Month: November 2016

Reel Geek Review: Trumbo

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I am Spartacus.  I’m sure at least half of the reading audience are familiar with the phrase, and maybe some know that it’s from the 1960 Kirk Douglas movie,  but I’m sure if I were to ask who wrote the script to Spartacus that number would go down immensely.  I’d be in that category myself until just a little while ago when I watched this movie, last year’s critical darling Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston as Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Trumbo is a biopic on the screenwriter, who was blacklisted from working in Hollywood during the second Red Scare in the US in the late 1940’s-early 1950’s.  My own knowledge on this time frame is kind of vague, except for what I’d learned in history classes over the years, but I was aware of the basics of the time frame.  I knew that people were blacklisted from working in Hollywood over their alleged and some not so alleged communist beliefs, but was not aware of how it personally affected these people until I saw this movie.

I was already a Bryan Cranston fan after seeing him as the Dad on Malcolm In The Middle, but it wasn’t until Breaking Bad that I, and a lot of other people, really saw the range this man had as an actor.  It’s quite impressive, and here you get a very good sense of that range, from comedic to dramatic, sometimes in the same scene, as how life can be sometimes.  Life is never really just one genre, if it is for you, you’re not living a big enough life.     Cranston was nominated for an Academy Award for this role, only to lose it to ironically enough Leonardo Dicaprio, and you can see why.

Really the whole cast though is on point, I liked John Goodman’s supporting role as B-movie producer Frank King, which hearkened back, to me, an R rated take on his similar character in 1992’s Matinee (which I recommend checking out).    Helen Mirren is another stand out as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, I was aware of the person from my fandom and reading up on the Golden Age of Hollywood, but I never knew how detestable at times the woman could be.     Louis CK also has a supporting role as well, as fellow blacklisted screenwriter Arlen Hird.

Jay Roach, who had directed the Austin Powers movies, really showed me a different side of his talent here with this one.  And, this movie about a screenwriter wouldn’t be quite as good though without a great script by John  Mcnamara.  Had I seen this movie back when it was first released last year, I’d have for sure called it one of my ten favorite movies of the year.  As it is, it still is a great movie, and you should definitely watch it soon if you’re a fan of either old Hollywood, or good movies in general.  It’s especially timely, in a weird way, with rumors that I’ve heard of our American President-elect Donald Trump wanting to bring back the House of Un-American Activities group, hopefully that doesn’t happen, as it was a terrible time in our nation’s history for free thinkers and writers alike.   Hopefully somebody in Washington knows their history, as I would not want to repeat this time in history ever again.

Trumbo is available on Blu-Ray, Digital, and streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

 

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The First 1000

Good Morning World,

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving weekend, or if you don’t celebrate the holiday, then a great weekend in general.  I was surprised, and happy to find out last night that this site that you’re reading hit the 1,000 views mark.  As it stands now, we’re at about 1,009.  This is the largest accumulated audience for any of my material before, and I just wanted to thank you all, worldwide, for stumbling onto this little corner of the internet and reading an article or two.  Whether it was the Food stuff that brought you here, or something geeky, or just one of my random posts, you took the time to read my words here, and that means a lot to me.

Worldwide too, sure the majority of the audience reading this is in America.  But I’ve had readers from England to Brunei and everywhere else in between, which is both awe inspiring and humbling at the same time.  If you like what you’ve been reading, or just read in passing somewhere, and want to stay up on the latest here at Reel Geek’s Guide, then please hit that subscribe button to stay in the loop.   The Food Geek Review will still be hitting twice weekly, and more movies to cover as well in the near future.  I’m really looking forward to my Rogue One review, and for some Holiday fun coming as well in the coming weeks.

More changes to the site are going to happen too, style wise, hopefully bringing you a smoother, professional interface, and more coming in 2017, it’s going to be a big year.   But thank you for being among the first 1,000 readers, here’s to the next 1,000.

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Doctor’s Appointment, How Doctor Who Saved Me.

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On today’s date, November 23, 1963, the BBC aired the first episode of what was to be one of the longest running science fiction shows ever made, Doctor Who.  Three years ago today, I was watching the BBC America marathon, leading up to the premiere of the 50th anniversary special, Day of the Doctor.     But, let’s rewind back a bit more, to see just how much this show, my favorite television show, has affected me.

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s I was always aware of Doctor Who, it was one of those pop culture, nerdy things.  Occasionally I’d catch minutes of it here and there on PBS reruns of the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker, and my friend Dave in high school tried to get me more into it, but I just wasn’t feeling it just yet, it wasn’t my time to, I realized later on.  I did watch Fox’s Doctor Who attempted revival movie in 1996, with the 8th Doctor…it was fun, but just like the movie itself, my fandom went nowhere after that.

Years went by, and I was still aware of Doctor Who, but it was still one of those things like Babylon 5 that I was aware of, but couldn’t really tell you anything about it.  Cut to 2012, my one and only deployment in the Navy, where my best friend on deployment, James, talked to me about the show a bit, and got me actually wanting to watch the show.

So, not long after we returned back to the states, I gave it a go, starting with the 2005 revival, and I was hooked by the time I got to “The Empty Child”.  What a show..it really has everything you want in entertainment.  Action, suspense, humor, characters you actually care about.   It’s the perfect package of entertainment.  And, being that it’s a show about time travel, they can literally do an episode with any genre of entertainment, and it’s brilliant.

I got about midway through the first season when we didn’t pay our Netflix bill for whatever reason and I was left without my fix of The Doctor and Rose.   I found a streaming site soon after so I watched a few episodes like that, but then life got in the way, and I stopped watching.

A few months there after, my fiancee at the time had broken up with me, due to a number of different factors, and I was forced back into my parents house for a short time until I found an old friend that needed a place and I was soon on my own once more.  Doctor Who helped me during these next few months, binging the series on Netflix was my comfort, and helped me get over that breakup just as well as the way alcohol had helped fix previous heartbreaks.

I enjoyed Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor, but when David Tennant took on the role, and he quoted “The Lion King”, I was sold.  I could see why everyone loved him as The Doctor.   I got other friends hooked on the show during this time as well, it was just one of those rare bits of great tv that nearly anyone can enjoy if they give it a chance.

Months went by, and I the Doctor Who binge continued, mixing in Torchwood when it was time, and I loved that show as well.  It healed me from that breakup, and inspired a new sense of optimism and hope in me, it taught me to never give up, even when things are at their bleakest, if you can run, there’s still a chance.

Eventually I finished up Tennant’s run, and got caught up with Matt Smith’s run in time to start on Series 7-B to air.   There were many feels to be had along the way, and soon enough I was watching the show weekly, which was kind of a weird feeling, after having all this content to binge on for months, to be all current.  I had to wait for more just like everyone else.

During that time I started to watch some of the Classic Doctor Who episodes as well, whatever was available on Netflix at the time, which wasn’t much, but it gave me a taste for the older stuff, and really could appreciate even more the current series.  My favorites from the classic era were/are  Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor and Tom Baker as The 4th Doctor.

Which brings us up to today, Matt Smith became my favorite Doctor overall, but I really like what Peter Capaldi has been doing in the role since he took over a few years ago, when Matt Smith left and The Doctor was given a whole new cycle of regenerations (the character was on his last, or 12th regeneration when Capaldi came on board)  Who knows, (ha! Pun!) how long the show will last, if we’ll one day be watching the Doctor Who 60th, 70th , and one day the 100th anniversary special..  If we’ll ever get a SuperWhoLock crossover with Supernatural and Sherlock, or if we’ll ever find out why Capaldi’s 12 looks like a man he met in his 10th regeneration on a trip to Pompeii, but all I know is it’s going to be a brilliant, fantastic ride.

Food Geek Review: Thirsty Frog Food Truck

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Since I’ve been doing the Food Geek column every Tuesday and Thursday here, the site’s been getting even more attention then when I post my usual geeky content, which isn’t surprising, some of the stuff I cover is a bit niche, but everyone loves food.  You’ll never meet someone who will say…you know food?  I don’t like it.    In this divisive world we live in now, it’s the one thing that can make us all come together is some good food, which, is what we will mostly all of us be doing this Thursday here in the states for Thanksgiving.   I’ll take that day off from my usual Thursday column,  so I hope all of you have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving.    But…that’s then, we’re at now now. Everything that’s happening now is happening now. Now will become then…soon.

So this is Tuesday, and it’s time once more for another Food Geek Review, this time I stopped by the Thirsty Frog food truck here on campus.    Now,I’ve been there before, shortly before I started doing the Food Geek Review column, so I didn’t review it last time.  Thirsty Frog is a food truck that specializes in smoothies, coffee type drinks, funnel cakes, and a couple of sandwiches as well.

Last time, I tried their NC pulled pork BBQ, today, I was feeling like a taste of Chicago, so I got the Chicago style pulled beef sandwich.    It’s not the biggest sandwich in the world, but it hits the spot.  It’s served on a kaiser roll, with juicy pulled beef, and the addition of the cheese sauce and the fried onion chips sets everything off just right for a tasty treat.  I put a little Texas Pete on mine to give it some extra zing, but it’d be just as good without it.

They also offer the BBQ sandwich that I mentioned, which is nothing to sneeze at either, or if none of those are your cup of tea, then there’s a Nathan’s all beef hot dog that I’m sure is just as good as the other two sandwiches.     You can find Thirsty Frog on Facebook at The Thirsty Frog LLC  .

Reel Geek Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (Spoiler Review)

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This is going to be the spoiler review for Fantastic Beasts, if you want the non spoiler version, you can find my video here.

 

I remember back when the first Harry Potter movie came out back in 2001, and the hype that surrounded it, led me to reading the book before the movie came out, which in turn led me directly into the fandom, despite being in my twenties at the time.  J.K. Rowling is a fantastic storyteller, and I was just sucked into that magical Wizarding World, as we’re now calling this universe.      I was later even more of a fan after learning that the books themselves were set during my own coming of age in the 1990s, and that Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, was my age, having been born in 1980.

The books have long since wrapped up however, and the movies as well, until now, we get our first trip back into this magical world, but this time we’re going back a bit, to 1920’s America, in this our first foray back, in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.  Written by J.K. Rowling herself, so all the details that we fans love are there, and it’s directed by David Yates,  who directed the latter half of the Harry Potter movies (which I still to date haven’t seen yet, it was a crazy period in my life back then, I did read the books at least) .

For starters, this movie, you really should shell out the extra and see this one in IMAX 3D while you can.  It’s rare that I’ll admit that the 3D adds extra to the movie, and I haven’t seen 3D effects this good since Avatar back in 2009.  From the opening credits we’re transported into this magical world, which we establish our setting and what’s going in this world via the magical newspaper headlines, so we’re aware that Grindlewald (Johnny Depp) is causing havoc in Europe, and we get some other flashes as to what’s going on in the world as well.  As a long time fan I already was familiar with some of what she’d  set up, about Grindlewald and such and it was great to see this stuff fleshed out a bit more onscreen.

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What really worked for me here was the world building, if you’re not familiar with the world then you can still have a good time with this movie, but if you’re  Potterhead like a lot of us are, then you’re in for a treat as good as some fresh butterbeer.    I loved all the touches that the world allows, house elves, troll gangsters, and an elf jazz club singer.  I’d love to see a whole gangster/private detective story set in this time period.  Would be amazing.   Just the implications for fan fiction alone of these new settings are mindblowing.      Also, I loved the taste of information we get about what magic is like in America, what with the Magical Congress of the USA, or Macusa (Love their symbol too)  Ilvermorney, the American Hogwarts…I want to know more and see more in this setting.  Also, the magical FBI in their trenchcoats…that style was amazing.

The visual effects are tremendous, amazing 3-D work that really puts you in the movie at times, especially during any magical battles, magic flies by your head, as does rubble, creatures, and whatever else, the movie is quite the adventure.      The cast all works their roles to perfection, I loved Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander as much as I hated his role in Jupiter Ascending, which is to say, a lot.    Ezra Miller (Batman V Superman, Perks of Being A Wallflower) does a great supporting role as tormented Creedence Barebone.

I also geeked out when we see a picture of Newt’s childhood friend Lela Lestrange (played by Zoe Kravitz) and the implications of what that relationship might hold for both their past and their future (our past…I imagine…in the Harry Potter stories…wibbly wobbly, timey wimey)  and then of course the moment when Colin Farrell is revealed to be actually Grindlewald in disguise (a.k.a. Johnny Depp), and we get just a taste of Depp quirkiness with his two brief lines. *Also, this isn’t the first time that Colin Farrel and Johnny Depp have played the same role, they both played a version of Heath Ledger’s character Tony, in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus a few years back. *   I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of him, as we’re building (I imagine towards Grindlewald’s rebellion and the Wizarding World War II, set to climax with his battle with Dumbledore in 1945.  It’s supposed to be quite the battle, so I’m excited for that to happen on screen.

Seriously you owe it to yourself if you’re a fan of this series to go see this movie, it’s a lot of fun, and one of my favorite movies this year.    I haven’t seen everything I’d like to see this year, but this is definitely making my favorites list.     What did you guys think about it though?   What other time periods do you want to see done in the Wizarding World?  Myself I’m biding my time for the Marauders era stories to make the light of day.  My favorite time period.    Till next time guys, be sure to keep it Reel.  Have a gigglewater for me.

 

***** Five out of Five Stars

 

Thoughts on Survivor Series 2016: Worst Survivor Series ever?

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Survivor Series as an event always holds a special place in my heart as a wrestling fan.  It was Survivor Series 1991 that was my first ppv that we were allowed to order, when I was 11, and watching that show, and seeing matches like The Undertaker defeating Hulk Hogan, got me hooked and made me a wrestling fan to this day, some 25 years later.

And it was with these eyes that I viewed Survivor Series last night.  I mostly enjoyed the buildup to this ppv, the first clash of the brands since the brand split, Raw vs Smackdown for a new era, I was so hyped up for this show, especially the main event, which the buildup was also great for, surprisingly, considering that the last time Brock Lesnar and Goldberg locked up it was one of the worst matches in Wrestlemania history.

Now, usually with these things I’ll do a breakdown of the whole show, what I thought of each match, and then grade the thing in the end on its merits as a show, and what it sets up for the future.   With matches such as Sami Zayn from Raw taking on Smackdown’s The Miz for the Intercontinental Title, and Kallisto vs Brian Kendrick for the Cruiserweight Title, this could have been a game changing show, something that shook up the foundation of who the players were on each brand in the brand split, that could have happened last night.  But it didn’t.  Not one game changing moment whatsoever, except possibly in how the main event played out, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

I get it.  I get it.  I get it Vince.  Raw is the flagship show of the company,  it always will be.  Even though the quality of the show has gone downhill since the brand split, it’s still going to be the show with the prestige because of it’s history with the company.  That still doesn’t justify total domination of Raw during most of the formulaic, no story driven, boring traditional Survivor Series style matches that we had in both the tag team divisions and the women’s match.  I  was expecting the women’s match actually to go the way it did, but the tag team match could have been a great moment for American Alpha to establish themselves as the top talents they are, instead of still trying to give us this Sheamus and Cesaro tag team that you guys want for some reason.

And speaking of those Survivor Series matches, there were no surprises to be had in there whatosever.  In fact, all three matches had the almost same basic structure, right down to the, oh wow, everybody is in the ring fighting each other right now, it’s a real Slobberknocker!   How shocking and original…except in…I don’t know..nearly every Survivor Series match….in history.     I wasn’t drawn in to any of the matches, except for a few moments here and there, Shane doing another crazy jump spot during the Men’s match, Shane doing another spot and injuring himself, The Shield reunion, those were all great one off moments, but they did nothing to further the story going forward.  Nothing happened last night in those matches that kept me on the edge of my seat, or anywhere close to the edge, I was leaning back on the couch, scrolling through my phone, occasionally glancing at the screen but for about 90% of the show I was bored.   My girlfriend says this could be a sign of me out growing wrestling, but a lot of my friends it seemed were feeling this same way, there was nothing new that happened. So, it’s not just me, it was a bad, poorly booked show.     Except…for the main event…maybe.

They hyped up this Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg match as a match from the video game come to life, that was even the art for the show was the video game pictures of Brock and Goldberg, fantasy warfare brought to reality.  And it was just that, a video game match.  If the other player doesn’t know the controls and the other player has a cheat code put on.  It was over before I could say anything.  The commercial for the video game featuring the two of them fighting in a backstage brawl lasted longer than their actual match.   Which, compared to their last match is a 5 star classic.      But, it’s like…all that hype…for this.   Now, if there’s more to it than just this, if it’s build up to something huge at Wrestlemania, then in the end this could be a good thing.  It did get people talking about the show, for shock value.   But long term wise, it remains to be seen what the purpose for that match ending the way it did was.  Goldberg hits Brock with a spear, then another spear, then the jackhammer, 1,2,3.  He’s had longer matches in WCW against Glacier, as one of my friends put it.        Remains to be seen what the future holds, and I’ll be watching tonight, but I’m not excited for it, I’m not going to be thinking about what’s going to happen on Raw tonight all day today waiting to see the aftermath, because they’ve left me with nothing to be excited for.     Here’s hoping the show gets better soon.  I’m going to watch the NXT Takeover special later on today, here’s hoping that can reignite some passion to watch wrestling still, but after Survivor Series, they may have just made me lose my smile for watching on the regular.