Thursday, April 18, 2013

2 More Free Countries

Recently Uruguay passed marriage equality, and now New Zealand has joined it and the other free countries of the world in recognizing all of its citizens’ right to the freedom to marry the person you love.


new zealand

From Towleroad:

New Zealand has legalized same-sex marriage in a 77-44 vote on a third and final reading of the bill.

The bill will take effect in mid August and comes 27 years after New Zealand decriminalised homosexuality.

Same-sex marriage supporters at the Campaign for Marriage Equality party in Wellington cheered loudly and applauded as the bill was passed into law.

New Zealand joins Uruguay, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, and Denmark as the 13th nation to offer its citizens nationwide marriage equality.

Brazil, Mexico, and of course, the U.S. offer it in parts of the country.

Thank you!!

Monday, April 01, 2013


PredatorsThe Gist: A group of people whose line of work involves killing human beings is parachuted on an alien world where they quickly realize they've now turned into the hunted at the hands of highly evolved and merciless creatures. They're now just preys for the local predators.

The locations are absolutely fantastic, both on the planet and in the sky, and made me wish we had a similar array of moons and worlds crowding our skies. Makeup and visual effects are also excellent, as one would expect, but what impressed me most were, unexpectedly, acting and screenplay.

While we have seen other Predator movies before, this version has an original premise that makes it intriguing (even though they never really explain how our group of misfits reached their current destination). The absence of gratuitous, totally absurd, and/or ridiculous events is also a blessing.

The acting is quite good for a “popcorn” movie such as this and goes to show that if you hire people who know how to act, even a light and silly movie such as this can turn out pretty good.

The Bottom Line: I would absolutely recommend this movie to those who love action, sci-fi, or horror movies, especially if you are a fan of the Predator franchise.

Grade: 7

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel TransylvaniaThe Gist: Count Dracula, fearing the demise of all monsters at the hands of humans' cruelty, builds a majestic hotel/residence in a remote location known only to other monsters. His goal is keep them safe, including his only daughter, who has now grown into "adult" age.

The Bottom Line: A fairly entertaining animated movie that is ultimately quite light on its feet, as well as quickly forgotten, Hotel Transylvania doesn't necessarily disappoint either.

Grade: 6

Total Recall

Total RecallThe Gist: A blue collar worker suddenly finds himself hunted down by his wife with no idea of the reasons. His memories also start feeling mixed up with those of a life he doesn't remember living.

I appreciated this movie even though I usually shun remakes as useless wastes of precious resources that could have been put towards creating something original. At first I thought that this was going to be a full on recreation of the cool Arnold Schwarzenegger version from 1990 but thankfully they updated some key aspects of the story and made it somewhat original.

The only problem with the new Total Recall is really just that if you have seen the original, you know the main twist and won't be surprised when it's revealed. This detracts a lot from the overall effectiveness of the final product, unless of course this is the first time you see the movie.

The Bottom Line: A fast-paced, action-packed, visual effects-laden sci-fi movie that is enjoyable and overall well made.

Grade: 7

The Birds

The BirdsThe Gist: A lady with a penchant for mischief follows a man she finds intriguing to Bodega Bay just when all types of birds seems to start behaving badly.

Alfred Hitchcock at his best certainly knew how to create tension and keep it going. His camera work is fantastic, the score jaggedly haunting, the acting good (even though it feels quite dated when judged by today's standards) and the technical aspect (costumes, makeup, sets) very good.

The only gripe I would have is that the visual effects, while obviously good for the time, made me feel jaded because they made me smile more than feel impressed. A sign of the times we live in I guess, a time when pretty much everything we see in a movie feels so unbelievably real, we can hardly doubt it.

The Bottom Line: The Birds is a Hollywood classic for a reason. The story is compelling and the whole movie is artfully and professionally crafted from beginning to end with the utmost of cares. A must-see.

Grade: 8

Labyrinth, by Kate Moss

Labyrinth by Kate MosseThis book left me wanting and a bit disappointed. The story is interesting for sure, but the final product leaves a lot to be desired, especially as far as the writer’s style is concerned.

The book tells the story of the Grail, which has been recounted in many different ways. Labyrinth offers its own take and it is quite ingenious and original, almost plausible, so definitely a step up from like Raiders of the Lost Ark, which saw the Grail as what we all think of, the cup of Christ from the Last Supper, which gives eternal life to all who drink from it.

I won't spoil what the Grail is in Labyrinth of course but I will say that the story follows two heroines in two timelines.

I liked the events occurring in both and the unfolding of the plot is well laid out by the author, and yet, I was not a fan of all her literary flourishes. She clearly loves France and the towns described in the book, but she often gets lost in needless detailed descriptions of streets, lampposts, benches, storefronts, hats, clothes, trees, rivers, clouds, etc… I got the feeling that she strived to paint a picture for the reader as if we were there with the characters, but it is just too much and too long winded. So many times I was thinking, "Alright, I got it, now let's move on with the plot please."

I still remember a whole description of the area surrounding one character's apartment that must have been several pages long on paper (almost half a chapter it seemed) and was ultimately useless to the plot. That kind of detour is not really my thing in a book.

The other issue I had was with the (blessedly) few head-shaking moments when I would go, "Come on, how is she not seeing that!" or "Well, that would never happen in reality…"

Unfortunately, those negative aspects would bring down the level of any work and that is a pity because, like I said, the basic idea and the general construct are solid for sure, so much so that I started reading another book by Ms. Moss that I own.

Grade: 6