Tag Archives: The Squid Monster

Top 100 Movies

People  walk up to me in the street and scream in my face “What’s your favorite movie” at least once,  and so to be prepared for this again here is a current list of top 100 movies. Perhaps come next year this list will change, but here’s something hastily scrambled together for now.

Top 10 Science Fiction Films

  1. The Day the Earth Stood Still (Wise, 1951)
  2. Brother From Another Planet (Sayles, 1984)
  3. Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979)
  4. Alphaville (Godard, 1965)
  5. Gojira (Honda, 1954)
  6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977)
  7. Fiend Without a Face (Crabtree, 1958)
  8. Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)
  9. Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
  10. City of Lost Children (Jeunet, 1995)

Top 10 Animated Films

  1. My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)
  2. The Triplets of Belleville (Chomet, 2003)
  3. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
  4. Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata, 1988)
  5. Finding Nemo (Stanton, 2003)
  6. The Brave Little Toaster (Rees, 1987)
  7. Dimensions of Dialogue (Svankmajer, 1983)
  8. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Hertzfeldt, 2012)
  9. Aladdin (Clements, 1992)
  10. Castle in the Sky (Miyazaki, 1986)

Top 10 Films Noir

  1. Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950)
  2. Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
  3. Shock Corridor (Fuller, 1963)
  4. The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen, 2001)
  5. Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)
  6. Scarlet Street (Lang, 1945)
  7. Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 1955)
  8. The Lady From Shanghai (Welles, 1947)
  9. The Long Goodbye (Altman, 1973)
  10. Red Rock West (Dahl, 1993)

Top 10 Comedies

  1. Fargo (Coen, 1996)
  2. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera (Blamire, 2001)
  3. Being John Malkovich (Jonze, 1999)
  4. Daisies (Chytilová, 1966)
  5. It’s a Disaster (Berger, 2012)
  6. The Brothers Bloom (Johnson, 2008)
  7. In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008)
  8. Survive Style 5+ (Sekiguchi, 2004)
  9. Raising Arizona (Coen, 1987)
  10. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, 1924)

Top 10 Dramas

  1. Blood Simple (Coen, 1984)
  2. Melancholia (Von Trier, 2011)
  3. Oldboy (Park, 2003)
  4. 12 Angry Men (Lumet, 1957)
  5. L’Eclisse (Antonioni, 1962)
  6. The Phantom Carriage (Sjöström, 1921)
  7. Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942)
  8. What Time is it There? (Tsai, 2001)
  9. Oasis (Lee, 2002)
  10. Network (Lumet, 1976)

Top 10 Horror Films

  1. Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983)
  2. Evil Dead II (Raimi, 1987)
  3. Woman in the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964)
  4. Gremlins (Dante, 1984)
  5. Alien (Scott, 1979)
  6. The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)
  7. House (Ôbayashi, 1977)
  8. Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
  9. The Thing (Carpenter, 1982)
  10. Re-Animator (Gordon, 1985)

Top 10 Action/Adventure Films

  1. The Princess Bride (Reiner, 1987)
  2. Face/Off (Woo, 1997)
  3. Kung Fu Hustle (Chow, 2004)
  4. Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968)
  5. The Sword of Doom (Okamoto, 1966)
  6. The Fifth Element (Besson, 1997)
  7. Seven Psychopaths (McDonagh, 2012)
  8. Looper (Johnson, 2012)
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg, 1989)
  10. Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1992)

Top 10 Documentaries

  1. Stop Making Sense (Demme, 1984)
  2. Lost in La Mancha (Fulton/Pepe, 2002)
  3. Harlan County U.S.A (Kopple, 1976)
  4. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)
  5. Waltz with Bashir (Folman, 2008)
  6. A Brief History of Time (Morris, 1991)
  7. F for Fake (Welles, 1973)
  8. Best Worst Movie (Stephenson, 2009)
  9. Bowling for Columbine (Moore, 2002)
  10. The Thin Blue Line (Morris, 1988)

Top 10 History/Biography Films

  1. All The President’s Men (Pakula, 1976)
  2. Matewan (Sayles, 1987)
  3. The Informant! (Soderbergh, 2009)
  4. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928)
  5. The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998)
  6. Catch Me If You Can (Spielberg, 2002)
  7. Rome, Open City (Rosselini, 1945)
  8. Milk (Van Sant, 2008)
  9. The Scarlet Empress (Sternberg, 1934)
  10. Ashes and Diamonds (Wajda, 1958)

Top 10 Miscellaneous/Uncategorizable/Experimental Films

  1. Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)
  2. Southland Tales (Kelly, 2006)
  3. 8 1/2 (Fellini, 1963)
  4. Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929)
  5. Naked Lunch (Cronenberg, 1991)
  6. Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, 2000)
  7. A Movie (Conner, 1958)
  8. La Jetée (Marker, 1962)
  9. Ballet Mécanique (Léger, 1924)
  10. Wavelength (Snow, 1967)

Honorable Mentions:

 

So there they are.  You may now commence telling me why all of these lists are wrong.  You have one year: GO.

 

 

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2014 Blockbusters

Just when we thought we were safe, it’s Blockbuster season where we have to see every single super hero franchise and book adaptation lest we look like fools when talking about movies on the beach.  The problem with Blockbuster season, though, is that try as hard as you might you probably won’t be able to see all of the important ones.  Well, don’t worry, because I’m here to help you.  Below is a summary and a list of talking points for some of the most Blockbusting of the Blockbusters, so now you can work on your tan, talk about billion-budget movies, and still have time to go to the boardwalk arcade to play the whack-a-mole.

Godzilla (May 16)

The gargantuan Cat/Lizard Monster returns in this apparent re-imagining of the 1954 Gojira (and not the 1998 Godzilla).  The plot finds scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) diving into Tokyo with a military group in order to capture Godzilla for use as a biological weapon.  Unfortunately for Brody, the military group is seen by two miniscule guardians of Monster Island who unleash the dreaded Mothra and Gamera who get into an all-out fight in Nevada where all monsters were brought (Also signaling the battle between Nuclear, petroleum, and Environmental interests over the fate of our planet).  Also starring Ken Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa, and David “That Guy From Alphas” Strathairn as the Army Colonel.  Talking points for this movie: Who would win in a fight 1954 Godzilla or 1998 Godzilla (Answer: 1954 Godzilla. ALWAYS 1954 Godzilla)? Will the sequel involve Mechagodzilla or King Caesar?  Did you know that the 1998 Godzilla in the Godzilla canon is actually a separate Kaiju named Zilla?  At what point in this new series will Minilla show up?  Will the directors be able to create an interesting story using the more colloquially known Baby Godzilla? THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS!

Million Dollar Arm (May 16)

Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame plays a Sportsman who also wants to adopt three Indian children and make them into the family he never had (His father was a drunk and his Mother was afraid to stand up to him.  Sportsman’s brother has been in and our of prison, and his ex-wife hates his living guts).  Sportsman decides to build his new family with Baseball, forming a sexy bond with the sexy Lake Bell, and everything is going great until Sportsman gets his arm gnawed off by a rabid Baseball fan.  Desperate not to lose his family, Sportsman undergoes an experimental surgery to get a new robot prosthesis but soon realizes that this, dare I say it, Million Dollar Arm may have a mind of its own.  Adapted from a short story by Steven King.  Talking points: What’s your favorite Steven King adaptation: Maximum Overdrive or Creepshow 2?  Do you think the arm survived the volcano (Spoiler Alert)? Will Sportsman and his three children still be able to live a normal life?

X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)

Professor X and Magneto, having long put their differences aside, now hang out all the time in abandoned churches and talk to each other about the old times.  They take a wistful walk down memory lane as they remember when they were whacky young adult whose only worries were what bands their friends listened to and robots who were programmed for genocide.  Magneto remembers Mystique, who died in a horrific shape-shifting accident, and Professor X remembers Storm who now lives outside of Ottowa with her husband Gary (Gary is also a mutant. He controls corn chips with his mind. Only corn chips, not tortilla chips and not canned corn, just CORN. CHIPS). Wolverine then bursts into the church and flexes his muscles (this has long since become his favorite way of communicating). Professor X, Magneto, and Wolverine all have a good laugh and sigh: Why can’t things be easy like they were back then?  Eventually they all leave for their individual mutant bridge clubs and mutant golf games.  Talking points: Why does no one miss Toad? Does Magneto still have his mutant powers in the future despite having them taken away? Are we all just pretending X-Men: The Last Stand never happened (Because that would be OK)?  Is fate a constant circle, with any attempt to change the past only resulting in the creation of the very future we wished to change, or is it fluid and malleable with even the slightest change causing a ripple effect that would drastically alter what we knew as the present? What mutant would we rather be: Super-sexy shapeshifter or grizzled and tough Spike-hander?

Maleficent (May 30)

Surprise! Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty fame has a dark and gritty origin story!  Angelina Jolie stars at the titular villain, or should I say misunderstood anti-hero, with Juno Temple playing the heroic fairy, or should I say power-hungry and secretly evil fairy, Thistlewit.  Maleficent used to be a fairy, see, but she was banished from the fairy kingdom because she was really powerful and wanted to use her fairy powers to change the status quo and upset the fairy balance, and Thistlewit couldn’t allow that so she cast Maleficent to the Crowsland to raise Spike-bushes.  So, naturally, Maleficent decides that the only way to get revenge is to curse the young Aurora (Elle Fanning) to sleep for 1000 years.  But not in an evil way, just in a dark and misunderstood way.  Talking points: So, wait, is Maleficent evil? I liked the movie, but I thought it could have been darker and grittier.  When can we expect the dark re-telling of Bambi wherein Bambi is actually a cursed sexy girl and the hunter is trying to feed his family, and the real villain is Thumper who is actually some sort of rabbit-daemon?

Edge of Tomorrow (June 16)

A Before Sunset-esque exploration of characters starring Tom Cruise as “Bill” and Emily Blunt as “Rita” as they walk around, in real time, through the deserted avenues of a film set talking about their career choices and what they regret until Midnight when they need to begin filming a sci-fi action scene.  Cruise and Blunt are rumored to be the Oscar hopefuls this year thanks to their stunningly honest performances here, and for those who are just going into the movie for Tom Cruise we will get to see him in a green screen suit for the first part of the movie (Emily Blunt will only be in heavy Alien make-up and that’s only the last ten minutes, I think).  Talking points for this movie: Is Tom Cruise really that bad, or is he just misguided and misunderstood?  I’m already looking forward to the next installment, ten years down the road, called Dawn of Today, are you? What movie were they making in the background, the effects looked really cool and I liked that the aliens were like people except alien?

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)

How to Train Your Dragon 2: Train Harder takes place some five years after the first Viking/Dragon movie in the popular Dreamworks franchise.  In this next installment Hiccup meets his long-lost mother Valka who keeps a dragon sanctuary in the Hinterlands.  Hiccup goes through some character growth with the help of Toothless, his dragon, the love plot between Hiccup and Ruffnutt (Kirstin Wiig) continues to inch along, and there’s some guy named Drago Bludvist who wants to enslave all dragons to use as weapons and take over the world.  Hiccup must put aside his abandonment issues with his mother to save man and dragonkind, and he’ll ultimately realize that even though his heretofore father Eret wasn’t his father by blood he is his father in soul.  Talking Points: Was this a good extension of one of the few good Dreamworks franchises?  What was your favorite Dragon?  Will you return for How to Train Your Dragon 3: Rise of the Dragonkin?  On a scale of 1 to fanfiction, how cool would it be is How to Train Your Dragon crossed over with Game of Thrones?

Jersey Boys (June 20)

Jersey Boys, or “Joisey Bois” as it is also known as, is about the formation of The Four Seasons, or Franky Valli and the Four Seasons as it is also known as.  These four friends apparently started by robbing banks, but then they decided to sing underneath a streetlight and then they became a rock group.  Franky Valli, however, had other plans. Franky wanted to knock Vino and Tommy out of the Seasons so he could get the whole enchilada for himself.  ‘Course he couldn’t knock anyone out, not with Gyp watchin’, which is how he came to play on the Ed Sullivan show.  Unfortunately for Franky when he’s about to make his big move when Gyp’s talkin’ to Eddy Sully he notices that Tommy and Bobby sold him out.  Now he’s out in the wild with a price on his head, fans want him, the mob wants him, Rock n’ Roll wants him, and Franky’s got one night left for everything to catch up to him. Talking Points: Have you been to New Jersey? What’s your favorite part of New Jersey? Why aren’t you living in New Jersey?  Why didn’t Christopher Walken get to tap dance? Does that have something to do with new Jersey?

Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

Michael Bay continues his story about robots and explosions.  This time the robots are also dinosaurs who are also trucks. But not every truck is a dinosaur and not every robot is a truck.  But every robot is a dinosaur, or at least every robot has the ability to become a dinosaur if they don’t want to be a robot or a truck.  Oh, and because they’re truck/robot/dinosaurs they can also explode. Like, REALLY explode, just KA-BOOM. Because instead of blood they probably have gasoline. Oh wait, except that they’re from a robot/dinosaur/truck planet so it’s probably something like Paladium. Which would mean an even BIGGER explosion.  Mark Whalberg will also be there as a mechanic who is working on a truck that, surprise, ends up being a robot (We’re not yet sure if it’s a dinosaur, I think that’ll be the big mid-movie turning point). Talking points for this movie: Did you see the twist coming where the main robot turned into a dinosaur? Do you ever wish your truck was a robot?  Was the movie really the same without Shia LeBeouf’s central character as “That guy who isn’t a robot and isn’t a truck and therefore can’t possibly be a dinosaur because that would be silly”?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)

As humans and apes recover from a deadly simian flu, the settling apes and native humans are forced to take sides.  This delicate balance is further threatened when Dreyfus (played by the myth Gary Oldman) finds an ape village co-governed by the Ape Caesar and Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a man who was raised as an Ape. Dreyfus tries to get Malcolm to fight back against the apes, but instead Malcolm is smitten by native Human Ellie (Teri Russel) and decides to care for her and her frail sister as they travel through the oft-dangerous ape country to find their father.  Caesar joins Malcolm, Ellie, and Dreyfus on their quest to the human village, though his intentions may not be entirely beneficial to either party as it turns out that Caesar is sneaking away to an encampment of bipedal cats who also wish to take over North America.  As all parties converge on Dreyfus’ encampment and the future of Man, Ape, and Catkind is forever changed, and Malcolm may have to go against his pacifistic vow he took when he became an ape-priest.  Talking points for this movie: Was that Paul Giamatti as the Orangutan again?  So… were the apes native Americans or invading colonists?  WHEN DO WE GET TO SEE DR. ZEUS?

Jupiter Ascending (July 18)

The Wachowski Siblings, creators of The Matrix trilogy, Cloud Atlas, and Speed Racer, didn’t get the summer blockbuster memo and made this original screenplay about a Janitor (Mila Kunis) named Jupiter Jones who finds out that she is the rightful owner of Earth (Not Jupiter as her name erroneously suggests).  Channing tatum co-stars as love interest/bodyguard “Caine” and Sean Bean co-stars as “Some Guy Who Dies”.  Plot details are a bit scarce, but it seems the The Queen of the Universe needs to control Earth in order to actually be the Queen of the Universe, and the only way to get Earth’s electoral votes is to kill Jupiter (I expect there to be a five minute scene going through the political theory of universal electorates, but I would settle for Sean Bean throwing up his arms screaming “I don’ care how elections work, I just wan’ my motocycle” before getting shot).  Talking points for this movie: How were the effects? Was the story imaginative, though ultimately flawed? Why would Earth be the only Planet standing in the way of someone named “The Queen of the Universe”, isn’t 14+ Billion Light Years of ruling territory enough to just say our tiny blue rock is under her control? I was surprised by how long Sean Bean lived in that movie before getting eaten by that Martian Ice-Wyrm.  Really, how were the effects?

Planes: Fire and Rescue (July 18)

Disney Exec. 1: “Okay, do you remember that spinoff franchise Planes that was based off of the least popular of the Pixar films?”
Disney Exec. 2: “Was that A Bug’s Life?”
DE1: “No, Planes”
DE2: “And What was that one about?”
DE1: “Planes. I think they raced or something. And there was a Crop Duster and it was all inspirational.”
DE2: “So… what you want to make the Crop Duster an international spy now?”
DE1: “No. A Firefighter. ‘Cause, like, that’s who the real heroes are or whatever.”
DE2: “I’m not so sure about this…”
DE1: “Well, there are also going to be tiny cars inside of the planes who help stop the fires. And, maybe one plane will fall in love with another plane? And… um… I mean it’ll have fire and planes. Fire and Planes”.
DE2: “SOLD”.

Talking Points: Do the planes know they have tiny cars inside of them? Is the villain of this movie the fire, or is it self-doubt, or is it an evil fire-starting plane? When can we expect “Ships” to come out, and as a follow-up question how long will it take for the internet to make sex fantasy drawings of those ships having sex with the cars while the planes watch? Or would this all be happening inside of the plane?

Hercules (July 25)

Dwanye Johnson stars as the titular character of Hercules, muscle-bound weirdo who is one of literally thousands of bastard-sons of Zeus.  But Hercules is special because he’s got muscles, which also makes him scream a lot (think about it: Even with super strength it takes a lot of strain to move those hulking muscles around).  This movie takes place after Hercules has successfully accomplished the twelve trials (most of them were stealing), and now he wanders around Greece fighting more monsters because that’s what he does because he’s mother f-ing HERCULES GRRAAAAAAAAAAAGH!  John Hurt of Doctor Who fame plays some Greek King who isn’t Hercules and he probably has a daughter who Hercules tries to fall in love with only to realize that he already has the only relationship that counts: The one between Hercules and Hercules.  Talking points for this movie: Did you see Hercules punch that monster?  What do you think Hercules could bench? How many protein shakes do you think Hercules could down?

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)

A bunch of assholes who call themselves The Guardians of the Galaxy find themselves fighting some kind of Space King in Space.  The Space King wants magic crystals that aren’t magic just really futuristic and technological because having magical crystals would be ridiculous. The Guardians include Space Raccoon, Tree-man, The Red Hulk, Sexy Green, and Star Lord the lord of Stars.  John C. Reilly co-stars as one of the few sane people in this universe who realizes that the magic of the rocks is inside of us all along (sadly, Reilly’s character will die at the turning point of the film).   The Guardians will also likely set up the next Avengers movie, so expect the magic stone to combine together into a magic staff and that magic staff to break into seven magic pieces that will scatter across the galaxy, and for one of those magic seven pieces to fall into the magically robotic hands of Tony “Iron Man” Stark. Talking points: Will Rocket Raccoon now be a part of The Avengers?  I’m happy that John C. Reilly was resurrected with the magic resurrection stone, but is he now under the control of the evil Deathlord Darkmatter?  Was that Ant-Man at the end?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)

A City, we’ll say New York, is in trouble. Things are falling over and catching on fire.  Thank God that seventeen years ago a group of four little turtles were exposed to highly radioactive waste and then taken in and trained by a rat who was also exposed to radioactive waste and now all them form a subterranean family that are, dare we say, “heroes in a half shell”.  These guys who are totally green will be facing off against Shredder (because we need to get some table setting done before we can meet Baxter Stockman or Beebop and Rocksteady), who is probably responsible for dumping all of that nuclear waste into the sewers and thereby creating these pizza-eating teens (though in this newer, grimmer version it may be that they don’t eat pizza all the time).  The central plot that doesn’t revolve around the CGI turtles jumping around and fighting will probably have to do with the turtles feeling like outsiders in the world they protect and how the only thing that would make their life more difficult would be if they had to go to High School (Record Scratch: Next movie they’re going to high school!).  Talking points for this movie: Seriously, when are we going to get a big-screen version of Baxter Stockman? At what point in the movie will Casey Jones be hinted at?  What do you value the property damage for this movie at?  How many counts of the heroes saying “Turtle Power” were there?

The Expendables 3 (August 15)

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kellen Lutz, Terry Cews, Ronda Rousey, Kelsey Grammer, Natalie Burn, Robert Davi, Sarai Givaty, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Lisbeth Olafsson, Velizar Bilev, Thomas Canestraro, Slavi Slavov, Harry Anichkin, Anton Poriazov, Tzvetislav Samardijev, and special appearance by Randy Couture as Toll Road.  All of these people fight. All of these people die. All of these people are… EXPENDABLE.  Talking Points for this movie: Who would like to see in Expendables 4? I’m thinking Vin Diesel, Shia LeBeouf, Van Damme really has to return, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, Liam Neeson, Dame Judi Dench, Tony Jaa, Kurt Thomas of Gymkata fame, and archive footage of Bruce Lee.  Also, when will there be an animated series of The Expendables?  Are there Expendables action figures yet, because we need to get on that.  What is the difference between The Expendables and GI-Joe?  Oh, I forgot Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but I want to see that guy in every movie.  We definitely need to smell what the rock is cooking in The Expendables 4.

Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)

Women are objects in this sequel to 2005’s Sin City.  Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke return as John and Marv, respectively, who speak in gruff voices and shoot guns.  These two real hard-boiled guys take it on themselves to lay claim to Breasts with Legs Eva Green, Jaime King, and Alexa PenaVega.  Men gamble and eat cigars, women have sex, and everybody drives cars and stuff.  Meanwhile Joseph Gordon-Leavitt shows up and, over the course of the movie, we find out that he too shoots a gun and drives a car.  Also, somebody has gold eyes and another somebody wears glowing glasses who isn’t Elisha Wood. Talking points for this movie: What needlessly stylistic choice was your favorite? Would you want your one colored feature to accentuate your breasts, hips, or butt? Which was the better Robert Rodriguez film, this or Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3D?

Game of Thrones S4, Ep1 Preview

As we all know I’m one of the most in-demand writers both on and off the internet, so when George R. R. martin came to me and asked in his grizzled old voice “You wanna make the season 4?”, I hopped at the chance.  It didn’t even matter that I hadn’t read any of the Game of Thrones books or seen any of the TV show, Martin said, he wanted a fresh perspective.  And so, here’s what you can look forward to for the first episode of season 4 of Game of Thrones:

The wind howls at Gotheram’s Cathedral, snaking through the folding chairs of the wedding that had come to pass.  People wake up, unsure whether they’re hung over or just dead.  Glintha the Dragon Queen surveys the wreckage, HER wreckage, and she smiles “Me and my Dragon Arrow did pretty good here. We’re definitely going to be able to take over the Sword kingdom”.  Then she remembers: Bortha the Queen of Knives! Bortha and Glintha, as we all know from the flashbacks in season three, are sisters who were separated at birth by the Old King Randersham because Randersham heard a prophecy from the Mauve Monk that one of his children would destroy his kingdom (also, because he really REALLY wanted a son and he figured having two daughters would just make other kingdoms make fun of him).

Bortha has since ruled from the shadows, using her father as a puppet, which worked great until her sniveling little brother, Hamham, took over and started peeing on all of the furniture.  Now the Queen of knives is cornered, but rather than admit her mistake and join forces with the Dragon Queen Glintha she decides that she’s going to join forces with the treacherous Dwarf King Cerce, take over Randersham’s castle from the inside, and then stab Cerce and cut out his heart, thus insuring that she’ll also rule over the underground Dwarf Kingdom Terrenuit.  Bortha and Cerce ready their poisonous knives when Cerce’s henchman, Babu, sneaks up behind Bortha, knocks her out, and throws her in the dungeon.

Glintha doesn’t know about Cerce’s betrayal, though, in fact she still doesn’t know about Cerce’s ties to the Randersham Castle because her dragonling Frot decided it best not to tell her before the red weeding.  Glintha masses her dragonlings readies them to attack the next kingdom: The Forest Castle of Ragnos ruled by the once mighty King Jazubar (a new addition to the cast this season).  Glintha is shocked to learn that Jazubar, whom she has just figure out existed, had been trading with Kontok and the kingdom of thieves this entire time!  Glintha is faced with a difficult decision: Team up with the thieves who killed her father to kill her sister, or kill the thieves who killed her father and move on to another kingdom and just take slightly longer to kill her sister. Complicating this decision is Kontok’s chiseled chin.

Meanwhile in the Northlands Josk and Hans huddle together in their yurt:
“It is cold”.
“Ya”.
“Life is hard”.
“Ya”.

Cerce talks to Hamham and tells him of his sister’s trechery. Hamham isn’t surprised, and decides to execute Bortha at dawns light. Cerce smirks his dwarfish grin: What id he planning? We’ll find out next week.

Meanwhile on the Coastal kingdom of Broom’s Beard the ship that was traveling to the Noumon continent has returned, and Captain Strom Strummer walks off: Didn’t he die by getting eaten by a whale, you ask? Not Captain Strom! He sliced his way out of the beasts stomach and brought back a whale lung to be preserved in the Broom’s Beard Museum of oddities.  The Captain and his crew have also brought back something even more dangerous: Explosive gunpowder.  Stipples the trade governor smiles to himself: Yes, now we can have a stake in this game. This Game of Thrones.

End of Episode. Oh, although Sanxabaan is still working on raising his undead army.  It probably won’t work, but I don’t want to spoil the season for you guys.  Make sure you watch the start of Season 4 of Game of Thrones on April 6th and remember: If you can spot the anachronisms, make sure to post them to our Twitter page @GOTPROBLEMS and you’ll be entered to win a free pizza!  Now as Old King Randersham would say: I’ll see you on the Road to the Throne!

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2014 Oscars

It’s Oscar season again, when we all huddle in blankets and leave out milk and cookies for the Film Academy Grinch so that he won’t steal our children and leave copies of Grown Ups 2 in our Oscar Stockings.  Of course as we all know from the Bible, the only way to truly save ourselves from the grisly fate of the Film Grinch is to correctly guess the winners of the three most important Oscar categories (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Make-up and Hair Styling).  Also fortunately for you, I have a mole inside of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and so below I’ve included a brief synopsis of each nominee and its likelihood of winning the prized Oscar statue with a gooey chocolate center.

12 Years a Slave (Best Picture, Best Director for Steve McQueen)

12 Years a Slave follows the exploits of a Middle manager for a company that makes auto parts for Ford Motor Trucks, hence he’s a slave to the corporation, man.  Over the next twelve years he gets married, becoming a slave to patriarchal convention, man, and eventually he begins drinking, becoming a slave to alcoholism, man.  After twelve years he gets fired from the auto parts company and has to try and find a job again, starting from the very bottom and becoming a slave to the sagging economy, man.  Directed by Steve McQueen, actor in such films as The Great Escape and Bullitt I’d say the percentage of winning ranges from 1841% to 1980%.

American Hustle (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for David O. Russell)

This year’s prestige piece on racism in American politics, Russell posits that perhaps the greatest hustle hoisted on the American people has been the racial profiling in the ABSCAM fiasco of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The film focuses on FBI agent Paco Fernandez as he attempts to shed light on the underlining racism of American politics in New Jersey as some white guy (played by Jeremy Renner) tries to become Mayor.  Fernandez’ pleas fall on deaf ears, however, and thus the film transcends racial politics and becomes about the futility of life and the Sisyphean struggle of it all.  I’d say it has 7% chance of winning, 50000% is Russell styles his hair in an elaborate comb-over for the awards ceremony.

Captain Phillips (Only Nominated for Best Picture, a loser for sure)

Tom hanks is on a boat! It’s so much fun, he’s getting tan and talking to all of his friends about how great it was to be in Big and The Terminal and Joe Versus the Volcano when suddenly a bunch of pirates hop on board (and not the fun Johnny Depp kind).  “Give me an autograph!” yells Pirate leader Barkhad Abdi, “I have a son back home who’s a big fan of the Toy Story series”.  “Oh, what’s your son’s name?” asks Tom, terrified but keeping cool just like he did back in Apollo 13. “Oh, you caught me. It’s for me. I love you Tom Hanks” says Adbi, ripping open his shirt to reveal a Tom Hanks tattoo. “That’s okay, EVERYBODY loves me!” shouts Tom, and the party resumes.  Although it stands a 71% chance of winning Best Picture, Tom Hanks is sure to win Best Actor through sheer force of charisma and will.

Dallas Buyers Club (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Make-up and Hair Styling)

Tumbleweeds scurry across the empty roads under the watchful eyes of coyotes and the setting sun makes the shrubbery seem on fire in the middle of West Texas.  Lights turn on in an old auction house, people flock in like moths drawn to the light.  The auctioneer quiets down the whispering men in suits as the auction begins “Ladies and Gentlemen, today we sell Dallas. Bidding begins at-” The Auctioneer is cut off, Matthew McConaughy stands and raises his tiny fan “Yes, Hello. I would like to buy Dallas”.  The rest of the movie is about McConaughy (playing himself) trying to out bid everyone for the ownership of Dallas, though, they all decide that the bidding and conspiring to own the city is more fun than actual ownership.  SO they set up a secret shadow club that meets and discusses how they’ll first buy Dallas, then the world.  1985% chance of winning, thanks to McConaughy’s thrillingly ambiguous performance (why exactly DOES he want to buy Dallas? We never know, and perhaps its best that way).

Gravity (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Alfonso Cuáron)

A Woman Astronaut and a Man Astronaut are in space being astronauts. But Oh No! Space stuff flies into other space stuff which makes space stuff happen. IN SPACE. Eventually Manstornaut dies but comes back as a ghost (still in space), and Woman Astronaut has to fly through the atmosphere and fight fire monsters being held captive on a Chinese Spacecraft (still in space).  This is all rendered in thrilling 3D, so you can see space in space and experience what it would be like if you were an astronaut in space. 9.8% of winning. In space.

Her (Only nominated for Best Picture, directing robots doesn’t count as directing)

In a dystopian future robots have taken over the world and forcefully impregnate men to carry terrible cyborg babies which will then be sued to conquer the rest of the galaxy.  One such man is Theodore (Joaquin Pheonix) who is kidnapped from his home by a seductress in the form of a super-intelligent AI (Scarlet Johansson) and i lured into the horrific robot compound.  Theodore is kept away from his loving wife (Amy Adams) and his three non-cyborg kids and plots his escape from the compound along with some other prisoners/breeders.  Theodore eventually has to martyr himself for the future of mankind (it turns out he’s actually carrying a human baby who may turn the tides of robot oppression), and baby Joshua is raised by Theodore’s wife to travel back in time and stop Skynet. Unfortunately it only stands a 3-5% chance of winning due to the fact that Sci-Fi epics like this one never win Oscars.

Nebraska (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Alexander Payne)

Will Forte and Bruce Dern play a son and father (respectively, although presumably the father was also a son, but we never really get that backstory which is a shame) who are on a fun bonding road trip south from Montana to pick up millions of dollars and see the Italian countryside.  Unfortunately first they have to drive through Nebraska.  They drive. And drive. And drive.  They run out of things to talk about and try to find a good radio station: No dice, it’s all country. Not even a good 80’s hit station.  Dern tries to think of something to say. He decides it’s best just to look out the window. Ugh: More corn.  “Are we still in Nebraska?” asks Dern. “Yeah, Dad. 80 more miles” replies Forte. “Oh. I don’t think I like Nebraska”. 1867% Chance for Best Picture, 77354% for Best Director.

Philomena (Only Nominated for Best Picture,  come on Judi Dench, couldn’t you have made your character have horns?)

Philomena (Judi Dench) is a woman who had to give up her only child years ago so she could live in a convent, and a journalist named Martin Sixsmith (played impeccably by Steve Coogan) take sup her story in order to regain his hope in humanity.  Sixsmith’s search for Philomena takes him across the British isles and eventually to America, and along the way he and Philomena’s daughter (Mare Winningham) discover that maybe the world isn’t so bad.  This all changes when it’s revealed that Philomena is a spy for the British government, taking over the mantle from the long dead 007, and she’s attempting to infiltrate the evil organization SPECTRE.  Sixsmith finally meets up with Philomena on a beach, right before a diamond-faced assassin attempts to take her life. BANG BANG BANG go the guns, and it’s revealed that Sixsmith’s adventure has just begun.  Part one of the four part spy series, Philomena will keep you guessing from start to finish. 4417% chance of winning, thanks to Dench’s Neeson-esque aptitude for violence and her “particular set of skills”.

The Wolf of Wall Street (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese)

Steps echo through the White House, Secretary of State john Kerry (played by himself) rushes into Obama’s office (Obama also plays himself). “Sir, it’s the economy, it’s… it’s NOT WORKING ANYMORE!” shouts Kerry. Obama lights a cigarette and stares out the window, “I know John. It’s Wall Street. No one’s there, and so the economy’s crashing”. “WHY?! WHY BARACK?!” weeps Kerry. “Because the entrie street has been taken over by a pack of ravenous wolves”. Kerry and Obama hatch a plan just crazy enough to work, they’re going to grant an insane prisoner known only as “The Wolf Hunter” (Leonardo DiCaprio) pardon from Gitmo if he can break into Wall Street and fight off the wolves.  The Hunter, who claims to be innocent of his crimes of murdering Cincinnati, teams up with the one person he trusts: Wildlife expert Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and together they learn that the only thing more dangerous than a pack of ravenous wolves are stock brokers who haven’t been able to walk into a room and shout numbers at computer screens.  714% chance of winning Best Picture, Millions upon millions of percent chances for winning Best Director.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Only Best Make-up and Hair styling, it got snubbed for Best Picture)

Johnny Knoxville plays Irving Zisman who just got out of prison and is looking to patch things up with his estranged son, Greg Harris’ Chuck.  It becomes clear that Irving won’t be able to make amends with Chuck, but he finds out that Chuck has a son, Billy, and Irving and Billy instantly hit it off.  Irving takes Billy out for a day, against the wishes of Chuck, and tries to open up to this youngster (It’s difficult for Irving, his father beat him and to escape he had to go fight in Vietnam where he saw a lot of people get killed).  Unfortunately Irving falls into old habits, and by the end of the day he’s getting carted back to Prison. “I’m sorry, Kid, I guess I’m just a bad grandpa” says Irving, but Billy looks up with tears in his eyes and says “No Pep-pep, you’re the best grandpa”.  It should be an 86% chance of winning, but as Irving well knows life isn’t fair and so it probably only has an 8% chance of winning.

The Lone Ranger (Nominated only for Best Make-up and Hair Styling, living up to its name of being a Lone Ranger)

Agent John Reid works for the Texas Rangers and he’s hunting down an escaped fugitive who’s hiding out in a seedy hotel outside Marfa.  He guzzles sunflower seeds and pitch black coffee, the kind that’d wilt flowers, as he gazes at the door thinking that if he stares hard enough he might just be able to develop X-ray vision.  Then the car door opens, and Johnny Depp’s character (Known only as “Ski Mask” as he’s wearing a ski mask the entire time) holds a gun up to Reid’s head.  “Hey. You wanna hear me do a wacky high-pitched voice?” asks Ski Mask.  “Get away from here. I’m on a job, and I got to do this alone” rasps out Reid. “Waka Waka!” exclaims Ski Mask, flapping his arms like a bird, “YOU WANNA SEE MY HAT?”, Ski Mask takes out a large hat with a dead crow on it.  he proceeds to make loud bird calls.  Reid realizes that he’s got a long day ahead of him, in the most uproarious and outrageous buddy cop movie since Rush Hour. 221% chacne of winning every Oscar from now to eternity, all thanks to Johnny Depp and his hats.

So there you have it.  Good luck, these predictions should be accurate but just in case bolt your doors and turn off the lights, because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be roving the streets on Oscar night searching for those who have defiled this most sacred of traditions.  Good luck, may you make it through the night.

100 Bad Housepets

  1. Fully grown alligators

  2. Giant snapping turtles

  3. Headless crabs

  4. Humans

  5. Monkeys (I get it, they’re cute, but THEY’LL RIP YOUR FACE OFF)

  6. Radioactive marmosets

  7. Sun bears

  8. Crocodile Dundee (See Number Four)

  9. Rabid wolves

  10. Rocks (They’re not alive, it was all a scam)

  11. A pack of starving Hyenas

  12. A piranha with legs

  13. GEESE!

  14. Supermassive caterpillars

  15. Bears (I get it, you can say you have a pet bear, but THEY’LL RIP YOUR FACE OFF)

  16. Les Stroud, the Survivorman (See Number Eight)

  17. Flaming whales

  18. Sneezing whales

  19. Whales in a box

  20. Moist whales

  21. Dusty whales

  22. Whales with chicken pox

  23. Xanthan gum (It’s not an animal, it’s bacteria poop)

  24. Supersonic parakeets

  25. Chainsaw newts

  26. Hamsters on PCP

  27. One Hundred Thousand Moths

  28. Africanized killer bees

  29. A basilisk

  30. Trilobites (They’re usually dead inside the box anyways)

  31. The H1N1 virus

  32. Bruce Willis (See Number Sixteen)

  33. Poisonous warthogs

  34. A creature of living plasma wrought in the nuclear inferno of a dying star.

  35. Monitor lizards (I get it, they’re like scaly cats, but THEY’LL RIP YOUR FACE OFF)

  36. Screaming chickens

  37. Hungry, Hungry Hippos

  38. Octopus with a hammer

  39. Cancerous moles

  40. Geraniums (You take them out of the pot for a walk and suddenly they’re dead)

  41. Gargantuan bull moose

  42. A pig tapped into the Universal Metaconsciousness

  43. The Squid Monster

  44. Pterodons

  45. Moon beetles

  46. Terrified walruses

  47. Pachycephalosaurs

  48. A parrot who only tells lies

  49. The burrowing panther

  50. The disconnected hand (Sure it waves, but does it understand “Hello”?)

  51. The Invasive Pony

  52. The Headless Mule

  53. The Snickering Horse

  54. The Tortured Donkey

  55. Caffeinated sloths

  56. Schrodinger’s Cat

  57. A smart bison

  58. A bird carrying an elephant that ate a crocodile that was in love with an ox who thought it was bee.

  59. The hummingbird paradox

  60. Tamagochi (IT WAS A COMPUTER)

  61. The thunderbird

  62. A glob of living chewing gum

  63. A dog that barks the Future

  64. A smug time traveler (See Number 32)

  65. Unstoppable guinea pigs

  66. Giggling goldfish

  67. PUMAS!

  68. Punk crickets

  69. Hypochondriac spaniels

  70. Furbies (They watch you while you sleep)

  71. Sugary tortoise

  72. Bitter tortoise

  73. Tortoise on a boat

  74. Pickled tortoise

  75. Aggressive tortoise

  76. Tortoise who’s a goat.

  77. Beautiful scorpions

  78. Ghastly ducklings

  79. Forensic gorillas

  80. Taxidermied moose heads (They’ll laugh at you and tell you’ll be dead by dawn)

  81. A steel tiger

  82. A rainbow serpent with control over gender

  83. The living, laughing Melon

  84. Bearded myna

  85. Winged bull

  86. Bugbears

  87. Water bears

  88. Nervous echidnas

  89. Kapow-Chow: The Karate Dog

  90. Cats (They scream at all hours of the night, they can’t understand language, they’ll leave your home smelling awful, their hair is left EVERYWHERE, they’ll tear apart your furniture, they’ll eat your plants, they sleep most of the day, and at any given moment they may decide to bite you. WHY DO WE KEEP CATS AS PETS?).

  91. Utahraptors

  92. Ibong Adarna: The Bird Princess

  93. BADGERS!

  94. Bombastic racoons

  95. Ambivalent yaks

  96. Invisible dachshunds

  97. Self-Replicating ducks

  98. The Timeless Capybara

  99. The Thousand Foot Hedgehog

  100. Nicholas Cage (He’ll rip your FACE. OFF) (See Number 64).

No Cash Value

During my junior year of college in my design class I was tasked with making a poster, there were a few stipulations, but overall I had free reign to make a poster on whatever I chose.  So, I decided to turn my gaze to the Ministry of Playwriting, a writing group I headed up in high school that still occasionally met.  We were talking about releasing a book of some of the more coherent writing warm-ups and short scripts we made, and I decided that when this theoretical book was published we’d have a theoretical reading from that book.  So, here’s the process behind the creation of the very real poster to all of these theories.

Firstly, I decided that I wanted to hand make this poster, mostly because one of the signature styles of the Ministry was it roughness and its unpolished nature.  Many of our warm ups featured instantly incorporating something into a script regardless of whether or not it would fit (resulting in multiple bus crashes and giant squids int he middle of emotional dramas).  I also decided that it would be interesting to create the poster on top of script pages from our write-ups, after all this was a reading from the Ministry of Playwriting, why wouldn’t our poster highlight our writing?

The first very rough draft of "No Cash Value"

This first poster has a few issues.  FIrst, I was originally thinking about using hand made stamps to create the type on the poster.  Well, I found out that firstly almost every letter stamp I made would come out backwards (and I was all out of stamp foam), and second I found out that all of the stamp type would come out almost entirely illegible.  Also, for the general format of the post I wanted to invoke both mid-century modern but also the work of Tandori Yokoo.  Unfortuantely during critiques I found that going for an almost direct translation resulted in the conveyance of the idea of “No Japan”, which is nowhere near anything I believe.  So, I decided to take what worked from this design, scrap the rest, and come up with something entirely new from scratch.

THe second try at the No Cash Value poster
A quick note, these posters were actually large rectangles, but when combining all of the image files together in Photoshop it gave me these strange parallelograms.

Okay, now we were getting somewhere. I had settled on to a way to incorporate the zero sign without conveying anything terrible, and that was what would be described as the Squid.  It’s actually meant to convey both a zero and an explosion (One of The Ministry’s earliest motto’s was “If at first you don’t succeed: Explosion”. Needless to say, we weren’t very good writers at the beginning). Also it’s meant to be a squid, as that became our de facto mascot (see also the Ministry of Playwriting coat of arms at the top corner of the poster).  Aside from the Squid tying everything together, we also had a great cluster at the top that conveyed information in a visually interesting and simple manner.  The only thing I needed to work on for the next round was the lower half of the post (everything beneath the Squid looks like chaos, and not in the playful way I wanted. Instead in the ugly, “I don’t know what I’m doing” way), and I still needed to work on the color palette a bit.

The Final Design for the "No Cash Value" poster

So there’s the final design.  It mostly works, although after looking at this poster fairly regularly for the past few years, I can say that the title “No Cash Value” still isn’t reading as a title, and that the treatment of the repeating “May 16 2010”, although interesting and worth exploration, didn’t come out as well as it could have. The 7:00 MST came out fantastically, and I finally found a way to incorporate the magazine photo cutouts while also incorporating them into the overall piece well.  Further, I finally found a great color palette.  So, an overall success I suppose.

My Name is Ward Armstrong and I Travel Through Time

This began as a writing warm-up for the Ministry of Playwriting, and it grew into the most viewed film of mine and perhaps the film I’m most known for.  So, now here it is, re-uploaded on the New Henceblog: My Name is Ward Armstrong and I Travel Through Time:

My Name is Ward Armstrong and I Travel Through Time from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

To clarify: I don’t think this is the best film I’ve ever made (that honor belongs to Lamplight Breakfast on a Burning Kitten), but this is consistently an audience favorite. It’s easy to see why, as it’s a good joke vehicle (wonderful lines/readings that stick out: “I will send you to the dinosaur times”, “Well, you can’t stop the Squid Monster”, and “They have these saws for arms. It’s TERRIBLE”) and the main performance of Leroy Twarogowski is delightfully befuddled.  On another viewing, I feel that the pacing is a bit off, and that I could have done a much better job editing this together (the Mexican standoff scene doesn’t quite pop as much as it should) and I really wish I was able to include the take where Leroy pronounced it “Moo-Tants”, but if memory serves me correctly it just wouldn’t fit in.