Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

[Note: This video isn't actually 28 minutes long. Vimeo is being weird about that lately, and it's doubling the length of my videos for some reason.]

I can't believe I forgot to mention the elephants. In one scene, Jaa runs across the backs of a herd of elephants, eventually making them all kneel before him like he's the Lion King or something. And in the big finale, Jaa fights a bunch of dudes directly under a live elephant, dodging between its legs and hurling people into its stomach, knocking them out. If that isn't enough for you, he moves ON TOP OF THE FREAKING ELEPHANT and battles a dude dressed like a crow (kind of weird, but excusable thanks to the epic amounts of action in the movie). Unbelievable.

Clip from The Protector - bone breaking scene

Another clip from The Protector - epic long shot

UPDATE: As you can tell in the comments, someone doesn't like the fact that I posted Ong Bak 2 clips here. In order to make everybody happy, I've taken them down; after all, you (the reader) are smart enough to track these clips down yourself. "A Real Lawyer" has some valid points as rebuttal in the comments, but I'll err on the side of safety.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen

Before I saw this movie, I heard considerable chatter throughout the internet regarding its outrageous nature; from nearly all accounts, it supposedly exceeded the boundaries of a typical B-movie. I appreciate films that realize what realm they operate in, and embrace their role in that realm without awkwardly attempting to transcend it. [Quick note: there are, of course, films that succeed in transcending genre without being awkward. The Dark Knight comes to mind.] For me, that internet chatter was a bit misplaced. I think Law Abiding Citizen remains firmly in B-movie territory, and (thankfully) it does so without any forehead-slapping detour from its core.

Law Abiding Citizen
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Leslie Bibb

Ludicrously-named director F. Gary Gray has some solid films to his name thus far, most notably the remake of The Italian Job (with talks of its potential sequel, The Brazilian Job, still lingering). It's obviously unfair to compare LAC to The Italian Job since they inhabit different genres, but Gray's directing style in his newest feature hasn't changed that much since his 2003 hit. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about Gray's direction; that's both his problem and (I'm assuming) his saving grace.

Let me explain: Gray is perfectly competent behind the camera, but he doesn't add any specific style or flourish to his movies - they typically look very similar (at least in the case of The Negotiator, Italian Job, and now LAC), and there's nothing to distinguish his work from other directors. I'd put him a rung or two above Brett Ratner on the director ladder; he always executes well, but never contributes that extra something that gives him a style all his own. That's a problem for artistic reasons, but I'm sure it translates to an asset in Hollywood. The Playlist recently wrote a piece about potential directors for The Avengers, and they named Ron Howard as a candidate for the same reasons I'd nominate F. Gary Gray: they are both unassuming big name directors who could easily turn out a solid product. No Michael Bay-esque ego conflicts, no "Tony Jaa disappearing into the jungle" fiascos: these guys would both be puppets for Marvel's ultimate goal for The Avengers - to make a middle-of-the-road movie that everyone will enjoy. If you want somebody who can give it to you straight, hire F. Gary Gray.

Let's get back to the film at hand. Law Abiding Citizen was written by Equilibrium scribe Kurt Wimmer, and I've been excited about seeing this movie ever since Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) was attached to direct. The concept of an imprisoned mastermind carrying out villainous deeds from his jail cell was (and still is, I suppose) intriguing to me, but the film never rises above its logline and ultimately feels very "written" as you watch it. Not helping matters is every occasion in which Wimmer recycles the gimmick into actual lines of dialogue, saying things like, "You've got to be kidding. He's killing people from inside his cell?!" and things of that sort, which happens more than once. But my favorite part of the writing is Jamie Foxx's District Attorney character making ridiculous demands of his staff: "Get me the records of every industrial property purchased in Philadelphia in the last ten years!" Come on, bro - narrow it down a little.

One technical aspect of the film I was impressed with was the editing. Specifically, there is one scene that stands out as the best edited of the entire film. Early on in the story (minor spoilers), Jamie Foxx's character elects to see a man die by lethal injection rather than see his daughter's cello recital. The two scenes, occurring simultaneously, are intercut brilliantly; everything from the curtain opening in both scenes to the prisoner's last words spoken over the daughter's instrumental blends together to inform the audience that Foxx's character is witnessing a deadly performance by Butler's character, although unbeknownst to Foxx at the time.

Interestingly, Foxx and Butler were initially signed to play each other's roles. Butler changed his mind at the last minute and we ended up with the configuration we see today. The acting is utterly standard throughout the entire thing; there is not one performance that stands out above the rest, and even Gerard Butler's maniacal madman seems somewhat reserved with the exception of a few scenes. There was one supporting character who I thought was perfectly cast - Gregory Itzin, who played President Charles Logan on TV's "24", plays the minor character of the warden at Butler's prison, and did a great job with a very small part.

Next Paragraph Only - Spoilers for Law Abiding Citizen

Leslie Bibb's character essentially plays the Rachel McAdams role from State of Play, but eventually becomes a non-factor when she is blown to bits in a car bomb. I was so disappointed in this development because immediately before she is killed, she makes a great hint at the identity of her new boyfriend, Chester. Foxx says something like "I can't wait to meet him," and she says something like "Oh, he's not ready for you yet." Instantly, my mind shot back to a previous scene where Bibb questions Foxx about whether they are working for more than just a high conviction rate. My mind put two and two together - obviously, I thought, Bibb's "new boyfriend" is none other than Gerard Butler's character! She wasn't thrilled with the decision made ten years ago, and has been feeding Butler information this entire time. Alas, my brain was a little too hyperactive for this film and its mediocre machinations - I'm still under the impression the movie would have been more effective (or at least more interesting) had my idea been proven correct.

End of Spoilers

I was also under the impression going in that the violence would be excessive, but that is not the case. Sure, there is one VERY bloody scene in a jail cell (I won't give away what happens, but blood ends up EVERYWHERE), but aside from that, there was really nothing out of the ordinary. Gerard Butler threatens to chop a dude to bits, and talks about what he did to the guy later, but we never see him actually do it. There was talk of a rape scene, but you have to be really looking for it to even notice that it happens. After recently seeing Sam Peckinpah's 1971 Straw Dogs, which features one of the most uncomfortable-to-watch rape sequences I've ever beheld (thankfully I haven't seen that many), it's going to take a lot more than innuendo to affect me the same way Straw Dogs did.

Law Abiding Citizen stays afloat just enough as to not be boring, but never reaches any worthwhile plateau at any level: story, visual effects, dialogue, direction, acting, music - any way you slice it, this movie's pretty average. It's maybe worth a rental, but there are much better films out there from everyone involved that would be time better spent in my opinion. Until next time...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Paranormal Activity

Filmed in one week for under $15,000, Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity has become a marketing sensation for a strange reason: a lack of conventional studio marketing. Solid word of mouth and an online campaign urging people to demand the film play in their city convinced Paramount Pictures to give the movie a wide release tomorrow (October 16th). I'll admit: the main reason I saw this in a theater was to see what all the buzz was about. Nicely played, marketing campaign - touche.

A brief history of the project: first-time untrained filmmaker Oren Peli wrote and directed the film, which screened for the first time at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival in 2007 and was eventually picked up by Dreamworks and shown to Steven Spielberg. Spielberg reportedly encountered some strange events while watching the film - the doors in his house locked by themselves and he had to call a locksmith to get out. He returned the film to his company sealed in a garbage bag, claiming it was "haunted," but liked the movie enough to be an executive producer for it. Obviously that story has to be taken with a grain of salt considering Spielberg's involvement, and has been considered by many (myself included) to be merely an attempt to drum up some more publicity for the movie.

Executives at Paramount planned for Peli to direct a remake with more established actors and a bigger budget, but when they screened the film for some potential screenwriters, a strange thing happened: people started leaving the theater while the movie was still playing. The execs thought they had a dud on their hands, but later discovered that people were leaving because they were legitimately too afraid to keep watching. At this point, they scrapped the idea of a remake and decided to release Peli's original film.

Paranormal Activity
Writer/Director: Oren Peli
Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat

Add this film to the ranks of the recent "shoot from a home video camera" trend revitalized by Cloverfield, the Spanish film [Rec], and its American remake, Quarantine. Paranormal Activity surrounds Katie and Micah, a couple living together in a large house. Off and on since Katie was eight years old, she's had mysterious things happen to her at night, wherever she was - she moved twice, but the entity always follows her. Too bad she didn't mention this to her boyfriend of three years, Micah, when they recently decided to move in together. Now that they're in this big house, Micah is determined to record as much of the paranormal activity as possible to figure out once and for all who or what is bothering Katie. The movie goes to extreme lengths to convince you you're watching real footage, adding a brief text message thanking the San Diego Police Department before the film starts and electing to avoid opening and ending credits entirely.

The movie uses two main methods of providing tension. The most effective is setting the camera on a tripod every night to watch the couple sleep and document the frightening things that happen. The camera is equipped with a wide angle lens so we can see not only the couple in their bed, but through their (inexplicably) open bedroom door, the hallway outside and the stairs that lead up to the second floor. Timecode runs across the bottom of the screen in these "night" segments, fast forwarding until something worthwhile happens. This provides an uneasy feeling for the audience; every time the film transitions to one of these segments, we know something is going to happen, so it heightens our senses and puts us on edge. The second method occurs when the couple is awakened at night. Micah repeatedly grabs the camera from the tripod and ventures out into the dark house, refusing (again, inexplicably) to turn on the lights to the whole house. Instead, he slowly creeps around corners, building tension for the audience as we brace ourselves for what might be around every turn.

The entire film takes place at the couple's house, and Peli did a great job of making the house a character of its own. Early in the film, we see just enough of the house to feel comfortable in the space, but there are some unexplored areas (featured later in the movie) where the "unknown" aspect of the house's layout is just as big of a factor as what might be found inside it. There was plenty of opportunity for cheap scares here, but I'm glad they decided to show some restraint and not rely on jump scares too much.

Next Two Paragraphs Only - Spoilers for Paranormal Activity

I get that Micah is supposed to be your typical "tough guy" and he wants to take care of the situation himself. I buy that. But when a Ouija board catches fire, or you see hoof prints in your bedroom, I think trash talking the spirit in your house may be a little overkill. What does he think that is accomplishing? Also, after all this evidence is presented to him, why wouldn't he agree to call the demonologist? How could that possibly hurt the situation? He's freakin' reading stories about demons and seems to believe in them, yet he refuses help from a specialist. Needless to say, I would have gotten the heck out of Dodge (with the girl in tow - I obviously wouldn't leave her behind).

There's one more thing I want to discuss before we get back to the part where people who haven't seen it yet can read along again. That ending was pretty nuts, huh? I think it was actually my least favorite part of the whole thing, but that's just because I thought it was a little anticlimactic. I thought it would have been better if Katie had just returned upstairs by herself and crawled into bed, implying Micah's murder on the ground floor below. Anyway - according to Wikipedia, Spielberg himself suggested the ending take its current form; apparently in previous screenings there were variations that sounded more interesting than what we actually saw. Want to hear them? Sure you do. The first is pretty much what I wanted, with Katie returning upstairs and sitting in a catatonic state by the bed, alone. The last alternate ending depicted Katie returning with a knife and slitting her own throat in front of the camera. How insane would that have been? I wish they had the balls to stick with that ending.

End Spoilers

The similarities between Paranormal Activity and Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell are striking. Both feature cursed women with skeptical boyfriends, both feature conversations with psychics, and the list goes on. In fact, I consider Paranormal essentially a documentary version of Drag Me To Hell. If you've seen both films, you'll easily recognize the correlation.

One of the things that took me out of the movie is that it uses a very small music score to ratchet up the suspense in scary situations. The great thing about Quarantine was that it didn't need to rely on music at all - the frightening aspect was being completely immersed in the same world that the characters inhabited, hearing every small noise that they heard and reacting as they would. Adding music, however slight, kills the whole vibe of what they were trying to do with this film. I found it semi-distracting and pretty unnecessary.

The last point I want to bring up: actress Katie Featherston reminded me a lot of Jenna Fischer's Pam Beesly (now Halpert!) from TV's "The Office." Perhaps it was that she looks like a normal person instead of the ditzy Abercrombie models that are featured so heavily in today's horror flicks, and perhaps it was because the movie was shot in documentary style, but something in me made that connection. To everyone else who has seen this: did anybody else get that vibe?

If you're going to see this movie, I would recommend checking it out in a packed theater. Like all good horror movies, this is a societal event and needs to be experienced in the company of others. That said, the movie would also be pretty damn effective if you watch it in the darkness of your own home with a few friends; after they leave, you'll be jumping at every creak in the floorboards for the rest of the night. If you're a traditional horror fan, you might be a little disappointed with Paranormal Activity, since nothing truly scary happens until the last half hour or so. But if you're more of a casual genre fan looking for a good time, I think this film will provide that for you. Until next time...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Brothers Bloom, Round 2

In my original review of The Brothers Bloom, I mentioned that I would probably write some more about it upon a second or third viewing. Now that it's hit DVD, I got a chance to check it out again and the film still holds up as my favorite of the year so far.

As most of you know, I'm now writing for some other sites across the web. But my thoughts on Bloom might be considered "too much" for the breezy atmosphere of the film blogs out there, so I figured I'll post it here, where I know you all can handle it. Fair warning, though - some of my thoughts might be considered a little...much. Even so, I wanted somewhere to post them in case somebody wants to check them out - so why not use my own blog? Good idea, I think I will.

Revisiting The Brothers Bloom: An Analytical Retrospective

"He writes his cons the way dead Russians write novels, with thematic arcs and embedded symbolism and sh*t.” - Bloom, The Brothers Bloom

Although this quote refers to his brother, Stephen, Bloom just as easily could have been referring to Rian Johnson himself, the writer/director of the ambitiously brilliant The Brothers Bloom
. The film was released in theaters in May of 2009 and has recently become available for rent on DVD/Blu-ray. I thought I'd take a minute and explore some of the more interesting aspects of the film, straying from the typical “plot summary recap” a lot of movie blogs publish.

Spoilers For The Brothers Bloom Coming Up

Let's jump right into it, shall we? Johnson does a spectacular job of creating necessary separation between his characters, allowing the audience to experience the events of the film through Bloom's perspective. Even after a life spent as a con man, Bloom seems out of his league when it compared to his scheming brother, Stephen, and their partner Bang Bang. This distinction is presented to us in numerous ways throughout the movie.

In one example, we see Stephen walk up the stairs in Montenegro to inform his brother of their “last con.” As he walks up the stairs, Stephen passes by a deck of stacked playing cards on a table and spreads them out as he climbs past. To me, this is a physical representation of Stephen's entire purpose – laying things out and looking at the big picture. Planning is a skill Bloom doesn't have difficulty comprehending, but rather executing (evidenced by his younger self getting caught up in Stephen's “cave” con in the opening scene).

Second, during the conversation in which Stephen convinces Bloom to partake in their last con, we see the gag from the trailer where Bloom has trouble pouring sugar into his coffee. Flustered, he gives up. Not missing a beat, Stephen calmly takes the same sugar and adds some to his drink with no problem. Exasperated, Bloom tries again, only to have the lid pop off and the contents of the container dump into his drink. Stephen is on a different level than Bloom and seemingly possesses a greater mastery over the world they inhabit. Soon after the sugar incident, the brothers sit in a bar and Stephen coolly catches a fly out of mid-air without a second thought.

Johnson indicates that Stephen and Bang Bang are intellectual equals through their on-screen interactions together. Those two always seem like more of a pair than the actual brothers, communicating (mostly visually) through a style all their own and understanding each other perfectly. I can't think of a better example of this than during the introduction of Penelope's mansion. As Stephen explains his plan, he pulls back a tree branch and Bang Bang produces a retractable saw to remove it for him. No one questions why Bang Bang thought to bring a saw, and the saw itself is never seen or mentioned again - it's this level of interaction that Bloom simply does not participate in. It's also why these moments work as humorous quirks rather than mundane routine; if every character did things like that all the time, it would take away from the overall effect. Johnson understands this (obviously better than anyone) and uses great restraint in leaving Bloom close to the action, but simultaneously distanced enough to where the audience has the ideal vantage point to the group's situations.

The introduction of Penelope to the gang's ranks sparks a vastly different reaction from the three con artists. Bloom eventually falls in love with her after questioning whether she is one of Stephen's characters. Stephen himself seems overwhelmed if not outmatched by Penelope's intellect and straightforwardness. Penelope has no problem calling Stephen out multiple times over the course of the film, whether it be his thinly veiled reference to Melville's “The Confidence Man” or the fake death in Mexico near the film's climax. This obviously puts the mastermind slightly on edge. Bang Bang, however, seems to find a friend and confidant in Penelope, giving her a cell number that she hasn't even given Bloom.

The nearly-universal criticism of the movie is at the tonal shift in the third act. Inspired by Penelope's mysterious escape from police custody, Bloom has an epiphany that allows him to embrace his relationship with her. He steals an apple (without his brother's influence, presumably for the first time), giddily robs a snack cart on a train, and is legitimately happy for the first time in his life. After Penelope sees through the staged death in Mexico, Bloom retreats to Montenegro again, this time to protect Penelope by not letting her participate in their cons any longer.

While this section of the film may be the weakest for Bloom, I think it's the strongest for Stephen. Stephen's life goal has always been to tell a story so well, it fulfills itself. He achieves his own prophecy from earlier in the film, when he tells Bloom, “The day I con you is the day I die.” The relationship between Stephen and Bloom is strange; Bloom tells his brother he loves him twice as the movie progresses, but Stephen never returns the expression. Stephen sees the brothers almost as a single entity. In an early scene, Bloom says "You're a genius, Stephen," to which the elder brother replies, "No. We're a genius."

In their final scene together, Stephen finally pulls off “the best trick [Bloom's] ever seen.” Bloom wishes Stephen had a bigger audience to witness it, but Stephen responds, “You're the only audience I've ever needed.” For Stephen, the consummate entertainer, this is the biggest compliment he could give anyone. For his whole life, he's been trying to grant his brother the only thing he's ever wanted – real love – and in Penelope, he sees the chance to give it to him. Stephen's death is the ultimate sacrifice and act of love for Bloom, and only after Bloom sees the brown blood on his shirt does he realize what his brother has done for him. It's Penelope who finally tells Bloom she loves him, granting his need for reciprocal love and helping him move on after Stephen's death.
Penelope: You can make a pinhole camera out of anything hollow and dark.
Bloom: It's gotta warp the image though, right?
Penelope: Yeah. Yeah, it does. I mean, that's what's good about it. I mean, you could point this baby at the most menial, everyday little thing, like the fabric or your...your face or anything, and depending on how the camera eats the light, it's going to be warped and peculiar and imperfect and odd, and it's not going to be reproduction. It's storytelling.
Bloom: It's a lie that tells the truth.

This brief exchange early in the movie serves as Rian Johnson's definitive statement on the nature of film, and gives us a look into his personal viewpoints on the medium through which he's built his career. “A lie that tells the truth.” Johnson creates just that with The Brothers Bloom – personal storytelling involving love, family, loyalty, and sacrifice. These themes aren't unique, but the way Johnson conveys them cements him at the top of my “must watch” directors and I look forward to future journeys through his cinematic worlds. Until next time...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Assault Girls (2009)

By Alan Trehern

If you've ever seen me review movies, you know what I look for. If you haven't, check out my most dangerous review of The
Most Dangerous Game (2008). Now that we have that out of the way, let us look at this most ridiculous and most Japanese movie trailer.

What we would call a weekly event on the SciFi channel here in America is what the Japanese call an epic period piece. I'm pretty sure dragons roamed the lands of Japan long before men were men, and woman were gun toting black angels. Oh yes, you heard me right, this film claims to contain every cliché in the book: flying dragons with no means of flight, the girl from Brothers Bloom sporting some 1920s derby hat in the 2200s, some guy wearing a Yankees hat, and of course the montage of super-futuristic weaponry set to super-futuristic Japanatechnetronica/folk music. But why haven't the tanks and helicopters evolved along with the rest of the weaponry? And where were all the Japanese schoolgirls? I hear they're everywhere! And why not use the one gun that disintegrates the dragons on ALL the dragons? Why waste fire power when you can use THAT gun?? I guess that movie would be a little too short for the elongated attention span of the Japanese people. Enjoy!

Opening December 29, 2009 in Japan.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hey, Is That...? It's Ben!

Guess who played a dead body in a commercial? Yeah. Good guess.

Before you say anything: yes, the video is slightly cut off. But you can still see me, and you have the option of making it full screen if you want. I'm not going to go in and mess with HTML settings to change the size of the video because I'm too lazy. Sorry.

This doesn't really count as "movie news" or a "movie review," but whatever - a nationwide commercial is close enough. Until next time...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Trick 'r Treat

Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat is a fantastic Halloween movie – arguably one of the best ever made*. But does that mean it stands on its own as a great movie apart from its holiday ties? Let’s find out.

Trick 'r Treat
Writer/Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Agent Ballard from "Dollhouse"

First – a little background information. Dougherty, best known as the screenwriter for X-Men 2, directed Trick ‘r Treat three years ago, and the film has since undergone a hellacious distribution process. Originally scheduled for a 2007 release and continually pushed back by Warner Bros., the studio finally decided not to give the film a theatrical release and opted instead for a DVD/Blu-ray/On Demand release date of October 6th, 2009. I just finished a theatrical screening of Trick ‘r Treat in Los Angeles, and Dougherty was on hand for a question and answer session afterwards.

Trick ‘r Treat might be the best Halloween film of all time. Before all of you John Carpenter fans come roaring into the comments section, let me explain. Carpenter’s iconic film, as Dougherty said in the Q&A tonight, “could have been set on Valentine’s Day.” The Halloween setting aided in the fear and horror elements ofHalloween, sure – but Trick ‘r Treat devotes the entire film to establishing the rules of Halloween and punishing those who break them. In a series of four connected stories, Dougherty and his team have crafted a Halloween tale for the ages, an instant classic that will become an October mainstay for years to come.

Can Trick ‘r Treat be called a legitimately great movie? I don’t think so. If we’re judging it on whether or not it achieved what it set out to accomplish, then it should receive unanimous 10/10 reviews. To look at the movie as anything more than a fun Halloween film isn’t quite as appealing. It almost feels like we’ve heard these stories before, which is a testament to relatable writing: praise-worthy on occasion, but ultimately detrimental in this case. The film’s tone and execution were near perfect; unfortunately the plot elements are kind of average if you look at each story individually. I’m not going to recap what happens or ruin it for those who haven’t seen it yet, but suffice it to say that this film pales in comparison to this year’s Drag Me To Hell in ramping up suspense and holding it until the breaking point.

Don’t get me wrong: I really dug this movie. I appreciate its tone, style, and the balls it took writer/director Mike Dougherty to make a movie like this and fight the system to get it released. I saw it in early October with a crowded room full of horror fans, and we all cheered at the right times and had a great time watching it. It was a great movie-going experience. I hope more films like this are made, and I recommend that every horror fan see this movie. I’m just trying to quell some of the ultra-hype that’s surrounding it so you don’t go in with incredibly high expectations and come out slightly disappointed.

The cast was great (especially Dylan Baker – why doesn’t he get more work?), the cinematography perfectly achieved the tone they were shooting for (over-the-top dark comedy), and the score was pretty solid, as well. The editing was awesome, complete with comic book influences in the opening credits and the occasional comic panel on screen to let us know where we are during the course of this crazy Halloween night.

The movie works on multiple levels – for those who haven’t seen many horror films, it has enough suspense, jump scares, nudity, and violence to keep you interested. For the horror connoisseurs among you, you’ll appreciate the tongue-in-cheek manner in which Dougherty approaches the material and toys with your expectations of certain genre elements.

Support this movie any way you can – it’s the only way we’re going to see more like it in the years to come. Get the DVD/Blu-ray, invite your friends over, and have a Trick ‘r Treat party at your place. Spread the word. I almost guarantee you’ll have a great time with it. Just don’t quite expect a 10/10. Until next time...

*If you haven’t seen the 1993 animated film The Halloween Tree, it’s worth checking out. Ray Bradbury wrote and narrates the movie, Leonard Nimoy voices a main character, and it features some great characters learning the origins and history of Halloween.

(Read this review at GeekTyrant)

Site Update

Hey everybody.

In case you haven't heard, I've been brought on as a writer for two different websites in the past week. The first is a smallish indie-based site that's practically like The Solar Sentinel: it covers books, movies, TV, video games, music - the works. The site is called, and you can read my first post here: it's about the live-action Flash TV series from the early 90's.

The second is a bigger movie news site called They are basically an amalgamation of this site and Ben's Daily Movie News, covering upcoming movie updates, releasing trailers, pictures, and reviews of films new and old. My first post there is a review of Trick 'r Treat, which I am actually going to publish here as well.

I basically wanted to take a second and let you guys know that I'm not going to stop writing here or at Ben's Daily Movie News. I'm trying to find some "real work" out here in Los Angeles, so my time isn't quite as free as it once was, but I'm going to make an effort to keep up with both of these sites (and The Sentinel, after Branz posts #200) along with contributing to the new sites as well. This will surely lead to some crossover posts (like I'm getting ready to do with Trick 'r Treat), but hey - at least you'll still be able to read stuff here and not have to go wandering the internet to find my stuff (although I guess it would be nice if you occasionally checked out those other sites to get their hit counts up - I don't really know how that works).

As always, thanks for reading. Until next time...