Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cat of the Day: Pepper

Today's Cat of the Day is our very own watch cat, Pepper!

Pepper was one of my Grandma's cats who came into our care a few month's back. And in that time, she's found the perfect duty to keep herself busy. See, whenever this mountain lion's not hiding away in her little cave...

... she's hard at work keeping watch over the whole house.

We apparently keep our pepper on top of the fridge...

And she's one of the hardest working cat's I've ever come across, standing her post with pride day in and day out. However, though she'll gladly let you approach her when she's so high up and looking down on you, if you ever happen to spot her on ground level, she's almost certain to turn tail and run away, like she's embarrassed to be caught off post or something.

But Pepper's a good cat who always does a good job looking over her people, and that's why today she's our Cat of the Day!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


After watching The Frozen Ground last week and now Prisoners this week, this has been a hell of a month for awesome thrillers. And with exceptional performances and a mystery that'll leave you guessing all the way to the very end, Prisoners does not disappoint in the least.

Hugh Jackman's daughter and her friend have been kidnapped, and Jake Gyllenhaal leads the case to try and find them, while Jackman takes things into his own hands and holds the man who he believes kidnapped them hostage, torturing him for the whereabouts of his daughter. This is a mystery that gets dark as hell, and will definitely keep you on your toes throughout. And all along the way, there's some real nice twists in store that continue keep things more and more interesting.

A lot of times movies like this can get careless and either leave a few too many hints that make things a little too obvious, or, alternatively, makes things so vague to the point that it's almost impossible to follow along. But this film finds that perfect balance to where it really isn't predictable at all, and you'll find yourself trying to place the pieces together in your own head and figure the mystery out right alongside the characters on screen. You really do connect with the frustrations of our characters, and likewise, once something clicks into place for the characters on screen, the movie's never playing catch up with the viewer, so it makes for a nice satisfying watch as those same things click into place at that exact moment for us as well.

What also helps in connecting with these characters is the fact that they're played so damn well by their respective actors. Hugh Jackman gives us probably the most emotionally fueled performance of his entire career to date, and Jake Gyllenhaal really impressed as well, growing more and more frustrated in more subtle ways that really played as a nice contrast to Jackman's more outgoing role. And I was also impressed by the supporting cast all around, who all really played their parts well, including Terrence Howard, who I see has apparently traded up in his post Iron Man days.

But yeah, if there's one fault I could maybe say about this movie, it's that it's a bit long at almost 3 hours in length. However, that said, there really isn't a single wasted minute in this thing, and even though it's a long movie, it's hardly a boring one, as you'll get wrapped right up in the mystery unfolding, leading all the way up to what is probably the most haunting yet satisfying final shot I've seen in a film this year so far.

I thought this movie looked great going in, and after being let down so much this year, I was very pleased to see this movie pretty much meet my expectations to a tee. This was a great mystery in a nice moody setting, with great performances that really elevate things and give this movie much more of an important feel. You can really feel the weight behind the emotion, and feel the same frustrations as our cast. So if you're in the mood for a bit of a darker outing, you won't go wrong at all with Prisoners.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cat(s) of the Day: Mama Cat and her Kittens

It's been a while, but finally, it's the long awaited return of Cat of the Day! And today's an extra special day because we've got not just one but five cats being celebrated on this day!

We took in the stray pregnant Mama Cat a little while back, and she gave birth to her litter of kittens about a month ago. But now, a month later, her kittens are up and about and getting into all kinds of trouble. Anytime I first step into their room, they can almost certainly be found piled up in their little corner napping.

However, once they see that they've got company, they're ready to spring out of bed and greet their human friends with youthful glee. So now let's take a moment to meet each of these as of yet unnamed kittens. First up is the Velcro Colored Kitten.

And her coat of fur isn't the only thing this kitten shares with the original Velcro, this one also knows how to put its claws to good use and climb all over you. And on that note, next up we've got the Charlie Colored Kitten.

And also like the original Charlie and Velcro, these two have a tendency to find themselves at odds with one another.

The Token Orange Kitten of the litter is next, who also happens to be the cry baby of the bunch, poor guy.

And last but not least is the Crazy Haired Kitten.

This one certainly sticks out the most, and is probably the most outgoing, always the first to rush up and greet me whenever I come in to see them.

So there you have it then, and let's hear it for these awesome new members of the cat society who've got their whole nine lives ahead of them. And also for the Mama Cat, who has done a wonderful job at taking care of her kittens and watching over them, and is due for some good R & R.

Good job, Mom!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Frozen Ground

I went into this one blind, and holy god did it blindside me! The Frozen Ground is absolutely tremendous. I pretty much went in just expecting some good typical Nic Cage action alongside John Cusack, with Vanessa Hudgens as a stripper adding some nice icing on the cake. But with stellar performances from the entire cast and a constant sense of tension throughout, this chilling movie is the surprise of the year by far.

This movie is based on the true events to find the evidence that would put away Robert Hansen, the serial murderer of 17 to 21 young women, with Nic Cage playing the lead detective who picks up the case after Vanessa Hudgens managed to escape being Hansen's next victim. We the viewer are completely aware of Hansen's guilt the whole movie, just as Cage is certain of it, but this isn't the kind of mystery where it matters too much that we're not entirely left in the dark. This is a movie that's all about the hunt, and just as Hansen likes to hunt his victims, Nic Cage is out on a hunt of his own as he tries to stay a step ahead and put together a solid case that'll finally put Hansen away for good.

I really can't stress enough just how blown away I was by this movie, and a lot of it comes down to the impeccable acting on hand. Nic Cage has been having a lot of fun in a lot of campy movies as of late, but he puts on his serious face for this role and really gives us one of his true better outings in a long damn time. And John Cusack is convincing as hell as Hansen, the creepy stalker and murderer of all his young victims. And damn does this guy bring a ton of intensity to his role. Just about anytime he appears on screen you just tense up by his mere presence. The guy is seriously legitimately threatening as hell.

But while those two gave solid performances, the true shocker here came from Vanessa Hudgens. She hasn't necessarily been bad in anything I've seen her in to date, though she's never been terribly good up to this point either. And yeah, she definitely looks great and plays a good stripper, which was really all I was expecting from her here, but good god, that girl is on fire in this movie, giving us the performance of her life. Playing a young prostitute who's had it rough growing up, she delivers the goods here and then some. I was thoroughly impressed, and after this performance, she's proven that she's more than just a pretty face, and I can definitely see her going on to have a solid acting career now.

But even so, one more for that pretty face of hers!

Everything about this movie just clicked. The music kept my pulse pounding as it built up the tension. And again, even though the movie didn't feel the need to keep us in the dark too often, there were still some nice twists here, and even the moments you could see coming came at us with a ridiculous level of intensity behind them. Just as I couldn't stress enough about the acting, I too can't stress just how intense this movie can get. This one definitely got my blood pumping, and I was staring wide eyed on the edge of my seat throughout most of it.

This movie received a limited release in theaters, and it didn't come around my town just yet, but it was one of those that also got an on demand release alongside its theatrical run. So if this one doesn't open up near you, then I'd definitely recommend checking it out that way, because this is seriously one of the best movies to release all year, and by far the biggest surprise of 2013 so far. With a smart script and incredible performances that'll keep you constantly on edge, this is one intense as hell thriller that you won't want to miss.

Friday, September 6, 2013


The latest Riddick movie had all the potential to quite possibly be the best one yet, if it weren't for the fact that it's bookended by the most bullshit cop-out beginning and ending they could've come up with. And it's such a shame, because everything in-between is Riddick-ulously good. (Sorry.)

Where Pitch Black is a sci-fi horror monster movie, and then The Chronicles of Riddick expanded things by becoming an action adventure space opera, this one scales things back down again quite a bit, though if I were to place it in any genre, this one would probably just be a straight up action flick. However, this one's broken up into three different sections, each of which has a very different feel from one another.

The movie starts off with Riddick basically just exploring this new planet he's found himself on. Alongside his dog companion, Riddick sets out to make a fresh start and find himself all over again, all the while discovering what dark secrets lie upon this planet. Playing out with very little dialogue, this section probably couldn't be farther from what we've typically come to expect from a Riddick film, and yet it's also by far the strongest section of this movie. Hell, the whole film coulda been 90 minutes of Riddick just interacting and adapting with his environment and fighting off the occasional creature that's out to get him, and I woulda been fine with that.

However, after discovering that his peaceful times in the sun are about to run out, Riddick lures out the bounty hunters in an attempt to steal a ship and escape the planet. And once the bounty hunters arrive, the movie shifts almost entirely away from Riddick's point of view, focusing solely on said bounty hunters in their mission to find and retrieve Riddick and collect on the infamous bounty on his head. At first, I was a bit wary about this sudden shift in focus, and yet this portion, too, actually plays out fairly decently itself as well. In fact, if any part of this movie shares the horror aspect of Pitch Black, it would be here, with Riddick playing the part of the monster hiding in the shadows, ghosting his victims one by one.

The last part of the movie is what we've all seen in all the trailers, that being the big monster mash finale. However, unlike Pitch Black, they completely scrap any sort of horror element upon their arrival and instead go into full throttle action mode once these beasties show up. And it all plays out fairly decently enough, with some exciting moments and some good twists along the way. But sadly, the writers of this thing apparently wrote themselves into a bit of a corner at the end, and ended things on a completely bullshit, out of nowhere moment that pretty much flatlines this thing almost immediately.

And as I mentioned, the ending wasn't the only cop-out here, as the movie starts off by pulling a Resident Evil: Afterlife and essentially retconning the ending to the previous movie. Through a brief flashback, we see how Riddick lost his position of power within the Necromonger society that he so suddenly gained at the end of Chronicles, and then... that's it. That's all that's mentioned of it. And it's really annoying and disappointing, and makes me wonder why some movies want to leave things open with so much possibility to explore new and different aspects, only to throw away all that potential and just start with a clean slate in the next installment, like none of that even happened. So in that regard, I guess that writing themselves into a corner has become a bit of a recurring element now within the Riddick series. But hell, if they were going to go this rout, I almost wish that they woulda just left out the flashback entirely, since the few scenes involving the Necromongers clearly don't fit the mold of the rest of this thing, and really stand out with their drastic clash in style.

I know that The Chronicles of Riddick wasn't nearly as widely well regarded as Pitch Black, but I actually liked it even more than the first movie. But in many ways this movie feels like a response to the negative reaction that Chronicles garnered, and while the movie's mostly solid overall, I still can't help but feel let down by the awesome potential there was here to really continue to expand where Chronicles left off. But yeah, this one definitely shares more in common with the first movie, both in scale and tone. And also like the first movie, this installment returns to an R rating, and boy do they go out of their way to show that off. There's pointless nudity on top of blatantly glorified gore, almost like they were trying a little too hard to make up for the fact that Chronicles was PG-13, but really, it just stood out and left me rolling my eyes. This wasn't that big a deal, though, and it's really a minor issue compared to the much bigger problems this movie faces.

As much as I enjoyed Chronicles, I will admit that the theatrical version wasn't without its issues as well. However, the Director's Cut version addressed and fixed literally every single problem I had with that movie, and so there's a part of me that wonders if such a cut might not be released down the line that does the same to this latest Riddick. But as is, there's a really good, solid movie in here, with decent action and an awesome slow build of mood and setting, but those damn cop-outs are what ultimately hold this thing back from being the truly great movie it has all the potential to be.