Wednesday, August 28, 2013

High Tech, Low Life - A Review

"I used to be a nobody. Until I discovered the internet." - Zola

"We can't let news be one-sided." - Tiger Temple

For a US citizen, such as myself, I found this film incredibly insightful about the Chinese way of life, and often the brain washing they endure in their day-to-day life.

If you don't know it's brain washing then how do you know to wake up?

We often hear about how the Chinese government keeps their people down and this film gives you an idea how and what they do. 

I personally had to block all of China from accessing my bookstore sites because of the hacking problems we were experiencing. If the Chinese can hack my site, the young people in China are certainly going to find a way through and out of their own internet constrictions put on by the government. 

Facebook is not available to the Chinese. Lord knows there would be an uprising if the people could talk amongst themselves. It's a world I can't imagine living in.

This film is about 2 bloggers, Tiger Temple who is in his 50's, and Zola who is in his 20's, and it's enlightening to see what power they can wield with their blog and even their twitter accounts - from their phones. There are a lot of scenes that are obviously done undercover, especially the scene where they took Tiger Temple away in the middle of the night and kept him away from his home for ten days. Disturbing but these bloggers are making a difference and getting the word out. Zola reported that over a half million sites were blocked from China one year. China boasts over 40,000 internet police alone.

I hate to tell 'em... but that's not enough.

Actually I'm surprised the film was made given what the bloggers have to go through. A lot of intimidation is used, but no real violence is initiated from what they showed us. Is it possible that the Chinese government knows they can't truly control the information? That if they did indeed begin to take action that it would be condemned world wide?

I think they are intimidated by this. 

With the internet so many people can have a voice. Now with the current phone technology you practically don't need a computer (although my big fingers certainly aren't good in the texting department).

An amazing film by Stephen Maing and his crew. I applaud them for what they've accomplished here by getting the word, and pictures, out to us.

We're all lemmings to some degree, but as US Citizens we have a whole lot more opportunities to make a difference in our way of life within the confines of our country. We truly do have a lot of choices. A lot to be thankful for.

There are so many in China, it's not easy to live, much less have an individual voice.

Zola and Tiger Temple have found ways to keep reporting on what they see in their country. To help the common people who don't have a voice, and bring change to areas and individuals that are in dire need.

This film reminds me of how fortunate I am, we are, to have so many freedoms. I know I take them for granted. How can I not? It's been my whole way of life. 

Seeing HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE, truly opens my eyes once again to appreciate this.

Now where's my cat?


Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Round... of Applause for Simon Pegg and the Lads in THE WORLD'S END

THE WORLD'S END film opened in the US today.

My son and I were there at the theater, right after school. It was imperative that we revisit with this fine film making troupe as they don't churn them out as fast as say, an Adam Sandler production.
This is a good thing.


I enjoy some of Sandler's films. However a film by Edgar Wright is usually a guaranteed laugh with well thought out writing and characterization brought to each of his projects.

Throw Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the mix and you have comedic magic my friends.

Brought to you by the fine fellows that brought us the amazingly, well written, humorously acted, thought out film, SHAUN OF THE DEAD (a second player has entered the game...), a decade ago. Now we have their third (and supposedly last.. at least for a while) trilogy of films. They also brought us HOT FUZZ in the middle, which again I thought was hilarious and spot on.

These films are directed by Edgar Wright, written and co-written with actor Simon Pegg, and co-star Nick Frost. Since SHAUN OF THE DEAD made it's debut every one of these gentlemen have gone on to star, write, and direct in many movies and projects.

However it's their combined talent in their own projects that I find the most enjoyable.

I'd dare say you couldn't find a more unique comedic horror film in the last twenty years than SHAUN OF THE DEAD. There, I've done it again, I've already written the title out 3 times in this review and I'm here to talk about their new film THE WORLD'S END. Don't worry.. I'll get there.

If you haven't seen SHAUN OF THE DEAD then rush out to your Red Box, turn on your Netflix account, or better yet, I bet you can find it for five bucks in the DVD bins at Wal Mart. If you're a fan of zombie horror and comedy, then this is for you.

Go ahead and pull it out of the bin and watch it. I'll wait.

Okay.. seen it? Got it? Get it? Good!

Okay.. now play "This Corrosion" by Sisters of Mercy as you read the rest of this column. It'll set the mood.

THE WORLD'S END takes it's que from the English culture of the "pub crawl." Where, in England, you can easily walk to many pubs ( or rather stumble depending on how many you can get too after having a few ), as these social enclaves can be found on many corners of civilization in that part of the world. I've always liked the fact that no matter where you live in the UK, there's usually a local pub you can walk too, plop down your quid and order pint. It's just a walk away. As a matter of fact I got lost once in the English countryside trying to find a pay phone. Nothing around except a residential area filled with homes, but wait, there, on the corner.. ? Yep, a pub. No pay phone mind you, but I had them pull me a pint anyway. Hey.. I worked hard to find that non pay phone.

But I digress. Back to the film.

The leader of the pack, Simon Pegg as Gary King, gets his buddies back together, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman and fellows as they go back and revisit the early days of  their 20's youth. In this case going back to finish their Golden Mile pub crawl that they didn't complete one long pint filled night. They travel through twelve pubs, a pint in each pub, as long as it takes.

They didn't make it. That time.

Fast forward twenty years, and their now very adult led lives later, the self proclaimed Gary "the" King and leader of the lads brings them back together to attain the final "grail of the lost ales."

Gary, who clearly is not of the "grown ups" variety, manages to pull his crew back together by shear conniving as his old friends clearly do not want to partake in Gary's crazy idea, but fall for it anyway. As they make it to their old town of Newton Haven, they begin their trek to make it this time, all the way to the last pub, The World's End.

As you take the trek with King's crew you begin to see the stories emerge, pub by pub, pint by pint, between them. Clearly they all see that Gary, the one-time leader of the pack, who they looked up too, has not fared very well in life. In fact he has problems aplenty and now he's trying to overcome this moment in his past that he feels may have put him on the wrong path. With himself and with his friends. Along the "Golden Mile" the guys run into a bit of trouble when they stumble upon an alien invasion. In the pub bathroom mind you.

The music selection is fantastic, but then I'm always in a mindset of the 70's, 80's and the 90's. They give a particular nod to Sisters of Mercy in this film. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if Sisters of Mercy t-shirts are seen at Cons all over the world this fall. I'm sure the band would appreciate this.

Look, do yourself a favor and see THE WORLD'S END, I promise you you'll have a fun evening and laugh in spite of yourself. Intelligent and silly humor abounds, which for me made it all the more enjoyable. I also got to spend another 2 hours with some of my favorite filmmakers from the last decade. I happily plied down my cash to see this film on opening day. I especially was glad to take my son to see the antics. This is what we call "boy time" as mom usually isn't interested in these flicks.

And I'll just repeat what my son said about the lads: "Pop, I enjoyed the group of friends, they had heart." They did indeed.

I would have gone out to our local pub except... my boy's seventeen.

I see a pub crawl in our future then.

In four years that is.

Y'all keep on shining out there.