Mar 31, 2014

[Movies] Knights Of Badassdom (2013)

I try not to fall for the allure of movie trailers too much, but sometimes we have no choice, really. Some of them are pretty well done in their efforts of decently conveying what a particular movie may be about. And I say "may" since we all know how trailers do their best to feature the best bits of any movie and ignore the less interesting bits.

Knights of Badassdom was a movie that got me and my partner, Tobie, pretty excited when the trailers first started circulating. After all, this was a movie with geek culture at its heart and a pretty interesting cast of actors for a genre movie. On paper it seemed like this movie would be a shoe-in with fans for one reason or another.

But the actual end result was...rather disappointing. I mean there's still a lot to be loved about the movie but I guess the anticipation for the movie over a number of years (unexplained post-production delays) left us with some pretty high expectations. And I've sat on actually writing this review for a bit given that major question - was my disappointment related to unrealistic expectations or just an actual, honest assessment of the film on its own.

Mar 30, 2014

[Movies] Another Gay Movie (2006)

It's kind of sad how quickly the LGBT movie segment hit bottom in terms of scraping bad straight movies for ideas. In this case, we got a movie that was an odd comedic satire of similar comedies in the tone of American Pie and There's Something About Mary. And while those movies certainly have their markets, I could never really wrap my head around them. And this movie tried to give a gay spin to that same concept, which ended up being even weirder.

Another Gay Movie is a movie that I honestly hoped would be decently funny, but the end result wasn't quite there. Then again, maybe I just set too high a bar for this movie. Or maybe I just set a different bar for comedies in general.

And don't get started with me about not understanding the comedic tone of this movie or something. I understand camp and love movies that can pull of that kind of kitsch effectively. But this movie is not example of that kind of campiness handled well.

Mar 28, 2014

[Movies] The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)

For those of you who came in late, I'll repeat this for the record - I love Wes Anderson movies. As strange as they are as with their crazy characters and quirky storylines, I totally enjoy them precisely because of those elements. It's a somewhat specialized type of movie to get into, but in the end it can be rather rewarding.

For one reason or another The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou slipped under my Wes Anderson radar and it was only recently that I finally addressed this gap. I suppose a bit part of why I missed out on this movie was that it came out during a fairly turbulent time in my life. It goes without saying that I didn't quite have as much time to watch movies then.

But the past is the past and we're back in the now. And I'm all the better for having watched this rather exceptional story. If anything, I think this is one of Anderson's movies with the most coherent, linear plot. Sure it had some side diversions here and there (it wouldn't be an Anderson movie without them), but on the whole it's simply a beautiful movie.

Mar 27, 2014

[TV] Almost Human: Season 1

I think we've reached that point in US television when we're definitely starving for good genre television. There's been relatively more success among the fantasy shows (e.g. Once Upon A Time), but the more science fiction aligned shows have been dying one after another.

Almost Human seemed like a very serious attempt to put forward a fairly serious bid at a steady science fiction series. It had a pretty compelling setting - a near future that was supposed to remind us of movies like Blade Runner given its rather gritty view of the future. It was a robot story - and robot stories have a long history of being great vehicles for complex morality stories that explore what it is to be human.

But the show was to air on Fox, the same channel that has killed quite a number of science fiction shows (*coughs* Firefly *coughs) when they don't hit ratings targets. And so we end up having a sort of love-hate relationship with the channel since they seem to be willing to invest in a number of science fiction projects but they don't typically give them much slack.

So where does this show stand in all this?

Mar 26, 2014

[Gadgets] Urbanears Kransen Headphones

The other weekend I received these Urbanears Krasen in-ear headphones from the Digits Trading Corporation for review purposes and it's only now that I've gotten a chance to write about this little accessory. And in the headphones market. I have to admit that I'll always favor the superior sound experience offered by in-ear solutions versus bulkier external headphones.

And this particular pair of headphones is proving to be quite a lovely addition to the roster and one that I appreciate a lot more in terms of its overall sound quality, even when compared to the Urbanears Humlan headphones. They really did something right here.

Mar 25, 2014

[Comics] Fashion Beast

My partner, Tobie, as a taste for the somewhat obscure and unusual. At times I have no idea where he gets his content or how he hears about this movie or that comic book. He just seems to actively collect strange and quirky stories that explore the fringes of storytelling potential.

Case in point - I was surprised that Tobie would pick up a title like Fashion Beast, but apparently he had already read it given the interesting things that people discuss in their own reviews of the book. And naturally he strongly recommended that I read the book - I just had no idea what to expect given the unusual title. Plus it's an Alan Moore book, and we know that can go in any number of directions and tangents.

After reading it, well, I didn't quite know what to say off hand. It was certainly a striking piece that had a pretty distinct message to deliver in a most memorable way. And then again, some parts of it felt like so much random craziness seemingly done for shock value. Or maybe I was just missing the point behind the tone of the book or something. And the fact that I have so many questions about my response to the book says a lot about it's inherent value as a creative work that actually makes you think.

Mar 24, 2014

[Movies] Riddick (2013)

The collection of movies that are a part of in-flight entertainment can get pretty random. In this case, I wasn't expecting to catch Riddick on that tiny little screen during my flight home coming from Singapore. It just felt so random at the time - plus the fact that I first watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. So it made for a strange mix.

The Chronicles of Riddick as a franchise has been rather interesting. It started as the science fiction horror movie, Pitch Black but eventually expanded into additional movies featuring the same lead character. Apart from the live-action movies, things have stemmed out to additional animated features and other TV specials.

This third movie, simply Riddick, is a somewhat weird return to the franchise, but I suppose it was inevitable. The last movie had put him in a rather "non-Riddick" position and this movie felt more like an attempt to get him back to his former status quo as a long outlaw. And he does well in this regard, I have to admit. So yeah, the movies intentions were pretty good indeed.

Mar 23, 2014

[TV] Looking: Season 1

As a 30-something gay man, I "grew up" during the Queer as Folk era of television. And what I mean by that is around the time that I was coming to terms with my sexuality and was pretty much trying to figure out how I was going to come out to people. And watching a show like QAF was sort of a window into the world that I was coming into - or at least one version of that world. And while things didn't quite match up my QAF expectations, it still helped me come forward a bit more confident.

When Looking  was first announced, there was a lot of confusion as to how to position. They were billing it as a comedy, and thus the immediate comparison was to the hit HBO series Girls, but instead of girls we now have three gay men. Others tried to compare it to Sex and the City, which is pretty much the fate of any HBO comedy that is set in a city.

But not of those comparisons really work. You can't even compare this show to the tone of QAF either. It's certainly a new direction for more or less mainstream television focused on the LGBT community. But I think this series is growing on me.

Mar 21, 2014

[Movies] The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

It was after watching the movie Rushmore that I began to fall in love with the quirky creative style of Wes Anderson. His movies are wonderfully distinct and the rather eclectic approach to storytelling that has become his signature style is certainly refreshing. Despite how more and more movie makers seem to be aligning their creative efforts with what guarantees box office success, directors like Anderson continue to strike out on their own  to create the kind of movies that they want to make.

The Royal Tenenbaums was the movie released after Rushmore, but more one reason or another I never got around to watching it in full. I've seen snippets of it here and there but never actually sat down to watch it in its entirety. And while waiting for the release of Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, I decided to revisit his past works and address the gaps in my viewing history

You know how we geeks are - we tend to be completists in many different things. And in my case, it's watching movies that fit together in some sort of a classification - whether they're all linked together by a franchise or a common director.

Mar 20, 2014

[Theater] Rak of Aegis (PETA)

I have to admit that I'm really bad with the local entertainment scene. My biggest issue is language - I'm really not good at Filipino / Tagalog, and so I have a harder time understanding local movies and music. So yeah, I'm a pretty bad Filipino in his regard.

So when I heard about the new musical Rak of Aegis (a play on the title Rock of Ages), I had pretty mixed feelings about whether or not I wanted to drag Tobie to this particular show. We both didn't know too many Aegis songs, and at its core this was meant to be a jukebox musical. And there's a part of me that feels that you can't really enjoy a jukebox musical when you don't know the original artist. This is precisely why I totally fanboyed over Mamma Mia! given my love of ABBA and I had a great time with Jersey Boys since who doesn't know their music?

So I went into Rak of Aegis semi-blind, so to speak, which only a few of the more popular Aegis songs under my belt. But surprisingly, that was enough.

[TV] How I Met Your Mother: Season 1

The irony is not lost on me that as How I Met Your Mother is pretty much wrapping up its 9-season television run, we've only just started to watch the show. But isn't that always the way? For one reason or another we don't immediately get into one show or another  but then later on we marathon the whole thing once you get on board.

I wasn't sure how to feel about this show in the beginning. All that I really knew about the show was (1) it was taking forever to answering the lingering question of who the mother is and (2) Neil Patrick Harris plays a sleazy womanizer character that has become very popular. Not much to go on, but I've started shows with even less knowledge than that.

So thanks to an office file-sharing party, we managed to get copies of most of the prior seasons, and so we can start watching in earnest. And given Tobie's appreciation for romantic comedy movies and Jason Segel, this was certainly right up our alley.

Mar 19, 2014

[Games] FTL: Faster Than Light (PC)

It's only this year that I finally got back onto a laptop that can decently handle games versus my old netbook. As much as that trusty little bugger served its purpose in terms of my blogging while traveling, it just couldn't cut the mustard when it came to games. And now that I have something that I can work with, I'm still playing catch-up with a lot of games that have been tied to my Steam account. The positive side of DRM.

One of the games that I had always been eager to play was FTL: Faster Than Light, which had the science fiction feel that excited the Star Trek geek in me. But at the same time, it was also somewhat infamous for for being brutally difficult - not that this is not a bad thing in itself. It really depends on your perspective on gaming in general.

But to be honest, there are few games as enjoyable as FTL despite how well they demonstrate why humans are an inferior race.

Mar 18, 2014

[Books] Star Wars: Scoundrels

I'm a pretty big fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The books have made for entertaining reading over the years and have mapped out interesting avenues for the various characters to go after the movie credits rolled. And while they're not always the most intellectually rewarding books, they certainly make the fanboy in me really happy.

And while the larger fate of the Expanded Universe is somewhat uncertain after the Disney acqusition of the Star Wars franchise, there are still a fair number of books out there to be enjoyed. Case in point, I only recently got a Kindle copy of Star Wars: Scoundrels as a gift from a friend. And there's nothing quite like a good Star Wars novel to help pass the time.

And in addition, this book was written by Timothy Zahn, who pretty much kicked off the entire Expanded Universe with his Heir to the Empire trilogy. And the decision to focus on the smugglers and con artists of the Star Wars universe was certainly an interesting angle to explore. And I can certainly enjoy a good caper story every now and then. And this one wasn't too shabby.

Mar 17, 2014

[Movies] American Hustle (2013)

When I first saw the trailers for American Hustle, I admit that I was pretty excited about the movie. The premise seemed pretty interesting and the potential pacing of the story drew me in. It featured a number of notable Hollywood personalities, including the likes of Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, both of whom have had some rather interesting movies as of late. And the whole thing was packaged as a period comedy? Yeah, I was totally in.

It only helped that the movie managed to get a lot of buzz in the awards circuit, primarily for its acting talent. And that only further motivated me to get around to watching this movie. Plus the whole thing was set the late 1970's to the early1980's? That time period is a gold mine for creating a crazy, campy story!

But when we finally watched it, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. The movie didn't quite live up to my expectations, and I'm still trying to dissect precisely why that was so. It had a lot of the elements to make a movie that I'd certainly enjoy, but the final outcome just wasn't all that funny - but at least it wasn't unwatchable, right?

Mar 16, 2014

[Movies] Connie and Carla (2004)

I'm pretty sure that I once wrote a review for this movie back when Multiply was still a thing, but it seems I never got around to cross-posting said review over here. I thought I had written one already given I went through a Nia Vardalos phase with movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Life In Ruins, but still I can't find this one among the reviews on this blog.

So here I am writing a new review for Connie and Carla, primarily because I love this movie so much. Yes, this totally needs to have a spot on the Geeky Guide. And if it turns out there is a much older review of this movie buried deep among the other stuff, well, I'm good for having more than one review of this super fun movie.

And I've slotted this review in my Sunday LGBT slot because of the fact that the fabulousness of drag queens plays a central role in this movie - and that's a great thing. Most people simply see this as a comedy and  not necessarily a "gay comedy" which is more like the end state that we want for all of LGBT movies out there.

Plus it's really funny.

Mar 14, 2014

[Theater] Shrek The Musical

Full recordings of theater productions are a bit of a rare thing these days. And I can't blame them - there' potentially more money to be made my keeping the content exclusive to theater-goers instead of trying to tap the home video market. Thus it seems we're limited to the longer-running shows with anniversary releases or some rather older ones that just happened to have a recording made for one reason or another.

So I was pretty surprised when news of a home video version of Shrek the Musical had been released initially via Netflix and later on DVD and Blu-Ray. And we're all the better for it since it's definitely one of those musicals that I admit I wouldn't be too keen on seeing right off the bat since it's clearly more oriented towards children.

But the production value of this show was surprisingly impressive, and I can finally understand why it managed to become a contender for several Tony Awards after it debuted on Broadway. And we're certainly lucky that it finally got released on home video.

Mar 13, 2014

[TV] Undercover Boss (US)

I don't engage with a lot of reality television these days. With all the great genre shows out there, those program seem to be a much more effective use of my time. But there's the odd show or two that we still end up watching in our idle times when we're not quite capable of processing a complex plot or something like that.

Undercover Boss has become of those guilty pleasures, so to speak. As much as the show can feel like more of a PR stunt at times, the core concept behind it is quaint enough and it does sort of give us all hope that big corporations are actually trying to be better. And while some of their solutions at the end are more like quick fixes just to help the one or two people that they interacted with, the end result is still the sort of show that'll make you feel a little better about the world.

Mar 12, 2014

[Games] Simpsons Tapped Out (Android)

I enjoy The Simpsons quite a lot. It's a great TV and pretty much a pop culture institution by now. It has also reached the point where there seem to be just too many episodes out there in existence for anyone to easily catch up with the show. But at the same time, it's highly episodic (thus compartmentalized) nature does make the burden of continuity not an overly heavy one.

I was kind of excited when I first read about the The Simpsons: Tapped Out game since it combined a lot of elements that I generally liked in one game. I like world-building games. I like witty banter tied to the original franchise that spawned the game. I like games that I can pick up and drop easily enough.

But I didn't fully factor in EA's prevailing design philosophies when it comes to their mobile apps. And that's just a darn shame.

Mar 11, 2014

[Books] The Book of Ti'Ana (Myst Book 2)

The Myst prequel books didn't start out quite as strongly as I had hoped with The Book of Atrus, but I suppose it was a decent enough adventure to begin with. It was a good prequel to cover the early days of the noble Atrus and even some of the history of his mad father Gehn. But it did feel like it skipped out on a lot of the more interesting aspects of the Myst universe - such as the origin of the Linking Books and a decent explanation of how they work.

This second book in the series, The Book of Ti'Ana, actually answers a lot of those questions that I was asking after having finished the first book. In fact, this book takes place before the first one, which is a little confusing when you think about it. Then again, it also helps explain some of the discrepancies between what I was expecting from a prequel and what we actually got in Atrus.

But to be fair, this book wouldn't make as much sense without having first read Atrus before it. There were certain concepts that were setup that made more sense by the time I got to this novel.

But isn't that the way of prequels? They actually make more sense when you read the books that take place after and not those that come before in a chronological sense.

Mar 10, 2014

[Movies] August: Osage County (2013)

On the very night after we watched the local staging of August: Osage County, I was in love with the play enough to want to immediately watch the movie adaptation. Plus sheer curiosity had me wondering how they'd translate the different elements of the stage production into a full movie.

This is not to say that I expect all great plays to make great movies. If anything holds true when it comes to Hollywood in recent years, it feels like most adaptations ten to pale in comparison to their stage counterparts. And it's not that the movies are necessarily bad - they just end up being rather different entertainment experiences when compared to the original body of work.

This movie had a lot going for it in terms of the cast and its overall production value. I was prepared to love this movie given I knew that Meryl Streep would put on another brilliant performance in this film, as is her way as an actress, really. But then things kind of went weird with the writing and the changes made resulted in a rather different kind of movie.

Mar 9, 2014

[TV] Vicious: Series 1

There's a quirk to British humor that I always find hard to perfectly explain. Is it all the deadpan delivery? Is it the innate snarkiness that seems to be stereotypical of the British people? Or maybe it's all about the overall wit that's often present in the writing that seems all the more subtle against everything else.

But I learned to love it early on and Vicious is pretty much the amazing evolution of the genre when you liberally mix in both gay jokes and old people jokes. It doesn't sound like something should work on paper, but in reality it was pretty hilarious. Sure, it's not quite Miranda, but it's not quite in the same genre either. And it just bloody works.

I was laughing so hard while watching all 7 episodes - and yes we ended up watching it all in one go. There's just something about these types of shows that just really gets me. I'm definitely all the better for it. And man, this is such an amazing gathering of talent, many of whom have had rather memorable roles in genre entertainment.

Mar 7, 2014

[Movies] Kramer vs Kramer (1979)

I'm pretty sure we're well past the point in our pop culture development when there's far too much content for us to enjoy in our lifetimes. Maybe I'd be able to watch a heck of a lot more movies if I didn't have to work for a living or something like that, but of course we all have bills that need to be paid.

So in one of my catch-up sessions, I decided to make some time to finally watch the critically-acclaimed Kramer vs. Kramer. And while I am totally in the camp of people who absolutely love and respect the amazing body of work of Meryl Streep. But I have to admit that I haven't been able to seen all of her movies from start to finish. Home movie channels like HBO have helped fill in the gaps somewhat, but of course those end up being movie snippets that you watch out of convenience and not necessarily by design.

By now I already knew what the movie was supposed to be about, but that still didn't quite prepare me for the full impact of things. The story may seem simple when compared to the big Oscar-contenders these days, but there's an elegance to it that's hard to replicate these days.

Mar 6, 2014

[TV] Modern Family: Season 4

Despite reviewing a different TV show season pretty much ever week of the year, I find myself constantly playing a game of catch-up with these reviews. I guess that just goes to show that I somehow watch more than 52 different seasons in a year - or something along those lines. Sure, there's the odd week that the TV review is replaced by another article on a Thursday or something like that.

Modern Family is a easy show to "forget" since the nature of its stories are safely discrete from one another and almost timeless. And while each episode still falls into a larger sense of in-show continuity, it's not like the show is following a strict narrative. As is favored by many sitcoms, each episode can pretty much stand on its own and that makes it easier for viewers to pick up the show on the fly regardless of the many seasons that had come before.

The show is consistent in its general level of enjoyment but it has certainly reached that point of being the sort of comfortable show that one can return to time and time again. This doesn't mean that it's become a bad show, but it isn't exactly innovating either.

Mar 5, 2014

[Geeky Advice] How To Get Your Police Clearance At Quezon City Hall

The start of the year is a major time for various government deadlines. Apart from the hassles of taxes, there's a wide variety of government permits and certificates that we all need to get at one time or another.

As part of my company's own roster of required documents, I found myself in need of a local police clearance certificate as part of other requirements. And as a Quezon City resident, most folks will point you in the direction of Quezon City Hall in terms of getting one.

Before heading down there, I tried to do my own research online in terms of what steps I'd have to go through in order to get this processed. A lot of the guides seem to contain the same information, but I figured I could improve on their efforts with a few added details to improve things.

Mar 4, 2014

[Books] The Mad Scientist's Daughter

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from The Mad Scientist's Daughter when I downloaded the title from NetGalley. It wasn't exactly the sort of book that immediate fit in with the rest of my titles of interest given it was positioning itself as a tale of love, among other things. I tend to stick to more direct science fiction where love is incidental at best - not the central theme of the narrative.

But I've also come to trust Angry Robot Books to feature truly interesting works and it's not very often that I stumble on a title that I absolutely hate or something. For fans of genre fiction, especially of the science fiction and/or fantasy variants, they're a pretty good publisher to bank on. And this book is definitely a winner in its own right.

There are a lot of things that I enjoyed about this story - and I'll do my best to articulate this in the review proper. But hey, I'm a sucker for a good robot story, and this was a pretty interesting one, to say the least. Certain aspects of the writing could have been tighter, but in the long run it was all pretty poignant.

Mar 3, 2014

[Movies] The World's End (2013)

I've become quite the Simon Pegg fan over the years but his movies together with Edgar Wright are a particular delight when compared to all others.

What started as a big of a joke has now formalized into the Cornetto Trilogy of movies, all of them being collaborations between Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. These include Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now The World's End. And while each movie has a wildly different premise and setting, they're all somehow tied together by the Cornette flavor each is supposed to represent.

I loved the two other movies in the trilogy, and I've been really looking forward to catching The World's End. But given the annual Metro Manila Film Festival that screws up December movie releases, it took me a little longer to finally catch it - and this was already on video mind you. I would have loved to have watched this on the big screen, but we make do with what we have I suppose.

Mar 2, 2014

[Movies] Coffee Date (2006)

I've been rather disappointed with the LGBT moves that I've gone through in my recent efforts to watch more movies of this nature. As much as there's more than enough room in this world for pretty much every single creative endeavor, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm gong to enjoy every single one of them. But as a guy who's oddly determined to write movie reviews for this blog with little financial reward, I continue to press on.

Coffee Date was actually a bit more endearing than most. It is by no means perfect, but it certainly strikes an interesting chord and manages to nicely tell a unique yet still pretty funny story. And at the end of a long day at work, watching a movie like this certainly made for an interesting way to get past the stress.

This just goes to show that there are so many different aspects to having fully realized LGBT stories in movies. And while this was one of the seemingly sillier ones, it's still one that deserved to be brought to life and more storytellers and filmmakers should continue to risk the venture to get those stories out there. And maybe I should, too.

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