Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland and William Baldwin star in this psychological horror film about near-death-experiences.
It's not often that I'll watch horror movies older than I am--there are exceptions for stellar films such as The Evil Dead, The Thing or The Shining--but in general, I tend to avoid horrors pre-1995. Flatliners was an exception. I kept seeing this pop up again and again as I searched for movies on Netflix and decided to give it a try. It all ended up better than expected.

Flatliners is a different sort of horror that's still pretty unique--a group of brilliant med-school students decide to experiment with assisted suicide and resuscitation--essentially offing themselves for a few minutes to experience a possible life after death or near-death-experiences (LDE's). The premise is interesting and plays out a lot better than your typical slasher.

 The film is carried largely by Kiefer Sutherland (24) and Kevin Bacon's (Apollo 13) performances--Sutherland is the mastermind behind the experiment and the vivacious Bacon provides an excellent foil to Sutherland's chilling behavior. (He's got the wackiest hair, too; but so did a lot of people in the late 80's-early 90's). Julia Roberts is here also, in her first serious drama/horror--she hadn't quite attained the popularity that she held throughout the rest of the 90's after Pretty Woman and as a result, she's quite a decent actress here--plenty of guilt and emotion and all that jazz. William Baldwin (Backdraft)... I'm mixed about him-- he seemed to be constantly scared and paranoid all movie long--but I suppose I would be too if I saw scorned women who's lives I basically destroyed on every screen, all the time.

It appears that Mr. Sutherland herps while he derps. He also strongly resembles Frankenstein's monster.

 Flatliners has some chillingly spooky moments mixed in along far too much cinematic smoke-- we're talking smoke coming from manholes, grates, exhaust pipes, doorways, lawns, graveyards, and bridges. It seems that the director really had a fetish for smoke.

Picture this--times 50. Then add flashing lights and bad haircuts.

There are also some corny situations and bad makeup on a few of the dead that the med students see after they undergo the experiments, along with some outright strange stuff--it appears that the med school classes are in a museum being renovated with Italian-Greco architecture... ok...

That's a med school building? Wish my school resembled that.

Certainly, Flatliners cannot simply be compared to masterpieces of psychological horror such as The Sixth Sense, The Silence of the Lambs, or Psycho, but it does provoke thought and many questions.

DiCaprio's on da ball.
 For instance, when does the mind shut off and psychological death occur? At brain death? After? How is it that there are cases of people who are clinically dead "coming back" if brain death is final? What happens immediately after death? Is there an afterlife?

Wait a second... why am I on an island?? Oh @#$! Not this again!
 Flatliners is a fairly decent movie, and I saw it for free. I suggest you try to see it for free also if you are interested. Be prepared for funky 80's style cinematography, haircuts, clothing, and houses--gods above, that was a strange era. Also--Flatliners is rated R for language, violence, dramatic situations, blah blah blah and so on and so forth. It's worth a watch--don't expect a masterpiece, but just a good horror for a rainy day.

Flatliners gets 3.75/5 stars--mainly cause Kevin Bacon's hair is so damn amusing. It is rated R.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mandate Pictures Intro

Quite possibly the oddest movie studio video (at the start of any movie) that I've ever seen. Watch it--it's pretty weird.

Yes, cause little children running into a drum isn't creepy at all......

Saturday, October 1, 2011

50/50 Movie Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star in this dark comedy about cancer
Cancer movies used to have two specific roles in Hollywood--over-the-top comedies about a cancer patient who decides to do all those things he never got around to, or the melodramatic, heavy, depressing drama-tragedies where you come out of the theater wishing you hadn't woke up that morning. With 50/50, it seems that those niches have been broken, and thank God they were.

This realistic tragicomedy--a self-autobiography of sorts of screenwriter Will Reiser-- keeps the balance between both the funny and the sad quite admirably. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) is impeccable as young Adam--who has been diagnosed with cancer and must cope with being saturated with the life-ravaging chemotherapy intended ultimately to slow his rapidly-growing disease. Adam is a soft-spoken, calm young man who is law-abiding, kind, and a perfectionist-- JGL eases into this role with charm and candor.

Joseph Gordon Levitt as Adam Lerner

Seth Rogen plays the partying, profane and comic relief friend (Kyle) that he exemplifies--but it seems that he shows far more emotion that usual in this than his earlier films (save Knocked Up, perhaps) It never occurred to me during the movie that these people were just acting, but rather their performances conveyed magnificently a man stricken by a deadly disease.

Other roles such as Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family) as Adam's overbearing mother and Anna Kendrick (Twilight) as his neurotic, psychiatrist-in-training therapist are fulfilled well. There is plenty of humor and entertaining situations as well as emotion-laden, tearjerker scenes. Never once did 50/50 not seem like it was unrealistic--JGL shows many emotions and perspectives of one facing his own mortality in the eye.
JGL and Seth Rogen (Kyle)

Overall, 50/50 is a stellar work to come out of Hollywood during this exceptionally good season for movies. There is probably not a better movie to spend your $10 on this weekend, nor for some time. As 50/50 is R-rated, I wouldn't suggest children. There is a sex scene, copious amounts of profanity, adult humor, drug use (medicinal marijuana), and depressing thematic content. None of these seem really forced but rather a natural depiction of what a man faced with death might consider. Expect to laugh a lot but also feel worry and at times, sadness. The movie soundtrack is pretty upbeat at times but also dramatic corresponding to the situation. Additionally, the Pearl Jam (excellent band!) song Yellow Ledbetter at the end gave 50/50 a great musical ending--the song reflects a sort of melancholy portrayed throughout the film.

50/50 gets a 4.75/5. Rated R.

Lopez Mexican Restaurant-- Review

Their location on Wilcrest just outside of Meadows Place

Lopez--a highly rated and reviewed (4 stars on Mexican restaurant close to my home in Meadows Place (Houston, TX) has always been a hit-or-miss experience for me--opposed to what the reviews would have you believe. Usually, however, the food, service, and atmosphere come together to create a nice meal. Tonight was different, unfortunately. I've frequented Lopez several times over the past few months, but service was always stellar no matter what I thought of the food. That was not the case this Saturday evening.

Inside of Lopez.. facing the dining room and away from the bar.

Lopez--since it moved into its new building-- is a beautiful hacienda-inspired restaurant with gleaming tile floors, white stone walls, mosaics, and Spanish paintings. Upon entering, members of the Lopez family typically will greet patrons with warmth and vivacity. Regrettably, that certain interaction didn't happen tonight. We were quickly seated--right smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant. It was crowded, somewhat smelly, and LOUD. I realize it's a Saturday but damn, two birthday parties going on at once! One family was so drunk they kept singing for several minutes after the waiters finished their birthday tune-- think Applebee's obnoxiousness but en español.

We got our drink orders out quickly, but then the problems really started. It seemed like we had several different waiters at one point. We ordered an appetizer--queso con chile--several minutes after we were seated. We saw that same appetizer twenty minutes later. Our waiter--once he solved his identity crisis and got our drink order right--finally took our meal order. 

Another 10-15 minutes passed and we recieved our food. My fiance's father ordered enchiladas--the meat & sauce tasted as if it came out of a can--he described it aptly as chili gravy. Ick. My burrito was not a burrito--it was a beef enchilada. I didn't bother making a fuss as we were now limited on time--aforementioned father wanted to watch a football game about one hr after we arrived. Luckily the bill came quickly and we left rapidamente.

Poor Lopez. I really wanted to like you tonight. I did before this catastrophe. However, I must bid you adios and hope that you get your act together. Hasta luego... hopefully a long, long time before we return.

Rating-- 2/5 stars for inconsistent food, being overrated, piss-poor service, but also a friendly atmosphere and a beautiful facility. Also, the queso was great when we finally got it.

Desktops Away!

Sick and tired of your desktop looking like the losing side of a barroom brawl? Tired of massive amounts of shortcuts and boring, bland ol' Microsoft sample wallpapers on an endless loop of misery?

About as productive and organized as a hungover teenager at Taco Bell.
Luckily, there's an answer for your desktop woes beyond the typical Google image search. Hundreds of sites and tools are out there to fully customize your experience. Today, however, I want to name a few that I've found indispensable and vital in getting your desktop to do whatever you want.

That being said, the obvious first choice is Rainmeter. This is an open source software that allows your desktop to be customized with low-memory hogging applications and "skins"--from your typical clock to weather to even RSS feeds and email notifications. Rainmeter is the basic skeleton that you'll need to install to do anything with your desktop. There are a few other options out there but in my opinion, Rainmeter has the most versatility and technical support. It also allows budding developers and software designers to give its source code a whirl and create apps/skins of their own.

A very basic Rainmeter desktop--this is the Enigma set of skins, I believe.

As you can probably see, Rainmeter focuses not only on design and art but functionality. Imagine never having to use your Start menu again, if possible. You can easily link any program on your computer to a small icon or bar here on your desktop. It makes for a world of efficiency.

Rainmeter is a fantastic start and all, but what if you're not one for the amount of work it takes to set up a beautiful desktop? Well, luckily, if you have RM installed, you can hop on over to either the Rainmeter forums or DeviantArt--Rainmeter to find many skins, addons, and even full fledged desktops for your perusal.

A typical user-created screenshot of their desktop, using RM and other tools.

My current desktop, courtesy of DeviantArt's Tatenokai.
To get the above desktop, make sure you have Rainmeter installed and then navigate over to Tatenokai's Newspaper Desktop on DeviantArt.

Best of luck on your customizing endeavors. As always, you should thoroughly read Rainmeter's instructions before you set out--lest you destroy your desktop beyond all repair. Just kidding!


I know I've been away for quite some time but I'd like to thank those of you who stuck with me and kept reading my articles. As a sort of a thanks I'd like to refer anyone and everyone to possibly the best piece of freeware on the Internet--Dropbox.

It'll save your life, I promise.

Dropbox is a file-storage program that you can access anywhere, anytime you are connected to the Internet. You start out with roughly 2 gigs of storage (plenty unless you're trying to store movies!) and you can upgrade for far more. 

I haven't used a flash drive or a CD (God forbid) since I downloaded this. It even has a mobile app that lets you see your files on the go. As a college student, I find this indispensable because I can easily see my professors' syllabi and classwork minutes before or even in class without having to carry around a binder full of papers. I can also take notes on a netbook and when I get home to my desktop, they'll be in a folder--easily accessible.

Dropbox is free to use unless you upgrade. Clicking on this link below will also grant you an extra 250mb of space over the 2gigs. Sign up today-- it's free, useful, and quite small of a download. Just click the link below. Or, if you don't believe me (as a precaution for spam/adware, etc), contact me on Facebook/Gmail and I'll send you the referral.

(or copy the link below & paste if the above doesn't work)