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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Black Sheep

Another unexciting week flooded with assignments! Fantastic...

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The only remotely exciting things that happened to me this week was buying new things. I bought the official music soundtrack to "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" which is fuh-riggin awesome, methinks. One of the tracks from that soundtrack is used as this post's title. I feel like seeing the film again sometime soon because it's been bombing and doing very poorly at the box office (which is fairly understandable - see my FILM REVIEW I wrote earlier this week to see why I think it's been doing poorly). I'm disappointed with the figures, sure, but I'm still glad to have been exposed to the film nonetheless (it's now a very clear favourite). I think I've been a pretty good supporter of the film so far, having bought the physical copy of the soundtrack and buying the video game also.

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I also bought three new movies to add to my always growing DVD collection! They were part of the awesome "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" deal at JB-Hi Fi. I haven't seen "JCVD" and "Taken" and thought they were worth trying out while the other, "SPL" is something I like to watch from time to time due to the film's awesomeness (clearly exemplefied in Donnie Yen).
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

I originally wrote a paragraph each for every film (as I normally would) but my browser crashed on me all of a sudden and everything disappeared and didn't save (highly, HIGHLY unfortunate). I couldn't be bothered re-writing everything so here's a few pointers. You might also notice that three of the films I've watched are one's starring Clint Eastwood. I've chosen Clint Eastwood as my case study for one of my cinema studies essay on the subject of "stardom", which is why I've watched a few of his movies.


- Absolutely amazing, fun and one of the finest films, you'll ever see.
- Use of camera, music, pacing of plot and acting are superb.

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- One of THE essential Clint Eastwood films to watch.
- Undermines the American legal system while providing an interesting story.
- Absolutely hated the villain - was legitimately in shock when he got away with his crimes after Dirty Harry's hard work in finding him.

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- Classic western story - one of Clint Eastwood's more subdued but good performances.
- Nothing particularly spectacular, an okay film, in my opinion.

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- Potential to be a really good movie but was very disappointing.
- Lex Luthor's plan to raise a new continent is laughable and very silly.
- Subplot with Superman's son went absolutely no where.
- Would've preferred to see a film about Superman's re-connection with Earth and the human race after a five year absence.
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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS


Don't quote me on this but everyone's been saying that this is an absolute bullshit rumour. Brad Pitt is apparently in talks to star in a live action film adaptation of the popular video game, "Red Dead Redemption". I honestly don't see Pitt as John Marston, I'm sorry.

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Angelina Jolie is set to make her writing/directing debut as she plans to write and direct her own original film set during the Bosnian War. GK Films Blog writes:

Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie is set to make her feature film directorial debut. A love story set during the Bosnian war, the film focuses on a Serbian man and a Bosnian woman who meet on the eve of the war and the effect the war has on their relationship.

Based on an original screenplay written by Jolie, the actors will be solely compromised of various ethnicities from the region of the former Yugoslavia.

So this is interesting to me at least. I always am curious to see how an actor approaches directing/writing films (like Clint Eastwood for example who has gone on to do many great films in the last ten years).

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Danny Boyle, director of Academy Award winning picture, "Slumdog Millionaire" has been busy filming his new project, "127 Hours". The film stars James Franco and tells the true story of Aron Ralston - a man who had to amputate his arm off after getting it stuck in a boulder. The film looks wonderfully shot and utilises a kind-of documentary feel to it. Check out the trailer below.



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Now this isn't exactly film news but it damn well should be just from judging at this upcoming television show's budget and director at the helm. Upcoming television series, "The Walking Dead" has official released it's first glimpse into the series (it was originally previewed at Comic-Con a few months prior). The series is based on the popular critically acclaimed graphic novels of the same name and will directed by Frank Darabont, director of "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile". One of my highly anticipated things to be released this year (for obvious reasons) - check out the four minute preview below.

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And that's all for this week. As always here's something midly impressive that might make you chortle a little. I love mash-up trailers though I'm not often amused by the bulk of them. I was at this though and was surprised to see how well it worked. Someone used the audio in the "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" trailer and mashed it with footage from "The Matrix" trilogy. It's really nicely edited though there are a few lip flaps that are more than distracting. Give it a shot.



End post.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

This film review was originally intended to be published on my University's website for emerging journalists (though I hardly consider myself a journalist). It was supposed to be a free contribution to the website but unfortunately they couldn't run the review because one of their own writers had just written a review for it the same day I submitted it (just my luck). Anyway, the review for anyone interested in reading more about what I thought about this film.
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Is there a place in cinema where nostalgia for video games’ past and indie rock music can combine and create an entertaining time out at the movies?
Edgar Wright has established himself as a director whose previous films, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”, are instantly recognisable as his own manufactured products. Both have also attracted cult followings. Wright's latest feature film, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” would be his most ambitious and possibly most challenging film yet. On one hand, the film is an adaptation of a graphic novel. On the other hand, this would be Wright’s first feature film made outside of Britain (and one not featuring frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, no less). With the odds stacked against Wright, one can only wonder if “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” could help Wright attain a mainstream audience and win big with Hollywood.
The film sees 22 year-old slacker and bass guitarist, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) fall hopelessly in love with the girl of his dreams (literally), Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The two begin to date, however, Scott’s life dissolves into chaos as he quickly learns that he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to continue dating Ramona. Initially, this may seem like your regular teen-angst romantic comedy but what Wright does is create a film that’s so different and unlike any other you’ve seen before.
Wright’s stylised use of rapid-fire editing fits perfectly within this film’s universe and helps move the plot forward at a very brisk pace. In doing this Wright doesn’t need heavy exposition to explain things as everything on screen is rather easy to pick up. Once a scene is done it quickly moves on to what happens next. At one point in the film, Wright even parodies his own editing technique to brilliant comedic effect.
What’s particular noteworthy about the film is the fact that it’s very visual, especially with its text. For example, if a phone rings in the background, the words “Ring Ring” would project itself from the phone just like it would in a comic book. When Scott faces one of Ramona’s exes, they both stand at opposite ends of the frame and a “Vs.” sign flashes between them. All these small things provide for great visuals and emphasise the film’s comic book roots as well as making the movie one look like one elaborate video game.
The cast is great and everyone involved, no matter how big or small their role is, provides the film with a layer of depth. The characters are all very well written and all come with their own unique personality. My biggest concern was Michael Cera as he is usually seen portraying the same awkward character on screen. It was a nice surprise to see Cera not be completely awkward but more insecure which definitely helped create his character. Mary Elizabeth Winstead finds a perfect balance between being desirable and nonchalant as Ramona Flowers, Kieran Culkin is hilarious as Scott’s gay roommate Wallace Wells and newcomer Ellen Wong plays the obsessive Knives Chau to perfection. And let’s not forget the villains who are all memorable in their own right with slightly hammy performances that never become annoying parodies.
It should also be noted that the film’s soundtrack is very exceptional as is the wonderfully hilarious and well written script. The film’s score mixes familiar sounds of video games and garage/indie rock to amazing effect, also. These other elements definitely help to add another dimension to the film.
Unfortunately, despite all these highly positives aspects, the film doesn’t look like it would appeal to the general populace as it is a niche film. While I definitely appreciated what Wright was able to make, I don’t think that it’s for everyone. The film is very referential and has a hipster/indie-vibe to it that could make people think the film is too pretentious and may scare people away. This is most unfortunate as Wright has created something absolutely unique and wholly original (by which I mean the execution of the film). In no way does this hurt Wright’s credibility as a director. For now though, he will still remain a cult director and this film will still attain a loyal cult following. Ironically enough, like most things indie and alternative – this film may end up being misunderstood and sorely overlooked.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

We Are Sex Bob-Omb

Attended Manifest 2010 yesterday and it was pretty damn awesome. What was not awesome was voting in the morning because it sucked waiting in the cold. Another thing that sucked was building the actual Tetris blocks that myself and Masa were wearing. Yes, what you read was right - we went as Tetris blocks. We didn't actually plan how we'd build our blocks but we bought the boxes earlier in the week($40 for four boxes, =="), painted them at my home and then assembled them at the Showgrounds. We were able to build my block fine but Masa's block kept falling apart. After we fixed it (with help from Kevin and Eddie), we moved off inside our blocks and were bombarded with photographers. Couldn't take 5 steps without stopping (and it was hard moving in those things). But all in all, fun time at Manifest. Below are some photos from the event that I didn't take. Instead, they're stolen from other people who have posted them on Manifest's Facebook page.



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The four of us also managed to get into the Little Kuriboh Q&A panel which was also very cool and very funny. For those who don't know, LK is responsible for creating popular internet series, "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series" and has since grown to become a bit of an internet celebrity. He's a very funny man and seemed very nice - he even answered a quick question I had for him about his favourite films!

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And then of course we had to destroy the boxes because we couldn't bring them home (though part of me kinda wanted to keep it since it looked pretty awesome). The best part about creating something is eventually destroying it. :)

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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


So our cinema studies class studied "Goodfellas" this past week and I do believe I've given a few thoughts about the film before so I won't elaborate too much. I absolutely love this film and learning about it and the techniques and cinema of Martin Scorsese (I'm required to also write an essay about him, which is awesome!) only further enhances my love for it. Quality film, essential viewing.



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I've been really looking forward to "Scott Pilgrim vs The World" and by God this film did not disappoint me in the slightest. It's like as if director, Edgar Wright, dived into my subconscious and made a film based on things he saw in my head. Needless to say it was really appealing to me and I knew I'd like it, love it even, straight from the get-go. The film's opening is one of the most memorable and energetic openings I've experienced in a cinema for some time now. Wright's noted and stylised use of quick cuts and jumpy editing only further enhances the chaotic story while giving it a pacing that never quite needs heavy-handed expositition to explain to the audience what is going on. The film's visuals and emphasis of text; cast of great actors; awesome soundtrack; wonderful script and amazing fight sequences are huge positives of the film. Finally, the video-game references. There were at least five, maybe six references that all went back to "The Legend of Zelda" which I thought were appropriately used. Great movie - easily one of my top five films of the year, thus far.


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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS



Any chance I get to talk about Rose Byrne is a good one because she just seems like an absolute sweetheart. So The Hollywood Reporter reports that Byrne was recently in talks to be apart of Matthew Vaughn's ("Layer Cake", "Kick-Ass") "X-Men: First Class" as Moira MacTaggart, love interest of Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy). The film's been steadily casting a list of really talented actors (see their IMDB page) but is it too much? You decide.

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Another film I'm now highly anticipating is Darren Aronofsky's, "Black Swan", starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassell. The official film trailer was released this past week and sees Portman as a seasoned ballerina whose life is consumed by her art. A new ballerina in the form of Kunis, comes in and threatens Portman's position as the lead in the production of "Swan Lake" and a tense rivalry ensues. It may seem familiar but the film has a lot to love about it if one decides to check out the trailer. Aronfsky's previous directing efforts include, "Requiem For A Dream", "The Fountain" and "The Wrestler".


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And that is all this week. I don't think I need to include any more pictures and if you think about it, this post was actually quite short in terms of text. Being at Manifest and watching "Scott Pilgrim vs the World" on the same day was just awesome.

End post.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

If I Was Your Vampire

8-BIT NOSTALGIA, INCOMPREHENSIBLE FILMS AND PIXAR WINS! This is post #255 for my weekly blog!

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I borrowed "Okami" from a friend the other week and am still in the early stages of the video game (haven't quite gotten around to it as much) and from the few hours of gameplay that I have played, I can't believe that I haven't played this game earlier. I had heard of it ages ago before, I just could never find a copy. As you control our furry hero, Amaterasu and guide her throughout Japan, restoring it's beauty with the stroke of your brush, you feel almost enlightened (weird, huh?). Part of this may have to do with the themes of the game BUT it's largely due to the presentation of the game. This game is rather beautiful to look at and is one of those games that really makes full use of the Playstation 2's limitations. "Okami" is like a Japanese painting come to life.

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Another game I just recently acquired was the downloadable game, "Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game". The film's in theaters right now but I thought I'd try the game out also because everything I had seen from the game looked pleasantly fun. It was only about $15 on the Playstation Store too so I thought it was worth the purchase, even if I wouldn't like the game. Fortunately enough, it's a very fun game but the one downside is that you HAVE to play with friends. It's a little overwhelming and difficult at times if you're playing on your own. It's also a nice throwback to gaming's past as the game is basically a side-scrolling beat 'em up. And the soundtrack is simply awesome. Fun game to pass the time and I doubt it should take too long to finish.

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Speaking of all things Scott Pilgrim, be sure to check out this animated short called "Scott Pilgrim vs the Animation". It covers the events that happened before the actual film and is based on the second book of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels (I think). I think it really gives you an idea of what the feature film will be like and it's pretty kick-ass too.


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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


"The King of Comedy" is a somewhat disturbing observation at celebrity worship and obsession. It's highly effective at examining these themes and features good performances from Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis but the standout in this film is Sandra Bernhard who absolutely knocks the ball right out of the park. This film is a lot different to the Martin Scorsese films I've seen in that it's a black comedy (though some other films of his do contain elements of black comedy) but it's good to see that Scorsese is capable of having a wide range. I think this film fits perfectly as a "Taxi Driver" companion piece - both films are set in New York and have protagonists that are fixated and obsessed with an idea so much that their desires collide with reality. Both films also have an ambiguous ending.



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venga hombre, tampoco es pa tanto

M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening" is a pretty bad film. It's hard to believe how the same guy who wrote and directed excellent films, "The Sixth Sense" and the often overlooked and underappreciated "Unbreakable" could create a film like this. Never once did I believe Mark Whalberg was a science teacher - it's like as if he was doing an impression of what he thinks all science teachers look or sound like. Zooey Deschanel does nothing in the movie and it seems like she is impervious to the fear of dying as everyone else is running rampant. It's kind of disappointing to see the two leads, both of whom can be solid actors, fail in the way Whalberg and Deschanel have. Then again, perhaps scripting is an issue for these actors as the dialogue can be a quite cringeworthy. The only redeemable aspect are some of the scenes where the people kill themselves, which really sets up the film very well. This premise might have sounded good on paper but it didn't work out all that well. I was aware that this film was bad, beforehand, but I didn't think it'd be that disappointing.



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Tommy Wiseau - a visionary.

A lot of people say that this is the worst film ever made and I may have to agree. "The Room" is the worst film I've ever seen. HOWEVER, that isn't to say that I absolutely hated the film. Let's get this out of the way first, if I were to observe this film from a technical film-making standpoint, it is by all means a terrible and inconcievable film - the acting is atrocious, the story is incredibly weak and the characters are so bland and uninteresting. Nothing is particularly spectacular or even noteworthy. However, these faults, no matter how large they are, are what make the film appealing in another way - it's so bad that it's actually good. Random establishing shots of San Francisco; cheesy and horrbile acting; constant use of "Oh hi *person's name"; playing catch with a football in a tiny space for no reason; awkwardly long sex scenes with cheesy slow jams; abandoned subplots and a creepy college kid make this film an absolute laughfest. There were several moments, however, where I could not press on and watch any more because it was really bad but I endured and, to my benefit, found even more gems of comedy and laughter. By all means a bad movie but a really good bad movie at that (if that's even possible).



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Rian Johnson's previous film indie hit, "Brick" was a film that really made a big impression me. It was atmospheric, had a great screenplay and featured a performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt that really was captivating. With Johnson's second feature film, "The Brothers Bloom" we have a film that's a radical change from the crime noir style tone of "Brick". While it may be different in tone, the only similarities that both films share are that their characters inhabit a world of their own. "The Brothers Bloom" has some pretty outstanding performances from it's cast of top-notch actors in Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz and Rinko Kukuchi (playing a mute role again) and has a comedic and witty tone reminscent to that of a Wes Anderson film (while this comparison might not be one I should use considering that I've yet to watch a Wes Anderson film, I have seen the first ten minutes of most of his films and the openings themselves say enough about his films, I think). The film has a great sense of cinematography, much like "Brick", and the costumes are absolutely essential in enhancing the tone and style of the film. I liked this film quite a lot and despite the sometimes hard to follow plot, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Rinko Kikuchi is cute and so damn awesome in this film. For those who HAVE seen "Brick" look out for the cameos from some of that film's cast members. It was really easy to notice Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Norah Zehetner but I had to rewind and backtrack to spot the others.



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Guy Ritchie's "Snatch" felt like a British version of "Pulp Fiction" to me (of course without the non-linear timeline). Quentin Tarantino has made a living off of making criminals somewhat likeable and funny characters and Ritchie does the same here with his film. It's a really enjoyable film, I loved the characters, even dastardly Brick Top, the film's primary villain. The story is rather simple, everyone's searching for a priceless diamond (even if they don't know it yet) and it's crazy fun to see how this particular diamond moves around and affects the people who come into contact with it. Brad Pitt's performance as a Pikey named Mickey O'Neil is a real memorable one as are the rest of the cast. The writing is sharp and punchy and honestly had me laughing quite a bit. The film is a bit frentic but my interpretation of that is that it matches the chaotic mess these criminals and shmucks have got themselves into. Solid film and great fun.



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The days of the buff 80's action hero with unlimited ammo and corny one-liners are gone but that doesn't stop the Sylvester Stallone's powerhouse "The Expendables". This film is a complete throwback to the 80's action films that made a career of and it's a solid one at that. It's obvious that this film has no intentions of being particularly noteworthy with writing or direction but instead relies on the spectcale and starpower that Stallone Stallone was able to summon. While I would've liked to have seen someone like Jean Claude Van Damme have a role in the film (even if it were a cameo) it is still good with the cast that it has. No one really goes into a film like this expecting Oscar-worthy performances, just a lot of gunfire and explosions and you know what? - that's perfectly fine with me. There are a LOT of great moments and I was never bored at all. Action fanatics can savour every tantalising bit of choreographed action that the crew were able to manipulate and can look fondly as our onscreen heroes do what they do best - blow stuff up with reckless abandon. Did a movie like this need to be made? Probably not. It's not quite the action movie to end all action movies but damn it if it isn't a good thrill-ride. Minor nitpicking issues involve the use of the camera as some scenes were very shaky but they weren't so bad that they deterred my viewing experience.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS


This is the only piece of news I could be bothered mentioning this week. There's a few others that mattered to me but perhaps not so much to anyone reading (if anyone's reading, lol). "Toy Story 3" has become the highest grossing Pixar film AND the highest grossing animated feature film of all time. Congratulations to Pixar, director Lee Unkrich and everyone involved because it's a good film that deserves a good lot of recognition.
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And that brings tihs week to a close. Now I like Batman and I like Darth Vader too but put the two together and you get a really, really strange combo. Kinda cool, kinda creepy.


End post.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Lethal Enforcer

Short and sweet for today's post becuase I have absolutely no content to fall back on and I just thought this would be a bit of a refresher for anyone tired of long posts. Having said that, here's a very condensed version of everything that mattered to me this past week.

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METSU HADOUUUUUKEN!

Notice anything different with the blog? How about a new banner and some much needed colour! In light of my recent "Super Street Fighter 4" obsession, I decided to draw myself trying to imitate SSF4's leading man, Ryu's signature move, the Hadouken. I like what I've done, though I probably could've done without all the health bars and such as they do make the overall image a bit too busy. But yes, a much needed change indeed.

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I decided to jump on the Formspring bandwagon and created an account. I doubt it's going to last for very long but if I'm wrong about that then I'll probably keep it for a while. For those of you who wanna ask me anything (nothing stupid, please), visit "formspring.me/zombiegoo" to check out my Formspring. Alternatively, you can ask me a question on the sidebar to the right.

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I bought "Borderlands" this week and it's a very awesome game! I'm surprised that some of my friends don't like this game very much because I would've thought this was the type of game that was perfect for them - a hybrid between RPG (role playing game) games and FPS (first person shooter) games. I'm playing the game in split-screen co-op with a friend at the moment and it's been a real blast (pun intended). The missions/quests are fun and looting is an absolute joy. Oh how I love looting from dead enemies.

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Can you say awesome? There will be two newly unveiled covers for next month's issue of "GameInformer" is nothing short of brilliant. It's not even the fact that Batman is featured on the cover, it's the fact that the whiteness of the cover makes it so...engrossing, so engaging. It really draws the eyes and looks spectacular. Next issue will see "GameInformer" reveal the new things to look forward to in the sequel to last year's massive hit, "Batman: Arkham Asylum" with the aptly titled, "Batman: Arkham City".


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Currently in the mood for alternative American band, "We Are Scientists". I quite like this band - their sound is pretty awesome and it turns out I've heard one of their tracks before on a game called, "Burnout". As such, I've decided to name this blog post after one of their songs. Very cool stuff here.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING



This show used to be one of my favourites back when I had Foxtel (cable television). Since it's cancellation, it has gone on to develop a cult following and now that I'm re-watching it - I can see the appeal of this show to older audiences as well. I always felt that it wasn't quite a kids show as it was very different and darker than most television shows produced by Nickelodeon. Nonetheless, everyone should get exposed to the awesomeness that is "Invader Zim". If you don't like the character of GIR, I just feel sorry for you.
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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS



"Jackass 3D" - taking the complete piss out of the 3D gimmick and taking it to the extreme. Or as Johnny Knoxville so eloquently put it, "taking 3D and shoving it up Steve-O's asshole". I love these guys - they're so goddamn hilarious even if they're putting their body in harm's way for our amusement and entertainment. Looking forward to seeing this.



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"The Expendables" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World", both release next week. Anyone else excited about either of these two films? I know I am. I'm hoping my friends agree to a double screening of the two films (meaning we're gonna try kill both films back-to-back on the same night) becuase I've been feverishly anticipating these films.

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So Justin Beiber's getting his own 3-D biopic where he will play himself. What the hell? I'm about as confused as you are. I'm not even sure if Beiber's short life warrants a biopic at all. Eminem at least had an interesting life but Beiber? Perhaps I'm just quick to label anything Beiber-related. I really don't think he deserves to have a movie made about him.

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More news from Zack Snyder's nerd-porn movie, "Sucker Punch". Alex Pardee, an artist whose work I admire, worked with director, Zack Snyder, quite closely in conceptualising this crazy and imaginative world for the film. Pardee, designed some character posters for the film that look absoultey amazing. Check them out below.





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Finally, I present to you "Star Wars"-themed cupcakes made from awesomeness.



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