My own personal opinions, analyzations, and interpretations of pop culture. If I'm lucky, some if it might even be insightful. Also, I am kind of a nerd.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Andy Lau Is A Complete Badass.

If you don’t believe the above statement, then just treat yourselves to two of the three Movies That Are Pretty Awesome featured here, for you convenience.

Infernal Affairs: Lau Kin Ming (Andy Lau) is a Triad mole inserted into the police force at a young age by a powerful crime boss. Chan Wing Yan (Tony Leung, who some of you may recognize from Hero) is seemingly thrown out of the police academy only to be inserted into organized crime as a mole in order to make use of his impressive cognitive abilities. Ten years later, Ming has risen to success in the police force, working under Police Superintendent Wong, the only person who can identify Yan for who he truly is. Superintendent Wong has begun gunning for the same crime boss that both controls Ming and is Yan’s newest assignment. The two moles become locked in a bizarre circle of trying to uncover the other’s identity, while preserving the secrecy of their own. This movie is the master of dramatic tension. Andy Lau is excellent as usual, and Tony Leung receives much more of a chance to showcase his considerable talent than he did in Hero, which was relatively lukewarm on plot. There’s an American remake in the works, titled The Departed, and it’s going to be a bit of a big deal. They’ve landed Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg.

Fulltime Killer: This film is very similar to Infernal Affairs in that it centers around two professionals trying to beat each other at their own game. This movie is much more action-oriented, however, and focuses on the exploits of two career assassins. O, a young Japanese man, is the master assassin in the underworld. Not a particularly cruel man, he views killing as nothing other than work and charges top dollar for a quick, efficient, professional job. Tok, a charismatic Chinese man, is the opposite of O in every way: loud, inelegant, flashy, and lacking in the raw natural talent possessed by O. He makes up for this through sheer tenacity and a willingness to take any job offered him. Tok, showman that he is, has decided that it is time for him to be number one, and openly challenges O. There is, of course, also a woman involved. It’s not what you think, but to explain any more would spoil the truly wonderful character and what she brings to the film. Action fans will appreciate the realistic, authentic Hong Kong-style action scenes, and film snobs will appreciate the rather ingenious third act narrative shift that provides a wonderful last-minute mystery. This movie is proof positive that good action and exceptional writing are not mutually exclusive.

The Rules Of The Game: The last two movies were very similar, so here is a bit of a curveball for you. A French comedy/drama from 1939, The Rules Of The Game more or less defined the “love triangle” mechanic in modern film. French pilot André Jurieux is in love with an attractive young socialite (I honestly cannot remember all of the names for this, so you’ll have to bear with me. I’m bad with French names and too lazy to IMDB it right now) who happens to be married to a very wealthy man. The object of André’s affection convinces her husband to invite him out to his hunting chateau for the yearly get-together he holds there. There are even more love triangles present among the staff and guests, and everyone’s personal agendas and actions all pile up on everyone else’s. The movie is hilarious, and much of it feels fresh by today’s standards. The film, despite being a satire of the self-destructive nature of French high society, does an excellent job of making you sympathize with the characters which makes it all the more jarring when they completely sacrifice their integrity for selfish reasons. The camera work is also fantastic, most of it quite wonderful by today’s standards, and mind-boggling when put in the context of the late 30’s.

Well, there you have it, three movies that I personally think are pretty neat. All are available at most video stores and on Netflix. Infernal Affairs has two sequels, though I’ve never seen them personally.

More info about the actual move tomorrow.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

We Are Go For Launch.

Welcome to the very first post here at "Tales From Treasure Island", the very first attempt at serious (hah) blogging by me, Nathan Williams.

This, like most blogs, is mostly going to be used for my musings on popular (and not so popular) culture. However, I would also like to use it to occasionally chronicle the stories of my move to Treasure Island, San Francisco and whatever adventures find me there. In six days I leave the home I have lived nearly my entire life in for the only decent city in California.

Yes, that's right. The first "Tale From Treasure Island" isn't actually from Treasure Island. So shoot me.

Over the next couple of posts, I'll be recording the experience of moving in and also give a general rundown of the rather bizarre mid-bay island I'm going to be calling home.

First, however, I'm going to give a few quick blurbs on one of my all-time favorite subjects: Really Awful Movies.

Vampire Wars: Battle For The Universe: Okay, seriously. The secondary title is "Battle For The Universe". Immediately upon reading that, my friends and I knew we had a gem. The opening line for this sci-fi tale of space-faring vampire hunters is "There is intelligent life out there: most of it vampiric". Being a low-budget Canadian monster flick, the universe of course consists of about six sound stages and a small forest probably located near a roadside campground. They spared no expense, however, when it came to landing Michael Ironside as the evil vampire leader, Muco. The vampires have different species, by the way, and are given classifications based on slasher movie antagonists. Expect a lot of lines like "We have to outrun these Leatherfaces!". This movie truly has to be seen to be believed.

The Wickeds: Ron Jeremy is a grave robber. That, alone, makes this worth a rent. Don't get me wrong, this movie is supremely awful in every way, but it's got Ron Jeremy as a freakin' grave robber. Mr. Jeremy and his grave-robbing partner join a passel of teenagers locked up in an old house trying to survive a zombie attack. Also, despite being a zombie movie, a girl is killed by a ghost for some reason.

Final Destination 3: This movie, like its predecessors, would not be worth mentioning if it wasn't for the perverse sense of brilliance that manages to permeate a few scenes. The movie only clocks in at about an hour and a half, so it's actually pretty worth it wading through the crap to get to the good stuff. I rented it due to the much-hyped "choose your own outcome" option toted on the DVD, but that turned out to be mostly a dud as there are not many opportunities and the changes are very inconsequential. But regardless, if waiting in suspense to see how the lead actress from Noggin's Instant Star is going to be killed isn't entertainment, then I don't know what is.

Ok. That's all I've got for now. I think I'll follow this up with a Movies That Are Pretty Awesome.