Friday, January 30, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years of Madness!

So today marks the 10 year anniversary of This is Madness (though the 20th of this month marked the 5th anniversary of this particular incarnation of it on this site, so yay!). I first started blogging on LiveJournal 10 years ago, and I initially used it as a means to really just vent about certain things going on in my personal life at the time, and generally just goof around on it, much in the same way that I currently use Twitter nowadays. Hell, that's just how all of my friends used LiveJournal back in the day.

So there were a few "proper" blog posts at the time, but it would be a while before I really started to focus my blog and take it more seriously. And once I did, at the time, my main focus was wrestling.

I wrote in depth reviews for various wrestling events that I'd either watch on Pay Per View or attend in person, as well as write articles speculating on certain aspects of the business, and what I'd like to see happen moving forward. But then I guess I hit a point where my interest in wrestling began to wane a bit (though I do still remain a fan today, just not nearly as passionate as I was then), and it was around that time that I started going through a shift in focus with my blogging habits.

During this time I also did a lot of blogging on my personal life as well, including fabricating really bizarre stories that over-exaggerated actual events in my life for maximum comedic effect. And it was during my brief stint where I moved over to Myspace as a means of blogging where I possibly went the most over-the-top in this regard, writing out an entire weekly series chronicling the silly antics I experienced at my job at Toys R Us at the time, in an action anime/comic book inspired series called TRU ADVENTURES. My co-workers at the time got a kick out of it at least, but seeing as most of it was based on inside-jokes within the store, needless to say most everyone else was just kinda confused about the whole thing.

However, writing out that blog story did give me quite a bit of practice with narrative writing, which I only further honed during that year's NaNoWriMo (my first!), and continued to improve upon through attending writing workshops and the like until I was finally confident enough to actually publish a novel. So it's pretty cool to look back and see how my blogging has actually contributed to my other writing aspirations, but I digress, we're here to celebrate the blog, and that brings us to the next stage in my evolution of blogging.

So after almost all of my friends who frequented LiveJournal and Myspace left those sites, I was left looking for a new outlet in which to blog where people would actually be able to find it and read it. And so that's when I just decided to start up my own blog site a little over five years ago, which is the site you're currently reading on right now!

By this point, I was still in a bit in a transitional phase in terms of finding actual focus in my blogging, as can be seen in the first several posts on this site, where I clumsily jumped from talking about movies to wrestling to video games, and all within the same posts. It took me a few months, but finally I found a new sense of focus with my blogging, where, much like how I once used to discuss and review wrestling, I would now mostly be discussing and reviewing movies.

And I've been at it ever since, learning along the way and getting a little more comfortable with my particular style. And at first, it was still only friends and family who were aware of my blog's existence. But it was about a couple years into just blogging my thoughts and reviews on movies that I suddenly started gaining attention from outside sources as well, and only then realized there was a whole world of film blogs out there that I was completely oblivious to.

For a good long while I got sucked into the whole blogging community, meeting new bloggers and trying to discover new blogs and gain new readers and commenters in my efforts. But then, as I continued down this path, I eventually found myself becoming more and more stressed over my blogging activities. I found myself stressing over a lot of stupid things, such as the overall success of my blog, and I found that I was blogging for all the wrong reasons now, and it basically stopped being fun for me as a result.

So just before the turn of the year, I decided that I was going to make some changes in a number of my online activities, including my blogging, with the purpose of removing the stupid stress and bringing back the fun. So, for those of you who may have noticed, that's why I've scaled back on some things, including turning off comments for the time being, and why you may not be seeing me leaving as many comments on other blogs as well. It's not that I'm not reading your blogs anymore, mind you, just that I'm not forcing myself to feel obligated to leave a comment, as I never really have on any other non-blogging medium.

And honestly, ever since I've made even those seemingly small little changes, it's sort of amazing just how much of a difference it's made for my mindset as far as it concerns my blog as of late. And I've also noticed that I've actually been far more consistent with it at that as well, which is definitely a cool deal.

So yeah, all things considered, this celebration of blogging really couldn't have come at a better time. There's been some highs and there's been some lows, but right now, as I celebrate 10 years of blogging, I'm at a point where I feel pretty good about this whole thing, and look forward to where the Madness may continue to evolve from here.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Predestination is unlike anything that you would imagine, and is one of the most clever and most all around satisfying science fiction films that I have ever seen. It's also one of the hardest movies to talk about and really convey my feelings towards without also getting into major spoilers, but I'll give it my best shot here nonetheless!

The trailers made this out to be an interesting enough sci-fi flick involving time travel, but honestly, while that description does this movie absolutely no justice, at the same time I actually gotta give them credit for even being able to come up with a trailer that doesn't completely spoil the whole movie, because this is a movie that is very easy to slip up and accidentally give away some pretty substantial plot twists. So kudos for that, and now here's hoping I don't accidentally slip up myself.

Basically, this is a movie that is layered with ideas and thematic elements all throughout, and that come into play in surprising ways. What it presents thematically is definitely this movie's biggest strength, and it's what'll leave it sticking with you well after the fact. Predestination is a very personal movie, and it's one that touched me on a very personal level as such.

In its relatively brief hour and a half runtime, this movie tackles a lot, and it does it all so seamlessly. Everything from gender roles in society and themes dealing with identity, revenge, and the thin line that straddles between love and hatred. It's a movie that tackles self-destructive behavioral patterns, of taking responsibility for ones actions. And it's a movie ultimately about being able to love and accept oneself if you ever hope to find happiness in any other aspect of your life.

And there's even more beyond all of that if you wanna dig deeper, including some subtle subtext regarding government conspiracy theories and such. There's just so much depth to this movie. But again, even laying all of those themes out there like that really doesn't even begin to do this movie justice at all. But the way it all comes into play, how it's so meticulously and tightly interwoven through the narrative is so seamless, and so stunning to watch play out. And as the movie does play out, there's just so many genuinely surprising and satisfying plot twists, it'd make even the likes of M. Night Shyamalan jealous.

The screenplay is very cleverly written, with tons of little details in the dialogue and scenery that you'll pick up on in subsequent viewings that hint at what's really going on. Hell, I've seen this thing three times already, and each time I find myself just shaking my head in awe at the sheer amount of clever little lines and in-jokes scattered about.

And all of this amazing writing is brought to life beautifully by the outstanding performances from Sarah Snook and Ethan Hawke. Hell, Hawke's been on a bit of a roll as of late, what with both this and Boyhood last year, but I honestly believe his role in Predestination may well be his greatest acting performance to date. Absolutely incredible stuff.

Point blank, Predestination isn't your typical sci-fi flick, and it's unlike any other time travel movie that you've seen. Hell, I've read some comparisons to Looper, and while tonally I can sorta see it, even that's not quite accurate, as this movie presents quite literally the exact opposite of what Looper set out to say and do.

If I had seen this and Selma in time, I definitely could've done a proper Top 10 list to close out 2014, as both of them would've easily landed in my Top 5. And hell, I'd say Predestination is second only to Interstellar as the absolute very best movie I've seen from that year at that. I just really can't recommend this movie enough, and it's available right now on on-demand, so definitely check it out if you can. Predestination is unlike anything that you would imagine, and is one of the most clever and most all around satisfying science fiction films that I have ever seen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015 Maddie Awards!

So it's possible that I was a bit too preachy with my review of Selma last week, so how about we lighten the mood a little this time around. And seeing as we're right in the thick of awards season (as well as celebrating this blog's Fifth Anniversary tonight!), what better way to do that than with the return of the Maddie Awards!

Yes, that's right, This is Madness proudly brings to you the 2015 Maddie Awards, where we celebrate the brand new year in fine cinema so far! Now it's been a few years since our last Maddie Awards ceremony, but for those keeping track (i.e., me), past winners of the coveted Maddie include the likes of Season of the Witch, Contraband, and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

(And I suppose that Gangster Squad also begrudgingly won it one year. Hey, just like the real awards, we can't always get 'em right, right?)

So anyways, without any further ado, let's start things off with the Maddie for Best Director. And presenting the award is past Maddie winner, Kate Beckinsale!

Looking as lovely as ever tonight, Kate! And now the Maddie for Best Director goes to...

Michael Mann - Blackhat
2015 Maddie Awards - Best Director

Michael Mann's signature style was on full display in the new action thriller, Blackhat. It was his touch that truly elevated the material on the screen, always making for quite the visual engagement. And his eye for action remains as astute as ever, as the various shoot out sequences throughout are the clear highlights of the whole movie, including one near the end that has some especially and satisfyingly surprising results. So congratulations to this year's Best Director, Michael Mann!

And up next, presenting the Maddie for Best Actor, it's previous Best Actor winner, Mark Wahlberg!

Truly, it isn't a proper January without our traditional January serving of Mark Wahlberg (though, curiously enough, this year he decided to release his typical January film, The Gambler, on Christmas). But anyways, moving right along, the Maddie for Best Actor goes to...

Chris Hemsworth - Blackhat
2015 Maddie Awards - Best Actor

Though Wahlberg may have been feeling a bit ambitious with his latest movie's release date, Hemsworth was more than up to the task of filling in the void left by Wahlberg's absence. Hemsworth brought a true sense of charisma to the role that really carried the slick new cyber thriller, Blackhat. Sure, he's not what one might typically picture when they think of your typical computer hacker, but then, this isn't your typical awards show, either! But Hemsworth certainly gives a standout performance regardless, further proving himself to be a competent action star in the process, and a worthy Maddie Award recipient.

And now, here to present the Maddie Award for Best Picture, it's none other than the man himself and former Maddie Award winner, Nic Cage!

Always a pleasure and an honor to be graced by the presence of the one and only Nic Cage! And now, the Maddie Award for Best Picture goes to...

2015 Maddie Awards - Best Picture

It's a sweep! Blackhat takes home all the awards tonight! And deservedly so, as it is, without a doubt, the absolute very best movie that our Maddie Award voters (i.e., me) have seen this year so far. It's a throwback to similar '90s cyber thrillers with some stylized direction and a commanding performance by its lead, with some nicely intense action sequences throughout, making for a movie that's only sometimes a little dumb and boring (but not always!).

So congratulations to our big Maddie Award winners tonight. And a big thank you to all of our viewers for joining us for this year's ceremony. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves (and aren't too bummed if your favorites didn't win), and that all of you have a safe and good night!

Monday, January 12, 2015


There are plenty of good movies out there of various genres that cater to various tastes, and that's all good and all. But if there's one movie out there right now that should be a required viewing for everybody in today's society in America, regardless of taste, then Selma is that film. Selma is the most important new movie out there today.

Now, I'm not one to throw around the word "important" in regards to movies too often. In fact, I usually scoff at the notion. For instance, by no means did I agree with the sentiment in regards to last year's 12 Years A Slave. It was a great movie for certain (even despite boasting the most bizarre abuse of Inception music to date), but not one I'd necessarily deem a particularly important watch, if I'm being completely honest here. But not only do I genuinely believe Selma to be a better movie than 12 Years A Slave, I also believe it to be far more relevant to today's society, as it bears an extremely important message that many people in today's culture could definitely learn a good thing or two from.

One of the reasons I believe the movie works so well is because of how focused it is. Where as other recent, similar movies such as The Butler, or biopics like Jobs or J. Edgar, fail to engage due to their broad and generalized approach, trying to show us a little bit from every key moment of their subject's life that ultimately leaves us with little more than a paper thin idea and little in the way of actual substance, Selma instead chooses to focus on one specific event in Martin Luther King's quest for equality. And in taking a far more focused approach, this allows for the events transpiring to really play out and resonate, leaving a powerful impact with the viewer, rather than merely acting as a sidestep onto the next key note.

This movie seriously hits hard. And while it's easy for movie's like this to go overboard into insincere sentimentality, this movie plays out in a way that feels truly genuine. And a lot of that comes down to some genuinely great performances by most of the cast, especially David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejobo as Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta.

In fact, the way MLK's character played out in the movie was another big contributing factor to lending this movie a sense of sincerity. They don't pretend to paint MLK as this absolutely perfect historical figure who could do no wrong, but rather, they actually show him to be quite a vulnerable person. They humanize him, and in doing so, make him relatable to us on a human level. This movie shows him having doubts, and it shows him making absolutely shameful mistakes along the way. This is a man who's very much fighting a battle within himself just as he is in the name of justice and equality. And in showing him persevering over his own shortcomings in order to make a difference for all makes his journey to be all the more empowering to bear witness to.

And this movie's message on how to go about achieving change is precisely why so many people need to see this movie. And not just watch it, but actually pay attention. There's so much wrong with the way we react to injustices in the world these days, and if Martin Luther King were alive today, he would be seriously shaking his head in shame at the way much of our society has turned out in that regard.

But not only does this movie strive to show us the way towards achieving change, it also acts as a warning to those enacting their injustices, to be wary of their actions, less they fall on the wrong side of history. So this movie really couldn't have released at a better, more relevant time than now, so that we as a society may look upon it and take a lesson from our not too distant past.

So yeah, I thought Selma was absolutely incredible. And quite frankly, I have no idea how something like 12 Years A Slave can go on to win awards while this meanwhile gets passed over in favor of experimental art projects like Boyhood (though it remains to be seen if the Oscars will repeat the Golden Globes' mistake there). This movie is far more important than something such as those movies, as it is far more relevant to today's society, and bears with it a message that everyone can learn from.

I wrote last week about my bewilderment of people applauding a movie as the credits roll, but such an applause has never felt more appropriate or deserved than when my audience clapped at the end of this film.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Don't applaud this...

So this is a bit random, but I've noticed that, more often than not, anytime an audience applauds a movie after it's over, it's usually after a movie that so doesn't deserve it. Now, never mind the fact that applauding a movie is in and of itself entirely pointless, unless you happen to be attending a Q&A or world premiere or some sort of event where the actual filmmakers themselves are in attendance. But beyond all of that, most often when an audience applauds a movie, I'm left just completely baffled.

For instance, I've seen all four Transformers movies in the theaters. Now, none of them are really anything worth applauding, but the one I did attend that received one of the warmest rounds of applauds I've ever heard for a movie also just so happens to be the most insufferably bad movie in the whole series, Dark of the Moon. I seriously turned around in my seat and looked behind me at the people clapping, and I had to restrain myself from audibly asking, "... really?!"

But most recent examples would include the third Hobbit (by far the weakest of all six Middle Earth movies, and, again, also the only one that which was applauded by my audience in attendance after the fact), in which I did just shake my head and said aloud, "Don't applaud this...", though Unbroken, too, received an applause, which, while still annoying, didn't bother me TOO much, as it was at least a decent movie this time. In fact, thinking on it, I'm pretty sure the only other example of a decent movie I attended to getting applause after the fact was Avatar.

Returning to Middle Earth, though, I will say that, while The Battle of the Five Armies was the only one to get applause at the end, The Return of the King did have its awesome Legolas moment during the movie itself that received some good cheers (people sure do love their Legolas, much as they may oddly enough hate Orlando Bloom himself!). But depending on the audience and type of movie you're at, such crowd involvement at certain moments isn't as bad as clapping after it's done, because at least there you're just getting that invested into the movie. It's when the cheers begin as the credits start to roll that I'm really left scratching my head.

But seriously, it really is kinda odd how so few legitimately good movies get applause at the end. For instance, when a fucking turd like The Dark Knight Rises got applauded, I turned to my friend with an unimpressed glance and just said, "Not really." Meanwhile, I can't help but wonder where the hell this applause was for the infinitely superior The Dark Knight? Hell, of all of Nolan's movies I've seen in the theater, the only one in his entire track record that I would consider to be a legitimately and genuinely bad movie also just so happens to be the only one to get applauded for its efforts in the end.

I do love it, though, when one guy tries to applaud after a bad movie, but nobody else joins in, such as was the case after Man of Steel. People actually laughed at the guy that time. Guess it was a bit of a wiser crowd for once, perhaps?

But I dunno, there's really no actual point that I'm getting at here, just rambling about something I've noticed, and that continues to baffle me for a variety of reasons.