three weeks and I am level 35.

One last thing… I absolutely LOVE the soundtrack of Fallout 3! Oldies is one of my two favourite genre of music (the other is dubstep……I’m weird…).

Desolation of Blog: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Season 2)

I wrote the first one of these awhile back, and I had hoped to write this one shortly after. But I’ve been busy with things and haven’t gotten to it. I was feeling sick today so decided to lay down and watch season 2 all day. And I am glad I did.

Season 2 of My Little Pony furthers the story and character development from the first season. I heard loads of fans complaining that the show became stale in season 2, and I can see why they would say that. In the first season, they focused primarily on the six main Ponies. In season 2 the show relaxed a little and started focusing more on the residents of Ponyville.

In a way, MLP kind of reminds me of Road to Avonlea. In both series, the main character (Sara Stanley/Twilight Sparkle) lives in a high society setting and has to move to a small town community in the first episode (Avonlea/Ponyville). As both series progressed, the show focused from the main people (the King family/”Elements of Harmony” Ponies) and slowly moved to focus more on the residents. It makes both shows very good, because instead of just focusing on this small group, we get to meet more characters and get more and varied stories.

Even stories focusing on the characters we grew to love from the first season had their character arch widened this season. The most obvious example is that of Spike. He has three major stories in this season, each of which reveal more about him. The last of which was actually about him wanting to learn more about himself, and he does.

I look forward to watching season 3. If I still feel sick tomorrow I will be watching that season. It’s only 13 episodes where season 2 was 26 episodes. That worries me a little, but we’ll see how that goes…

The Elder Blog: thatgamecompany

For those of you who have never heard of thatgamecompany, let me introduce you to the breath of fresh air the gaming industry desperately needs. Last year, the two biggest games were Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us. While both games are amazing and definitely deserve to be the successes that they are, GTA5 was a sequel, and The Last of Us, while original, was still too much like games I’ve played in the past.

Enter thatgamecompany They have three PSN games, Flow, Flower, and Journey. According to Wikipedia:

“When Thatgamecompany designs a game, they begin by deciding on the emotions and feelings they wish to invoke in the player. This differs from the approach of most developers, who build from game mechanics or genre features. According to Santiago, the company creates emotional responses to demonstrate the wide range of possible experiences in video games, which she believes is larger than the few—excitement and fear, for example—that are typically presented.”

 

Flow is a game where you play as a microbe, and you go around collecting other microbes to become longer and longer. It’s basically musical Snake.

I’d heard of Flower, but didn’t see how it could be interesting. You play as the wind as you move flower pedals around. That sounds like a terrible idea for a game. Yet it was a hit on the PSN. I took it to be a sign of the sad state of the industry.

Then they have a new game, titled Journey. You actually control a character and walk across a desert to a mountain in the distance.

 

If these descriptions don’t enthrall you, don’t worry; it didn’t to me when I first heard of them. But I came across a three game collection of them at Walmart a few days ago for $8 and decided to give it a try.

Flow, I’m sad to say, it just awful. I immediately didn’t like it. The emotion I felt was boredom.

I moved on to Flower with very low expectations, and within five minutes I had my thoughts about the game…… CHANGED!! OMG!! Flower is an unbelievable game! The transition from Flow to Flower is to incredible, you’d think they did several games in between to get to this level of perfection. The graphics are so clear, the controls are to fluid and easy to use. I was able to turn and get exactly where I wanted to go without any trouble. It may sound corny, but the emotion it made me feel was wonder. I couldn’t help smiling while playing this game.

Then we get to Journey. This is their first game where you actually control a character in a traditional sense. And, being the company that they are, this isn’t a typical game at all. Yes, you walk to a mountain in the distance, but you also solve puzzles getting there. The game requires being online, because an anonymous companion, a real player, will join you. You see no name, and no messages are allowed during the game. The only communication between you is a musical note. With Journey. I experienced something I don’t think I ever experienced in any other game. At one point, my companion fell off the ledge we were climbing, and I…..went back for her. I knew I should have gone on because I needed to get to the mountain, but I couldn’t just leave her behind. When we met each other halfway, we both let loose a long stream of musical notes. Later when I fell, she went back for me.

Strangely, the emotion I felt from Journey was friendship. You start out the game by yourself, and when you get to the second area, that’s when you get your companion at random. The thing I noticed at the first part was how lonely it was. There was no one, and nothing. When you get the companion, you think, “Yay! I’m not alone!”. When you lose them,  you don’t want to be alone again. This is a vast world . You need your companion.

The music in Flower and Journey really intensifies everything. The soundtrack is available for both games on the disc. I listen to them as much as I can.

On their website, you can see thatgamecompany is working on a new game. I am eager to play whatever they have to offer us next!

The Elder Blog: Skyrim

It just occurred to me that I have not posted a My Thoughts in awhile. Since this is pretty much all I’ve been doing lately, I decided to do one over Skyrim.

I have playing Skyrim for about a week or so now, when I got the PS3. So far I am only at 25 level, and I am Nord. I joined the Imperials, and I decided to kill all three hostages. I figured there is so much here, and even doing one thing different can change the way your game is played. I’ll play through like this, then when I finish or so as far as I felt could go (in, like, 20 years), I’ll start over and join the Stormcloaks and other things differently.

Before I bought the PS3, the closest I’ve ever came to a game as massive as this was GTA: San Andreas. I thought that as the ultimate in video game interactivity. I’m sure everyone reading this is more than used to games like Skyrim and Fallout 3 (which I also got, but I’m here to talk about Skyrim), but I am brand new to this. I love to explore, and I explore Skyrim with complete awe and wonder. I have a long list of unfinished questions, because I tend to get distracted by something else. I will be on my way to complete a quest and I’ll see something shiny in the distant and head toward that instead. On my way to complete a quest I get five more quests, of which only two will be completed right now.

Something that Cracked pointed out, which I experienced myself last week, was that the universe in Skyrim goes on whether you’re there or not. I never really knew what that meant until started playing it. I was walking and saw a mammoth. Those things can kill you in one move, so I saved before I moved forward (I needed to go past there and it was impossible to go around). As I was passing the mammoth, a dragon landed right in front of me and started attacking the mammoth, not me. In one small movement, the mammoth kill the dragon and I. I, of course, respawned right there. I didn’t move, as I knew the dragon was coming. When it landed, I watched the mammoth and dragon fight. As they fought, they disturbed a giant I didn’t notice before. The three creatures started fighting. The dragon eventually was killed (and I still absorbed it’s soul even though I had nothing to do with it’s death).

This is where I made my mistake. I saw that the mammoth and giant were now fighting each other, so I sneaked past them and grabbed the dragon scales. The mammoth and giant noticed me and I started running. In most games, AI are confined to a certain area, so I assumed once I went a few feet they couldn’t follow me anymore.

I ran from them between half an hour to an hour. They wouldn’t stop chasing me. I eventually got to a mountain and started climbing up. A couple minutes later they had me covered on a cliff. But I looked down and noticed little ledges, so I started jumping down little by little. A minute later, the giant fell past me. The mammoth had knocked it to its death. I had never experienced anything like that in a video game before. It was scary, but exciting at the same time.

This was a couple days after I started playing. Now I can take out a mammoth and giant together at the same time with my glass bow and glass arrows. If they run at me, I take them out with my duel-welded Daekbreaker in my right hand and Dwarf Axe in my left hand.

I have leveled up my sneak and archery really high. When I enter a cave of fort, I slowly take out everyone without anyone even knowing I was there. When I started, even headshots wouldn’t kill them, and now I can hit them pretty much anywhere while hidden and they die. Sometimes I use my sneak to be a Skyrim serial killer and murder innocent people without getting a bounty. I sent the following picture to my friends and asked them if I should be worried.

Skyrim Serial Killer

Creepiness aside, this is the best game I have ever played. It has a great variety of gameplay.You can go from clearing out a cave with stealth, so just running in swinging. I’ve done escort missions, I’ve done “fetch” missions, and I know I haven’t discovered all there is to do, because I’m learning more about this game the more I play it. I turn a corner and there’s an entire day of gameplay. I have friends who have played this since they bought it the night it came out and they are still playing and finding new things.

Long story short, there is no way to ever get bored playing this game.

Casabloga: Frozen

Usually when a film is marketed to death before it’s even released, you automatically know it’s going to be bad. Why would they bother slapping that snowman on everything six months before the film even comes out unless the movie sucks and they know it? So when Frozen did come out and everyone I knew was screaming at me to go see it, I just rolled my eyes and called them sheep.

But tonight I finally sold out and watched that piece of crap. Which is why I am reviewing it now. I only review movies I consider to be the greatest ever made. That obvious piece of crap turned out to be one of the best Disney movies I have seen in a long time. And I am including Brave in that list of movies I’ve seen.

Yes, Frozen did the seemingly impossible and made this list before Brave did. This movie is better than BRAVE of all things!!

True, the characters look like they are from Tangled, and the story is merely a retelling of a Hans Christian Anderson book, but Disney does it in a way to make it a brand new story that stands on its own.

Not to mention the songs. Something you don’t see very often anymore is songs in animated movies. As in, the characters breaking out into song for parts that they could easily speak. This movie goes back to that formula, and in a very good way. It doesn’t feel forced, like in some movies that try to do it, but adds to the overall story.

Speaking of not being forced, I wouldn’t be able to complete this review without talking about the characters here. It’s quite common for movies to have a princess or other girl character attempt to get out of the stereotypical “perfection” routine, but they always “solve” it by making them clumsy, tripping over their own feet or needlessly awkward. In Frozen, Anna (the younger princess) is the first time I’ve ever seen this attempted successfully. She’s clumsy and awkward, but it doesn’t come off as forced. She’s naturally clumsy and awkward. It makes for some of the funniest moments I’ve seen in Disney movies in a long time.

Finally, there is the stereotypical “act of true love” cliche. It’s a staple of Disney movies, and it’s here. But it’s handled and resolved in a way I never would have expected.

Casabloga: The Dark Knight

Gritty reboots have taken over the world! Batman Begins wasn’t the first movie to do it, but it was the first to do it right. After the utter failure of Batman & Robin in 1997, fans were reluctant to return to the franchise. But the awesomeness known as Christopher Nolan managed to not only get people interested again, but also got us to take the character serious for once. Instead of making a typical superhero movie where the first half is the origin story and the second half is the character finally using that power, Batman Begins is an entire origin story. We get it over with in one movie.

By the time the sequel, The Dark Knight, starts, the story is already established. We don’t need an introduction of the characters, because we already know them. We get an introduction of Joker, but it’s not an origin story for him. We’re introduced to him as he’s robbing a mob bank. We get right away that he’s psychotic. We do get a bit of a back story on him later on, but even later on we find out that was just a lie, because he tells a different version. I guess this is one of those cases where the less you know, the more creepy it is. We don’t need to know Joker’s story to get why we’re supposed to be scared of him.

The Dark Knight is by far the best entry in the Dark Knight trilogy. Its dark, well-written storyline keeps you hooked until the credits roll, the music fits perfectly with the epic feel of the story, and the characters are complex and believable. When this movie came out, it was Batman at his most vulnerable (until The Dark Knight Rises came out and we saw Bruce Wayne walking with a cane). The now-famous image of Batman standing over the wreckage of a building is as haunting in context as it is out of context.

The Dark Knight Rises infamously disappointed fans, myself included. I went to go see it in theaters when it came out. But it would have been very difficult to outdo The Dark Knight, which in my opinion is the best superhero movie outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Casabloga: The Aviator

Yeah, I spend too much time playing Skyrim now. Before I got the PS3, I posted 14 entries in three weeks. In the week since I got it I have only posted one. I would blame the fact I’m about to move for my lapse in activity here, but in reality I have also stopped packing because I’m trying to find my dad, Liam Neeson. Oh, and I’m playing Fallout 3.

Anyway, I bought the Blu-Ray of The Aviator today. Wasn’t intending to do a review over it, but watching it I remembered how much I loved it. I also bought the Blu-Ray of The Dark Knight, which I’ve been meaning to do a review over, so I guess now I’m going to have to do that one next.

Anyway, the movie is about Howard Hughes, the famous movie director/plane guy. He had mental problems and this movie captures it perfectly. But it ends too soon. He eventually died, but it ends long before then.

I want to talk about three things here…

1. Leo DiCaprio’s acting – He tends to BECOME the characters in his movies. In J. Edgar, even though it was clearly him, he really looked and sounded like the FBI director. In this movie, he really looks and sounds and acts like Howard Hughes.

2. Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn – Spot on performance, don’t you find?

3. Rufus Wainright – YES!

Oh, no! I hear a dragon off in the distance. I need to pull out my Dawnbreaker and get a Shout ready!

Casabloga: The Cabin in the Woods

I just realized it’s been a week since I posted one of these. It honestly feels like it’s only been a couple days since I did the Pursuit of Happyness review. I bought a Playstation 3 and have been playing Skyrim and Fallout 3 the past week, so I’ve been a little…..preoccupied.

Now most people I talked to about The Cabin in the Woods tells me it’s a cliched crappy horror movie. To those people, I have to ask if you even watched more than half an hour of it. The film starts off as a stereotypical horror film,  specifically The Evil Dead.

But this movie is anything but cliched. If anything, the first half of the film satires traditional horror films, then in the second half turns them on it’s head. When you start it, you go in thinking, “I know where this is going”. But you will never guess what is really going on.

When a film labeled a horror film has humor throughout it’s run time, most people automatically assume that the movie is so bad it’s funny, That’s not the case here. It’s intentionally funny, such as the “Where did you get this?!” line and the “I’m on speaker!” scene.

Though the film is relatively short, being only 95 minutes, you get a good sense of the characters and that they’ve known each other a long time. These aren’t cardboard cutouts thrown into an easily avoidable death. The story is much larger than “young people go camping, one survives”.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s on Netflix.

Wix.com is a bunch of theives

I have used Wix.com for a last couple years. In fact, the “Photography” and “Books” links at the top of this blog link to Wix pages I made. I’ve loved how I was always able to do anything I wanted to do and make the sites looks however I wanted.

In 2013, I decided to give my Wix site a domain, so I paid to make and connect a domain. I was trying to appear to be a professional writer/photographer, and “baikeru.wix.com/trevorboot” just doesn’t seem very perfessional. Finally, I was able to share my website without feeling embarrassed about the domain being long.

But then I changed my site name, got a new site, moved to WordPress, etc….

I got an email on 2 February 2014 which told me that my domain “was about to be renewed”, so I went on my account and cancelled the that. I barely used Wix anymore, anyway. I removed my credit card info and disconnected the domain.

Yesterday, 4 March 2014, I went to buy something on eBay and I was told I didn’t have enough on my card. I went on my online account and was shocked to find I had -$21. Yes, that’s a negative before the dollar sign. The transactions showed that Wix had reached in and taken my money the on 31 February 2013.

I just gave them a call and asked that they refund my money, because I cancelled that already. I was told the package was not cancelled. I was told that as I had this page up (I was calling them via Skype)

 

Wix

I kept telling them that it had, in fact, been cancelled, I was told that I should have cancelled it on 1 February, the day before I actually cancelled it. I sat there and argued with them for twenty minutes, because they kept telling me that they could not refund money once it’s been taken. Even though I do not use that domain name anymore, and the connection has been cancelled, and I am almost completely on WordPress now, I am out $24 because Wix is a greedy bunch of thieves.

I am leaving my Photography and Books pages up until I join a WP host site, maybe in May. Then after that I will be deleting my account with them. They are not worth the effort.