Thursday, May 31, 2012

Random Movie Review: The Raid -Redemption-

The Raid -Redemption-, 2011(2012 Canada)
Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy

In short - This movie kicks some serious butt. It's got EVERY kind of fighting. Guns, swords, martial art-style hand-to-hand, random items.

The movie is Indonesian w/ English subtitles and that doesn't take away from anything at all. I suppose action movies are not particularly reliant on dialogue. The movie takes place in a tenement, which is being raided by a SWAT team. There seems to be a duality as to why they are swarming the building. One member of the team seems to be a corrupt cop looking for a way to get ahead in the force, another member seems to be in it to rescue his brother from a life of crime. Neither one of them gets the result they expect, and MANY die along the way.

This move is not for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy action and killing and don't mind blood, this is definitely the movie for you. I don't generally consider myself an action fan, but I definitely appreciate any style of movie that is done well.

I'll give this one an 8/10. I think I'd like to watch it again on Blu-Ray or in better quality than the one I saw, but the action was enough to shine through all of that, so it could be even better than I think.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random Movie Review - Never Let Me Go

I'm going to try a new occasional feature where I review DVDs from a new stash of ones I've never seen, or haven't in a long time. I will include anything new I see in the theatre or on demand as well.

Never Let Me Go, 2010
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley

Never Let Me Go is a film that takes the typical love triangle premise and puts it into an interesting setting. Taking place in an alternate reality where disease has been wiped out by raising children for organs and matching them to humans outside of the 'organ farm'. Three children grow up attending a school that appears a typical strict boarding school until a teacher reveals to them the truth about what is really happening. The children are to live out their adolescence and then, just when they become adults, they are to undergo organ donations to keep a specific person alive, continuing donations until they have 'completed' (died). It is sort of ambiguous as to whether or not these children are natural human beings or some sort of formulated breed. The people in charge seem to be trying to determine this as well. Either way, the kids seem to be resigned to the fact that this is their life. They are allowed to drive to leave their homes seemingly unsupervised and I'm not sure whether they are in fact resigned, or if they're not truly human, or perhaps they suffer from some sort of Stockholm syndrome where they don't know that there is an outside world to escape to, aside from the town where they reside.

The girl who plays the younger version of Kathy (Mulligan's character) was very well cast, as she looks like a younger version of Mulligan. I don't remember hearing about this movie, which is odd because Mulligan was coming off of her breakout hit An Education. I suppose 2010 was a rather busy year for me, so it definitely could have slipped past me.

I liked this movie, mainly because I always enjoy when there is a new spin on a popular plot line. It feels in retrospect like a changing of the it girl guard. Knightley was coming off of a good run of being in every movie (she still has roles, but far fewer it seems), whereas Mulligan was just launching into a run of cult hits and popular films. I give this film a 7/10.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Strawberry-Peach Cookie Bars

I took advantage of the Victoria Day holiday today to make these. The recipe I adapted from was on Epicurious and they were cookies, but the reviews were negative based on them being cake-y and too liquid as batter. I adapted to make them vegan, cut down on the gooey-ness and put them in bar form.

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar (Cane or vegan white)
1 cup Shortening
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 pint Strawberries, chopped
1 Peach, peeled and chopped 
3 cups Flour
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Chopped Nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream shortening and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in baking soda. Puree fruit in a food processor and stir in along with the flour, salt and nuts.

Flatten out the batter into a cake pan. I made it too thick, so aim for about 1/2 inch thickness. Bake until knife comes out clean!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Record a Week: Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore (Performed by D'Oyly Carte Opera Company)

Well, I certainly have lagged a little bit and for this I apologize. Weekends have been busy and my schedule on the weekends has not been conducive to writing as much, but that should change now that my schedule is returning to normal a bit!

ACT I (a)

ACT I (b)

ACT II (a)

ACT II (b)

Ah, the H.M.S. Pinafore, or perhaps as Will Ferrell's Celebrity Jeopardy would say 'H.M. Spinafore'. Although that's not as amusing as the Penis Mightier, so maybe not.

The first think I think of when I hear this soundtrack is the Cape Fear episode of The Simpsons. That's the one where the Simpsons change their name to the Sampsons and Sideshow Bob stows away under their car when they join the witness relocation program. He steps on a bunch of rakes and follows them onto their houseboat, attempting to kill Bart, who stalls by getting him to sing this entire soundtrack. This is probably my favourite Simpsons episode, it was packed with laughs and included Kelsey Grammar belting out 'What, Never? No, Never!' along with Bart, minutes before sailing into the laps of the Springfield police department.

I've never seen this show live before, but after hearing this, I think I'd be interested in checking it out. The lyrics themselves are not terrific, but the music is fun and it being an opera, you don't really hear the words anyhow.

I've got another Gilbert & Sullivan later in the series, so perhaps that will send me running to the box office to check out one of their shows.