AMV of the Day: Trouble (Kill La Kill)


It’s the first day of a new month and perhaps a new era. What better time for an AMV?

Anime: Kill la Kill

Song: Trouble by Neon Jungle

CreatorVermillionAMV (as always, please consider subscribing to this creator’s YouTube channel)

Past AMVs of the Day

Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe (2022, directed by John Rice and Albert Calleros)


Beavis and Butt-Head, those two lovable, illiterate, and thoroughly moronic teenagers from Highland, Texas, are back and they are as dumb as ever!  Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe is their second movie adventure.  Currently streaming on Paramount Plus, it’s a smart comedy about dumb people.

In 1998, Bevis and Butt-Head (voice by their creator, Mike Judge) accidentally attend their school’s science fair and end up burning the whole place down.  The toughest judge in Texas sentences them to Space Camp, where they can learn responsibility.  As so often happens with these two, their utter stupidity is mistaken for genius and they end up going into space.  Their job is to help the space shuttle dock with the International Space Station.  Beavis and Butt-Head, however, think that they are being sent into space to “do it” with astronaut Serena Ryan (voiced by Andrea Savage).  Quicker then you can yell “Fire,” the boys manage to destroy the International Space Station and get sucked into a wormhole.

The boys find themselves transported to Galveston.  The year is 2022, not that Beavis and Butt-Head ever figure that out.  Their multiverse counterparts, Smart Beavis and Smart Butt-Head, materialize to warn them that, unless they go through the wormhole again, the universe could be destroyed.  Beavis and Butt-Head are more interested in returning to their house, seeing what’s on TV, and doing it with Serena.  Serena, who is now governor of Texas, would rather kill Beavis and Butt-Head in order to prevent anyone from discovering what actually happened on the space shuttle 14 years ago.

It’s a long journey from Galveston to Highland.  Beavis and Butt-Head get an iPhone to help and Beavis falls in love with Siri.  A trip to a university leads to Beavis and Butt-Head interrupting a sociology class and it also leads to one of the film’s best moments, when a white student with a man bun proceeds to interrupt all of the women in the class so that he can mansplain white privilege.  Beavis and Butt-Head take this to mean that they can steal without getting arrested and it turns out that they’re right, up until the moment they try to steal a police car.  A trip to prison leads to Beavis shouting that he is the great Cornholio while the universe itself grows closer to destruction.

Yes, Beavis and Butt-Head are just as moronic as ever but, fortunately, so is the sharpness of Mike Judge’s satiric wit.  It’s been close to 30 years since Beavis and Butt-Head made their debut on MTV and, through all that time, the main joke has remained the same.  Beavis and Butt-Head are such utter morons that almost everyone who meets them assumes that there must be something else going on beneath the surface.  In the past, it was just Mr. Van Driessen thinking that he could teach the boys how to be responsible by asking them to clean his house and not touch his valuable 8-track collection.  In Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe, it’s expanded to NASA trusting the boys with expensive equipment and human lives.  They fit right in at the college and they even manage to rally the prisoners in the county jail.  The government thinks that they must be aliens while Sarena worries that they could destroy her political career, even though neither one of them can even read a billboard.  Not even Smart Beavis and Smart Butt-Head can bring themselves to accept just how stupid their multiverse counterparts actually are!

But stupid, they are.  The world is all the better for it.

Film Review: Strategic Command (dir by Rick Jacobson)


In the 1997 film, Strategic Command, Richard Norton plays a terrorist named Carlos …. wait for it …. Gruber.  If that last name sounds familiar, that’s because the villain of Die Hard was named Hans Gruber and the bad guy from Die Hard With A Vengeance was named Simon Gruber.  Gruber — the number one name in hostage situations!

Anyway, Carlos Gruber and his fellow terrorists steal a chemical called Bromax from the FBI.  Bromax is a chemical weapon, one that can be used to kill thousands of people.  It’s probably not a good idea for anyone to have Bromax, regardless of whether they are terrorists or the FBI.  What’s the point of Bromax, really?  It only has evil purposes.  Plus, it has a stupid name.

Gruber proceeds to hijack Air Force Two, holding the Vice President (Michael Cavanaugh) and several journalists hostage.  Gruber wants his fellow terrorists to be released from prison and he’s prepared to kill the Vice President if he doesn’t get what he wants.  Perhaps because Gruber realizes how little the Vice President actually does, Gruber is also willing to spray Bromax over America.

Not wanting to see America get Bromaxed, the President sends an elite force of special op. soldiers after Air Force Two.  Captain Rattner (Jsu Garcia, back when he was still using the name Nick Corri) is in charge of the mission and he doesn’t expect there to be any slip-ups.  Accompanying Rattner’s men is Rick Harding (Michael Dudikoff!), the inventor of Bromax!  Along with not wanting to see Bromax sprayed over America, Harding also wants to save the life of his wife, Michelle (Amanda Wyss, who co-starred with Jsu Garcia in the original Nightmare on Elm Street).  Michelle is one of the journalists on the plane.

Strategic Command is stupid, yet strangely likable.  It’s impossible not to admire the film’s attempt to be a huge action epic without actually spending any money.  As a result, Air Force 2 is a commercial airliner.  There’s a surprisingly small number of people involved on both sides of the plot.  The viewer might expect the hostage situation to be one of those big, “all hands on deck” emergencies but, instead, the President is content to send 6 people to get the job done.  Fortunately, there aren’t that many terrorists either.  This is action on a budget.

Adding to the film’s overall strangeness is the miscasting of Michael Dudikoff as a quiet and somewhat nerdy scientist.  This is one of those films where the viewer is meant to assume that a character is smart just because he’s wearing glasses.  Dudikoff is so miscast that, again, it all becomes strangely likable.  He and Richard Norton are so enthusiastic about chewing up the scenery that it’s kind of fun to watch.  Also fun to watch is the legitimate great actor Bryan Cranston, cast here as a vain and cowardly anchorman.  One gets the feeling that this is probably not a film that Cranston brags about but his performance isn’t bad at all.  Every film like this needs to have a self-important reporter who can get humiliated in some fashion and Cranston handles the role like a pro.

Strategic Command is dumb but kind of fun, in the way that many 90s direct-to-video action films tend to be.  It’s a good film for when you want to watch something that won’t necessarily require your full attention.  In fact, the less thought one gives to what happens in Strategic Command, the better.  Watch it for Dudikoff, Norton, and especially the one and only Bryan Cranston!

Book Review: Beowulf by Anonymous


Wow, what an annoying book!

First published in 975, Beowulf tells the story of a Danish king named Hrothgar who can’t be bothered to be a good neighbor.  The loud parties at his mead hall ends up annoying both Grendel and his mother so Grendel takes it open himself to start killing Hrothgar’s men.  Hrothgar and his men are forced to abandon their mead hall …. which, well, that would be the solution right there, wouldn’t it?  I mean, they could just go somewhere where there isn’t a monster living nearby and build a new mead hall.  And maybe they could establish some new mead hall rules, like “Keep it down after 10 pm” and “You Don’t Have To Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here.”  But instead, Hrothgar decides to cry about it.  Seriously, dude, it’s just a mead hall!

Anyway, this jerk named Beowulf sails over to help out Hrothgar.  But before Beowulf can help out Hrothgar, he has to spend a lot of time bragging on himself and telling everyone that he’s the greatest warrior that has ever lived.  I mean, he goes on for so long that I was wondering if maybe he was just planning on boring everyone to death.  Beowulf goes on to kill Grendel with his bare hands and then, when Grendel’s mother complains, Beowulf kills her too.  Uhmmm …. yay, I guess.

Many years later, Beowulf is the king and one of his slaves steals a gold cup from a dragon.  Needless to say, the dragon is not happy about this and really, who can blame it?  I imagine that dragons spend a lot of time collecting their gold and it’s always struck me as odd that humans seem to think that they have the right to just steal from the dragons whenever they feel like it.  With the dragon threatening his kingdom, Beowulf has to come out of retirement to fight one final beast….

The main problem with Beowulf is that the main character is kind of a jerk and he has a really bad habit of bragging on himself.  If I was one of his subjects, I would dread having to ask him for help because Beowulf is apparently incapable of just doing something without using it as an excuse to puff himself up.  Instead, he has to brag about how he’s the only person in the world who could possibly do it and, to top it all off, he has to make everyone else feel bad about the fact that they’re having to ask Beowulf for a favor.  Beowulf is such a long-winded jerk that he makes Grendel and the Dragon seem sympathetic by comparison.

I’m not surprised that the author of Beowulf is anonymous.  Who would want to take credit for this?  For a far better look at life in the 8th Century, check out John Gardner’s Grendel.  Or go watch the Robert Zemeckis-directed 2007 film adaptation, which has its flaws but also features Angelina Jolie, Crispin Glover, Anthony Hopkins, and John Malkovich!  How can you wrong with a cast like that?

Defending America With Miss Victory!


In the world of the comics, there were many costumed heroes during World War II.  Everyone from Superman to Captain America to Captain Marvel did their part for the war effort, battling Nazis abroad and traitors at home.  However, one of the first costumed heroes was unique because, in an age dominated by super-powered men, she was a woman who simply decided that she could better aid her country by wearing a costume and fighting its enemies.  By day, she was Joan Wayne, a stenographer.  But, when America’s enemies needed a good beat down, she became Miss Victory!

With this being Independence Day weekend, it seems appropriate to take a moment and pay our respects to one of the first female super heroes of World War II, Miss Victory!

O Canada: The 20 Best Episodes of Degrassi


Happy Canada Day!

Today, in honor of Canada, I’ve decided to share my picks for the 20 best episode of my favorite Canadian television show, Degrassi!

 

  1. Take On Me (Season 3, Episode 16)

Degrassi does The Breakfast Club!  In fact, this episode so closely follows the plot of The Breakfast Club, one has to wonder how John Hughes would have felt about it.  This episode is classic Degrassi in that it shouldn’t work but it does.  Plus, it’s the start of the Ellie (Stacey Farber) and Sean (Daniel Cameron) romance!  Ellie and Sean were one of the best couples in Degrassi history, I don’t care what Emma says.

  1. Time Stands Still (Season 4, Episodes 7-8)

This is probably best-remembered for the scene where Jimmy (Drake) gets shot in the back but the entire episode is actually a sensitive look at the school shooting phenomenon.  Ephraim Ellis deserves a lot of credit for making school shooter Rick Murray both deeply creepy and, occasionally, pathetically sympathetic.  Still, one has to wonder why Alex (Deanna Casaluce) was never punished for her part in the prank that drove Rick over the edge.  Our beloved Spinner (Shane Kippel) and Jay (Mike Lobel) were expelled and treated like pariahs.  Alex not only remained class Vice President and somehow became far more popular with all of Jimmy’s friends.

  1. Ghost in the Machine (Season 4, Episodes 1-2)

Two years after being raped by Dean, Paige (Lauren Collins, giving one of her best performances) learns that the case is finally coming to trial.  At first, Paige doesn’t want to testify, saying that she doesn’t want to relive the ordeal and that it won’t make any difference anyways.  With Spinner’s support, Paige finally does testify but, despite her testimony, Dean is still acquitted.  Paige spirals into self-destructive behavior before finally destroying Dean’s car in one of the show’s most cathartic moments.  The first time I watched this episode, I was stunned and horrified by Dean’s acquittal.  Even though Paige eventually took responsibility for destroying Dean’s car, I still cheered when she did it.  If only Dean had been inside of it at the time.

  1. Whisper to a Scream (Season 3, Episode 8)

Ellie deals with the stress of having an alcoholic mother and a media internship by cutting herself.  Degrassi was one of the first shows to deal with self-harm and it did so with a commendable sensitivity.

  1. Pass the Dutchie (Season 7, Episode 10)

Due to his cancer treatments, Spinner is given medicinal marijuana and is soon wandering around the entire school stoned out of his mind.  Not only did this episode feature one of Shane Kimmel’s best performances but it also featured the classic line, “I’m going to fail English!  What type of idiot fails his own language!”

  1. Secret (Season 4, Episodes 14-15)

Emma (Miriam McDonald), who was previously the show’s token good, liberal activist, grows increasingly self-destructive in the wake of the school shooting and eventually heads into “the Ravine.”  The end result is that she gets a STD from Jay but she also gets the lead role in Degrassi’s production of Dracula.  This one of those Degrassi episodes that was so controversial, it almost didn’t air in the United States.

  1. Voices Carry (Season 4, Episodes 11-12)

Craig Manning (Jake Epstein) asks Ashley Kerwin (Melissa McIntyre) to marry him, beats up his stepfather, trashes a hotel room, and eventually learns he’s bipolar.  This was a powerful episode, one that wasn’t even harmed by a subplot about Liberty (Sarah Barrable-Tishauer) and J.T. (Ryan Cooley) working together to write the spring musical.

  1. Paradise City (Season 8, Episodes 19-22)

Also known as Degrassi Goes Hollywood!

  1. Rock This Town (Season 6, Episode 11)

Since the start of the series, J.T. Yorke (played by Ryan Cooley) had been one of the show’s most popular characters, a former joker who got serious.  However, when Cooley decided to leave the show to go to college, Degrassi killed J.T. off in a scene that was so violent that it’s still shocking to watch to this day.  Making the scene all the more powerful is that J.T. was, more or less, a random victim.  He just happened to walk out to his car at the wrong time.  Degrassi was a dangerous place.

  1. Eyes Without A Face (Season 6, Episodes 5 and 6)

Darcy (Shenae Grimes) starts posting racy pictures on her “MyRoom” page.  A fat, middle-aged guy shows up at her house and introduces himself as the dude who has been sending her all of the complimentary comments and money.  Along with introducing the character of Clare Edwards (Aislinn Paul), who would eventually became the show’s main character, this episode was also the start of a series of episodes in which Darcy transformed from being the somewhat boring, token Christian to being the most interesting person on the show.

  1. U Got The Look (Season 3, Episode 3)

Tired of being called “cute” and “adorable” and wanting to be known as “sexy,”, Manny Santos (Cassie Steele) changes her look and her attitude.  In the process, she alienates her best friend Emma, picks up a host of new admirers, and causes JT to repeatedly walk into walls.  This is one of the best-remembered episodes of Degrassi, largely because Manny never went back to her “old” self but instead embraced her new persona.

  1. Mother and Child Reunion (Season 1, Episode 1-2)

In the very first episode of Degrassi, Emma makes a creepy friend online and nearly gets kidnapped.  Fortunately, Snake (Stefan Brogren) is there to toss the guy against the wall and threaten to snap his neck.  Along with introducing almost all of the main characters of the show’s first 6 seasons, this episode also started the spark that would lead to Snake eventually becoming Emma’s stepfather.

  1. Death or Glory (Season 7, Episodes 5 and 6)

After being diagnosed with cancer, Spinner gets a mohawk and gets out his aggression by accepting random fights.  Who knew that Degrassi had a fight club?

  1. Redemption Song (Season 5, Episode 10)

Still being rejected by his old friends because of his role in Jimmy’s shooting, Spinner spends the weekend at the beach with the ultra-religious Friendship Club.  Jay complicates things by showing up.  Darcy and Spinner were an underrated couple and this is one of their key episodes.

  1. Turned Out (Season 5, Episodes 7-8)

Oh my God, JT’s selling drugs!  Well, Liberty is pregnant and JT does need the money but still!  This episode is remembered for the final freeze frame of JT sitting in a hospital bed and sobbing.  Degrassi could be a dark show.

  1. What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost (Season 6, Episodes 9-10)

Craig’s back in town.  Ellie and Manny are both excited but …. oh my God!  Craig’s picked up an addiction to cocaine!  This is best-remembered for the scene in which Craig gets a sudden nosebleed while performing during the intermission of a Taking Back Sunday show.

  1. Accidents Will Happen (Season 3, Episodes 14-15)

Manny discovers that she’s pregnant.  This is the episode that was considered to be so controversial that it didn’t even air in the United States until two years after it was originally broadcast in Canada.

  1. Heat of the Moment (Season 8, Episode 12)

The later seasons were never quite as good as the first few but still, we got a few good episodes out of them.  Like this episode, in which Alli (Melinda Shankar) starts the “I Hate Holly J” Facerange group.  Yes, Facerange.  Degrassi wasn’t going to get sued.

  1. Jagged Little Pill (Season 1, Episode 15)

Ashley Kerwin’s the most popular girl in school until she takes ecstasy and ends up telling everyone what she really thinks about them.  Fortunately, Ashley became a much more interesting character afterwards.

  1. Bust A Move (Season 7, Episodes 13-14)

In a last hurrah for the original Degrassi gang, everyone goes on a road trip to Smithdale College.  With Jay’s “help,” Manny gets into acting school.  Meanwhile, Ashley reunites with Craig.  Craig sings “My Window” and it was a fitting send-off to what was left of the show’s original cast.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. The Curse of Degrassi — This Halloween-themed episode was technically a Degrassi mini but I like to think that it’s canonical.  Holly J. (Charlotte Arnold) get possessed by the ghost of Rick Murray and kills all of her friends.  Fortunately, Spinner is there to reverse time.
  2. School’s Out — This made-for-TV movie was the finale of the original Degerassi High.  It featured the first two instances of the F-word being used on Canadian television.  In the start of a Degrassi tradition, it ended with Joey alone, Snake bitter, Lucy blind, and Wheels heading to prison.

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Sydney Pollack Edition


4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

87 years ago today, Sydney Pollack was born in Indiana.  Though Pollack got his start as an actor, he soon moved into directing and was one of the key television directors of the 1960s.  He eventually branched out into film, making a name for himself as a director of intelligent and sensitive comedies and dramas.  Though he only directed 21 films over the course of his career, his films received a total of 48 Oscar nominations and 11 wins.  1982’s Tootsie and 1985’s Out of Africa were both nominated for Best Picture.  Out of Africa won.

Pollack also returned to acting in the 90s, making a name for himself as a skilled character actor.  I’ll always remember him from Eyes Wide Shut, interrogating Tom Cruise while playing pool.

When he passed away in 2008, Pollack was remembered as one of the best directors of Hollywood’s second golden age.

In honor of Sydney Pollack, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Sydney Pollack Films

Jeremiah Johnson (1972, dir by Sydney Pollack, DP: Duke Callaghan)

The Yakuza (1974, dir by Sydney Pollack, DP: Duke Callaghan and Kozo Okazaki)

The Electric Horseman (1979, dir by Sydney Pollack, DP: Owen Roizman)

The Firm (1993, dir by Sydney Pollack, DP: John Seale)

Scenes I Love: Robby the Robot Makes His Debut in Forbidden Planet


According to the imdb, today is Robby the Robot’s birthday.  I didn’t know that robot’s had birthdays but apparently, they do.  Robby is 67 years old and I think that, along with Earl Holliman, he might be one of the last two surviving cast member of the 1956 sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet.

So, it only seems appropriate that today’s scene that I love should be Robby the Robot’s debut appearance in Forbidden Planet.  Happy birthday, Robby!