Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - Movie Review


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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

I just wasn't impressed. It looks sleek. The actors are dead-on with their depictions. The story has a fractured narrative to keep thing interesting. There are even a few clever twists here and there to keep the element of surprise. Still, I just couldn't get into Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I wasn't entertained by it. True, I had more than enough on my plate to be happily distracted, but the film continued in the background of my mind until it reached an inevitable conclusion and ended with a whimper so quiet I had nearly forgot about it up to this point.

The director Sydney Lumet has a resume that includes some of the most celebrated movies in film history. His work includes Network, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, The Wiz, I could continue, but I won't, because to be honest, those movies kind of bored me as well. It shames me to say it, but it doesn't take a full viewing to see what some film classics are getting at. As Network served as a prophetic glimpse into the evolution of entertainment, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead could perhaps serve as the "fainting goat," the less fit and failing to survive animal soon to be pushed off the brink of extinction. It's an art-house film meant for the art-house patrons, and you'll either love it or shrug your shoulders.

The story, meanwhile, is about as depressing as you could expect it to be. Two brothers, one wealthy and one much less than that, team together in a scheme to rob a small jewelry store owned by their parents. The duo face a dilemma uniquely biblical in it's moral compromises. As the situation escalates, the characters find themselves sinking into bigger and deeper holes. The solutions, as one might expect, are not wholesome. The resulting judgments and executions are just as biblical in their scope.

It really is somewhat epic at times, and without a doubt, morally intense. Still, the movie is relentlessly tiring in it's run-time and the long extended silences, no matter how effective, test patience while viewing.

Before the Devil Knows Your Dead is an interesting and extremely well made film, however that doesn't necessarily mean it's worth viewing. It's a story perhaps better suited to another medium, as a novel, or even a comic. As a film it wanes over time.
To be completely honest, I don't recommend it.


Type Type Type

In case you don't know, I'm officially the humor columnist for the Biola Chimes, my university student paper.

And yes, it has gone straight to my head. I have officially become a fast-talking newspaper man, collecting sources, getting down to business, writing on old-fashioned typewriters with a cigarette in my mouth whist a wooden fan rotates slowly in a smoke filled room, referring to women as "dames" or "cats," making passes and saying things such as "Sheesh! This cat's got claws! Rawr!" It's quite a life, believe me.

My latest column just hit the stands today, but you can still catch it online here:

If you really need me to say more before clicking that link, try this on for size.

That's right, my article is about Michael Cera, the Mr. Darcy of our modern times.

suck it mr. darcy

...and before you ask, yes, I made up the part about short-shorts and tropical tic-tacs. I just couldn't resist.
I really couldn't.


Moar Cats With Cones

I can't imagine how difficult and sad life would be for a cat with a cone on it's head, but as a human I must say that it immediately makes my life so much more the brighter.

It seems that in this day and age, with all of our advancements in medicine, we would have found a way to keep our animals from further harm without sacrificing their dignity.
Thank heavens we didn't.

It's a beautiful thing.

When I saw a title with the words "Fighting Conehead Cats" I expected a battle of epic proportions.
Still, good enough for this post.

One day I hope to fit a cone onto at least one of every animal. Although, I suppose, that could be difficult with giraffes.
Still, one can dream.
One can dream...


Mmmm, Klondikes...

I found these commercials to be charmingly hilarious.

And maybe even slightly disturbing.

Yep, it's made by those lovely folks at the lonely island. You gotta love them.

But where's Jorma?

Oh, here he is.


Pur Water

Upon moving into my new apartment I was briefly informed, by means of a small piece of paper, that my water “may or may not” have harmful chemicals inside of it. While I do tend to assume that there may or may not be harmful chemicals in just about everything I put into my body, this piece of paper alarmed me in how it explicitly brought my water quality into question. Without a doubt, I took it to say, “There definitely are chemicals inside of all the water you are drinking and ever will drink, and you will most certainly die a painful death because of them.”

As you can imagine, directly after interpreting that message, I immediately spit out the water already inside of my mouth into a violent mist, which happened to cover my roommate Micah’s face.

Something had to be done.

Without delay I went to Target where I browsed the water filters. I found numerous options to aid in the chemical crisis. However, the majority of the filters were priced at above thirty $30.

Again, I spit a violent mist of water into Micah’s face. “Thirty dollars?!” I exclaimed. “That’s more than I make in a year! “What is this?! The Ritz?!” I added, yelling again. “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was America!”

After decisively making my point, I bought a water filter on clearance. Its brand name was “Pur,” with a line over the “u.” This, I assume, meant it was French, and assured me that the water would taste as fresh as a spring on the French Appalachian Mountains. It even came with an attachment that dropped in droplets of raspberry flavoring.

Pur Water

Bringing the filter home was like Christmas in the middle of August. I excitedly unwrapped it and sat cross-legged in front of it for hours, just watching the filter drip clean, untainted, raspberry flavored water fit for a king.

When there was enough for a glass, I sprinted to the fridge to grab a cup of ice.
As I filled my glass I came to an alarming realization. The ice hadn’t been properly filtered. There could still be chemicals, lying dormant in the ice, just waiting to be released and poison my body.

This is exactly the way the dinosaurs were wiped out, I realized, except with chemical water instead of a meteor.


Where would the insanity stop? Would I have to continually filter my raspberry water along with my ice for the rest of time? What then? This process would only escalate. I would become increasingly paranoid of the water, the air, my roommates. Eventually I would find myself locked in my room covering the windows in Saran Wrap and walking around with tissue boxes on my feet.
Maybe the chemicals had already gotten to me.

It was this realization that ensured my doom. In my sudden shock I spit another mist of water into Micah’s face, but this time it was filtered. And it was raspberry flavored. Raspberry-flavored death, no doubt…


Eternal Embroidery of the Spotless Mind

One of my favorite movies of all time is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
I thought, as long as I'm doing embroidery based on movie quotes, I owe it to make one for this.

This quote specifically has always stood out in my mind.

"Please let me keep this memory... just this one."


I wanted the text to reflect the earnestness of the plee itself, while also deteriorating as the message went on.

It's a bit hard to see in the photo, but the entire message is cross-stitched in different colored thread. So although the word "One" is hard to see, it's definitely still there if you look closely.

It was a bit experimental, but personally, I really like it.


Oh Alexander

I'm currently enrolled in a U.S. History class, which has actually gotten to be pretty good now that we're getting into some of the more bloody details about the American Revolution.

Today was different however. Upon entering the room, I realized that not only was our professor missing, but he was replaced by a teaching assistant I had never seen before. He didn't waste much time in throwing on a dvd and saying "I'm not coming back, so whenever the class period ends feel free to just leave and let the DVD run itself out."
Then he turned off the light and disappeared out the door.

That means that somewhere on campus at this very moment, a documentary on Alexander Hamilton is still being played to a classroom which I desperately hope is completely empty.

The best part was at the very beginning of the documentary.

The narrator begins with these infamous lines:

"You may remember Alexander Hamilton as one of the founding fathers, but what you might not know is that Alexander Hamilton was a bastard."

It was at this moment that a girl near me dropped her pen and said, "Whoa."

I assume that the documentary meant Alexander Hamilton was just a fatherless child, but the way in which the narrator said the word "bastard" sounded as though he personally had something against the iconic historical figure.

But the narration continued:

"Respect was hard to find for a bastard such as Alexander..."

By this time, I couldn't stop laughing.

Then the actors dressed in revolutionary garb turned up on screen.

"Alexander was a charming fellow," a lady in a fancy hoop dress waved with her fan, "the ladies were quite taken with him... as well as many of the men I do believe."

It was all too good. Far too good.


Quid Pro Quo - Movie Review

Quid Pro Quo

A guy walks into a plastic surgeons office and says he's a woman trapped in a man's body. In this day and age, if the guy happens to be wealthy enough, the doctor would probably pull out a marker and start making plans. A second guy walks into the same office and says he's a paraplegic trapped in an able-persons body. Chances are, the surgeon wouldn't act as fast to pull out a baseball bat and start hitting the guy's spine.

Our line between what is justifiable as personal betterment must inevitably be drawn as our technological limits grow vastly larger. Quid Pro Quo, at it's best, begins to draw those lines.

Isaac is a partially paralyzed man, incapable of moving his legs. Working as a human interest reporter for a small radio company, he is tipped off on an interesting underground society made up entirely of disability "Wannabees." These individuals want nothing more than to have a pierced spinal cord, or a feeding tube placed down their throats. The most interesting of these is Fiona, a woman who takes an unusual liking to Isaac.

At it's worst, Quid Pro Quo turns into a melodramatic romantic drama. Isaac and Fiona are both interesting characters, and their interaction (as the latin title suggests) draws some great parallels between all relationships. Nevertheless, their relationship can't help but lack realism.

Even at a fairly short run-time, the movie still comes off as long. The pacing is, quite frankly poor, and the film never quite manages to play it's cards at the right time. There could have been some great twists here, but the movie can never decide whether it wants to be a detective film or a romantic drama. As it stands, the film is jumbled when it comes to it's subject matter, which is fascinating while at the same time is both absurd and real.

Quid Pro Quo isn't a bad movie, but the fact of the matter is that the film itself is much less interesting than the conversations it will probably elicit from it's audience. On it's own however, the film can never manage to find it's legs.

A True Triumph in Embroidery

My roommate Anthony loves motorcycles.
He also loves embroidery.
But the two together?
Now that sounds like a recipe for awesomeness.

Now if he could only ride motorcycles and embroider at the same time...


All Ears

Somebody once told me that the Big Lebowski only gets better every time you watch it.

They were totally right.

Here's a couple little gems I've been listening to lately.

mmmmmm... mash-ups...

Together As One (U2 vs Beatles vs Diana Ross vs Mariah Carey DJ Earworm

Baby Dj (Ting Tings vs. Eddie Money) - Party Ben

a lot of this guy:
Jeremy Messersmith

of course a good quantity of noah and the whale for good measure.

Give A Little Love - Noah and the Whale (via: Pasta)


Cats With Cones

I don't know about you, but crazy Japanese videos are kind of getting old.


This is what you really came here for.
Ladies and gentlemen, Cats With Cones.


Nose It All

I'm in an Early Christian History class this semester. It's required for everyone. Not that it's terrible or anything, it's just not very exciting.

I don't really know anyone else in the class, so really the only major activity I have each week is finding a random place to sit.

This week after class I was fortunate enough to be stopped by another classmate. We just became group members for the semester and as we talked he stopped me mid-sentence and said, "Listen, this might be a strange question, so I really hope you don't take offense to this, but, do you have any Jewish in you? Are you Jewish??"

I lowered my head in full knowledge of what he was referring to.
"It's my nose, isn't it?" I said.

"I had to ask," He replied.

To be honest, even I'm not really sure, but somewhere down my family line there has to be a guy with a huge shnoz and I just haven't seen him. The fact of the matter is, there must be some explanation for why I easily have the biggest nose in my family.

This actually isn't the first time this has happened.
I distinctly remember a time in my high school French class in which a student sitting in front of me turned around with the sole purpose of saying, "You have the epidemy of a Jewish nose." Only to turn around the next moment.

I don't take offense to it, but it certainly does cause me to look in the mirror.

After all, I'm pretty sure my nose got me a few lines when I auditioned for my high school musical Fiddler On The Roof.

My Nose Is Bigger

Some people don't necessarily know what it's like to always have a small portion of your vision dedicated to your own nose. I can always see it, even without focusing. There is always a ghost image of my nose somewhere in front of me.

The sad news? Apparently the nose keeps growing.
So what does that mean for me? Will I be nothing but a nose head one day? Will I be blinded by my own nose?
Only time will tell.

Oy vey...


Best Thing Ever... Today.

Today the best thing ever happened.

I reached into my bag of Chex mix and I found a piece of Chex unlike any other.

At first I thought it was one of those brownish wheat Chex, but then my heart was uplifted.

My friends this was the singular Chex of all Chex mixes.

Upon first inspection, an uneducated Chex mix eater would say it was badly burned in the fabled Chex mix factory (a magical place rumored to have multicolored midget workers). I knew otherwise. This particular Chex was literally black with Chex mix seasoning.

I had wondered why this bag of Chex mix had been unusually bland.

Now I knew.

For some reason the majority of Chex mix deliciousness was adhered to this one piece of Chex.

I took the time to beheld it for but a moment.

Then, I bravely took a taste.

This is what I saw.

Actually, what I tasted wasn't too far off from uncooked Ramen Noodles.
In fact, it almost tasted EXACTLY like uncooked Ramen Noodles.

But to be honest that probably wasn't the best thing that happened.
It was definitely up there, but I think it might have to tie with all the responses I'm getting to my Memento Embroidery on the Crafster page:

Memento Craftster Page

Check it.


Embroidering Memento's

I'm at it with the embroidery again.

If you didn't know, I really like the idea of taking words of phrases out of the context of movies and then placing them onto a format extremely old and traditional.

This time I really wanted to stretch my imagination with what I could put on an embroidery hoop that no one else, ever, in their right mind, would ever place onto an embroidery hoop. Ever.

Then I thought of the movie Memento.

Then I thought whether or not I should actually put the effort into it.
But then I realized if I didn't someone else just might, and they'd probably get it wrong.
So I kind of had to.

If you've never seen it, at least watch the trailer. Somewhere in it you'll probably catch wind of what I was up to.

In case you don't know the premise, Leonard is an ex-cop bent on vengeance after his wife is raped and murdered. His main problem though is the unfortunate fact that he can no longer make new memories. All facts about his investigation have to be translated into writing, with the most important ones as tattoo's across his chest, some in reverse to be read in the mirror when he wakes up.

My natural question of course was "what would the main character of Leonard in Memento do if his only way of capturing memories was embroidery?"
The natural answer is nothing, because embroidery takes friggin forever.

But say if he had a really considerate grand-mother who would embroider his sick twisted notes for him? It would at least be less painful and expensive than tattoo's.

Which brings me to my embroidery, which will undoubtedly divide the public between humored or appalled.

Yep. Leonard's most important chest tattoo, in embroidery form. Backwards and everything so he can still read it in the mirror with the rest of his tattoo's.

Here it is reversed by the mirror in my bathroom:

To really appreciate it, I suggest you picture an old lady in a rocking chair slowly cross-stitching the words while myotonic goats graze aimlessly in the fields.

Or if that doesn't work, imagine the confused faces of the people who haven't seen Memento after witnessing it hanging in our apartment bathroom.

Yes. That'll do.


Sheep Go To Heaven, Goats Faint Face Forwards

This weekend I watched a short segment on the National Geographic channel about Myotonic Goats, more commonly known as the "fainting goat."

Suddenly I realized what my life had been missing up to this point.

Sometimes God made animals to put man in his place, examples of these are crickets, spiders, bigger spiders, and giant coconut crabs.

What's that? You said that giant crab on the trash can was real? Oh, good. I've been meaning to soil myself.

Seeing something reminiscent of the head exploding insect monsters from Cloverfield is always entertaining, but finding out that a slightly similar version of them exists in real life somehow turns this world into a much, much, more terrible place.

On the other hand, sometimes God made animals with no other purpose but to be laughed at. In this case, we're talking about goats that not only faint abruptly when startled, but have a tendency to faint face forward into the dirt.

This next video is rather beautiful, as a woman attempts to provide the goats with an ounce of respect while footage is played depicting her relatives chasing down those very same goats with an an over-sized umbrella.

It's a beautiful thing.

Pokemon. They are real. FINALLY REAL.


20 of these babies were just sold for $925 million dollars. Yes. That's right. 925.
That is 925 million stacks of one million dollar bills.

If you need me I'll be at the pet store painting turtles neon-blue.


Disappearing Act

On hole 16 of the Boomers Mini-Golf she hit her ball into a hole in which it disappeared entirely.

We spent a short time standing over the tiny abyss attempting to peer through the darkness for any hint of a small pink ball. There was nothing.

Prodding the suspicious opening with my putter, I briefly bent down and considered whether or not it would be a good idea to reach my hand into a hole from which there was apparently no return.
We looked at eachother and collectively decided against it.

It was clear that the hole must have led into a tunnel which led to another part of the course. We decided to take a look around for any other possible exit areas. The most obvious was the little circular patch of torn astro-turf only a few feet away. There were three holes for the ball to escape from, yet there was no evidence of it's presence. We walked around the perimiter of the small course and surveyed any other possible options, such as the miniature Eiffel Tower not far away.

The most likely reason for the ball's disappearance was that it had somehow lodged itself in the vast underground tunnels of Boomers.

We both stood back near the miniature Eiffel Tower as a family behind us played their way through the same course. It was clear that they were putt-putt pro's, as none of their balls even came close to the same hole we encountered and instead rolled their way up the ramp and into another hole further away.

While this was good for the family, considering that they wouldn't have to deal with an insant game-over, for us the mystery of the black hole on the Boomers miniature golf course looked like it would never be solved.

The good news however, was that we both realized neither of us actually liked miniature golf that much.

It was our second choice after my idea of ice skating was foiled by odd closing hours. This was another mystery that wouldn't be solved that night due to the fact that the only person we could ask was a foreign street sweeper. When I asked him "What time does the ice rink close?" He replied with a helpful, "Eet's closed." and then continued to sweep the rest of the abandoned parking lot.

So we continued putting our way through Boomers and their disturbingly complex mini-golf layout. This time we continued with one ball, and having long ago discarded any urge to keep score we hit the ball back and forth, often getting stuck on steep ramps.

I believe it was on hole 19 that we found ourselves putting endlessly over a small mound of turf, and I didn't just feel content, I felt something more than that.

I leaned in to her while on the couch and I said exactly what I had been so scared to ask, whether or not I could put my arm around her.
She hummed a yes, and I twisted my arm in the air, surprising myself in how much it was unintentionally similar to the way guys do it in the movies. It was an awkward movement. My arm reached high above me until my elbow passed her head, and it lowered comfortably behind her.

All throughout dinner with her, all I could think about was how much I just wanted to hold her close to me. She was sitting with her familiar yellow jacket talking about her family, and all I wanted to do was be closer to her. I wanted her to know that if there's one thing in this world that anyone did right it was helping her become who she is today,

With my head leaning over hers, her soft hair tucked underneath my chin, I realized I knew it far better than any words could describe.

On hole 16 that ball disappeared into a strange abyss where it would apparently remain lost forever, but in that very moment, I never felt more comfortable about where I was.


Yep, all out of things to post...

I apologise for my lack of posting within the past couple days. But I promise I'll make up for it.

If it's at all comforting, my reason is that I have just gotten a gig writing a humor column on my school's campus paper. WORD. If you're anywhere near Biola university you best represent.

In the meantime, here.
Take this video of a crazy Japanese music video.

No. I don't know if their dudes either. But their ambiguous chest-bulges say otherwise.

This is what I do when I have nothing interesting to post. I just keep posting strange Japanese findings.

here's a Japanese commercial with numerous pelvic thrusts.


Here, Japanese and miniature robots. What the crap.

Here's one with a disturbing midget toy doll machine.

Hey, ever seen this one? It's been one of my favorites for a while now, ever since sophomore year.

I actually memorized that dance.

I'm not joking.

I seriously tried to learn it.

It's much harder than it looks. Trust me on that one.
Especially when you're wearing ninja gear.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Movie Review


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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I'm always a little surprised whenever I ask someone whether or not they ever saw the episode of Gilligan's Island where they actually get off the island. They think I'm joking, but I'm not. It's the last episode. They get off the island, they see how miserable their lives are off the island, and then they go back to the island again. It's really the only reasonable way to end the series (if you don't believe me, just take a look at the recent seasons of LOST). At the same time, it's incredibly depressing. The actors are old, they haven't matured, and they don't want to. The episode exists within a universe where nothing changes, no one acknowledges their age despite being noticeably restricted by it.

In many ways, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is somewhat similar to Gilligan's last voyage.
Indy has aged. That's not a bad thing at all. Harrison Ford looks fantastic. In fact, he doesn't seem affected at all despite a few charming line slurs. His hat and whip function just as beautifully as they did twenty years ago.

Somehow though, this worries me. Just take a look at video games these days. The newest Metal Gear Solid game features the central character Solid Snake as a man swiftly approaching sixty in his physical stamina. His playability is affected by this as well. In movies we have heroes such as John McLane in the recent Die Hard at least stop to catch his breath. Even the last Indiana Jones dealt with an aging Sean Connery in search of the Holy Grail, a noticeable (if not slight) commentary on age and invulnerability.

The newest Indiana Jones hardly even stops to acknowledge the fact that it has been a few years. Sure, Indy's friends are older and he's got a younger sidekick at his side, but Indy himself sprints across high beams and swings into trucks without even a pause for breath.
Sure, you might say realism has hardly been a factor for these films, and with Indy hopping into fridges in the midst of nuclear blasts it still isn't. The fact of the matter here is that Indiana Jones as a film does not acknowledge it's limitations with a wise or discerning eye. Age is a universal struggle, time itself is a force to be reckoned with, but the film neglects it and misses some wonderful opportunities.

The film cannot decide whether it wants the "Anything Goes" personality of Temple of Doom, or the introspective family interaction from the Last Crusade. As it stands, the film is jumbled, relying on chuckle inducing gimmicks or overwhelming special effects.

I was all for the nuclear blasts, the waterfall plunges, even interstellar travel, but the film itself didn't even really seem to buy into them. Maybe it's the "Myth Buster" generation of today, but the film just didn't have it's heart in the full-fledged fantasy and it's somewhat shallow character interaction wasn't nearly as charming or memorable. It needed more characters to play off of the stereotypes, more close calls. It needed to buy into it's own created universe, but it didn't.

As it stands, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is just a fun popcorn thriller. You won't remember it for any melting faces, chilled monkey brains, burning hearts, or rapidly aging nazi's.
Although I must say the snake-rope was just retarded enough to win me over.
It's worth a rental.

Jurassic Night

We had a Jurassic Park viewing night a couple days ago, followed shortly thereafter by another Jurassic Park viewing night, where we watched it again. We love it that much.

I think it pretty much goes without saying that if you have never seen Jurassic Park, then you never had a proper childhood, or, quite frankly, cannot claim yourself as being a complete human being. Harsh? Maybe. True? Absolutely. Short of Dumb and Dumber, the film Jurassic Park probably had the most influence upon who I am today out of any other movie.
How exactly it influenced me is more debatable.
What's really important is knowing that my brother and I could beat the Jurassic Park video game for the SEGA Genesis on Velociraptor mode in less than five minutes.

This guys is pretty good... I guess.

As if that wasn't enough, I had a vast Jurassic Park action figure collection, including the Jurassic Park Compound.

Best Christmas Ever.

It came complete with real "Dino-Damage" action, which in layman terms means "poorly built action figures." The top of it, along with several wall panels, would fall off pretty much every five seconds, but did that stop me from playing with it for hours at a time? No. No it did not. In fact, I probably spent days tearing that compound apart with raptors, triceratops, stegosauri, and T-rexes of all shapes and sizes.

Yes, there was a time that if something didn't have the "JP" or "Ingen" symbol emblazoned on it's side, I just wouldn't be interested.

Sadly, as an adult, my time has become overrun with more "important" tasks, such as Lego building and embroidery, but I will never forget the time I have spent tearing the arms off my Nedry figurine.

Good Times.


It's Monday Night...

Because Tuesday through Sunday are totally straight...

Monday Night IS Gay Night.

I think there comes a point in everyone's life where they just have to stand up and say, "You know what? Let's make one of these nights totally gay." We pretty much reached that point after watching Rob Schnieder's Hot Chick the other night.

If you must, take a look at the following clip at about 8:15 minutes into it. You'll see my inspiration at just about that point.

My thought process upon seeing a neon sign that said "Monday night is Gay Night" led to a number of questions. First of which being, "Why Monday?" and "Why ONLY Monday," and most importantly, "Why is this not already on my wall??"

This is my first embroidery attempt, and I must say, it's addictive. Really very addictive. And it definitely won't be the last.

Half-way through, my roommate Anthony joined in and made one that is quite frankly, equally impressive:

Oh Don Piano.

if you don't quite get that one, here's another inpirational clip:

Truly extraordinary.