Opinion Box, The Drive In

The Short Review: Eva Nextdoor

It’s a true challenge to tell a gripping story in under 6 minutes. You  would have to engage your viewers within the first minute and then you are left with even less time in which you have to cram character development, an actual plot line  and some proper action too. Not only does Eva Nextdoor deliver these elements without even breaking a sweat, but it also manages to surprise us with a major midway twist. I urge you to watch it before reading this review, you won’t regret it.

The premise is simple: a feature documentary about Eva (Marion Servole) , a 25 year  french girl living in Paris today, in a fragile economic climate. She does some casual jobs, but her main occupation is cleaning. An expressive shot shows her delicate hands rubbing against one another as she gives them a lingering look. She would prefer to do something else, she tells us, but sadly hasn’t found it yet. At a first glance she is a shy, sensitive soul who became a vegetarian after seeing a documentary on animal torture. She is a dreamer who misses the warm sun of the South and wants to one day settle down somewhere far away and have a child (one way or the other).  The “adorable factor” is quickly dissipated by Damian McCall’s shady character who describes her as nuts but as someone who’s also very effective who gets the job done quickly and clean. One of her bosses, you think, as you shudder at the sight of him. With his tinted aviator glasses, dirty stubble and half smoked cigarette McCall is as sleazy as they come. As a viewer you become more and more confused: Who is this guy and why does she keep working for him?  Is she that desperate for money? What exactly goes on when she “cleans” for him? Do I really want to know ? What kind of cleaning woman is she?

You’re left in your own puddle of questions during a few black frames and then the tone quickly changes in the second chapter “At work”. There’s no more talking, but an increasingly tense montage in which Eva’s real occupation is revealed. She is shown wearing thick leather gloves, looking at the gun and silencer laid on her wooden table. She carefully screws the silencer on her gun. Shadows now hide her face as elevator doors close behind her. The shots become more erratic and shaky as we’re shown glimpses of her days at work: she can kill at point-blank range, she can kill from a distance, she will get rid of the bodies in the most gruesome of ways. She is a killing machine. These brief moments are carefully mixed with images of her hands grasping prayer beads as she is constantly haunted by the gravity of her actions. The viewer is not let to forget her humanity. This culminates with her getting brutally stabbed by a masked man in an empty parking lot, but not after having put up a proper fight. We’re left wanting as the last few scenes show Eva lying on the floor against the foot of her bed after having slowly (and painfully) pulled out the blade and bleeding heavily.

This is Nikita rebooted in 6 minutes, with no budget, no glidecam, no steadycam, no lights, just the camera and the same lens (Canon 550d/Sigma 30mm f1.4).  Done in just 5 days, including post-production, it sets the bar high not just for shorts but for the feature length action flicks out there. Eva Nextdoor is pure concentrated thrill juice. The short is part of the “Monsters Collective”, an association of 12 directors from several different countries. It has been screened at the Festival International Du Film de Genre at Paris/France. The director announces that it will be screened in several upcoming festivals with the other short films of the collective soon. Lets just hope it gets the attention it deserves!

Music used (if you’re curious):

Plastik Joy – 63 (she was trying to sleep, i was trying to breathe)
Blackfilm/Walk with me

For more shorts from this Director, check out Kendy on Vimeo 

Standard
57283
Opinion Box, The Drive In

The Bourne Legacy does what it says on the (pill-) tin

Mandatory pre-article spoiler alert! If you have not seen the movie yet, you have been warned.

 A majority of people going to see this film will be having high expectations as this fourth installment in the series has a lot to live up to. Firstly, the Bourne trilogy managed to impress both audiences and critics alike by grossing nearly a billion dollars in the box office. Secondly, The Bourne Ultimatum has been classed as the most accomplished thriller since, well Supremacy, as it brought the series to a perfectly satisfying conclusion. Thirdly, Jason Bourne. How in the name of Treadstone’s shredder can you top all that with a movie without the man himself? According to director/screenwriter Tony Gilroy, the answer lies with Jeremy Renner. And he’s not too far from being right either.

Enter Aaron Cross, active agent with Operation Outcome, which is yet another programme run by the C.I.A and the U.S. Government. The premise of Legacy is then placed in parallel with Bourne’s actions in Ultimatum, who is now missing and presumed dead. Under the threat of public exposure, retired Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) aka the man behind the man behind the man is now faced with the laborious task of having to shut the initiative down and, as a result, erase any traces of its existence. To make matters worse, a lot of that classified information made it to that pesky YouTube.. but more on that later.

Bullet time!

We’re introduced to a hardcore Cross, alone in a snowy wilderness, retrieving canisters from the freezing waters whilst popping mystery pills and leaping across treacherous ravines. Cross is tough. So tough, in fact, he does something in the first ten minutes of the movie that Liam Neeson wasn’t able to do throughout the length of The Grey : he punches a goddamn wolf. Renner’s no-bullshit approach to his character gives Cross instant karma. He’s a pinnacle in the field of biological enhancements to the human body and mind, but he’s far from being perfect. His flaw is different from Bourne’s, however. He’s not trying to remember. He’s trying to forget. He’s also trying to score as many Outcome mojo-pills as possible.

It’s a thrill to watch Cross in action as a rogue agent, whether it’s jumping from one high top to another, blasting army drones into oblivion or parkouring in Manila. Some of the most revealing moments happen with Rachael Weisz’s Dr. Marta Shearing whose involvement in project Outcome seems to offer a solution to his addiction. There’s an intriguing story to Aaron Cross, aka Test Subject #5  ( out of 9 Outcome subjects ), aka Kenneth James Kitson – US Army Private who was officially declared dead before entering the Reno project. Intriguing enough to leave the viewer wanting more in fact. Details with regards to Cross’ past are disappointingly sketchy;  his connection to Eric Byer is outlined in under two minutes of flashback and the reasons behind his terrible accident left to a single brief mention in the movie. Renner, however, does a brilliant job with what he is given and manages to bring depth to what could have been a very flat character.

The reason behind this insufficiency might be due to Gilroy’s intention to bring a different perspective to the table; that of Dr Marta Shearing. Her attachment to Outcome puts her in danger too as she soon has to brave two assassination attempts. As a result, we bear witness to what is probably the most gripping scene in the movie. Marta’s psychotic colleague locks all the scientists into one room and starts executing them one by one after which he shoots himself, leaving her as the only survivor. After Cross saves her from a second attempt on her life, however, we are presented with a neurotic mess who, for a scientist, shouts out “I don’t know!” about 5 times too many. To her credit, she does grow stronger towards the end of the film, by proving she can throw a few kicks and  helmets, but by then we’re so fed up with the terror on her face we can barely bother to notice.

Her scientific input also proves a little too inflated at times, and talks about state-of-the-art behavioral design distance the story from the gritty reality of a Bourne film. As she helps Aaron make his physical and mental enhancements become permanent through viral gene alterations, we’re suddenly forced to focus more on the “super” rather than the “spy”. This is even more true in the case of the medically enhanced Oriental assassin whose strange crane acrobatics made me think his genetic alteration programme must have involved regular injections with velcro. The quasi-sci-fi elaborations would have probably been more welcomed had it not been for constant reminders that the action is happening at the same time as Ultimatum. From recycled scenes to the faces of Treadstone, Bourne’s presence is felt throughout the length of the movie and, dare I say, in one too many scenes; he is “alive and in New York” but never actually seen. Pam Landy also makes an all too brief appearance, teasing the viewer away from the story at hand. Telling it from this angle is right in setting the premise, but ends up being harmful to the storyline itself. Legacy already has very big shoes to fill, it doesn’t really need the added pressure.

There is, however, plenty of high-octane action throughout, with stand-outs including a man against nature against military drones at the beginning as well as a truly epic motorcycle chase on the busy and suffocating streets of Manila towards the end. Renner manages to deliver the same amount of thrill in close combat, as he does behind a sniper rifle. Aaron is a force to reckon with. And that’s well and truly visible on Eric Byer’s face, after many attempts to eliminate him. Perhaps if he spent a little less time justifying his actions to others and a little more energy on actually chasing Cross, he could have delivered something truly challenging for him. Shutting the operation down, is, after all what he was called for initially, is it not? Part of Byer’s “too-much-talk-too-little-action” sequence is a rather lengthy conversation with two other officials over the existence of several compromising videos that are already published to Youtube. No clear details are given about how those videos ended up online, nor any solutions are given about how to contain their spread so the scene stands out as rather pointless if not a crass excuse for product placement.

It is indeed moments like these that seem to serve as fillers in a movie that is already dealing with a lot both in terms of characters and plot. As a result, the film rushes through the third act and ends rather abruptly. The ending leaves us with more questions than we had in the beginning, no doubt to leave plenty of room for a fifth one. There is, however, no sense of urgency in the ending sequence, making no attempt to tease the viewer with where the storyline might be heading. Is that enough crowd up the cinemas again? That remains to be seen.

Conclusion

All in all The Bourne Legacy makes for a decent paced action film as it pretty much delivers what it promises in the trailers. There is plenty of action to be seen around a formidable cast out of which Renner proves he’s truly fit for the job. His intense take on the conflicted hero is refreshing and very entertaining. Overly complicated plot threads and a bit too much talking however, makes this a frustrating watch at times, as viewers would like to have seen less of Byer’s office meetings and more of Cross fighting the bad guys. Taking the movie as is will offer you a satisfying thriller,  but fans of the original trilogy will leave the cinema quite disappointed.
Standard
view
Nerdy Chic, Opinion Box

Room with a view

Last Monday I arrived in my home-town. And my home-country for that matter. At this point I should probably mention that by my home I mean my parent’s house. And by my parent’s house I mean a lovely two floor house by the lake. In other words, an inspiration oasis for most… right? Wrong. At least not in a way that you might think.

You might say that with a view such as the one above, words should just fall like the Niagara. Well, I will have you know that I started about five different blog posts during my time here.. but finished zero. Every morning I would sit out on the terrace and smell the spring in the air and start a rant or a rave.

I should probably tell you that the cigarettes belong to mum. I wish I had a secret vice..

All but ten minutes later, however, I’d get distracted. By the lovely birds chirping on wires, by cats that look like Garfield crossing the front lawn on their way to other front lawns , by rain drops falling every once in a while, by mum calling it was lovely lunch time, by gran telling me her childhood stories, by more lovely birds chirping on wires, by warm gusts of wind carrying with them smells of afternoon barbecues, by skies clearing to make way for the sunset, by the night lights suddenly coming on and flickering in the distance like fireflies.. by getting sleepy. Such was last week. I couldn’t get myself to leave the comfort of that wonderful view, I couldn’t get myself to do anything but stare at it, enjoy it .. and breathe.

This is my 6th attempt to write a little something, and you get to see it simply because I decided to write it indoors.  Although there’s no shortage of distractions in here either, I’ve somehow managed to pull myself together. And I don’t really know how I’m doing this while the smells of my mum’s cooking are tickling my nostrils and I’m slowly sinking in the comfiness of the couch.

This is the truth of it all. I am nearly 27 years old, with a childhood complex that manifests itself through a short attention span, increased apetite and an incessant desire to run around the front yard with perhaps a wooden stick and a ball. What work? What age? What responsibilities? And doesn’t this feeling kick in every time we’re at our parents?

I am inspired. To be a kid again.

Standard
glasses
Nerdy Chic, Opinion Box

The shiny trinket manouver

In a bold attempt to revamp my beloved blog project I’ve gone and done it. And by “it” I mean my Dweebster now comes with it’s own domain name and soon with it’s own custom design. Call it bold, call it brash, call it sassy, call it despair. This is a final shove in what I thought would be an incredibly easy thing to do : managing and writing my own blog.

Last year I tried it by labeling it a New Years Resolution. As all resolutions, it crashed and burned and ultimately forgotten under layers of denial. After life got in the way for a while with silly student projects, a master thesis and a part-time job which ultimately turned into a full-time one, I had laid my blogging ambitions to rest. I had killed them like I do my plants. Worse, in fact as I had decided instead to keep it on an artificial respirator with bi-monthly photo-essays that were shorter than Tyrion’s sword ( read that in whatever way you wish). Pretty pictures they were, yes.. blog posts they were not.

And so my train of logic is this : I need to approach this in a more legitimate way. I need to give it proper feet to stand on and a personal touch. To do that freely, I first needed to fork out some cash. The forking of the cash thing was quite easy. And by easy I don’t mean I’m burning money for a living; I simply mean it took me short of 40 seconds to get a new domain via Paypal. The second part is the hard one, it’s the one I’ve been avoiding, denying or forgetting about for the past 14 months: actually writing things somebody would want to read.

With the shiny new domain also comes the deadline maneuver. I’ve now until April 03 2013 to prove to myself that I’ve not wasted what could have been a nice shopping spree in Sub City. I want to tell you about things that I’ve always wanted to tell you about, like Movies and TV Series and Books and Comics and Games I’m in love with. I may also want to tell you a little bit about my life and how I live it, not because I’m a narcissistic moan, but because you might laugh at my frequent  failings ( if you don’t and want me to shut up about it, let me know ).  I want to wake up on April 03 of next year  find out that The Dweebster has become my necessity and my vice.

Help.

Standard
Nerdy Chic, Opinion Box

The Public Reading Fluctuation

Dear me, dear you.. after bombarding you with a rather hallucinogenic (and rather long) story about a man and his smart-phone apocalypse I seem to have gone rather quiet. Could I blame a burn out? In this case perhaps I should. My first creative piece, and a lengthy one as well! But I couldn’t rest on laurels for too long, it’s not that much of an achievement. (Besides, how does one rest on laurels in the first place?)  It’s a little over a thousand words of frenzy. You see.. the story you have just read (or randomly glanced at) below was written for a public reading at the seductive madness that is Literary Death Match . Amazingly, I was able to be on stage, read my redundancies aloud and have fun while I was at it as well. I was terrified, but I had fun !

Seasoned with coin-tossing, paper rustling and mind-numbingly complicated spelling contests, this LDM featured nothing but the best in todays (and yesterdays) literature ‘munchies’. Renown Irish author Peter Sheridan was the brave one to take on the mic. He time-travelled to the early days of his childhood and to a no-nonsense Irish household, in which the Television was his family’s epicenter. The short story about him and his dad having to fix the aerial on the roof put a melancholic smile on everyone’s face.

My story followed his, and you can read it below or here if you’re too lazy to scroll down. I’ll let you be the judge of the material. All I can tell you is that by the end of my story, I had already let myself be seduced by the crowd, the low-lit pub, the stage, the microphone and most of all, the judges.. oh the judges.. With Joe Rooney, Mia Gallagher and Derek O’Connor talking about you, who could resist temptation? I thank them for their generosity and appreciation.

Then, another amazing thing happened, and her name was Erin Fornoff (not actual footage from event, sadly). She delighted the crowd with fire-lit glimpses of New Orleans and tales of coal – jugglers with their fascinating dances by the moonlight. And as her words flowed like honey, we were all there in the hot August summer night. She truly has that poetic licence to kill..

The night was then rounded up by Fintan O’Higgins (not actual footage from event, again sadly), whose two poems were met with a ‘raucous reception’ (I allowed myself to use LDM’s description, as it dots every i) The tale of the man who lavished his imaginary girlfriend with expensive “smellies” still makes me chuckle (although it’s quite mean to laugh at a man’s loneliness..)

Overall I can describe this experience as a combination of reading a book by the fire and bungee jumping .. together wrapped in a bundle of nerdist joy. I thank Brian Martin for the opportunity to become part of this wonderful and exclusive club of literary lovers and Todd Zuniga for being the versed whirlwind that is Todd Zuniga !! Hoping to be part of the crowd next time LDM comes into town…

Standard
Nerdy Chic, Opinion Box

The Loo Water Culmination

It happened all too suddenly and without warning. The unthinkable…happened! He was relieving himself of the last couple of beers he had earlier while checking his ex-girlfriend’s latest status updates – pretty standard procedure for a guilt-ridden Saturday night. Faster than you can say Facebook Stalker, his phone slipped through his fingers and began its lightning-fast descent into the toilet bowl. It made a loud echoing THWACK as it hit against the porcelain, only to splash into his yellow puddle of alcoholic waste. It took him a few moments to realize the gravity of the situation. It was both gravity AND his inebriated situation that led him to this hazard.

This wasn't in the manual.

He was too wasted   and wasting too many precious moments trying to come to grips with WHAT had happened and HOW. He kept staring at his priceless possession now drowning in a sea of urine. The shocking sight had split his brainwaves in several different directions. One part of his mind denied this reality, another part was hatching up a cunning plan to turn back in time while the third was thinking about that last photo of his ex showing off HER phone in her bathroom mirror. Of course, none of this was helping. He needed to grasp that last part of his subconscious, that last percentage that was still sober, and he needed IT to take action.

And so he rolled up his shirtsleeve, kneeled by the toilet bowl and was going to make a serious effort to ignore that pungent smell of recent bodily secretions. He had to. He was going in. He squinted his eyes and bit his lip in a most revolting grimace. He dipped his right hand into the lukewarm liquid, grabbed the device and pulled it out whilst trying so hard NOT to get reacquainted with that handful of honey-roasted peanuts. He wrapped the phone in whatever toilet paper was left on the roll and busted out nearly knocking down the lavatory door. This was no time to wash his hands.

What followed was what felt as the longest taxi ride home. He couldn’t talk, he couldn’t breathe,  he couldn’t even ask the driver if he was busy that night. He was holding his toilet wrapped smart-phone like a stillborn baby. Was there any life in it? Could any of it be saved? He needed to Google the 5 different ways to fix your phone from water damage, but this time, it wasn’t just expensive 3G data traffic holding him back. Dear God, what had he done?

Dramatisation

He hunched forward to the edge of the passenger seat as his heart started pounding to the rattling sound of raindrops against the car’s bonnet. Rain? Now? He was being punished, he thought. He was being punished for writing in CAPS, “YOU’RE A CHEATING WHORE” on her Wall. And now God was smiting him with butter-fingers and torrential rain   because God hates Caps-Lock.   At last, he sighed, the final left turn to his street. He hastily paid his ride with the last few coins left in his Saturday night budget, leapt out of the car and ran home to the sound of the angry driver yelling that he was 2 euros short.

To Wikihow! he roared, as he started browsing the web for solutions. But these soon left him feeling helpless and frustrated. Packets of Silica Gel seemed to be the popular choice but by now, his agitation was getting in the way of his understanding of what Silica Gel was in the first place. And where in the name of Uncle Bens Boil-in-bag was he to get rice at 2AM? His left leg began to frantically shake and the gritting of his teeth quickly overwhelmed the logic of his thoughts. He found himself abusing the Space Bar whilst typing in the same question over and over again, hoping that extra question mark would bring up different results.

Some verbal abuse was also used.

Suddenly, he lifted his head above the laptop screen and saw his bed. His eyes widened: The Pillow, he said to himself. He would place his drenched friend under his pillow and leave it there over night. He would sleep ON this pillow to that IT would soak up all the…   He would sleep on a different pillow. As he closed his eyes, he wished for the next day to turn all of today’s madness into a bad dream. First thing in the morning, he would reach for his favourite small screen as he always does. And everything would be all right. He would stroke his finger gently against its surface and it would light up in excitement. And everything would be all right. And they would both curl up under the sheets for a while, as he would read its AM Tweets.   And oh how they would giggle when he would type in something silly with his half-opened eyes and IT would Autocorrect it into something even sillier!  Everything would be all ……. Right.

But the following morning everything was NOT AT ALL right. He tucked his hand under the pillow next to him and there it was, damp   cold   lifeless   his precious! When he attempted to turn it back on, the phone started flickering for a few seconds, and then a gurgling remnant of its start-up sound and then … nothing. That was it. He was gutted. He had killed his best friend He was a MURDERER! he despaired. He had lost what had become his most loved companion. No longer could he feel its gentle vibrations in his pocket as a sign that he was needed, he was wanted. No longer could he explore the streets with it in search of that perfect shot of the oddly shaped penis awkwardly spray-painted onto a large sexually charged poster. No longer could he share the toilet humour scribbled on the walls of public bathrooms, you know, like the mysterious adventures of the guy named Phil   who had apparently invented Michael Jackson and who also didn’t believe in Germany   or the true to heart confessions from the open-minded rocker whose life was Death Metal but who also loved Madonna.

Proof.

No…   that was now a thing of the past. The phone’s delicate insides now lay fried in the palm of his hand, and he felt as though all was lost. Nothing could bring the little guy back. His limbs felt numb and his stomach was in knots. His entire body was convulsing yet he was unable to move. He wanted to lie there and die right then. The loss of a loved one does that to you. Of course, the bottle of wine, three Jaegerbombs and nine beers might have also had something to do with it.

And suddenly, as his body was sinking deeper and deeper into the mattress of misery, a cathartic wave of calmness overcame his entire being: he remembered he was insured.

Standard
Nerdy Chic, Nerdy Gizmos, Opinion Box, The Couch Potato

The GetGlue Amplification

You know what the first signs of an addiction is? Denial. But, thankfully for me, I don’t have one.

Had recently discovered this new app just a few months ago. I’m actually not quite sure how. I think it was via a friend’s update on Facebook, notifying me that he won a sticker for some up-coming TV series. I’ve just been reminded that it was my friend Sean Nicholls who introduced me to the app. I’ve also been notified that as an apprentice in the arts of GetGluing, I’ve surpassed my master! That, however does not change the fact that  I initially thought to myself “That’s kind of.. lame” and was intrigued at the same time. Why in the world would you want to get a virtual sticker for something, and more importantly, where from? I needed to know. So letting my curiosity get the better of me I logged onto GetGlue and downloaded their mobile app.  I kept thinking just how childish this all is while getting random flashbacks of myself as a child collecting Koukouroukou and Sailor Moon stickers (because I was very popular as a kid).

Only took about 15 months and about a billion doubles...

Yep.. popular kid!

It’s obvious GetGlue builds its user-base through the most primeval of human behaviours: response to rewards. Having this in mind, I tried to keep away as much as I could. I needed to keep my obsessive compulsive impulses under control. It was all in good fun, I thought. I was going to brag I’m an avid movie goer and a fan of television alike.  Naturally, as any socialmedialite, I synced my GetGlue app with my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I was going to let everyone know!

And yes, it was fun .. for a while. I kept getting a boost every time I would unlock a movie sticker in its Opening Week. I loved how I was sometimes the first to unlock another sticker via a so called “code-word” like “I love Lafayette” for a True Blood reward. It was exciting to hunt for The Big Bang Theory stickers, I was checking in for the Elite Fan status. Books and Music were also an achievement, albeit slower because, well, books took longer to finish and the music to my taste never really had sticker rewards. But I did feel great with every new TV show I was discovering and new film I was experiencing because it was on Get Glue. Had it not been for this app, it would have probably taken longer to find out about American Horror Story, a truly wonderful TV flick done by FX. It did feel exhilarating. I was at the top of my game, checking in, liking things and leaving reviews here and there.. But then, it somewhere along the way it started taking a turn for the worst.

After finding the getgluestickers.com forum, I started cheating. No longer was I checking in for the experience, but for the sticker and yes, I’ll admit it, for the status. I was to be at the top of the Check-in list, my friends were to see that. My Facebook and Twitter pages are now soaring under the frequency of GetGlue status updates. And they know I’m cheating too. How else would I be reading 15 books and watching 24 TV shows at the same time? Unlocking Box Office stickers for 5 movies in a row and listening to 45 albums in the space of 10 minutes… If you were to believe every GetGlue update I put up there, you’d think I’ve managed to split myself into 7 different entities, and do nothing but inject myself with media day in and day out. 7 versions of me does NOT sound like fun, and neither are my updates. I’m not addicted though.

What’s my conclusion? I have no conclusion, this situation is ongoing and getting worse by the day. I now check in 3 times a day into the same shows because I want to make sure my check-ins are recorded. I check into movies that aren’t even out yet, several times a month because with each passing week they release a new sticker. I’ve seen their trailers time and time again. Books that I will probably never read, I’ve checked into and I now have their stickers. When friends get new stickers, I get updates on my phone, and then feel the need to own them too… There are TV shows that only place their stickers live during US air-times, and that means even though I would watch the actual episode later on, I need to stay up late .. sometimes past 3am, to complete my sticker collection (that only happened once, that I know of). I’m also becoming increasingly ashamed, I delete most Facebook updates on my wall, and hide most of my GetGlue tweets. But I’m not addicted though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some stickers to get.

Standard