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Our Top 10 Kanye West Songs Friday Night Clix - Batman Vs. Mixed Plate Comics- Week of 2.15.12 Mass Effect:Invasion 3 Stumbles but 4 Wraps it Up Nicely hawkeye vol. 1 my life as a weapon RE:GENERATION movie review- Ultimate Remix of Musical Genres Click,Push,Click,Push- A Noob No More!
Our Top 10 Kanye West Songs

Our Top 10 Kanye West Songs

Does any rapper – nay, musician – nay, person – in the world garner as many opinions as Kanye West?...

Friday Night Clix - Batman Vs.

Friday Night Clix - Batman Vs.

Hello peoples!! This Friday at 730 pm we will be busting our weekly Heroclix pop-up event at Comics Conspiracy...

Mixed Plate Comics- Week of 2.15.2012

Mixed Plate Comics- Week of 2.15.2012

I am not as well scripted in Greek mythology as much as some of my other friends though being a diehard WW reader...

Mass Effect:Invasion 3 Stumbles but 4 Wraps it Up Nicely

Mass Effect:Invasion 3 Stumbles but 4 Wraps it Up Nicely

With the third installment, Invasion started to flounder. Both 1 and 2 had a good amount of development to keep pushing the series further while still climbing towards a...

hawkeye vol. 1 my life as a weapon

hawkeye vol. 1 my life as a weapon

I am probably the only girl in the universe who doesn’t swoon over hawkeye, but after reading hawkeye volume 1: my life as a weapon, I think I may be a bit of a swooner. A semi-swooner to say the least...

RE:GENERATION movie review- Ultimate Remix of Musical Genres

RE:GENERATION movie review- Ultimate Remix of Musical Genres

When I saw the trailer for RE:GENERATION, I was definitely hyped. The documentary was straightforward:five influential DJs collide to write, record, and collaborate a brand new...

Click, Push, Click, Push- A Noob No More!

Click, Push, Click, Push- A Noob No More!

It has been a mere 4 months since I got totally consumed by heroclix and I can say with over 40 games under my belt...

Jun 4, 2013

The Purge is Coming!

2:56 PM

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Like you, we are spending a good amount of time in the local theatres this week.  So why not get some free shiz in the process?!  We are running a great giveaway in partnership with Universal Pictures.  To enter in our The Purge giveaway, jump on twitter and warn your friends #The Purge is Coming tweet on the theatrical release date of June 7 with the #SurviveTheNight and of course a mention of @comicsanddakine (us!)  We will select from some of the most creative pics attached in theme with The Purge, or the most retweeted and the winner will be announced in the next few weeks to follow.

Thanks for getting in on the fun and enjoy a great survival quiz below to see if you will survive!!

 The story of The Purge:

If, on one night every year, you could commit any crime without facing consequences, what would you do? 

In an America wracked with crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity--including murder--becomes legal. The police can't be called. Hospitals suspend help. It's twelve hours when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this particular night in 2022, plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking. 

When an intruder breaks into James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear his family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.

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big O
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Apr 24, 2013

hawkeye vol. 1: my life as a weapon

7:46 AM

I am probably the only girl in the universe who doesn’t swoon over hawkeye, but after reading hawkeye volume 1: my life as a weapon, I think I may be a bit of a swooner. A semi-swooner to say the least. hawkeye, volume 1: my life as a weapon written by matt fraction and illustrated by david aja and javier pulido collects the first 5 issues. This story arc focuses on clint barton, a.k.a. hawkeye, on his life when he is not throwing punches with captain America and the avengers. The story begins with an adrenalin rush with hawkeye falling out of building with his bow and arrow in hand. Matt fraction’s writing is impeccable as always (have you read Casanova? Enough said). Fraction's writing shows us a side of Clint Barton that we don’t see in the Avengers.

Reading this comic, I found myself really liking Clint. I liked his compassion as he rescues a wounded dog from a bunch of degenerates. I laughed out loud at his sarcastic banter with Kate Bishop (future hawkeye). Fraction’s Clint Barton is a guy I wanna hang out with and get to know (and not because he knows captain america). He is personable with a bit of inner angst and the underdog. Fraction reminds us that Clint may be an avenger, but he is an ordinary guy so to speak but with an extraordinary ability to aim and to attract trouble. This storyline is a fun ride that takes us with Clint as he fights slumlords and the like on his time off from the avengers.

The art in this is amazing. David Aja’s line work and subtle facial expressions are divine. His talent lies in his use of a few pen strokes to convey a vast array of emotions. Javier Pulido’s artwork is also strong, although I am more keen to Aja’s work, Pulido’s style holds its own next to Aja’s.

Pulido maintains the less is more approach. His fight scenes in this are nothing short of brilliant. If you still have doubts about this hawkeye, just take a look at the cover.  Pretty bad ass. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, you can. let me know what my fellow readers think. give me a holla! xo, pearly  

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Nov 26, 2012

Friday Night Clix - Batman Vs.

4:19 PM

Hello peoples!! This Friday at 730 pm we will be busting our weekly Heroclix pop-up event at my LCS Comics Conspiracy : Batman Vs.  Along with The Dark Knight theme being in full effect, we will have some craft, dark beers on hand for the 21 +up to try.

For those of you not well scripted on the dark beer tip, Beer Advocate has one of the best lists and is a regular resource for when I wanna drank outside of my go to brews (IPA of course).

Here are some of the finer deets to our dope-ass clix thang:  Come equipped with a 600 pt team that is only constructed of the new Batman set and another team that is put together with just about anything you damn want (but can only run 150 pts from BM).

Prior to the start of every game, you will roll-off to select what you run (Batman or not) and what your opponent plays, including who receives map choice.  No guantlet, no dupes, no BFCs/feats.

Winner and fellowship pull from available prize support and please pre-reg at the Wizkids Event System and of course you can join in on all the shit-talking at our FB event page.

If you don't know what Heroclix is or have never played tabletop, turn-based strategy games, no worries!!  We gotta great mix of new and longtime clix regulars that can get you started and of course playing with a beer in hand always helps.  Tell a friend, come through and as always BYOB! Look forward to seeing you out to get your clix on !  
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Oct 9, 2012

Premium Rush: A Seriously Fun Ride!

2:35 PM

If you know me then you know my knees go weak for Joseph Gordon Levitt (who I affectionately call "JGL." Yeah, we are that tight).  Anyhow, when I first saw the preview for Premium Rush in the theaters, I was needless to say, totally giddy.  Bikers. NYC. Beardos. JGL. Who could ask for more?

Upon glance, I thought this movie was going to be a total rip off of Quicksilver.  If you need to google that movie, then you are not as nerdy as I.  Quicksilver was a movie that came out during the mid 1980s and stars a very young Kevin Bacon.  Bacon plays a big time stock market finance wizard.  After he makes a wrong choice and loses all his money (boohoo), he decides to leave the yuppie world and be a bike courier.  Totally realistic right? I know. Just bear with me.  Quicksilver is the bible for a lot of bikers.  One cannot help but drool over Bacon's white fixed gear bike that he proudly hangs in his loft.  Watch the preview for Quicksilver here.  I love this movie Quicksilver and although my heart pitter patters for JGL, I couldn't help but think, hey this is some sacred ground here for Premium Rush to mess with.  Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed Premium Rush.  It isn't Quicksilver, nor should it be, but it does glorify being a courier in one of the coolest cities around.

JGL plays Wiley, a bike messenger, who works with his ex GF, who is also a bike messenger (ah, young love).  Wiley picks up a package that contains something that a dirty cop, played by Michael Shannon tries to retrieve from Wiley.  The movie combines a weak love story with high bike action scenes.  The camera work was great.  I recommend seeing this film on the big screen so you can experience the high octane bike scenes weaving in and out of traffic.  At least these couriers all wear helmets. Safety first, kiddies.  The map and alternate route sequences were neat and I liked it.  The acting by Michael Shannon as the dirty NYC cop was rad.  He made the film. Oh and yes, JGL looked adorable in the movie. Sigh.

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Jul 9, 2012

Amateur Cosplay Diary: Cosplay Reflection & SDCC 2012

10:38 AM

With SDCC 2012 in just a few days, my twitter feed is chock-full of friends and internet friends sharing all the ways they are preparing for this yearly nerd mecca. Many of the people I follow are fantastic cosplayers. I myself have been prepping for SDCC and wanted to share a "diary" of sorts about my own involvement in cosplay.

I have always been a huge fan of costumes in general. Halloween was always my favorite holiday. I always had a costume prepared for Halloween and I refused to ever outgrow my love of wearing costumes.

And then I discovered cosplay. Before I went to my first con, I knew about cosplay thanks to the glory of the internet, which I was lucky enough to have access to since the age of 12. Well, having the internet that early was unlucky in some ways as I was too afraid to admit to anyone that I even had an email address as it was considered weird sixteen years ago, but that's neither here nor there. Please do me a favor and don't do the math to figure out my age, ahem.

Anyhow, I remember being amazed at seeing my favorite characters come to life. Playing endless hours of Street Fighter II and then seeing a real-life person dressed up as Chun-Li was astounding to me. It was like she walked right out of the screen. I grew up on Archie comics, but was introduced to a larger world of comics while I was in high school. Seeing more real-life people dressed up as characters from those comics:  Wolverine, Storm, Spider-Man, Batman and so on, blew my mind.

Finally, I attended my first con. It was San Diego Comic-Con 1999. I had a blast. Guess what my favorite part was? Seeing other fans dressed up as their favorite characters. 

Photos from SDCC 1999 with my little brother. 
I uh, was awkward in high school, okay?
It was incredibly exciting to me seeing everyone in cosplay and I decided that I wanted to be a part of it. There were two problems though. 1. money and 2. I didn't know how to sew. Also I had some self-esteem issues and thought that there was no way I would look as cool as others. 

In 2002 I gathered up some courage and decided to jump into to the cosplay world. I thought to myself "I dress up every single year for Halloween, why should I be shy about dressing up for Comic-Con?! Just do it, Crystal!"

After pondering my favorite characters, I decided to go with Elektra. Kind of ambitious considering I had no idea how to sew (I still don't really). But I went to a fabric store, picked a red fabric that I thought would be fitting for the costume, got a few yards of it and went to work. I measured my bust, waist, and hips then just guessed that I had to double that then sew it into one piece to make it fit. Through all the stumbling and fumbling, somehow I managed to put that cosplay together. The boots were the one part I thought I should buy because I wasn't willing to guess how to begin making boot covers. They should be flat boots but alas, I went with heels because it's all I could find in shiny red at the time. I even got a real pair of sais (and snuck them in past security). I wasn't incredibly proud of the costume overall, but I had fun making it. In the end I decided that  it was my love for the character that counted so I should rock it anyway.

That's me as Elektra! SDCC 2002.
Instead of staying in character I kept smiling during photos
because I was excited that anyone actually recognized me.
I remember thinking to myself that some people might recognize me as Elektra (I thought only some because I thought the costume wasn't that great). I thought maybe a fan or two would give me a high-five because we both love the character. But I figured that overall, that would be about it. I planned on walking around the con as I usually did like everyone else.

Little did I know that doing cosplay was such a big deal once you yourself are in a costume. Yes I got excited when I saw others in cosplay and I would always ask for photos. Seeing them would put a huge smile on my face. But I didn't think that would happen to me in such a ho-hum cosplay. I was shocked at the reactions I got. All the compliments, the cheers and the camaraderie that came with cosplay was truly overwhelming. It felt amazing to share in this love for a fictional character with strangers. And really, while I was in costume and speaking with other fans, we were no longer strangers. We were friends. I will never forget that experience. 

I only cosplayed once after that. I loved American McGee's Alice and decided to alter a regular Alice costume to be more fitting for McGee's Alice. In retrospect I wish I put more blood on that costume, but again it was fun talking to other fans about our love for the character and the game.

Always forgetting to stay in character.
My adventure in cosplay was put on pause after that, my love for it endured. I adored the cosplay greats from afar and always marveled at the work that fans put in to bring characters to life. I think part of the reason I stopped was because others were so amazing at it and I, well, I tried. But I figured why bother if others do it so much better? I didn't want nor expect to be the best, but I figured that my cosplay is likely to be considered laughable so I should probably stop doing it. That I should just enjoy others work.

I was always insecure about what others thought of me -- did I mention that? I always figured someone would make fun of me for embracing things that I enjoy. Or make fun of me because I'm not that great at it. Even after my two positive experiences I grew afraid and I stopped.

It was silly. But last Halloween I decided to return to cosplay. I stopped being afraid. Even if I am not that great at costume-making, even if someone does decide to make fun of me, who cares? I enjoyed making those costumes. I enjoy cosplay. I love these characters. That's really what it's all about, right? Also, I was older. Insecurity has a way of starting to wane as you get older.

I decided to cosplay as two characters over Halloween 2011. The first was an easy one since it was store purchased and based on the movie, and thus I only loosely consider cosplay: Silk Spectre II

With Kick-Ass and two of the guys from C&D 
The second cosplay I put a lot of work into: Poison Ivy

I glued every single one of those damned plastic leaves to that bodice. I even glued them on to my shoes! I even did a version of her when she has green skin, sans the legs. I was headed out and about and didn't want to leave remnants of green paint on her furniture when I sat down.

It's a cosplay I will be rocking again for this years SDCC. Only this time, I'm going full body green! Head to toe. No tights. I even got some green contacts that I will hopefully be able to wear comfortably. I've never worn contacts before so I'm a little nervous but I think it will really bring an extra something to the cosplay.

My second cosplay for SDCC 2012 will be Wonder Woman! I wanted to not try something too difficult as I'll be putting a lot of work into upgrading my Ivy cosplay. So I found a good base to start with: a Wonder Woman dress that I found for super cheap! It needed a lot of work though:

It was a dress and it was way too short to even wear as a dress. The belt looks OK in the photo but it wasn't sewn down to the bodice and so it was flying around and flapping everywhere. The tiara was super tight on my head to the point where I think I'd pass out if I wore it as is. I have super tiny rwists and the gauntlets were super baggy on me.

The past week or so I've completely chopped it up and reworked it as you see here:

Now the bottoms are shorts, the belt is completely reinforced onto the bodice and the gauntlets fit! Not pictured is the tiara which I can now just pin into my hair. Also not pictured are the boots I purchased. My last step before SDCC is buying some rope and spray painting it gold. I really wish I had time to order blue contacts to really make the costume pop, but alas, that may have to wait until next time.

Overall, I am definitely not as professional with my cosplay as others, but cosplay is something that makes me happy. I enjoyed cosplaying because I love these character.  I meet others that love the characters too and them enjoying my cosplay really makes it ever better. Through cosplay I get to meet  others that cosplay as other characters I love! We chat and we bond. It reminds me why it's so much fun and why we cosplayers do what we do. I can't wait to be among others in cosplay at this years SDCC! 

What will you be cosplaying as? :)

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Jul 6, 2012

'Game of Thrones' Season 2 Summarized in a 8-bit RPG

5:26 PM

We here at Comics & Dakine absolutely love Game of Thrones. Many of us also love gaming, so of course we can't help but share this gem. College Humor really outdid themselves with the first season 8-bit RPG recap and their back again with the recap of season 2.

It makes us wonder why there isn't a real 8-bit RPG game for Game of Thrones. 

SPOILER ALERT: definitely don't watch the video if you have not finished watching Season 2!

Check it out below:

There are so many lol-worthy moments that should have animated gifs, but in order to avoid spoilers, here's just one from the video:

Perfect, no?

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May 22, 2012

Review - The Walking Dead: The Game - Episode 1

6:57 PM

With the explosive popularity of the television series, it's no surprise that the The Walking Dead property would venture on to other forms of entertainment: a video game. As a fan of video games, survival horror, zombies in general and both The Walking Dead comic books and the television show, it's no surprise that I have been looking forward to playing the game (albeit with some hesitation, which I'll cover towards the end of this review).

The Walking Dead: The Game is within the realm of the graphic novel canon and follows a new group of survivors -- and even some familiar faces pop up along the way. Players take on the role of Lee Everett, who also happens to be convicted of a crime. As Episode 1 of the game begins, a zombie apocalypse is in bloom, resulting in a dark but opportune second chance for Lee. As Lee tries to figure out what is going on around him, he meets Clementine: a smart but scared little girl that was left alone after her babysitter became a walker.

Watch the trailer:

As you progress further into the story, Lee continues to meet more characters and more about what is happening around Lee unfolds. Conversation options and choices are presented to you, all of which impact how other characters perceive you and the course of the storyline. The control over what type of impression Lee gives to others through dialogue choices gives great a great sense of customization.

At times fighting zombies require some fast reflexes which provides a satisfying challenge for most. The one nitpick I do have about that is that the story is so engaging that at times I forgot to be on my toes and I reacted to slowly and thus, I died. Luckily you can jump right back in without having to go too far back into the story.

It is obvious that a large amount of work and thought that went into each new character and this new entry in The Walking Dead universe. The pacing of the story is spot-on and constantly engages the player with either the suspense of flesh-hungry zombies or the unfolding of Lee's and other characters stories.

So why my initial hesitation about the game? When I first heard about the video game, I read that the main character would be an African-American who is convicted a crime. For the most part, minorities in games are largely underrepresented. So to hear that the main character is both African-American convicted of a crime made me raise an eyebrow as it's an unfortunate but common stereotype. Telltale Games really excelled at not only making Lee a relatable character but one who breaks assumptions about the stereotype.

The game truly surpassed my expectations.The Walking Dead: The Game Episode 1 stays with me even after I completed it. I find myself thinking about every single character. I wonder if I made the right decisions and if I said the right things. There is no "right" or "wrong" as it all depends on how you want to play the game of course, but the conversations and characters all felt very real. I was also genuinely nervous as I played through some portions of the game as many of zombie attacks are intense. I want to know even more about Lee than I learned through Episode 1. I want to see where the story takes him and those around him.

If you're a fan of the comic books, the television show, zombies, survival horror, or any solid game with an engaging story, The Walking Dead: The Game is right up your alley.

5 out of 5

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May 7, 2012

'The Avengers' Smash in Half-a-Bil!

3:29 PM

Just about a week has passed since Joss Whedon and the rest of Marvel Studios/Disney has delivered on hefty expectations of bringing the biggest, baddest Superhero film ever.  And they did it in ways that I think nobody really expected.  First off raking in over half a billion of skrill worldwide ($640 mil to be exact and of that over $220 mil in the US).  Secondly, breaking every damn opening weekend record for any film, be it of the comics-genre or any other for that matter.

When I say that heads were surprised about this-- of course I meant the masses.  Marvel knew that they had put in work to pull off this massive feat.  The last record holder was the Harry Potter franchise-- and that took a decade and 8 films to build the near-cult following, interest and fanbase that made posing with a wand and a scarf...dare I say..cool. 

The Avengers was a fanboys wet dream on the big screen as it brought the monthly serialized comicbook experience to real-life by pulling off the never before continued (well kinda, right?) plotlines through a series of distinct films over the course of 10 years- Hulk 2, Iron Man, Thor, Iron Man 2 and now The Avengers-- with for the most part all of the major talent intact (minus Edward Norton and Terence Howard).  And these films were faithful to the source material-- be it JMS and Coipels new look Thor fitted to the T on Chris Hemsworth or Tony Stark's love for women and flying high (yeah, was smart how they didn't make him a drunk though).

Alright, for those of you that have not yet seen the flick...stop reading now unless you want SPOILERS.
Art by Joey Spiotto featured in Los Angeles Gallery

So now that we are all tuned in what made this film better than the top grossing Marvel Studios film (Iron Man) before it?   The answer is the grand scale that the brand alone that The Avengers brings.

For the same reason The Avengers books are a bigger draw than Iron Man (or any single hero book not named Batman) in the shops.  Where individual titles dissect a single character the team books are where you get the massive, larger than life stories that bring together our fave heroes to take on the crazy badass villians- Loki, Red Skull, Skrull Empire, Ultron, or Thanos (click on the pic --> to take you where I hope The Avengers 3 should take us).

What I loved from the film was a continuance of themes I loved from past films-- Tony Stark in all of his zing! moments, Thor as the ever-loving older bro to poor adopted Loki, Scarlet Johansson jumping around in butt-tight skimpies and Agent Coulsen going out like a champ.  To keep it real, Evans wasn't the best cast teamlead though he improved as a supporting piece in the film vs holding it down as the main guy.  Johansson was fantastic in a scene where she pulls the rug under Loki, but otherwise she needed less dramatic camera time.  Clark Gregg stole most of the show with his lil-bigman approach to things.  There wasn't one moment when I really took myself out of the 2 hour + viewing experience thinking the film wasn't believable, hella cheesy YES.  But totally believable.

The Avengers will not win any Oscars at The Academy Awards or other film awards for that matter but it has proved that this comicbook thang is a serious cashcow in the theatres, licensing and etc cause we all know that the paper doesn't come from the funnybooks.  For those of you that missed Joss Whedon's other bombass masterpiece- Astonising X-Men.  Go read it and you will appreciate this flick so much more for his craftsmanship in balancing out the epic action sequences and ROTFL-copter comedy.

Oh one more thing, bring on the Skrulls vs. Kree then give us more of muthaeffing THANOS.

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May 6, 2012

SFIFF55: Target (Mishen)

8:02 PM

Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

In 2020, the upper-class citizens in Target (Russian title Mishen) are obsessed with youth. Looking youthful and staying youthful. Not an incredibly unbelievable obsession for upper class citizens to have, or any citizen really, as we have always been constantly bombarded with miracle creams and surgical procedures to stay looking young.

We first meet Viktor, the Russian Federation's minister of natural resources, and his wife Zoya (Justine Waddell). Our first glimpse of Zoya is startling as her face is hidden behind a disturbing yet beautiful looking mask - a mask that we assume features special anti-aging technology when Viktor comments that in the two years she has used it, she hasn't aged a day.

Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

Hints of advances in the future continue to be given in a variety of ways, from ads posted around Russia and topics that are discussed among the characters. Viktor use special glasses that measure the amount of good and evil in any inanimate object or even in a person. We also meet Zoya's brother, Mitya (Danila Kozlovsky), a TV host of a strange and over-the-top reality contest show that comes off as reality TV from today but on steroids.

Viktor reveals to his wife Zoya that he has a special trip planned for them. The trip and what it entails is kept a secret from Zoya and even the viewers as we only learn the details as she does. Mitya joins them on this trip and they first arrive to an isolated small town of 50 people not far from an abandoned astrophysics complex. Joining them is Nikolai (Vitaly Kishchenko), a customs official, and Anna (Daniela Stoyanovich), host of Mitya's favorite radio program Chinese for Dummies.

The group takes a private plane with guides from the town to the astrophysics complex. Upon entering it is explained that the radiation well - the Target - is a fountain of youth. That one night spent in the well will result in stop the process of ageing.

From there the film explores the changes in demeanor in each character and how their relationships change. Disposable income and the prospect of never ageing and thus the potential to never die is examined. Concepts pertaining to government, ethics, and the privileged also come into play, but with the film clocking in near 154 minutes it becomes difficult for the average film viewer to follow and stay engaged with the various splinters the plot decides to explore. At times it seemed even the film forgot where it was going with a plot line before jumping to another interesting plot line, and then the film would become unfocused yet again.

With mindful editing, Target would be one of the best films that utilizes sci-fi to examine the various concepts and drama it touches upon. It'll likely find at least a small following amongst art house film fans that can stick with the film despite the length - its exploration of how people react to "living forever" is indeed intriguing. Unfortunately, for most movie-goers, there are far too many moments in the film that drag on for too long, causing the film to flounder and ultimately making it difficult to stay interested.

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Apr 27, 2012

Nas Is Like...Good Again?

10:04 AM

I wonder what Nas thinks about his legacy. Does he sit in his favorite chair, press play on Nastradamus and turn the volume up, nod and think to himself, "This shit is underrated"? Does he ever wish that the crowds at his shows chanted for "You Owe Me" alongside "New York State of Mind"?

Judging from his recent output, my guess is no. Nas has more momentum (or at least goodwill from his core fans) than he's had in ages based on last year's "Nasty," this year's "The Don" and a few memorable guest appearances like "Triple Beam Dreams" with Rick Ross. None of these songs could possibly be made with hopes of siphoning from Drake's fanbase.  Nas just doesn't care anymore. He's making music for himself. Or maybe he's making music that he hopes gets his critics off his nuts. Either way, we win.

And now we get "Daughters." With a title like that, Nas fans naturally expect the worst – some pandering nonsense rap that reeks of hypocrisy considering the tone of the overall body of his work. But God's Son actually delivers one of the best conceptual songs of his career. He raps with real emotion about the trials of raising a daughter in our modern Internets age, and he actually makes sense.

Bravo, Nas! Now just make sure the rest of Life Is Good matches the quality of your singles. Then the discussion will turn to whether you can put together two classic albums in a row.

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Apr 25, 2012

SFIFF55: Wu Xia Attacks from Many Angles

9:02 AM

Photo by We Pictures Limited. Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society.
Plot? Who needs plot?

Nearly all the great kung-fu flicks of the '70s and '80s featured thin plots revolving around revenge. Cast a charismatic hero with fists of fury and a villain with evil written all over his face, then hire a great choreographer: you had yourself a possible classic on your hands.

Now that the "advancement" of technology and special effects are such a crutch, the audience needs more. Your shaky cam makes us sick. Your CGI-assisted stunts make us yawn. Unless you're really raising the action bar (everyone take a moment to salute The Raid: Redemption), plot is a must. So thank god for director Peter Chan and screenwriter Aubrey Lam, who delivered the excellently layered Wu Xia to the San Francisco International Film Festival for Friday and Monday screenings.

Synopsis time: Liu Jinxi (Donnie Yen) is a man living a modest life in 1917 China with his family of four. After Liu heroically thwarts a robbery by one of China's most wanted criminals, a particularly astute private investigator named Xu Baijiu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) starts checking into Liu's past.

Like any good cop, Xu must deal with his deep-seeded quandaries about the philosophies of law and justice while pursuing information about Liu. His investigation mimics the audience's viewing experience – he picks away the petals of Liu just as we slowly figure out what this film is really about. As a result, Wu Xia remains unpredictable without resorting to a series of forced red herrings.

Final verdict: It's not scheduled for any more SFIFF screenings, but you should definitely see it if it pops back up in U.S. theaters or DVD/blu-ray.

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Apr 21, 2012

SFIFF55: Choked

5:07 PM

With the start of Spring comes one of my fave times to chillout for days in a filmhouse thanks to the oh-so-glorious SFIFF, known to the masses as The San Francisco International Film Festival. In their 55th year they bring more of what you would expect in what has become one of the biggest draws on the Int'l Filmfest circuit. After bruising through the program guide-- circling the must-see flicks to the ones that pique my curiosity and even marking up the more obscure to get out of my normal tasting menu-- I went with Choked as my first go see of the Fest.
Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

What got me hyped about Choked, the first feature film of writer/director- Joong Kim-hyun was that at first I thought this was a product of the K-pop sensation from Shinee.

Yeah, so I was wrong about that.  After watching the trailer and then reading the press kit I was hooked on the intimate words of the Director:
“Is being poor the saddest thing in the world?
Do not say it isn’t so. You’ll turn to stone as soon you say so.
I hoped it wasn’t so. I wanted to believe that poverty wasn’t the origin of such sadness.
Is it capable to hurt for someone else? Is condolence even possible?
Hold on. Do not lose hope.
I could not bring myself to say these words.
But I still want to hurt instead and console.
I want to do the impossible.
I want to tell all the stories I’ve heard and the stories I believe everyone already knows.
Stories that are all about me and all about you.
Straight up I connected with what this film could be and as I walked through the doors, jumped in the nice, comfy plush seat in one of the screening rooms and watched on.  Being a major fan of Korean films I was anticipating a lot of drama for your mama, hopefully some tasty scenes of dripping sex and of course some blood-splat violence.  Again, I was wrong at least for the most part.

Choked opens with the protaganist Youn-ho (Um Tae-goo) who plays the role of a struggling lower-level salaryman looking to earn his keep for his family and future in a recession-ridden Seoul.  Thanks to his swindling mother, Hee-su (Kil Hae-yeon) and horrible selection in a gold-digging, fiancee-- we are taken on a depressed ride of Youn attempting to arise from his own personal Hell. 

Kim in true Ozu (that reference is for you Bucky!) fashion gets you hooked into the emotional turmoil that is played out between Youn, his mother, his fiancee and another woman- Seo-hee (Park Se-jin) that claims to have been scammed by Youn's mother.

Mid-way through Choked I was reflecting on my own family history and struggles with poverty-- on different occasions thinking about how difficult it is to do the right thing with so few resources. That genuine feel of being devoid of rationale and pure desperation is what made a few filmgoers in the crowd cringe, myself included and not have the strength to bear as Youn fell deeper and deeper in his storm of bad judgements.  Kim pulls this off without the physical violence and shock factor that I have been programmed into thinking is Korean cinema. 

Through the story we are treated to Seo-hee and Hee-su's deep connection that shows how we make family when we are let down by our own blood.  Choked is a riveting, emotional blackhole that will suck you up dry of any goodness you are feeling.  Be warned.

Two more showings that will be played during the SFIFF55, hope to see you out!

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big O
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Mar 25, 2012

The Unsung Heroes: R2-D2 Builders Club

4:20 PM

Yes, everyone loves the 501st Legion. But what about the R2-D2 Builders Club? Have you heard of them?

I didn't until I went to WonderCon 2012 last weekend. On Sunday, the crowds died down and fans took their time exploring the booths and presentations of artists, geek clubs, and most noticeably, the R2-D2 Builders Club, tucked towards the back.

The club was founded in 1999 by Dave Everett and is an internet fan based club with over 5000 members worldwide.

I met some of the builders, including David Annetta, who briefly showed me some of the detailed manuals to build different kinds of droids.

It was so interesting, I was actually considering (and only for three seconds) of building one myself. However, after discovering answers to the following basic questions, I had to reconsider.

How much does it cost? 
Hmmm, it depends. One of the other builders mentioned his was $1500. David couldn't recall, but said that it can be as much as $40K.

What is it made out of?
Generally, wood, plastic, metal, and fiberglass.

How long will it take?
David said he is halfway done with his droid and it has been 3 years. Another builder mentioned that he finished his in 3 years.

I would so love to find time and build one of these bad boys for RC fun at fan conventions. 

The builders at WonderCon comprised of engineers, an electrician, an architect, IT, etc.  It made sense, right?

I have complete admiration and respect for these builders. The displayed droids had all the bells and whistles. In fact, I also saw several RC controlled droids roaming around the convention.

Over the years, the club has gathered information from Star Wars exhibits, photos, and actual screen used props to produce blueprints in order to build their droids. 

I find this amazingly, geeky hot. Or is it just me? :)

For more details and information about the club, please visit www.astromech.net

This post was written by:
Betty Geek
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