Looks like somebody is watching too much “Pinky And The Brain”

…and it’s not me.

While discussing about cloning on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor in 2007, US politician Christine O’Donnell was quoted in saying “American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with FULLY FUNCTIONING BRAINS.

She meant to say about scientists growing human brain cells inside mice, but who can resist poking fun at a misquote?

US news channel MSNBC has forgotten to add that Ms. O’Donnell also believes there’s a “pig man” hiding somewhere at a New York Hospital.

If only Julia Gillard approves a mutation policy so pig men and brain-powered mice can run free in Down Under.

“Super Tuesday” DVD Review: Planes, Trains And Automobiles

Okay. Today is not Tuesday, but the “Super Tuesday” title is taken from the day people rock up to their local video shop and rent a movie or two for only two bucks. Honestly, I prefer watching hard copy DVDs and Blu-Rays at the lounge room as opposed to waiting a week or two to download a video in digital copy but only to get a crappy quality picture. Besides who wants to sit on their swivel chair and stare close to a computer monitor, where they could lie down on a comfy recliner and watch high-quality movie on their 22′ inch LCD TV?

Rant aside, today’s DVD review is the 1987 comedy (and my personal favourite) Planes, Trains And Automobiles.

Planes, Trains And Automobiles

Straight after the success of The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day-off, leghendary ’80s filmmaker John Hughes decided to take a break from making teen angst movies and directed a starring vehicle for comedy legends  Steve Martin and John Candy. Neither of them have worked together before and what we have is a road trip flick that, in my personal opinion, the best film from all three icons.

Have you ever kept meeting the same annoying stranger during a rather chaotic trip back home? Well that happened to advertising executive and cynical family man  Neal Page (Steve Martin) who, after a series of frustrating events in using public transportation, is stuck with shower curtain rings salesman and lovable blubbermouth, Del Griffith (John Candy in his best performance next to Uncle Buck-another John Hughes’ classic). Cruel twist of fate brought them together as both Neal and Del try every means necessary to travel from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. However, they must survive each other first.

Similar to Hughes’ earlier work National Lampoon’s Vacation, anyone who is a victim of flight cancellations, seedy motel rooms, meeting slack-jawed yokels or generally a bad  holiday can relate to this film. There are lot of memorable moments that can be recited for months. The F-word was  cleverly used  in a hilarious tirade between Steve Martin  and a seemingly innocent car rental clerk, played by the Principal’s secretary from Ferris Bueller’s Day-Off . Who can forget the situation where Neal and Del have to share the same hotel bed and that “Those aren’t pillows” gag? Not to mention, the spectacular stunt scene where the boys’ car accidentally drove between two trucks on the wrong side of the freeway.

What makes PTA different (and better) from the louder and rather obnoxious “frat boy” road trip movies (a.k.a. Harold and Kumar) is not only the humour is subtle but Hughes added some seriousness to the story without turning PTA into a complete drama. Remember its a comedy first, but PTA is beyond a wacky comedy and has a soul to it. PTA’s best scene happens to be the most serious yet surprisingly uplifting one where, after being ranted against by Neal, Del finally stands up for himself and be proud of who he is. Watch the scene below, listen to the slow music at the background and look carefully at John Candy’s face. This man can act and the emotions he express here looks real. Almost too real that audiences would believe the usually jolly John Candy has unlocked something from his personal past and is really opening up his emotional side. Either way, this scene cements the legacy of  John Candy. Never judge a book’s cover my readers.

That scene inspires me personally for reasons I won’t go in too much detail. PTA signals John Hughes’ ability to make a comedic film emotionally relatable to real life rather than making it a complete cartoon. Even Hughes’ more cartoony and wackier works, Weird Science (1985) and the first two Home Alone flicks have meanings to them.

Whether you want to watch Martin in his prime or wish to relieve the magic of Hughes and Candy, I highly recommend Planes, Trains and Automobiles. You will laugh, cry and feel good inside.

“I’ve been with Del Griffith. I could take on anything.”

After watching this on DVD, you can too.

“Print Is Not Dead” Book Review: A Lion’s Tale-Around The World In Spandex by Chris Jericho

bookman

"This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped!"

That’s right Mister Bookman. It’s time for the PRINT IS NOT DEAD Book Review. Today we are reviewing the wrestling adventure of Chris Jericho in his autobiography, A LION’S TALE-AROUND THE WORLD IN SPANDEX (Great title huh?)

Professional wrestling, or “sports-entertainment”, will forever be known as a phenomenon people would either love or hate.  Fans of all ages would embrace the action and the excitement in the ring. On the other corner, haters would continue sipping their precious tea while wearing a fancy monocle in one eye and do nothing better than whine about how wrestling is fake. Yes, wrestling is choreographed but those snobs might as well say an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is fake or Leonardo DiCaprio can’t enter people’s dreams like he did in Inception or the events of Twilight is predetermined by an author.  Like it or not, wrestling is athletic entertainment and a billion-dollar industry. However, what most people don’t know is the cultural impact that wrestling has on the world and how it changed the life of one Canadian-American fan.  That fan is none other than The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla , The Lionheart, mister Y2J himself   Chris Jericho in his tell-all memoir A Lion’s Tale-Around The world In Spandex.

Chris Jericho

After watching a  pro-wrestling TV show at his grandmother’s basement when he was eight years old, Christopher Irvine wanted to be a wrestler. It was either that or become a rock star. One day, he woke up and decided to become both. When he was not jamming on the guitar, Chris transformed from Irvine to Jericho as he traveled around the world, from Mexico to Japan, before hitting the big time in major US wrestling promotions: the ill-fated WCW and his goal in life, the WWF (Now known as WWE). However, the life of a wrestler is no different from being a rock star. There’s wild adventures ahead.

Chris Jericho’s A Lion’s Tale is not your typical wrestling book nor its a standard “How I Became Famous”-type autobiography.  Similar to the earlier books of hardcore wrestler and New York Times Bestseller Mick Foley, Jericho’s memoirs appeal to both fans and non-wrestling readers alike. Like the sub-heading suggested, Jericho tells his unique and sometimes shocking experiences in wrestling at multiple countries that are culturally different from what you see in WWE Raw or Smackdown. Whether its Lucha Libre in Mexico, catch wrestling in Germany or brutal violence in ECW at Philidelphia USA, Jericho details his journey by using his strong sense of humour which is an uncommon trait among autobiographies. Also uncommon are the countless pop culture/movie references that could  rival even the most random Family Guy episode. Not only there are numerous Back To The Future catchphrases in the book, but Jericho recalled of  meeting Doctor Emmett Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd at a rather awkward moment in Japan that should be read to believe. Despite recalling the sadder moments from  his life, Jericho never sounded preachy and instead kept his optimism intact. At one point in the book, Jericho revealed he was held at gunpoint by two thieves at Mexico but Jericho moved on to bigger and better pastures.

Fans will get a kick of learning how Jericho’s rock band Fozzy was formed and the origin of Jericho’s in-ring persona. What’s really appealing about Chris Jericho the person is that he started off as a fan no different from what you see at ringside. He grew up idolising Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura (Jericho later met them in his career). He lined up for hours to get an autograph from his future Wrestlemania 25 opponent, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and watched countless main events. Fair to say, Jericho is a confessed fan and proud of it.

This may or may not be a spoiler, but A Lion’s Tale ends when Jericho made his long-awaited WWF debut on August 1999. Instead of rushing to his current WWE career, Jericho wisely dedicated most of the book in his early globetrotting days and leave open for a second autobiography, which was recently announced to be released next year.  It was also interesting to note the book was published in 2007 during the Chris Benoit murder tragedy. Unlike WWE, Jericho didn’t pretend Benoit doesn’t exist and still called him a friend.

Chris Jericho (rumoured to retire from the sport to pursue other interests a la The Rock a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson) is the most entertaining wrestler of all time who is a classic example of a boyhood dream come true (That’s a Shawn Michaels/Wrestlemania 12 reference folks) and never afraid to reinvent himself.  Highly recommended for the Jericholics out there. This book is one of the reasons why Chris Jericho is the best in the world at what he do.

Mario Rap

Forget about mushroom men, hills with smiley faces, turtle troopers and anything associated to the beloved Nintendo games. The first (and worst) video game adaption of all time, Super Mario Bros (1993) is one cheesy Blade Runner-With-Dinosaurs flop but that doesn’t mean you can’t dance to it.

Edited by yours truly, I have taken clips from the Mario film and put a remix of Eminem’s Just Lose It at the background. Starring Bob Hoskins as the beloved Brooklyn plumber Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi (minus the moustache) and the late, great Dennis Hopper as King Koopa.

“Gone With The Wind” it ain’t, but the Super Mario Bros is so bad its…well…good!

GO GOOMBA!

Montana Lives-Scarface: The World Is Yours

CGI Tony Montana


“In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.”

Those are words to live by, Tony.

Before we begin, let’s look at this timeline:

1983-Epic crime drama Scarface, directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone, shocked the world with its disturbing portrayal of the cocaine-driven criminal underworld and the American Dream gone wrong. Acclaimed Godfather star Al Pacino delivered a memorable performance as underdog Tony Montana-a Cuban refugee turned drug lord who would do anything to get his big break…but paid the price in Greek tragedy fashion. Despite mixed critical reactions during its release, Scarface is a cult classic with an ever- growing fanbase and credited for inspiring today’s  hip-hop/rap culture.

2006-After the success of the crime-themed Grand Theft Auto games, Vivendi Universal Games and Radical Entertainment developed Scarface:The World Is Yours for Playstation 2 and X-Box. Players finally take the role of Tony Montana as they climb back on top of the Miami crime ring.

2010-A certain movie fan walked past the gaming section at BIG W Doncaster and bought the Scarface game for only $15.00. A rare bargain worthy enough to give the now obsolete Playstation 2 one last spin.

NOW let’s push it to the limit….

The World Is Yours

Although the game is best remembered as a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City clone (funny enough that most of the underdog/crime ring storylines in the GTA series is inspired by Scarface), Scarface: The World Is Yours is a fun romp.  Usually gamers can’t stand the sight of a movie-licensed game. Since the infamous E.T. game on the Atari 2600, movie tie-in games have a bad reputation of being mere cash-ins and generally not fun to play. Thankfully, Scarface joins Goldeneye N64 and the 2009  Ghostbusters: The Video Game  in the list of licensed games that are worth playing and lives up to the spirit of the movies they were based on.

Unlike your typical film-to-game adaptions, Scarface: The World Is Yours doesn’t retell the movie’s story and just add levels to it. Instead the Scarface game is a sequel to the first film (think of it as  “Scarface 2” or the lost Al Pacino movie that never made it to the big screen) and picks up where the movie left of. Oh, what was that? Tony Montana died at the end of the movie? Yes he did bit the bullet but the game’s storyline (brought to you by the screenwriter of American History X and Blow) answers what would happen if Tony looks behind his shoulder, sees that no-good sunglasses-wearing assassin (Known as “The Skull” in Scarface lore) and blast his bloody head off (literally) during the Mansion Massacre scene. So players have a chance to go back in time and change the first film’s ending (arguably for the better). After surviving the shoot-out, Tony vows to rebuild his million-dollar empire and get revenge on the man who made his life miserable: his former business partner Alejandro Sosa.

Real ending

This is how Scarface should have ended.

As said earlier, Scarface is very influenced by Grand Theft Auto. It has a third-person open world gameplay where players can explore Miami city without restraint and pick the missions they want to play rather than the old linear tradition of beating one level to get to the next one. Like GTA, Tony get to hi-jack cars, take on rival gangsters with a wide range of weapons (including a chainsaw) and confront cops. However, Scarface is more than a GTA clone. In fact, Scarface has few improvements over the original PS2 GTA installments including the ability to save money in the bank so players won’t lose their hard-earned cash after dying or arrested (a recurring and frustrating problem in the GTA franchise) and more options in the  ’80s-themed soundtrack . That’s right you can play Beth Anderson’s Dance Dance Dance during a car chase mission or whenever you want. Since Tony’s a gangster who can buy off anything, players can  bribe the police and rival gangs to reduce heat, leaving Tony a free man.

The game also does a fantastic job of expanding the Scarface universe by recreating memorable locations including the Babylon Club and of course, Tony’s mansion which is worth exploring on its own. To follow up with the storyline’s continuity, the bosses you face are actually minor characters from the first film who have bigger roles in the game ranging from the Diaz brothers to Gasper Gomez.  Sadly the only surviving character who didn’t make an appearance  is Tony’s ex-wife Elvira (Michelle Pfieffer’s character) but she did get mentioned in the game.

Perhaps the most unique feature is the *ahem* Balls Meter where players build up momentum for invincibility by pressing the circle button to make Tony swear and taunt. After the  Ball Meter is filled up, players can unleash Tony’s rage by switching into arcade-style  first-person view and shoot those “cock-a-roaches” without getting hurt.

Chainsaw

Although the graphics are terribly outdated and blocky compared to today’s consoles, Sierra captured Al Pacino’s likeness perfectly. Pacino didn’t reprise his famous role for the game (however he was involved in the game’s production),  his sound-a-like replacement was spot-on and all those profanity-filled catchphrases are all here.

After four years of its release and considered to be one of the last big releases on the last-gen consoles, Scarface has aged well and worth going retro again if you are fan of the Cuban anti-hero.  In 2008, there were plans to make a second Scaface game for PS3 and X-Box 360,  but it unfortunately got canned due to the corporate merger of Sierra and Activision.  It’s ashame really. Scarface is an underated gem that is worthy enough to be  a franchise or get at least one more outing on high-definition TV. Titles like Scarface proves that not only players should give movie-to-games titles a chance but licensed titles can  further legitimise video games as cinematic storytelling mediums. If Hollywood can’t make a sequel to a big budget movie due to the cast being too old, set problems and so on, there’s always video games to keep classic characters alive.

Like the alternate mansion scene, Tony Montana don’t die that easy.

This wouldn’t be a Scarface article without quoting…

“SAY HELLO TO MY FRIEND LITTLE FRIEND!”

Been There Goth That: Repetition of Tim Burton (Part 2)

Tim Burton sure like his dogs dead….

Zero from Nightmare Before Christmas (Left) and Scraps from The Corpse Bride (Right)

And finally, Burton’s movies are the same because of these two….

If there’s any Burton similarties, please send me an e-mail and I’ll post them here. This could be a recurring segment, Burtonites!

-Anthony.

Been There Goth That: The Repetition of Tim Burton (Part 1)

Tim Burton

PUT ON YOUR BLACK AND WHITE SHIRTS ON. IT’S BURTON TIME!

By now everyone who’s not living under a rock should know who Tim Burton is. In the past 30 years, the former Disney animator  turned visionary film director have brought Batman back to his dark roots,  made people cry with Edward Scissorhands and spooked kids out with stop-motion cult classic Nightmare Before Christmas. All of his film provide escapism fantasy, dark yet quirky imagery, adventure, eye-popping special effects and box-office success.

Tim Burton himself is a character of his own. The mop-like hair curls, those big square glasses and beard makes him a bit of an outcast from the usual Hollywood crowd.  Despite his famous status, Burton is seemingly a shy and introverted person especially during TV interviews and DVD commentaries. Not much of a talker but he expressed better visually on film or illustrations. Perhaps what made Burton different from other filmmakers is the fact he considered himself an artist first and a director second.

Recently, Burton immortalised himself by releasing his own film and art exhibition that tours worldwide and currently open to the Melbourne public at Federation Square until October 10 (I’ve been to the exhibition and its a cross between the movie memorbillia you would see from Planet Hollywood and a malevolent art gallery).

Yes, Burton is a household name but ever since his “re-telling” of Alice In Wonderland came out early this year, critics and audiences are getting tired of the vintage “Burton touch.” Although Alice was a huge success (huge in fact that it has made more worldwide money than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight thanks to the 3D craze) , but it joined a long line of Burton movies that were adaptions, reboots, biopics and stale remakes including the 2001 version of Planet and The Apes and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory . Oddly enough, Mars Attacks was based on 1950s’ bubble-gum cards.  Burton has not made an original idea film since Nightmare Before Christmas. Even The Corpse Bride isn’t a fresh tale as it is based on European folklore.  More importantly, viewers are generally bored of seeing the same dark fantasy themes in Burton’s films during the past five years. It’s unlikely Burton would make a realistic grown-up drama about, let’s say, the Iraq War (however it doesn’t hurt if he tries), but at least well-known directors in the 21st century moved out of their comfort zones and made something different that people enjoyed. He’s famous for E.T., but Steven Spielberg didn’t devote himself in making alien movies throughout his career nor did Robert Zemeckis kept on  making time-machine movies.

What’s really striking is that Burton now recycles ideas from his old movies into his new ones, therefore many people believe his movies look the same. Instead of me typing about it, I’ll show them to you.

poodleanne

Batman Return's The Poodle Lady (Left) and Anne Hathaway from Alice In Wonderland (Right)

I don’t know who played The Poodle Lady, but she sure was Anne Hathaway’s inspiration for The White Queen.

wonkahatter

Willy Wonka (Left) and The Mad Hatter (Right)

Yes , Burton’s buddy Johnny Depp played the two awfully similar characters but at least he did something different when he played Glen from Nightmare On Elm Street.

In speaking of The Mad Hatter, he reminds me of a certain Michael Keaton..and I’m not talking about Bruce Wayne.

Beetlejuice (Left) and Mad Hatter again (Right)

And let us not forget the star of stop motion creepfest Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington and his twin brother from the lesser known 1997 Tim Burton/Roald Dhal adaption, James and The Giant Peach.

two jacks

Jack Skellington (Left) and Captain Jack Skellington (Right)

There’s more to come….