Film Review: In the Blood (dir by John Stockwell)


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Do you remember Haywire?

Haywire was an action film that came out in 2011.  It briefly got a lot of attention because it starred MMA fighter Gina Carano in her feature film debut and it was directed by Steven Soderbergh.  I have to admit that I didn’t care much for Haywire.  Some of that is because Gina Carano herself didn’t seem to be a very good actress but my main issue with the film was with Steven Soderbergh.  Don’t get me wrong — I know that Soderbergh can be a genius.  However, he’s also a remarkably pretentious filmmaker.  Sometimes that pretension works, like with The Girlfriend Experience.  But, in the case of Haywire, all the pretension served to do was to make a thin story even more annoying.

John Stockwell, on the other hand, is a director who is the very opposite of pretentious.  Whereas Soderbergh often makes genre films that try too hard to be art, Stockwell makes genre films that are so unapologetic about being genre that they often become art despite themselves.  Stockwell may never be as acclaimed as Soderbergh but, on the whole, he’s a much more consistent filmmaker.

Take In The Blood for instance.  In the Blood came out earlier this year, got thoroughly mediocre reviews, and disappeared from theaters pretty quickly.  When I watched it last night, I had very low expectations.

But you know what?

In the Blood isn’t bad.

In fact, it’s a perfectly entertaining and, ultimately, rather empowering film.

In In The Blood, Gina Carano plays Ava.  Ava, we quickly learn, has led a difficult life.  Raised in extreme poverty by a father who taught her early how to fight and how to defend herself, Ava is a former drug addict.  When she goes to rehab, she meets and falls in love with fellow addict Derek (Cam Gigandet).  Once they’re both clean, Ava and Derek marry despite the concerns of Derek’s wealthy father (Treat Williams).

For their honeymoon, Derek and Ava go to the type of Caribbean island where bad things always happen in movies like In The Blood.  They meet Manny (Ismael Cruz Cordova), who agrees to be their guide on the island.  One night, Manny takes them out to a club where Ava ends up getting into a huge fight with literally everyone on the dance floor, including a local gangster played by Danny Trejo.  The next morning, Manny takes them zip lining but Derek ends up plunging from the zip line and crashing down to the ground below.  He’s rushed to the hospital where he promptly vanishes.

Despite being ordered to return to America by police chief Luis Guzman, Ava is determined to figure out what has happened to her husband and she’s willing to beat up the entire island to do it…

Obviously inspired (much like almost every other low-budget action film released over the past few years) by Taken, In The Blood is a familiar but enjoyable burst of pulp fiction.  As opposed to Soderbergh’s approach to Haywire, Stockwell doesn’t worry about trying to disguise the genre roots of In The Blood.  Instead, he simply tells the story and he tells it well.  In The Blood is a film that’s full of beautiful island scenery, villainous character actors, and enjoyable melodramatic dialogue.  The pace never falters and the action is exciting.  In a few years, the club fight scene will be remembered as a classic of action cinema.

And best of all, Gina Carano kicks ass!  In The Blood gives her a chance to show what she can actually do when she has a director who is willing to get out of her way.  As opposed to Haywire, where she often seemed to get lost amongst all of Soderbergh’s showy techniques, Gina Carano gives a confident and determined performance in In The Blood.  After having to sit through countless action films where every female character is either a victim or a pawn, there is something so wonderful about seeing a movie where a woman gets to do something more than whimper and beg.  Regardless of how predictable the film’s plot may be, the fact that it’s a woman — as opposed to a man — who is getting to kick ass (and look good while doing it!) serves to make In The Blood something of a minor masterpiece of the pulp imagination.

If nothing else, In The Blood shows that sometimes it’s best to keep things simple.

Lisa Reviews The Oscar Nominees: The Philadelphia Story (dir by George Cukor)


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There are a few reasons why The Philadelphia Story was one of those films that I had been meaning to watch for a while.  For one thing, The Philadelphia Story was nominated for best picture of 1940 (it lost to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca) and my ultimate goal is to see and review every single film ever nominated for best picture.  The other reason is that Jimmy Stewart won an Oscar for his performance in The Philadelphia Story and anyone who doesn’t love Jimmy Stewart has obviously never seen Anatomy of a Murder (not to mention It’s a Wonderful Life!).

Well, The Philadelphia Story was on TCM last night and I finally got to see it and what can I say?  I absolutely loved it.  For a 74 year-old, black-and-white comedy, The Philadelphia Story is still a lot of fun.

The Philadelphia Story tells the story of Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), a wealthy socialite who is engaged to marry George Kitteridge (John Howard), a self-described “man of the people,” who is widely respect for both his strong moral character and the fact that — unlike most of Tracy’s friends — he made his fortune as opposed to inheriting it.

It would be tempting to reach into the bag of simplistic blogging clichés and call the Lords a 1940s version of Khardashians but I’m not going to do that because the Lords have a lot more wit and class.  My favorite member of Tracy’s family was Dinah (Virginia Wiedler), her teenage sister who is sarcastic, cheerfully cynical, and has no problem demanding to be the center of attention.  My sister Erin claims that the reason I liked Dinah is because I saw a lot of myself in the character and that’s probably true.  However, I have to say that the great thing about both Tracy and Dinah is that they were both wittier, classier, and better dressers than all of the Khardashians and Jenners combined.

Anyway, the evil editor of Spy Magazine, Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell), wants to get pictures of Tracy’s very exclusive and very private wedding so he sends two of his reporters in under cover.  Mike Connor (James Stewart) is a frustrated writer who hates having to lower himself to writing for a tabloid.  Photographer Liz (Ruth Hussey) is secretly in love with Mike.  Helping Mike and Liz pass themselves off as friends of the family is Tracy’s ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant).

As quickly becomes obvious, Dexter is still in love with Tracy.  However, Tracy divorced Dexter because Dexter was an irresponsible alcoholic and, even though Dexter has changed his ways and she is still obviously attracted to him, Tracy is now engaged to the morally upright but boring and judgmental George.

However, Tracy is not just torn between George and Dexter.  She is attracted to Mike as well, to the extent that Tracy even takes the trouble to read some of Mike’s short stories.  For only the second time in her life, Tracy gets drunk and goes for a midnight swim with Mike.  This, of course, leads to the best scene in The Philadelphia Story: Jimmy Stewart singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Seriously, the scene made my entire night.

The Philadelphia Story is based on a play and the film itself is rather stagey in that way that films from the 40s often appear to be to modern viewers.  But, once you get used to the fact that the movie was made in 1940 and not 2014, it’s a real delight.  The dialogue is funny and it’s delivered by one of the best casts ever.  Playing a role that was specifically written for her, Katherine Hepburn is brilliant as the strong-willed but unapologetically romantic Tracy and Cary Grant is just as charming as you would expect Cary Grant to be.  Best of all, you’ve got Jimmy Stewart singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and seriously, how can you not love that?

27 Days of Old School: #14 “The Trooper” (by Iron Maiden)


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“The Bugle sounds and the charge begins”

I didn’t hear #14 the year it came out in 1983. I wasn’t too much into heavy metal at that age (still just 10). Now, once I got into high school and expanded my circle of friends (still not much but did include a couple who were into metal) I was finally introduced to heavy metal.

One of the first songs I really got into was Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” from their Piece of Mind album. Even from the first time hearing the song I had an idea what the song about. I was already a huge hoarder of all things military history in my teen years and I knew the song was about the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.

What I didn’t realize at that time was that the song itself was using a famous poem about said charge. So, in addition to getting me into heavy metal (which waxed and waned in the years since until meeting necromoonyeti online), I ended up learning about Tennyson and his poem about that fateful charge of British Light Cavalry against a well-defended and heavily-armed Russian artillery battery.

Also, seeing the cover for “The Trooper” with Eddie in full light cavalry regalia waving a cavalry saber and a bloodied, tattered Union Jack just hit me right in my wheelhouse.

Con Report: Another Anime Convention 2014


Hey all, I’d usually start this post off with me saying why I haven’t made a post in forever.  I’m lazy.  Plus Arleigh forgot to remind me when I’m at home.  Plus again, I have been working my ass off for the most part this year.  But, I figure I started to feel bad about not posting much considering how much Arleigh is paying me.  And then I realized that I’m not being paid anything, so I stopped feeling so bad.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about my adventures at Another Anime Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire during the weekend of October 17-19.  Arleigh and I have attended 5 conventions together, 3 Anime Bostons and 2 Anime Expos in LA.  But there’s still many conventions that I attend solo, even though it’s incredibly expensive.  So, whenever I can, I try and go with someone like Arleigh.  However, small local conventions are just not something that I’d call him out from the wrong coast out to the right coast, especially since both of us are pretty much exclusively interested in Japanese guests.  Small, local conventions on the east coast are not going to get any Japanese guests ever. Anime Boston barely gets any, and they bring in well over 20,000 people.  Another Anime Convention is lucky to get 4,000 people.  But you know what?  The location works so well for that.  The convention is held in the convention center of the Manchester Radisson and even though the attendance is only between 3000 and 4000, it makes it feel every bit as busy as Anime Boston.  Not anywhere near Anime Expo or Otakon, but that’s not a bad thing, because both those conventions are stupidly crowded.

This particular convention has a lot going for it.  For one thing, even though I said it’s nowhere near an AB, since it’s a much smaller venue, it certainly feels every bit as big.  At no time will it take you longer than 10 minutes to get from one end of the convention center to the other, but that’s something that can only be truly appreciated with a smaller convention like this.

So what does this convention have going for it anyways?  Well, let’s say for a moment that you’re a fan of English dubs.  If you want to meet certain dub actors, then this is the place to do it without a doubt.  If English dub actors were my thing, I’d have been able to get several autographs no problem.  Now, even thought it’s a smaller convention, it still would normally be as tough to get an autograph as any convention.  However, AAC does something that I would encourage other larger conventions to do.  And to an extent Anime Expo does this as well.  What I’m talking about is that for an extra upcharge, one can essentially buy extra perks.  Basically for $50 extra, you get a free t-shirt, unlimited line skips (yes, any line, at any time, every time any and every day.  But there are maybe 3 events total over the course of the weekend that that would actually be an issue for), front of line access to guest autographs.  Basically, the perks are there to lord it over the cheap ass normals.  Did I do such?  Oh hell yeah.  If I saw a huge line for a panel, even if I didn’t give half a shit about the panel, I jumped the line just because I could, and I knew I was taking a closer seat away from some skinflint.

Now, Arleigh and I typically go to panels hosted by the Japanese guests and/or panels done by industry, such as your Funimations, Sentai Filmworks, Aniplex of America, or Viz Media.  With none of those industry members present at a small convention like this, I had to go into it with a much different mindset.  And you know what?  I still managed to have a ton of fun and still couldn’t see everything I wanted to.  What I did was take part in things that are in even the giant conventions, but we just never had time for.  For example, I actually went and watched the entire AMV contest, including voting on my favorites.  Because I am always ready to pass the buck, I long ago gave Arleigh the list of AMV winners, so instead of me posting them all, I’d hate to take away future AMV of the Day posts.  Buck officially passed.

One thing I can’t very well pass off to anyone else is the very fundamental thing of cosplay.  I’ll admit, I went into this thinking that the cosplay would be mediocre at best.  I grossly underestimated the dedication of anime fans.  Possibly due to the fact that there were less people around and so those that were there really stepped up their game, there was a big percentage of high class cosplay.  Alright, admittedly there were the predictables like Kill la Kill, and Attack on Titan, which has now become the new Bleach and Naruto, but if there’s quality, then repeatablity doesn’t much matter.  So, for right now, I’d like to regale you with pictures I took during my trip there.  Admittedly, I don’t always know what I took a picture of, but if I don’t know there’s two reasons why I took the picture.  Either the costume is cool looking, or the model is very hot. I’d say it’s up to you to decide, but screw that, I’ll tell you what I thought.

DSC00110First off, we have a Little Mac cosplay.  This is near and dear to me because I have previously cosplayed as King Hippo.  Obviously King Hippo is a million times better, but hey, Little Mac is still pretty cool.

DSC00111Pretty decent Zach (seriously, the proper contraction of Zachary is Zack.  Enough with this lazy bullcrap) Galaphanakis.  Frankly, I’ve never seen any of the movies, but even I can recognize somewhat famous movie scenes.

DSC00112No idea what this is.  Looks pretty elaborate though, so I reward people that take the effort to make a decent costume even if they obviously can’t pull it off.

DSC00113My hotel room faced out to the courtyard.  As I was up in my room taking a break, I happened to see this Sailor Pluto take a seat. I immediately headed out to try and catch her.  Again, due to it being a small convention, the elevators weren’t crazy busy, so I was able to get out there and get her picture.  If she doesn’t look crazy hot, then that’s due to my poor photography skills and not her own natural hotness.

DSC00114The first of a few Kill la Kill cosplay photos.

DSC00115May Chang from Full Metal Alchemist.  The charm point is the panda in her hair.  I love when people take the time to bring out the small details like that.

DSC00116More KlK cosplay.  Is this the last?  Probably not.  I mean, it was only the hottest anime property in the last year, so obviously no one would ever want to cosplay as it.

DSC00117Again, I dunno, probably some video game.  If it’s familiar to you, then sure, you know the game.  Either way, she’s pretty nice to look at, no?

DSC00118Another that I’m not really certain of, but she’s showing her panties for everyone to see.  Do you honestly expect someone with the username of pantsukudasai (panties please) to not immediately see this and need to take a picture?  My picture does not do her justice.  Very hot.  If you’re her and you’re reading this, color me surprised.  What are the odds?  You’re also some anonymous pervert on the internet who likes looking at attractive women in cosplay.

DSC00119Like I said before, one of the most overdone cosplay in recent times is Attack on Titan.  So if you want to stand out to me, the best way to do it isn’t to be one of a million Potato Girls, nor one of three million Levis, or the same number of Mikasas.  No, if you want to stand out, be like this one and be a half eaten Marco.  Brilliant!

DSC00120No doubt this will be done often in the next several conventions, but SAO II (Gun Gale Online) Kirito was a novelty at the time, so I was surprised to see anyone with this costume already.

DSC00121From Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, I can’t resist a Rika.

DSC00122Another rare male cosplayer.  Most Sir Crocodile cosplayers don’t bother with the cigar.  If you don’t go with the cigar, then what the hell is the point?  Seriously, to anyone that’s considering it, at the very least buy a cheap cigar.  Oh no, you’ll have to spend a day with tobacco on your lip.  You’re not gonna get cancer from one goddamn day.  Stop being a cop out bitch.  Go with realism.

DSC00123Generally I don’t take pictures of non anime properties, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Batman and Catwoman.

DSC00124The girls here spent the entire weekend making chalk art.  All in all, I can’t help but be impressed.

DSC00125 DSC00126Frozen is pretty much the most popular movie in America and the rest of the world.  It’s the top selling BD in Japan as well.  It’s a shame that there wasn’t snow on the ground, but on the other hand if it was that kind of cold out I probably wouldn’t have gotten these pictures in the courtyard.

DSC00127Again, keeping it all very topical, we have a cosplay of Luffy, or Lucy.  Honestly, I don’t think people truly appreciate what cosplayers like this do.  Most people aren’t reading the manga as it comes out, so the fact that someone gets a current arc cosplay made up is pretty impressive.

DSC00128Not the greatest of any one of the Honnouji Academy group, it’s just not often that you see them all grouped together.

DSC00129Again, I usually don’t pay any mind to non anime cosplay, but here we have Bob Ross. If you don’t know who Bob Ross is, then you are a grade A moron.  Perhaps it’s not nice to insult the readership, but come on, anyone that’s at least been in college should know who the hell Bob Ross is.

DSC00130Pretty good looking Mami.  Know what would have made her look better?  No head.  Ooops, spoilers.

DSC00131My goddamn unicorn! If that doesn’t make sense, then please hear my story.  First off, a unicorn refers to something that if you don’t have pics, it didn’t happen.  The backstory to all this goes as such.  I saw this girl while I was having breakfast, heading down to an area where there is only on way to go.  I didn’t sweat it, because I figured small convention, only one access point, I should easily find her and get her picture.  After eating, during which she definitely did not come back that way, I headed down there to find her.  I got distracted because I saw the barrel of that gun and figured I had her, but it turned out I was chasing down a Seras Victoria cosplayer.  Then later in the day, as I was on the second floor waiting for a panel to open, I saw her walk by on the first floor.  I rushed down to the first floor, heading to the direction that she was walking.  Amazingly, I could not find her.  Again, this is a small convention, with a basically small floor area.  Finally, I saw her while I was on the same floor as her and got this picture.  FYI, she’s Sinon from Sword Art Online II.  Again, it’s a fairly new show, so I’m amazed that there is a great quality cosplay as this so soon.  Plus, I’m very impressed that she didn’t go running to security when I told her that I had been hunting her down all day.  Yes, I used those exact terms.  Thank you Sinon for not getting me arrested.  Also, I never saw her again the rest of the day, so I’m glad I was able to get a picture of this unicorn and turn her into reality.

DSC00132Not the greatest I’ve ever seen, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen any Rinoa cosplay that it’s almost fresh again.

DSC00133Finishing off the day, and the weekend, we have Shiro from No Game, No Life.  This same girl was busy doing a professional shoot earlier in the day.  I suppose I could have just shot a picture, but that’s not how I roll.  Believe it or not, a guy whose username is begging to see panties does have morals.  Luckily for me, I saw her later on in the day.  During the photoshoot, she was wearing a crown.  I think I got the better picture with her wearing panties on her head, which is actually canon in the show.

(To note, every picture taken here was done with the full permission of the person whose picture was being taken.  If for whatever reason you have changed your mind and do not like the way your picture has been taken, contact me and I will take it down, no complaints or questions asked.)

So, with all that said and done, more has been said than done.  But really, while I wouldn’t say break the bank and fly across country to attend, if you find yourself in the Northeast and hear that Another Anime Convention is gonna be going on that weekend, by all means fish out the $50, plus whatever your hotel costs, and you’ll find yourself having a great time!