Guys, do drop by Bambam's blog. You can check it out from the links on the right side of the page. He finally added a new entry. Prety touching.


suggested music

--a continuation of one of my previous posts from long ago--
another collection i have is mp3s. listed below are further additions to my collection.
as before, if you guys have lists of your own i'm interested to know what they are. (the better to supplement my collection)
btw, does anybody know the title of this dance/disco/club song? it's really hard to determine what they're saying but it's reasonably popular so maybe you can identify it:

"take that" seems to be in the chorus and i think they're also saying "and back again"

yeah, i know not much to go on, i'm not keeping my hopes up.

Also, there's this 70s disco song that goes:
"that's not the way that you explained on the phone
you said meet me tonight
we'll make it right (but)
if all we're going to do is dance, i'm going home
(i'm going home now 2x)"
if anybody knows the above 2 songs, please let me know.
i have way too many "senti" songs and too little club/dance/ or just plain lively music.
it affects my disposition.

absolutely flawless -DJ Den
reflection - lea salonga / christina aguilera (mulan)
cyndi lauper - all through the night
alicia keys if i ain't got you
chicago - restless heart
george michael i'm your man
everything she wants
i knew you were waiting for me
father figure
ghost in the shell- stand alone complex
lionel richie - stuck on you
-you are the sun you are the rain
-penny lover
-say you say me
-endless love
keane -somewhere only we know
Phantom Planet - california
i am a man of constant sorrow
phil collins - sussudio (i have the album, but i listed it here because now it's in mp3 format)
-easy lover
-separate lives
-a groovy kind of love
-one more night
-two hearts
peter cetera - restless heart
savage garden -truly madly deeply
tito nieves -i like it like
puentes i like it like that
paul jackson -it's a shame
rick james- superfreak
wallflowers-one headlight


A Batman Begins Review

It's been awhile since anybody's written anything: including myself (how about that! I'm actually fulfilling my duties as a civil servant!), so I thought I'd drop in a line about something new. I don't know when or if you guys actually got around to watching 'Batman Begins," but I thought I'd let you guys know what I think. This review is virtually plot-point free for anyone wary of spoilers, although it's not as though we don't know Batman's origin...

"Batman Begins," is, in my opinion, the best movie ever to be made based on a DC Comics character. This actually says a lot, given that I have a fairly high regard for the first two Superman movies. It ranks pretty high on my list of best crafted comic book movies, right after the two Spider-Man movies and X2.

What sets BB apart from its four predecessors is simple: it was about Batman. More specifically, it was about how and why Bruce Wayne became Batman. I think a lot of people will agree that Batmans 1 to 4 were more enamored with the flamboyance of their villains than they were with the actual title character that Batman was somehow nudged out of the picture. Jack Nicholson's Joker had a great deal more screen presence than Michael Keaton's Batman. In Batman Returns, Keaton kind of disappeared between the haunting misfits played with campy aplomb by Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny Devito. Don't even get me started on the Schumacher movies.

The telling of Bruce Wayne's origin was patient, yet well-paced. The casting of Bruce's father is subtle, but for some reason I felt it was the best in the whole movie. The benevolence Linus Roache imbued Thomas Wayne with was something really special, and it makes us all the sorrier to see what happens ultimately happens to him. That scene was a lot better done than its presentation in the first Batman movie. There was a power to it that, in my opinion, is surpassed only by the scene where Peter Parker recognizes Uncle Ben's killer as the robber he let pass. Yes, I liked some parts of this movie that much. The scenes with Bruce in the Chinese (?) prison, the training scenes with Liam Neeson, and even the scenes where he starts getting his gear together make for some really terrific build-up.

Oddly enough, the movie bogs down where he actually puts the costume on. This is actually how I felt throughout much of the second half of Spider-Man 1, so it's strange that they didn't learn anything from that. The Batmobile chase scene is cool, but there is a certain goofiness to the way Christian Bale does his impression of a WWE Wrestler (that is to say, he sounds seriously constipated).

Also, I confess to being quite frustrated with the fight scenes. I mean, early on in production they were bragging about how flexible the new Batsuit was, and how much movement it allowed. Bale even talked about some esoteric martial art he learned for the movie...and yet, the editing is so choppy we see none of it. I would have liked to see Batman kicking butt a la Matt Damon in either of the "Bourne" movies, but the editing completely precluded that.

And a final disappointment was the music score. For me, one of the biggest attractions of this movie was the historic team-up between A-list Hollywood composers (anyone interested can check out my latest blog entry at the Tantrum to see a lengthier discussion) Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. I figured, if Danny Elfman could come up with that magnificent theme, imagine what two multiple-Oscar nominated composers could do!

And the result was...lame. I was disappointed with Elfman's "Spider-Man" score, but at least it had identifiable themes, albeit somewhat limp in comparison to Williams' "Superman" and Elfman's original "Batman" themes. This movie had nothing of that sort. To think I was looking forward to buying the soundtrack! Oh, well. At least it's money saved.

Anyway, the movie still plays pretty well overall. The casting was superb, with one red herring of a cast member thrown in (hehe, couldn't resist the plot point), but I have to say I particularly enjoyed Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow. There was just the right mixture of camp and menace.

Finally, special mention goes out to Nathan Crowley's extraordinary production design. It's not quite as Gothic as Anton Furst's was sixteen years ago, but it was certainly arresting in its own right. AND, Crowley was the one who came up with that extraordinary Batmobile, which really looks awesome in action.


updated website

check out www.millcase.com
the flash portion, not the html.
i know it takes a little time to load and there are no animations yet.
there are many improvements i can make but it took me so long just to come up with that update. i'm so uninspired.
comments will be appreciated. no need to be polite, it won't help me.
i need honest opinions on how to improve it (apart from what i already have in mind)


On Hyper-Violence in Movies

Last weekend I took in two gorefests, almost in a row, which is a lot more than my usual diet of blood-drenched cinema. On Friday night I watched Sin City with the boys, and on Saturday I played the couch potato and sat through a replay of Starship Troopers on Star Movies. As early as last Sunday I felt I had to say something about violence in movies nowadays.

Up front I'd like to say that I am a fan of the original Matrix movie, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Spider-Man films, and most Tarantino movies, all of which have violence in varying degrees, so I'm the last person on earth who will decry violent films.

What I confess I can't stand is violence that is done purely for the sake of it, without doing the storytelling any real service. In my opinion some good examples of this are the two movies I watched over the weekend, and Kill Bill, Volume I. I'm not going to review any of these movies here, but I am going to say why I found the violence in these pictures a bit out there.

I've read Frank Miller's work, and his Daredevil: the Man Without Fear limited series still stands as one of my all-time favorites. That said, the limb-chopping, almost pornographic violence of Sin City is plain old, over-the-top ridiculous. I think more than all the blood spurting, what bothered me was seeing Carla Gugino hold up a stitched-up stump where her hand used to be. I understand that they wanted to establish that Elijah Wood's character was some kind of sicko, but I'm pretty sure there were other ways they could have done it. I watched Sin City because I thought I'd be in for some kind of film noirish treat. I didn't realize I'd be watching From Dusk Till Dawn in black and white. About the only wacked out violence I enjoyed from that movie was the sight of a gun slide wedged in Benicio Del Toro's forehead, but that was just from the sheer absurdity of it.

Moving onto Starship Troopers, I have to say that Steven Spielberg's magnum opus, Saving Private Ryan contained images that were far more graphic, gut-wrenching and unrelentingly brutal, but I still found the first movie depraved while enjoying the second. I can appreciate that some people got a kick out of the hyper-satirist, neo-fascistic overtones of Starship Troopers, along with some stylish editing and good digital effects, but I submit that a lot of the vivisection involved owed more to Paul Verhoeven's bloodlust (as was only too evident in his other movies like Robocop, Total Recall and Hollow Man) than to Robert Heinlein's sci-fi satire, and really didn't that do much for the overall tone of the movie, which already benefited from the conspicuously campy dialogue, the costume and set design and topnotch special effects. I think Paul Verhoeven is a very sick man and thank the gods of filmmaking that he seems to be getting less and less work these days.

When I think of a Tarantino movie, I close my eyes and see Samuel L. Jackson spouting out biblical verse before blowing Frank Whaley away. The guy's ability to somehow meld rapier wit with brutal violence has made him one of the truly great filmmakers of our time, which is why I hold Kill Bill Vol. I's Crazy 88s scene in such low regard. I mean, this is a guy who has made his living being clever, and yet he gives us a ludicrously overwrought fight scene which is anything but. Add to this the fact that the gangly Uma Thurman looks kind of goofy swinging that big-ass sword around. She's hardly Michelle Yeoh or even Carrie-Anne Moss. It's a good thing Tarantino totally switched gears in Volume II, immersing the film in his trademark snappy dialogue with sporadic but well-placed scenes of violence.

Violence can be well done, as far as I'm concerned, but what worries me is the thought that a lot of today's filmmakers can forget this. Still and all, I think the all-time worst screen violence ever is the stuff we see in the Home Alone movies. What makes that stuff scary is that kids love that crap...

star wars

sure he lost his lightsaber but that didn't mean he couldn't throw things right back at palpatine.
he didn't have anything cut off and didn't seem seriously injured.
it looked like he was crawling away just fine in that escape tunnel.
lucas should've had palpatine cut something off. if yoda had a limb again in "empire" i'd have dismissed it as a lizard-like"grow back" thing.
i don't even remember any cuts or wounds on him.
if i missed something (there was a lot to see on the screen after all) please let me know.
if yoda couldn't handle it alone, he could join forces with, "jedi master" obi-wan,
and together take on the last remaining bad guy. that's 2 jedi vs. 1 sith.
palpatine ain't so tough, windu walked all over him. lucas should've established palpatine as a clearly superior warrior for me to buy it.

constructive criticism:
a smoother transition from incapacitating windu to killing kids would've been better for "revenge."
i'll still "buy" it on the basis that
orphan annie pledged allegiance to the emperor.
he basically did what he was "ordered" to do.
but that's still a pretty big leap. i mean, for example, a thief isn't a murderer.
that'd be two different crimes that vary greatly in gravity.
daddy warbucks will hear of this!

how come people expect so much from the star wars movies? when i think about the originals, i only really like "a new hope" and "empire strikes back"
"return" actually kinda sucked.
i put my finger on what was wrong with the new movies (ep.I-III)
they had way too many scenes that were cross-merchandising efforts.
the pod race?
artoo dodging the assembly line in "clone wars"?
all scenes that went on too long and were too easily recognizable as a video game.

essentially, the problem was that the movies were not exclusively telling a story. they were also obviously vehicles for selling products.
great storytelling cannot survive a dilution in purpose.

don't get me wrong, i still liked the new movies even though a lot of fans were vocal in their disappointment. i actually wasn't expecting a renaissance of the magic the originals engendered.
i just enjoyed the movies for what they were.

issa people gonna die-ay? mee-sa thinks the problem with jar2 is that he is too recent a racial stereotype.

best line of "revenge:"
obi1: "it's over annie! i hold the high ground"
vader: "you underestimate my power"
wahaha! panis.


For those interested...

I don't know who'll be interested in this, but author/comic book visionary Neil Gaiman will be in the Philippines for a book signing. My sister passed this information on to me via text message. He will make appearances at three venues, namely Gateway, GB3 and the Rockwell tent, the first two of which, according to the message, are fully booked. That leaves the Rockwell appearance, which is to take place on July 9. I, for one, am fervently interested.

If anyone's interested, I promise updates on the mechanics of being admitted to this engagement as soon as I get them, or if any of you know more than I do about this event, please feel free to let me know. I'm not a HUGE fan of his or anything; I only have his "Stardust" series and his second "Death" miniseries (I don't even have his Marvel stuff, which is weird considering I am a self-professed Marvel Zombie), but it would be nice to have his signature on my comics.

If J. Michael Straczynski ever showed up here for a signing, then I might mutate into the rabid fanboy hidden somewhere deep inside...

photography tricks

a little handy dandy feature i recently discovered.
by increasing "saturation" in the included photo editing software,
i can make colors more vivid in a photograph.
it doesn't work as well on people and animals though.
do the buildings look too unnatural?
click on the picture to see an enlargement.
I'd like to try it out on a fruit bowl to see if it comes out more vivid.
if it does, it may look like one of those pictures you see in a calendar or poster.
these were taken with a 4 megapixel camera.

PS these are pictures of the palace of fine arts in san francisco.

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