Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Movie Review: Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle


Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle (2004), winner of Best Animated Feature Film 2006, is another anime directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.  It is based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones.  I'll admit right away that I don't always understand Miyazaki's style of storytelling, but that's not to say his anime movies are not entertaining.  It is just that the animation is done in the Akira style of animation.  That mean's that instead of the very easy to do "move the lips only" style of animation, he animates everything on screen, i.e. fruit falling on the floor from a table, facial expressions, jars breaking, someone peeking their head our from behind a door.  Sometimes, however, I feel that in his zeal to animate everything on screen it gets in the way of the story itself.

A specific criticism of Howl's moving castle is that, although it is set in a fantasy steam-punk world, where you have coal powered trains, yet flapping airplanes and wizards and witches, the story has nothing to do with the setting at all.  This story could have been told in any setting, and probably would have been more understood.

Howl's Moving Castle is a story of a very unlikely girl named Sofi, who is of normal looks, getting involved in the world of a Casanova wizard, who normally steals the hearts of young beautiful women.  When Sofi, a quiet and reserved hat maker, is seen by the evil Wicked Witch of the Wastes, she is cursed to be aged to be about 70 years old, with the inability to every speak of the curse.  Sofi sets out to find Howl, who got her involved in the first place to remove this curse.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3


Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 is an American 3D computer-animated film. It is the third and final film in the Toy Story series. The film is produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures.  Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, Jeff Pidgeon, Jodi Benson, R. Lee Ermey, John Morris, and Laurie Metcalf all reprised their voice-acting roles from the previous films. Jim Varney, who played Slinky Dog in the first two films, and Joe Ranft, who portrayed Wheezy and Lenny, both died before production began on the third film. The role of Slinky was taken over by Blake Clark, while Ranft's characters and various others were written out of the story (Wheezy, Etch, and Bo Peep were mentioned in the beginning). New characters include voice-overs by Ned Beatty, Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Garlin and Michael Keaton.

Apparently Toy Story 3 made a lot of money.  It broke all sorts of box-office records.  It is the highest grossing film for Pixar Animation Studios ever.  That aside, let's get to the review.

Andy, the star human kid of the show, is now 17 and is going to college.  The toys haven't been played with in years, of course, and their fate is doomed.  Through a series of mishaps they end up at a day-care center where an evil bear has setup a police state and sentences them to torture via 2 year-old kids, who destroy toys.  After escaping they go through the terrors of finding their way home.

"The Claw"
Let's talk about the title.  Toy Story 3?  Yeah, it's like McDonalds, you know exactly what you're getting, generic poop.  This movie was already done, and better, with Over the Hedge.  I heard many adult people describe Toy Story 3 as simply amazing.  Amazing?  Really?  What movie did they see?  This movie has severe schizophrenia.  The movie was quintessentially for children, but every single theme in the movie was super adult.  The main plot deal with a fascist leader, that imposes martial law on the other toys, and who has severe separation issues of his own.  Also the lead villain is extremely subtle in his manipulation of the toys.  I just don't know if I had children, if I would want them to watch this movie.  There was nothing happy about this movie.  At one point, the toys are tortured.  Really?  Torture?  And, the toys are dismembered by the toddlers.  Someone at Pixar is sick in the head.  Or, maybe I am just overly sensitive.

I might be the only guy in the universe to say this, but I didn't like this movie.  The setting was all wrong for the story, and at the end of the movie I was left with absolutely no sense of accomplishment.  I am sure it was the journey that was important, but the ending was ... blah.  The movie literally could have been 2 minutes long.

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Movie Review: Dragonball: Evolution

Dragonball: Evolution


Goku
Dragonball: Evolution is a 2009 American live-action film extremely loosely based upon the Japanese Dragon Ball media franchise. It was directed by James Wong, produced by Stephen Chow and released by 20th Century Fox. The story centers around the adventures of the lead character, Goku, around his 18th birthday, as he is asked to gather seven Dragon Balls to save the world from evil alien forces. On his journey, he meets several different characters who all join the quest and help him in his task. The film stars Justin Chatwin as Son Goku, Randall Duk Kim  as Grandpa Gohan, Emmy Rossum as Bulma Briefs, James Marsters as Lord Piccolo, Jamie Chung as Chi-Chi, Chow Yun-fat as Master Roshi, Joon Park as Yamcha and Eriko Tamura as Mai.

Let's be honest, this film had nearly no resemblance to anything in the Dragonball franchise.  I've heard of artistic liberty, but this takes the cake.  This was a complete rewrite of the entire Dragonball world.  My only theory is that neither the director, nor producer nor even the security guard on set, saw any of the Dragonball anime episodes.

They literally should have renamed all the characters and slap the title "White Ninja" on it.  It would have been far more believable.  For any Dragonball fan, this was a complete slap in the face.  And, I don't understand why Hollywood continues to do this.  They take a franchise, with millions of core fans, and bastardize it for some unknown viewer and ruins the entire series.

Lord Piccolo
This movie, in a word, was terrible.  The acting was just, so bad, that it wasn't even laughable.  Chow Yun-Fat delivered a career ending performance.  If they say that the acting was done to mimic the anime, they are wrong.  There is a difference between an animaniacs style of acting and this travesty on film.  Randall Duk Kim  as Grandpa Gohan started off the entire movie with the most wooden delivery of lines I have ever seen.  Maybe he didn't have his prunes for the day, but he was rather stiff, if you know what I mean.  James Marsters as Lord Piccolo couldn't have pulled off a worse performance, in my opinion.  Maybe he should stick to vampires.  It seems like it's his forte.  Justin Chatwin as Son Goku, leads the show in "line please".  It was just aweful.

Sometimes you cannot blame the actors, well not completely.  You have to take into account what they're working with.  The script was just poor.  It was so poorly laid out that one has to piece together what it all meant.  That is the main reason I said it should have been simply named "White Ninja".  The Dragonball world was never laid out in prain engrish.  I don't mean treat me like a child and spoon feed me narration, but don't be so terrible at storytelling that I have to guess what you mean.

Master Roshi
Casting was terrible.  No actor fit any role, with the exception of James Marsters as Lord Piccolo.  For a heavy martial arts film, there was little to no martial arts in the movie and Chow Yun-Fat, whom we all know can deliver in martial arts, did little to no martial arts.  After about one scene of him throwing Goku around, we get little to no action.  I know he's getting long in the tooth, but if he going to be in a martial arts movie, he better damn well deliver me from karate chops and judo punches damnit.  The star of the show is a white boy with an adolescent body.  I'm sure many of you probably saying he was cute or some rubbish like that.  Dragonball has to be THE quintessential Japanese anime.  It is Japan.  Goku is supposed to have 30 inch pythons [arms] on his worst day, and be very japanese.  A majority of the characters in Dragonball are drawn with the extreme epicanthic fold, or Asian eye fold.  Clearly they wanted the characters identified as Asian.  And, lastly, again with the Black monks.  As I said in The Last Airbender, I am glad Black people are getting work, but this is just too weird.  Why Black monks?  Is that the new pimp for Hollywood?  "Oh, we need a Black guy, should we make him the monk?"  I just don't get it.  And they had to paint extremely white hair on his  mustache and beard, because Black people do not age.  It was pure comedy.

I knew going in this movie was going to ... in a word ... suck.  But, to not even be recognizable as Dragonball is just astonishing.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Movie Review: The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender


The Last Airbender
The Last Airbender is a live-action film adaptation based on the first season of the animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The film stars Noah Ringer as Aang, a reluctant hero who prefers adventure over his job as the Avatar.  The first of a planned trilogy, The Last Airbender was produced by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies.  It was adapted into a film by M. Night Shyamalan, who both directed and produced it. Other producers include Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Sam Mercer and Scott Aversano.  The series from which it was adapted was influenced by Asian art, mythology and various martial arts fighting styles and was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.

Where to begin with this ... movie?  The very first line of the movie, delivered by an ... "actress", who looked 7 but was supposed to be 14 years old, had me wanting to walk out of the theater right then and there and demand my money back.  The performances of everyone in the movie was earth shatteringly bad.  I have seen elementary school plays that delivered more conviction and credibility than anyone in this entire cast.

The casting was jarring.  You have a completely and wholly Asian story about a mythical Asian world where magic is divided into the four basic elements- water, fire, air, earth - yet everyone in the movie was white, plus 1 Black guy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that a Black guy is getting work in Hollywood, but a Black man cast as an Asian monk?  I think the affirmative action card was used in the exact wrong place here.  Also jarring was the fact that the emperor looked like his general, and I mean an exact duplicate, down to the haircut.  It was unnerving to hear white people talking about tapping into the spiritual nature of things.  To my mind, only indigenous people should ever be portrayed as having spiritual awareness.  Historically speaking, Europeans played upon this very nature of indigenous people to believe in the spiritual realms to overtake peaceful people and subjugate and rule over them.  You cannot then make a movie, wholly based on spiritual realms, elements and celestial guardians and cast a 99% white cast in the roles.  What hubris is this?

The costuming was appalling.  Where the cartoon had very vibrant clothing for everyone, and everyone is very identfiable by their clothing, i.e. earth nation wears bright greens and browns and fire nation wears bright oranges, red and black, in the movie everyone was sentenced to wear drab upon drab colors.  The worst costume of them all was Princess Yue, who is the pricess of the northern water tribe.  All of the water tribe is sentenced to wear drab clothing, but the princess has the shame to wear a full, long head of gray hair.  While my friend watching with me said it was white, I pointed out white colored materials in the shot and then pointed back to her very gray hair.  Apparently M. Night Shyamalan did not see Lord of the Rings, and see what white hair is supposed to look like onscreen.  I found Gandalf's white hair, quite appealing in the movie, once he returned with it.  This chick, the princess, however, had gray hair.  And, it looked a mess.

What can I say about the script?  It was terrible.  The entire movie was nearly narrated.  Even worse, at one point, when avatar and friends arrive at the northern water tribe, the narration drones on and actually says "and my brother and the princess Yue really liked each other."  I almost fell out of my chair.  I cant' believe we had to be told this, instead of .... people writing scenes in a script?  Nah, too complicated.  I felt like this was a book on tape.

What can I say about the on-screen chemistry of the actors?  It was non-existent.  At one point in the movie a dragon spirit says to our hero the avatar, Aang, "you're not allowing yourself to grieve for all of the air benders being slaughtered by the fire nation, you're just showing anger all the time."  I was like, when did he show anger, did I blink and miss it?

The final straw was one of the last scenes. The great general, who had formulated this entire invasion into the northern water tribe is walking by himself and four nameless water benders come up and put him in a bubble of water.  What was terrible about this scene was first: he's a general, in a war zone walking around by himself, JUST, for this one scene, up until this scene he had been surrounded by guards.  Secondly, that these four water benders are all nameless anonymous characters.  Thirdly, you don't even realize that he's dead until two scenes later when the report, I mean narrator, tells you he was killed.  Fourthly, this general is one of the most powerful fire benders in all of the nation of fire benders, but he is taken out by anonymous characters?  Seriously?  I can only imagine M. Night Shyamalan was like, "oh we need the general to be dead."

Avatar: The Last Airbender has a huge following.  It is no wonder they did not clear production and marketing costs with this movie.  But, the movie was so terrible that it doesn't surprise me they didn't make money on it.

Apparently M. Night Shyamalan has the go-ahead to complete the trilogy.  Someone please help us.

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Movie Review: How to Tame Your Dragon

How to Tame Your Dragon


Hiccup and Toothless
How to Train Your Dragon (also released by the name How to Train Your Dragon 3D) a computer-animated fantasy film by DreamWorks Animation is loosely based on the 2003 book of the same title. The film stars the voice talents of Jay Baruchel - Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, Gerard Butler - Stoick the Vast , Craig Ferguson - Gobber the Belch, America Ferrera - Astrid Hofferson, Jonah Hill - Snotlout, T.J. Miller - Tuffnut Thorston, Kristen Wiig - Ruffnut Thorston fraternal boy and girl twins, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Fishlegs Ingerman.  David Tennant  plays Spitelout: a Viking who is not named in the film, he appears to be Stoick's Second-in-Command, and bears a striking resemblance to Snotlout

The plot is simple.  In a mythical Viking village, a scrawny kid, Hiccup, surrounded by barrel chested and overly muscled men, seeks to take his place alongside everyone as a dragon killer.  Instead his awkward antics leads him to capture, befriend and tame a dragon.  Through this friendship he uncovers the true secret of the nuisance dragons, which allows him to save the entire village.

A quick word on voice casting.  The entire village are all stupid Scottish sounding voice actors.  The leading man, Hiccup and the leading lady  Astrid, both have regular, American accents, or lack thereof.  When listening to the other cast you have full immersion into the story.  When listening to Hiccup, you are brought jarringly back to your seat sitting in sticky floor Cineplex 6.  His, is a voice, I would never dream of hearing as being allowed to voice act.  Also, Vikings and Scottish accents, do not mix.  It would have been 10 times funnier if the actual Scandinavian accents were used, for everyone, including Hiccup.  It would have added an entire dimension to the film, that was not present.  Also, are we Americans so dumb as to equate Scottish people with Vikings somehow?

As usual, I found Jay Baruchel's voice to be just as whiny as he is live.  He seriously makes me want to kill kittens.  I don't like whiny women, why on earth would I enjoy a whiny guy?  He whines throughout the entire movie.  And, once again he's type-cast into the awkward nerdy boy-can't-get-girl role.  Enough already!  The guy is not bad looking.  When he's in his civilian clothes, he's a real looker.  If they put 40 pounds of muscle on him and stop chopping off his hair, a la $10 supercuts look, he'd make a fine leading man.  Come on, Superbad was not that damned funny that we need 1 beellion and one spin offs, nor a whole new genre of pre-adult sexually titillated boy films.

How to Tame Your Dragon
If you think I'm off base, go read the books.  The books are intended for a very young audience.  Included in the series are titles like "How to Speak Dragonese", "How To Twist a Dragon's Tale", and "How to Break a Dragon's Heart". And characteristic to each book is a compilation of abbreviated chapters, slapstick humor, childlike drawings, and kid pleasing names like Snotface and Fishlegs. Much of this is purposely discarded, as directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois opt for an older demographic. Among the most significant alterations are the character ages from tween to teen, the Vikings' relationship with the dragons from training to hunting, and the size of Toothless, from a small green dragon in the book to a full-sized, fire breathing terror called the Night Fury. These changes give the film a more ominous and mature dynamic.*

So instead of them making an overly funny, tongue-in-cheek movie about a preposterous relationship between a boy and a mythical dragon, they instead give you Superbad in animated form, with a lovesick teen and a giant BLACK dragon, with nigh-shark rows of teeth.

Finally I'm really over the whole PITA bleeding hearts that want to read into this movie what they translate as a message to not harm animals.  Open your damn eyes!  The entire movie shows them killing dragons, all the way to the very end credit.  There is no message to get along with animals and not harm them.  The entire impetuous of the movie is to KILL DRAGONS.  I don't know how much more clear that message could be.  Gee, without giving away too much, the entire purpose of the chief of the village, Stoick the Vast, is to not just kill the dragons, but to find their lair ans slaughter them all, to finally be done with them, once and for all.  So the build up is for him to find it.

If you want pretty moving pictures, this has it.  Gutted is the actual story from the books.  Gutted is the humor from the books.  Gutted is the relationship of the characters from the book.  They shoulda just named it "Superbad, a Dragon's Tale".  It would have been just as close and way more obvious.  Please spare me any more whiny performances by this kid Jay Baruchel.

[credit: Mark Sells of the Oregan Herald]

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Movie Review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice


The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Executive producer Nicholas Cage puts on this movie The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  If you loved the Goethe poem, this isn't it.  If you loved the Disney classic cartoon, this isn't it.  If you loved the moral of the original poem, this isn't it.  This was garbage wrapped up in cheap tin foil and packaged with one big name actor, who seems to star in his own films that he, himself, produces.  More power to him, but he bastardizes what little that passes for American culture, not to the extent and depravity of MTV, but it's damn close.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice stars Balthazar Blake played by Nicholas Cage, his arch nemesis Maxim Horvath played by Alfred Molina, and his apprentice Dave played by Jay Baruchel of She's Out of My League, and all those other nerds are cool movies Hollywood tries to hoist on young kids.  The plot of the story is a 3 way love triangle between Balthazar, Horvath and Veronica played by Monica Belluci.  Veronica doesn't seem to have a last name.  Who cares, she's in this over long movie for all of 5 minutes.  I'm sure she's thanking her agent for that.

The Evil Horvath with a Co-conspirator Morganian
Anyway, this love triangle is setup by none other than the grand sorcerer of sorcerers Merlin, yeah, King Arthur's Merlin.  What in hell King Arthur and Merlin have to do with a German poem, I have no clue.  But, apparently, Americans have no culture of their own, so lets setup the back story based on the only famous wizard we know.  God forbid someone should go out on a limb and actually create an American wizard.  Anyway, as it turns out the 3 are in fact Merlins apprentices.

It seems Merlin's original apprentice, not ever mentioned in the movie as a subplot, Morgana le Fay played by Alice Krige of the Borg from Star Trek, became overly powerful and killed Merlin, plotting to one day rule the world, with a new found spell that would raise the dead to do her bidding.  The two "good" apprentices, Veronica and Balthazar are charged with defeating her.  Veronica, for her part, sacrifices herself, and steals the soul of Morgana le Fay, putting it inside her body, then being sealed in a sort of canoptic jar by Balthazar.  Balthazar, at Merlin's last dying breath, is to take Merlin's ring and find the one apprentice who will be capable of wearing it, and destined to defeat Morgana le Fay.

Let's stop right here.  In this opening montage of him "searching", he comes across several ethnic children, very aptly cast in the role of pseudo-sorcerer looking types.  In fact the very first apprentice-type passed up by Balthazar is a wise looking, cherub faced, Black kid.  It would have been an entirely different movie had the story been about that child, but instead we land on some poor, random, nerd, socially inept, white boy.  The montage ends with the introduction of the kid to the fact that magic is real in the world and all his other 10 yr old classmates pointing and laughing at his wet pants, mistaken for him peeing on himself.

The Real Sorcerer's Apprentice


The Lovely Veronica
The Sorcerer's Apprentice is the English name of a poem by Goethe, Der Zauberlehrling, written in 1797. The poem is a ballad in fourteen stanzas.

The poem begins as an old sorcerer departs his workshop, leaving his apprentice with chores to perform. Tired of fetching water by pail, the apprentice enchants a broom  to do the work for him — using magic he is not yet fully trained in. The floor is soon awash with water, and the apprentice realizes that he cannot stop the broom because he does not know how to.

Not knowing how to control the enchanted broom, the apprentice splits it in two with an axe, but each of the pieces becomes a new broom and takes up a pail and continues fetching water, now at twice the speed. When all seems lost, the old sorcerer returns, quickly breaks the spell and saves the day. The poem finishes with the old sorcerer's statement that powerful spirits should only be called by the master himself.

Der Zauberlehrling is well-known in the German-speaking world. The lines in which the apprentice implores the returning sorcerer to help him with the mess he has created have turned into a cliché, especially the line Die Geister, die ich rief  ("The spirits that I called"), a garbled version of one of Goethe's lines, which is often used to describe a situation where somebody summons help or uses allies that he cannot control, especially in politics.

The Beautiful Alice Krige
Yes, the 2010 Sorcerer's Apprentice does have that sequence of the apprentice in the wizard lab, with the mops and brooms going and Balthazar coming to save the apprentice from the mess he made.  However, completely, and glaringly missing is the only dialogue the poem is famous for, i.e. the apprentice imploring the master to help him with "spirits that I called" and the jovial master admonishing the apprentice to be careful with those spirits, i.e. don't call the big dogs if you cannot tame their bite.  Yeah, this movie has absolutely no moral to the story.

Next, casting!  Yeah, Nicholas Cage made the movie, so we cannot say we wish her weren't in it.  But, I wish he wasn't in it.  Also, Jay Baruchel was completely miscast.  Reticent hero is not his forte.  Complete slap stick comedy and socially inept nerd, he has it down pat.  Did the role call for socially inept nerd?  Not in my opinion.  He acts the same in every movie.  Is he even an actor?  I've seen better performances out of  Leonardo De Crapio, and he can't even deliver lines convincingly.

The best actors in the movie all had 1 or 3 lines in the entire movie.  And those would be the Black roommate who delivers excitement, college nerd comradery, girl chasing, disappointment to a morose and 1 dimensional reaction from Jay Baruchel each time.   Alice Krige's 3 lines are serving up Morgana le Fay as she has never been seen before.  She smacked it, whipped it, rubbed it down and served with butter on the side.  Alice Krige playing opposite Jay Baruchel in the final showdown seen is like the sun versus an ant, he was useless in the scene.  Finally Monica Belluci, as Balthazar's love interest and the 3rd apprentice served up unrequited love without even speaking.  Cage looked like King Kong next to her acting skills.  It was painful to watch the two pretend to love each other.  Or, more aptly, it was painful to watch him in a scene trying to act with her still in the shot.  Elmer Fudd gives a more convincing performance when Bugs Bunny tricks him into marrying him in "That's Opera Doc".  I wonder what Alfred Molina muttered under his breath while in his trailer between scenes.  But, I'm sure he's just happy to be working at his age.

Anyway, this movie was a missed opportunity.  Make sure you miss it.

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Movie Review: "Vampires Suck"

Vampires Suck



Vampires Suck
Vampires Suck a spoof film based on the Twilight film series directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, starring Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Christopher N. Riggi, Ken Jeong, and Anneliese van der Pol.  The entire movie nearly mirrors the aforementioned Twilight movies and chronicles both 1 and 2 of it.  Since it is a spoof it is in fact a comedy.  I have no idea why so many critics felt it was beneath them to review the movie or take it far to serious, for its own sake, but I laughed all the way through it, to the very end line.

As mentioned, the spoof mirrors the Twilight movie, so the plot, of Vampires Suck, is nearly cut and paste of Twilight.  It starts with the opening scene of Edward, the hero vampire, turned love sick teenager full of teen angst for a human mortal high school girl, taking his life a la Romeo and Juliet plot twist.  Unlike Romeo and Juliet, noone ever dies... in Twilight... unfortunately.  Happily, however, neither the main character, Becca Crane (Jenn Proske), is NOWHERE near as whiney as the main character in Twilight.  She made me want to kill kittens listening to her whine in Twilight.  This iteration of the heroin of our story was actually quite light, funny and self deprecating in a cute way, not a oh my god cut up the river, not across the stream, sort of way.

Why are We Always Mistaken for the Black Eyed Peas
Normally in these spoof movies, however, they not only take shots at the main movie they are spoofing, but go through the entire genre.  While there were notable mentions in the movie, they did not take nearly as many shots at other movies.  Granted, the other spoof movies were playing catch up, so they had years of material to work with.  While the Edward character says "vampires are trendy" in the movie, we do not see actual spoofing of those other movies, or shows, or books.  They simply threw out one-liners and had cameos, sort of, of other material they were spoofing.  As in, they couldn't hire the actual actors from those movies to show up as a real cameo.  I'll not ruin it but, one of the spoof cameos is rather blasé.  Once you see it you'll go "oh yeah ... that's supposed to be funny."


One thing they stumbled on was the Jacob character, Jacob White (Christopher N. Riggi).  He was the werewolf in the movie.  While the Twilight movie actually developed the bond that grew between the Becca and Jacob character, this spoof movie let that entire sequence drop.  There was so much material there they could have worked with, but didn't.  Instead when Jacob presents his ultimatum "me or him" to Becca, it rings rather hollow with the audience.  He was a total joke, though, in Vampires Suck.  Especially taking pot shots at him being shirtless throughout the whole God damned movie.  It was particularly annoying in Twilight.

Lastly the father, Sheriff Frank (Diedrich Bader), was the clueless, bumbling character in the movie, through which we are supposed to learn the sub-plots of the movie.  However, we don't.  He's simply comedy relief and over the top "you done crossed the line" adult humor you never want to hear from a father to a daughter.  Yes, you know exactly what I'm talking about there.  But, it was so damned funny.


Finally Vampires Suck could have been great, it could have been epic, but it was... safe.  I guarantee the directors and producers did not want to tread too harshly on the Twilight franchise, for fear of "you'll never working in this town again."  It was hilarious though.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Minimum Wage Mexicans

The Permanent Underclass



I have a couple of friends who told me something pretty shocking.  I asked the question why so many hire Mexican workers in their business.  Both of them said the same thing.  They both threw away this notion that Mexicans are hard working.  It is not true.  Mexicans do not work harder than anyone else.  I have quoted the statistical ratio of working illegal aliens to illegal aliens who are on public assistance.  Both of my friends volunteered this as well.  The main reason, they said, that businesses hire Mexicans, is that they can pay them, en mass, below minimum wage.


Back in the Kitchen


So my one friend is a sous-chef.  He is the second in command of the kitchen, for those who do not know what a sous-chef is.  The chef over him is the head chef.  He blatantly told me he is the only white person in the entire kitchen.  All the rest of the kitchen staff are all illegal aliens and Mexican.  Not only are they all working at all the positions of the kitchen under sous-chef, but they are all paid below minimum wage.

Minimum wage in Nevada is $7.25 / hr with health insurance benefits provided by employer and received by employee, or $8.25 / hr with no health insurance benefits provided by employer.  That means from the dishwasher on up, they all make minimum wage.

1. The chef is the person in charge of the kitchen. In large establishments this person has the title of executive chef. The executive chef is a manager who is responsible for all aspects of food production, including menu planning, purchasing, costing, and planning work schedules.

$40,000.00 - $78,000.00

2. The sous-chef (sous chef) is directly in charge of production. Because the executive chef's responsibilities require spending a great deal of time in the office, the sous chef takes command of the actual production and the minute-by-minute supervision of the staff.
Both the sous chef and executive chef have had many years of experience in all stations of the kitchen.

$31,000.00 - $54,000.00




3. The station chefs or chefs de partie are in charge of particular areas of production. The following are the most important station chefs:

$10.00 / hr - $13.00 / hr or $27,000 / yr

a) The sauce chef or saucier (so-see-ay) prepares sauces, stews, and hot hors d'oeuvres, and sautés foods to order. This is usually the highest position of all the stations.

b) The fish cook or poissonier (pwah-so-nyay) prepares fish dishes. (This station may be handled by the saucier in some kitchens.)

c) The vegetable cook or entremetier (awn-truh-met-yay) prepares vegetables, soups, starches, and eggs. Large kitchens may divide these duties among the vegetable cook, the fry cook, and the soup cook.

d) The roast cook or rotisseur (ro-tee-sur) prepares roasted and braised meats and their gravies and broils meats and other items to order. A large kitchen may have a separate broiler cook or grillardin (gree-ar-dan) to handle the broiled items. The broiler cook may also prepare deep-fried meats and fish.

e) The pantry chef or garde manger (gard-mawn-zhay) is responsible for cold foods, including salads and dressings, patés, cold hors d'oeuvres, and buffet items.

f) The pastry chef or patissier (pa-tees-syay) prepares pastries and desserts.

g) The relief cook, swing cook, or tournant (toor-nawn) replaces other station heads.

Minimum wage annual take home is $15,000.00 / yr

So just from that short list there of kitchen positions, in case you did not know, we see that Mexicans are getting completely driven into the ground.  It is not a case of Mexicans taking jobs that other people don't want to do, it is a case of illegal aliens being marginalized to the point of slavery.  Let's see those salaries again:
  • Chef [ head chef ] - $40,000.00 - $78,000.00
  • Sous-chef - $31,000.00 - $54,000.00
  • Station chef - $10.00 / hr - $13.00 / hr or $27,000.00 / yr
  • minimum wage yearly - $15,000.00 / yr
So they are making twice if not four times the profit by hiring a minimum wage Mexican, instead of a bonifide citizen.  And not only that, most of the Mexicans are illegal aliens and therefore are paid below minimum wage.  It is this that my sous-chef friend told, that the company really likes.


As if this one restaurant were not enough to make your stomach turn, he told me that he works for a chain restaurant.  He said, all the restaurants in his chain make it a practice of hiring illegal aliens and paying them below minimum wage.

But, hold on to your horses!  Not only does he work for a chain, but the chain is owned by a corporation.  That corporation owns many restaurant chains.  And, he said, all of the chains make it this practice of hiring illegal aliens and paying them below minimum wage.  How does he know?  As a sous-chef he is required to attend corporate meetings where all the chains get together.  He does not do the hiring, and sadly [ to his great disappointment ] he does not do the firing neither.


The corporation clears around $2 - $6 billion dollars per chain they own yearly.  Many of you reading this would probably think that these restaurants are not reputable.  You could not be more mistaken.  These restaurants range from $6.00 / entree all the way up to $40,00 / entree, on up.  None of the chains are greasy spoon restaurants.  So stop trying to console yourself that you are not supporting this travesty in modern day slavery.

But wait, there's more


The Casino Makes too Much to Pay for Labor



As if the above story weren't bad enough, my second friend threw me for a loop.  He is the head of security at one of the Casinos in Las Vegas.  To the untrained eye, there are a lot of Casinos in Las Vegas.  Sadly, they are all owned by around 3 corporations.  So the Las Vegas strip, which has dozens of huge casinos, are only owned by maybe 3 corporations.

So my friend, head of security, is able to go from property to property, at will.  He doesn't really work for one particular casino.  He said that nearly every illegal alien in the casino works for below minimum wage.  But, wait, I'm sure you think I am being harsh in calling them illegal.  But, no, I am speaking facts.  He said the casino, or more appropriately, the corporations, under incentive from the U.S. government, takes buses down into Mexico and picks up loads of Mexicans, bring them here and pay them below minimum wage to work in their casinos.  The law, as written, seemed like it had the best intention, but the corporations took it at its word and are using it in the strictest interpretation of the law.  The government hesitates to repeal the law because it is the best thing we have, humanitarian wise, but is being abused to the fullest letter of the law.  However, knowing what I know about the government, their palms are getting heavily greased, to keep this law in play.

So:

  1. Americans are not lazy
  2. worthless jobs are not being taken by illegal aliens
  3. a huge percentage of the population is working, under the table, for under minimum wage for very decent jobs
  4. a complete second class is being formulated by these corporations
If you are blind to what is going on, I hope this article opened your eyes.  Not only are these jobs being taken by illegal aliens, they are done at the request and under the thumb of the U.S. government.  The corporations want your job too.  This economic depression was not an accident.  Upwards of 20% of the population is unemployed, 35% in the Black population.  When this fiasco is over, I guarantee you that your same job will be offered back to you, at half the salary you had before.

This fiasco will occur over and over till we have a complete divestiture of the middle class and a total divide of the upper and lower classes.  Can you imagine that the position of an experienced pastry chef earns only minimum wage?  It's supposed to be $30,000  - $40,000 a year, depending on where you are.  Yet I have solid proof these companies are paying someone $15,000 a year already.  Right now!

This is not a conspiracy theory, these are facts.  You are paying top dollar for something and the company isn't even hiring a regular American worker at a decent wage.  You are contributing to this.

And, no, paying someone minimum wage when they should be making $40,000 is not acceptable.  That $25,000 is lost on the economy.  If you don't have the economic sense to see this, go learn some.  You can't bleed the very body you live in.  People assume that the shareholders are making out like bandits.  But, in the long run they'll be just as broke because they are creating a nation of paupers.  It's stupid.

Please visit my legal website: DUI Las Vegas
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day and the Great Depression II

Don't Shop on Labor Day


Office Closed for Labor Day
If you've been under a rock this past 50 years, the economy has been hijacked by businesses.  Now I know a few of you are saying, the economy IS businesses.  That is not true.  The economy is supposed to be private transactions between honest folks - consumption; the supplying of goods - distribution; and the manufacturing of goods, labor and services - production.  Everyone seems to think that consumption is the ONLY part of the 3 part equation to look at.


The Consumer


Since the 50's the news, media and infotainment outlets have slowly, but surely changed economic reports from talking about the economy - consumption, production, distribution - to just about consumption.  In fact Americans have been slowly renamed, "the consumer".  In fact we have been so renamed that we have been pressured to act accordingly.  You are the consumer.  You are 100% of this economy.  You have not been doing your job.

George Bush makes a stupid speech after we blew up the World Trade Center, not to buckle down, save and get our economy healthy again, but to "go out and shop."   That has to be the most ridiculous assertion in the history of ridiculous assertions.  Of course he was not speaking from a benevolent leader's standpoint, he was speaking from the standpoint of one who is completely controlled by business.

By changing the vernacular of how the economy is viewed, businesses can create shopper drones in all of us.  Instead of worrying if our economy is actually growing, i.e. production plus distribution and consumption, we are concerned only with consumption.  If consumption is down, businesses put out the message that WE are not doing our duty as "the consumer".  In fact, we now add government jobs as a part of the economy.


Why Government Jobs Shouldn't Be Added in the Economic Equation


Labor Day Sucks on Unemployment
So far I've said that the economy is production, distribution and consumption.  I've hinted that government jobs should not be factored into that equation.  Some of you probably are already saying that government jobs and actions are so huge that it would be crazy not to include it in the economy.

The very idea that the government is so large and allegedly takes up a majority of the economy is preposterous to begin with.  The government shouldn't be so large as to even factor into the economy.  There are 308 million regular Americans.  There should be no way that the government dwarfs regular jobs to such a degree that we cannot avoid factoring in government jobs, to reach an adequate accounting of the economy.

Why am I so adamant about not factoring in the government into the economy?  Simply put, the government produces nothing of its own.  A normal American can buy land, plant crops, have someone deliver them to the stores and people eat the food.  The government cannot do any of that.  They have absolutely no money of their own.  We are made to think that they do, but that is not the case.  If we come to believe the government produces its own goods and services and does not rely on taxes, then businesses, who are in bed with government, can win this war of mind control of "the consumer".  They can make us all feel like this government, which is bursting at the seems, is necessary and should be observed, but only through the lens that they supply us with.


Labor Day Consumer and The Second Depression


Many are refusing to say the "D" word, depression.  Oh, infotainment news outlets will readily say "we are in a recession," but they will never say we are in a depression.  Why the charade?  They think that if they say the word depression, old timers will come out in droves and tell everyone to stop being bone heads and stop spending their money.  They think that if Americans were told the truth they would cease to be consumers and start being adults.  They are afraid that everyone would wake up to the reality that we are screwed 6 ways till Sunday, and Sunday is no guarantee of relief.

Businesses are hedging their bets and pulling out the stops to make sure all the commercials and infotainment news gets out the word to consume, consume, consume.  Labor Day is supposed to ring in the "shopping season".  Yes, not only are we consumers, but now we have a shopping season.

Happy Labor Day, Take the Day Off
Stop the madness!  Wake up!  We are not mindless shopper drones.  Instead of spending money, this economy cannot afford to be spent, save your money on Labor Day.  We need every American to stop spending needless money.  We need to go back to a creditor nation, instead of being a debtor nation.  We are literally beggars in the richest country on the planet.  We need to stop buying cheap Chinese or Asian crap and build up our savings.  We are in a depression, not a recession.  House prices are in free fall.  Gas prices are skyrocketing, food prices are soaring, car sales are in the dumps, parts of the country are jobless.  If these aren't enough to wake you up, I don't know what else could.  There are parts of the country where 1 in 3 people are out of work.  You sit in front of the news and expect to hear this?  Never!  They are not going to "report" this.  We are being sold down the river by business and the government.  Noone in power is safeguarding the real economy.

We've pissed away manufacturing.  We've pissed away production.  We've pissed away innovation.  We've even made it illegal in some parts of the nation to care for ourselves, i.e. take care of the poor on our own.  You think that's because it's safer to have the government do it.  No, it's designed that way, to eventually get everyone to rely on the government.  First it was the poor, and now it's the jobless.  Remember and realize that people making $50,000 a year are on unemployment.  Not everyone who is jobless worked at McDonald's.  Real people with real jobs are down for the count.

Instead of taking your hard earned cash and giving it away, you need to carry it to your local credit union and put it into a savings account.  And don't listen to those sheisters who talk about bad return on interest, you were going to give that money away to begin with.  We only need 10% of the population to start saving, and i mean really saving, to turn this economy around.  Yes, if 30 million Americans would stop using their credit card, debit card, and put the money into savings and ate at home, we'd be out of this slump in a year.  But, we'd need to keep doing this always.

If 10% of the population returned to being responsible creditors our economy would change.  At first it would be painful, but what we have right now is UNSUSTAINABLE.  We cannot continue to be mindless shopper drones and not fall off a cliff.  At some point, some of us have to actually be the adult and go to work on Monday and put away some money for our "nest egg".

Please visit my legal website: DUI Las Vegas
See me on YouTube: Shakaama Live
Need a Notary in Las Vegas Nevada Notary Public Nevada