Posted by: C.E. Chambers | September 16, 2011

C.E. Chambers Would Like To Introduce Keali’i Reichel

Photo of Mau'i is by C.E. Chambers Hawai'i

Keali’i Reichel was born in 1961 on Lahaina, Mau’i, and was raised on the island.  His birth name is Carleton Lewis Kealiʻinaniaimokuokalani ReichelHe is one of Hawai’i’s most popular songwriter-singers who has won numerous awards, and consistently places on Billboard Magazine’s World Music and Heatseeker Charts.   He has opened for renowned singers like Celine Dion and Sting, and has performed at places like Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.

His first name is pronounced Kay-ah-LEE-ee.  Ali’i refers to royalty and can mean a king or a queen, a chief or a chiefess.  Reichel “works to dispel long-held stereotypes of Hawai’i’s living culture and her indigenous people.”

Keali’i Reichel has many other accomplishments that are noted at his official website (Bio Two) and at Wikipedia.  (Most of the above information was obtained from these two websites.)

“Wanting Memories” is from the album titled Kawaipunahele that was released in 1994.  Dina Ely wrote an excellent review and it can be read here.  Most of the songs are in the Hawaiian language with liner notes in English.  (The second track is a Beatles’ song, “In My Life”, and “begins with a haunting Hawaiian chant.”)

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Posted by: C.E. Chambers | September 10, 2011

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (Film Review)

(C.E. Chambers would like to announce the addition of a new film critic: “My Seatmate Speaketh 2011” located under CAPSULE FILM CRITIQUES 2011 on the sidebar.  Mr. Seatmate is not a plot spoiler like C.E. Chambers.)

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

By C.E. Chambers   Posted September 9, 2011

theatrical release poster

Babes in black leather, butt balls (think spy tools), and a hot pink electric whip that a young girl uses to subdue bad guys.  And an oil slick that spews from a talking dog’s collar that stops handsome OSS agents dressed in suits from pursuing two spy-kids-in-the-making.  (How much money does a stunt man receive for falling on his okole – think Hawaiian – after attempting to run through treacherous black goo?)  These are my most vivid memories of this film, the fourth in the well-regarded “Spy Kids” series, written, produced, and directed by Robert Rodriguez.

The bad news:  Joel McHale and Jessica Alba (who play the parents) are bland, unworthy replacements for charismatic Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.  Rowan Blanchard, who’s the new spy girl, isn’t so much spunky as she is testy and tedious.  Mason Cook as the new spy boy is laid-back but not a stand-out.  Alex Vega and Daryl Sabara, who winningly played the spy kids in the first three movies, do return as adults and this imparts a wonderful sense of continuity at first.  However, Sabara, as Juni, is unremarkable as a mature spy.  She’s just another babe whose form-fitting working ensemble is vixen black and beige (a girl’s gotta have a gun strapped to her thigh ) whose best scenes occur when she’s swinging an eye-catching, multi-purpose electric whip.   Actor Vega, who plays a mature Carmen, is also still employed by the venerated OSS (the greatest spy agency in the world) but he’s inexplicably surly and evil-eyed.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that he would have been truly in his element playing a very twisted character.

The plot?  Step-mom Marissa (Alba) is a very sexy, secret spy (is there any other kind in H*******d?) who can whup the bad guys butts whether she’s in imminent labor or holding a baby in one hand.  Her step-daughter hates her.  (This is one of H*******d’s easiest and most stereotypical ploys at creating tension between characters.)  Her clueless husband (Joel McHale, host of the “The Soup”) works for a reality-type TV show called “Spy Hunters.”  Marissa retires for one year from the spy business to raise a new baby and to spend more time with her family but is called back into service.

The major antagonists: A giggler named Tick Tock and another man called Mr. Clock (he wears a clock on his head, dummy) who plan to rule the world by speeding up time which will usher in the Day of Armageddon.  (I just report; you decide.)  There are more catch phrases and bromides about time than one can count (snicker).

Marissa’s two step-children are recruited by her niece, Juni, to help save the world, and they breach the defunct OSS Spy Kids Department’s warehouse which doesn’t make the OSS director (Jeremy Piven) very happy.

The good news:  Jeremy Piven is very competent at playing three or four different roles (trust me: you won’t remember how many either).  The kids’ convertible, aerodynamic space pods and the swinging, sliding, gliding giant clock works are pretty cool.  And Marissa’s baby regularly lobs food wads at people and passes “gas bombs” (not necessarily endearing scenes but a very welcome euphemism).

I’m rather ambivalent about the butt balls: silver balls that erupt from a spy dog’s (redacted) when you pull his ear.  Or is it his collar?  No, when you pull that, there’s that wonderful oil slick that causes well-dressed men to fall on their (redacted).  (English actor Ricky Gervais does the voicing for the robot dog.)

Theater goers are given an Aroma-Scope at the door so they can enter into  The Fourth Dimension (smell) by scratching and sniffing one of numerous numbers during  corresponding scenes.  Busy little person that I am (I scribble notes in the dark), I restrained myself until after the show when, eating pizza in the rain (it happens in Hawai’i), I bravely tested the scents in front of other diners.  Most of them smell appropriately like bubblegum.

Rated PG: very cheesy martial arts; bad guys riding very flimsy space-age airboards (hey, I was worried about them); danger of falling asleep in theater out of sheer boredom; inability to read scratch-and-sniff numbers on the Aroma-Card because of DARK THEATERS?

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NOTE:  Does anyone remember that allegedly breakthrough Enjoli TV commercial from the late 1970s that took advantage of complaints from feminists?   A woman sang rather provocatively about women being wage earners as well as doing double duty as domestic goddesses and competent mothers: “…I can bring home the bacon, fix it up in a pan, and never, never, never let you forget you’re a m-a-a-a-a-n!”  (The advertising agency should have checked out the women who live on ranches in states like Wyoming and Texas.  They’ve always baked bread at dawn and helped to round-up the cattle almost in the same breath.)

That vintage commercial (see below) is so outdated it should be registered at the Library of Congress.  Yes, American women still “bring home the bacon” but most don’t hang out their wet clothes on the “line” any more.  And, according to trends in the entertainment industry, women need to wear tight, black leather jumpsuits and high-heeled black leather boots while changing diapers if they want to hang onto their men.

Late 1970s: See the first Enjoli commercial here with “‘Cause I’m A Wo-o-o-o-man” song. (“I can put wash on the line…”)

1980: See the second Enjoli commercial with the same song (the lyrics were edited a little) and a much slinkier “wife/mom.”  (“…I can read you Tickety Tock….”)

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Sadly, I found an online review of the new “Spy Kids” film that probably reflects the desperation of the typical American parent who’s willing to settle for poor quality entertainment if certain criteria are met:  “Very strong moral, pro-family worldview where even the villains have something good in them and families are encouraged to make time for one another; no obscenities…”

http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/movie/spy-kids-4-all-the-time-in-the-world.html

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[Afterward Sept. 10, 2011:  “Lobbies” was changed to “lobs.”  C.E. Chambers’ excuse?  She’s researching a disturbing, new online video game that takes gamers into the “lobby” of a well-known cable news television station so they can “kill” commentators with the weapon of their choice.  See excerpts from the video game with the recreation of a Fox News “Lobby” here.   C.E.C. will be posting an update on this subject on Chambers World News.]   


Posted by: C.E. Chambers | September 9, 2011

Apollo 18: Film Review

theatrical release poster

By C.E. Chambers

Posted September 8, 2011

There was a time a film like this would have been appreciated.  Back in the 60s, in fact.  It’s a rather minimalistic adaptation of a story nonetheless fraught with sci-fi/thriller intrigue, appropriately imperfect camera work, and decent enough actors.  However, the 21st-century American movie industry offers riveting special effects, increasingly complex plots, and run times of two and even three hours which have created spoiled audiences who are basically developing a cinematic-type of attention deficit disorder.

For example, Spielberg’s inclusion of not just one but two opposingly different types of aliens in “Cowboys and Aliens” (a film set in the 1800s), and the industry’s heavy reliance on prequels, sequels, and super hero comic characters who already have a massive fan base, probably means that budding screenwriters with fresh material who don’t rely on gimmicks will have an even tougher time than usual garnering interest in their work.

This film purports to tell the disturbing truth about a real-life, NASA-planned mission to the moon called “Apollo 18” that was ostensibly cancelled in the 1970s.  (A lunartruth.org website included in the end credits pulls up a stark declaration that its domain was “forcibly censored” and its “contents can be seen in the film.”)

Timur Bekmambetov produced this film and Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s, who’s from Spain, directed it. It’s about three astronauts (Ryan Robbins, Lloyd Owen, and Warren Christie) who think they’re lifting off on a top-secret lunar mission to just collect moon rocks and install radar devices that will somehow warn the U.S. if the Soviet Union plans to attack.  To their horror, two of the three astronauts (one remains in orbit on a separate module) discover the dead body of a Soviet cosmonaut and, slowly, it dawns on them that a hard-to-detect, ravaging type of alien is thriving on that barren celestial body called the moon.  Will the men survive this hostile environment?  Was the Department of Defense already aware of the danger?  If so, what would justify risking the lives of men without proper defense equipment who are also emotionally unprepared for deadly extraterrestrial encroachment?

Some critics have complained about the lack of a proper build-up to the darker aspects of the plot.  However, I rather enjoyed the bland, emotionless transmissions from world-weary, veteran NASA employees to the astronauts bound by the challenging limitations of outer space.  (Sometimes this is taken to a rather uncomfortable degree and the dispatchers on earth come across as lacking in normal empathy.)  Simple truths about space module lodging really stand out because of the pared down storyline:  white, hammock-type beds; a choice between carrots or peas for dinner; and the simulated crowing of a rooster to wake the astronauts from much-needed slumber.

The ending caught me totally by surprise, in more ways than one, which greatly pleased me.  The running time is barely an hour and a half.

My seatmate, a male (whose observations I might begin to include once in a while in my critiques), is one of the new breed of Hollywood’s spoiled brats.  He’s been spoon fed for too long on pyrotechnics, car crashes, and the over-stimulation of computer-generated imagery.  I’m going to start calling this phenomenon “special effects porn.”  (If this terminology already exists, it’s not apparent in the search engine I use.)  He was very disappointed that none of the above is included in this movie.

“Apollo 18” is not necessarily a memorable film, and the special effects that do exist are certainly a little amateurish compared to today’s viewers’ expectations.  But I say “bravo” to smaller budgets and to minimalistic screenwriters like Brian Miller.  I’m curious to know what he has planned for the future.

(Rated PG-13 for language, disturbing images, peripatetic lunar rocks, and…I’d share more but I don’t wanna spoil the rest of the special effects)

NOTE #1:  Read an interview with the real-life NASA flight director who was a technical advisor to this Weinstein Co. film.)

NOTE #2:  Read a web page written by a NASA employee that’s devoted to the subject of the real-life Apollo missions that were cancelled in the 1970s can be read here.  This link was obtained from Wikipedia.

Afterward:  This film critique was expanded after posting today to include the name of the producer,Timur Bekmambetov, and to post Note #2.

Posted by: C.E. Chambers | August 26, 2011

Conan the Barbarian 2011 (Film Review)

(theatrical release poster)

By C.E. Chambers  Posted August 26, 2011

Blood and guts, wizards and witches, sorcery, implausible legends and myths…and now naked breasts.  Conan’s sweaty, bare chest is one of this antediluvian character’s major trademarks but the film also includes young, nubile women who are naked from the waist up.

I’m a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger but not necessarily of Conan the Barbarian and company.  However, I was so impressed with Jason Momoa’s appearance recently on Jay Leno that I would have been willing to pay the price of a theater ticket just to watch him on a TV talk show again, which influenced me to see this film.

Momoa (a model and TV actor: “Baywatch,” “Stargate: Atlantis,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) is, according to a Hawaiian newspaper, 6’4″ tall.  He’s half-Hawaiian, German, Irish, and Native American, and radiates great good humor, self-deprecating charm and gut-busting personal anecdotes.

Honolulu’s Star Advertiser quoted him as saying that he was accepted for the TV role in “Game of Thrones” because he gave a haka (Polynesian war chant) to “two small haole ladies” who were HBO producers.  (“Haole” means “white person” in Hawaiian.)

Momoa warned the ladies first: ‘“Don’t be scared, I am not going to kill you,’ and they were just smiling…And I went off.’”  Afterwards, as the journalist related, “people in other offices thought something was wrong, but his intensity sealed the deal for Momoa.”

Read More…

Posted by: C.E. Chambers | August 19, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger (Film Review)

(theatrical release poster)

(Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox)

By C.E. Chambers

Posted August 19, 2011

While war ravages Europe in the early 1940s, an idealistic but emaciated-looking kid from Brooklyn tries to enlist at five different U.S. military recruitment centers.  Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has great determination but he’s an asthmatic with the strength of a kitten and is declared 4F by each doctor.  (“Marvel Directory”:  He was “born during the Depression and grew up a frail youth in a poor family.”)

However, after the last rejection Steve is approached by Dr. Erskine, a government-connected scientist who has created a Super-Soldier serum.  He’s looking for a worthy subject: A person’s character, whether exemplary or hostile, “amplifies” along with the treatment” and he wants the recipient to respect his newfound strength rather than abuse it.

Steve is chosen to compete with a special unit of Army soldiers and meets stern Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) who is less than impressed with Steve’s still-puny body.  He also meets a beautiful but formidable British agent working with the American Strategic Scientific Reserve, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).

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Posted by: C.E. Chambers | August 12, 2011

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (FILM REVIEW)

By C.E. Chambers

Posted August 12, 2011

In 2000, I began my critique of “Gladiator” by writing, “If I were to enter a Colosseum with only a sword as protection against lethally-armed charioteers and tigers on long chains, I’d ask Russel Crowe to go first.”  Since watching “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” I’ve had a substantial and curiously inappropriate change of mind.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) the chimpanzee is now Hollywood’s riveting leading man.  He’s the Vin Diesel of chimpanzees, the Russell Crowe of the primate kingdom.  He’s the kind of person — er, animal — that you know you could depend on in an emergency.  The kind of person — whoops, animal — that you’d choose to share a foxhole with.  You’d trust him to watch your back.  You’d welcome him as your next door neighbor…well, maybe not.

I’m not going to pretend that I fully understand how CGI (computer-generated imagery) works, but “state-of-the-art 3D animation, animatronics, and actors rigged with motion-capture sensors have revolutionized the entertainment industry.  This brilliant technology imparts remarkably real-life characteristics and compelling substance to fictional characters, including brute-like animals.  Weta Digital, the digital masters behind “Avatar,” helped create this movie.

A technique known as “performance-capture” requires all of the actors to work alongside each other with a director, as is customary, and “months down the line, the visual effects artists apply the make-up.”   As one writer described it:  “[An] actor’s face is digitally replaced by special-effects wizards.”

All I know is this:  About half-way through “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” I realized my heart was pounding, and by the end I had an uncharacteristic lump in my throat.  As the credits rolled, movie goers shouted out affirmations and clapped their hands.  On the way out of the theater, however, a total stranger shared that the film had greatly disturbed her.

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Posted by: C.E. Chambers | August 6, 2011

COWBOYS AND ALIENS (FILM REVIEW)

(Check back: A critique of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” will be posted.  Now C.E. Chambers truly knows that Hollywood — not chimps — has the ability to take over the world.)

(a theatrical release poster)

By C.E. Chambers

Posted August 6, 2011

The soul of this film is redemption.  It’s about hard-bitten, unlikable characters in the 19th-century American West who are natural enemies but end up desperately needing each other.

Aliens terrorize a small, former mining town in New Mexico with their low-hovering UFO’s.  They need gold.  They indiscriminately kill terrified residents with their laser cannons as they’re trying to flee, which start multiple raging fires in the area, and they abduct other people in mid-run by lassoing them alien-style from the air.

Handsome Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) has amnesia.  He wakes up in the desert with a deep abdominal wound and something that looks like a puzzling, high-tech metal handcuff on one of his wrists.  As he tries to make sense of his surroundings and situation, three unkempt, moronic cowboys wander by on horses and start an altercation.  Jake is more than a match for them. Jake’s wounds are tended to later by a grizzled but kind country preacher in the struggling town of Absolution who asks, “Only two kinds of people get shot: criminals and victims. Which one are you?”

Jake is a cowboy living in the 19th-century with 21st-century abs.  (Rachel Weisz, you are one lucky woman.).  He’s unusually proficient at handling himself in tough situations.  British actor Daniel Craig is very compelling as a taciturn, Wild West-type of James Bond -– and he’s  amazingly nimble while performing tough stunts — but ripples of shock moved through my theater when his character’s background was revealed.   The truth hurts.

Read More…

Posted by: C.E. Chambers | August 2, 2011

VERUM SERUM EXPOSES SALON’S TWISTED LOGIC ABOUT CHRISTIANITY

(This page was borrowed from http://www.verumserum.com.  A little background: “Verum Serum has garnered a significant amount of media attention from other blogs, talk radio, magazines, newspapers and television. At least three of our videos have gone from this blog to the Senate floor.”  Verum Serum is Latin for “truth.”)

John from Verum Serum responded to an article posted at Salon by Alex Pareene.  Pareene’s comments have been italicized and bolding was added.

VERUM SERUM

“Response to Alex Pareene on Anders Breivik’s Christianity”

By John on August 2, 2011 at 1:02 am

It has been more than a week since I wrote a post detailing excerpts of Anders Breivik’s manifesto that dealt with Christianity. After that, I wrote one follow up pointing out the serious flaws in the arguments made by Sally Quinn. Sally chose to ignore them, though I’m pretty sure she saw them.

The rest of the week I turned to the debt debate and other issues and managed to miss another post on this topic by Alex Pareene at Salon titled Note to Conservatives: Anders Breivik is a Christian. Let’s go through this:

Salon:  This, apparently, is the right-wing talking point du jour on the terror attacks of July 22: Anders Breivik, the perpetrator, was not a Christian.

That’s because, by his own admission, he wasn’t one.

Salon:  I thought, foolish me, that Breivik had repeatedly and forcefully argued that he was waging a war on behalf of European Christendom. I guess while I wasn’t paying attention, everyone decided to make up a new reality.

Yes, he did do that, proclaiming himself a latter-day Knight Templar. However, his idea of “Christendom” is a very secular affair having to do with holidays and certain traditions, not with faith, organized religion or the Bible.

Salon: Breivik chose to be baptized at age 15. He self-identified as “Christian” on his Facebook page. He thought “Christianity should recombine under the banner of a reconstituted and traditionalist Catholic Church” or, later, under a new (traditionalist) European Church.

All true, but in Scandinavia many people belong to the state church who are not Christians. As the Christian Science Monitor reported a few days ago, 3/4 of Swedes belong to the church but only 15% are believers….[Read more]

movie still from LucasFilm

A new film to be released January 2012:  “[T]he true-life tale of the barrier-shattering World War II squadron, The Tuskegee Airmen.”  They were the first African-American military airmen.

Read the article by Black Voices staff at HUFFPOST ENTERTAINMENT.  Update August 25, 2011.

[Note from C.E.C.:  In 2007, President George W. Bush presented the Congressional Gold Medal to 300 surviving Tuskegee Airmen.  See photo here.]

WATCH THE FIRST PUBLIC LUCASFILM TRAILER FOR “RED TAILS” FILM BELOW:

Posted by: C.E. Chambers | July 26, 2011

MICHELLE OBAMA TO HOLLYWOOD: SUPPORT U.S. MILITARY

I recently complained in a film critique that Hollywood has a penchant for portraying American soldiers as “sadists, nincompoops, or psychopaths.”  Countless numbers of people sharing the same concern have been shouting into the wind for years.

However, there’s good news.  On June 13, 2011, Michael Cieply from The New York Times reported that First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Los Angeles to meet with representatives of various Hollywood guilds (Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, etc.) and military service members.  Mrs. Obama is asking the entertainment industry for “more positive attention for military service members and their families….”

Cieply then went on to list four films released recently by major Hollywood studios that are less than complimentary of the military: “Super 8,” “X-Men: First Class,” “Thor,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”  (Read NYT article here: “Michelle Obama Pushes for Better Treatment of Military in Hollywood.”)

John Nolte, editor in chief of the iconoclastic and popular Big Hollywood blog, recently weighed in regarding Mrs. Obama’s outreach to Hollywood insiders.  “I’m fully aware that anyone can look at this news cynically, and even do so with good reason. But it’s always something of a good thing when you have a leftist First Lady, leftist guilds, and a leftist news outlet admitting there’s a problem and documenting it.  The panel [that met with Mrs. Obama] was moderated by J.J. Abrams, the director of the anti-military ‘Super 8’, so make of that what you will.” (Read Big Hollywood article here, posted July 13, 2011.)

C.E. Chambers here:  I’m going to use this topic as a segue to Joseph Lindsey’s thought-provoking article: “Will Hollywood’s ‘Artists United to Win Without War’ Unite Over Obama’s War of Choice in Libya?” (Big Hollywood, March 23, 2011).  He called attention to the people in the entertainment industry who had formed an organization in 2002 to protest the U.S. military’s involvement in Iraq under the leadership of a Republican president [and compared it] with the deafening silence in their ranks over our recent presence in Libya under a Democrat president.  I have shortened Lindsey’s article a little by editing out movie stars’ and other names that can be read by clicking on the link in the third paragraph:

Read More…

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