Prime pain.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky one’s, though if you’re reading this there’s a significant chance you’re not.

Transformers Prime
Free? Ha! We'll teach you the meaning!

This Easter weekend there is a buy-one-get-one[…] sale at Toys ‘R’ Us on several different items. What I’m interested in are the Transformers Prime Deluxe figures. I don’t know what it is about animated series’ and their figures but I have to have them all! ALL!! *insert crazy laugh*

When I rolled off the couch this morning and when I went out to the driveway to pick up the news paper from the next town over – somehow we keep getting them but I won’t complain – there was no idea in my head that I would be driving all over the place trying to get a free DVD.

Yeah, you read that right. Not only could I buy a figure at full price and get another for half the price but since the purchase would put me barely over $20 I could get a free DVD too. And heck, maybe 2 if I wanted!

Well it didn’t happen.

Seems Toys “R” Us got the sales paper all printed and the stores all ready for all the offers – and there are plenty, which reminds me… – without shipping Transformers Prime DVD’s to their stores. I guess the “free” part of the deal meant that you’re “free” of having them in your possession. Oh well.

Maybe it’s just a North Texas thing, maybe it’s an all-over thing. I only tried 2 local stores. But if you, random reader, have gotten the DVD along with your full and-a-half priced figures then count yourself among the elite.

-VR

Update: I got the DVDs!
A very Lucky employee at one of the local TrU called me Saturday morning with the news that they had finally gotten the DVDs in. I picked them up only to realize that you really do get what you pay for – sometimes less than what you pay for too – and “free” isn’t much to pay.

Now, let’s see if the Freebird’s/Edge Fest free tickets deal is something to be excited about.

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Stolen Life

There’s a story in the latest issue of Esquire magazine that touched me deeply. It’s the current issue – as I’m writing this – that has Liam Neeson on the cover pointing at you with a look on his face that seems to say, “kiss my ass”.

It's not polite to point!
Kiss it!

This issue is chock-full of great articles and interviews, the one featuring Neeson is pretty good, though the author, having an issue with time continuity, does have a weird way of phrasing things and I had to read some paragraphs a couple of times over to make sure I was getting what he was trying to say.
Liam is interesting and I like him as an actor and have since I saw him in Krull when I was a child. In the article he seemed to have a hard time talking about his late wife Natasha Richardson which is completely understandable. She was a good actress that brought something different to the films she was in, like Neeson himself (and I honestly think I saw her in person when my wife and I were having dinner with a couple of friends at a very overpriced and overrated Taco joint near an Angelika theater. We have no idea if it was really her since we assume celebs don’t like to be pestered by the common public and, above all else, why in the heck she would be there of all places – with some guy I could only guess was an agent – but it’s one of those things I’ll hold on to and always wonder).

The article made me sad, definitely because we lost a star but also because I am a human and a husband and the last thing I want is to lose my wife to death. I would rather screw up and have her leave me and know that she’s still alive than have her die. It’s happened before and I don’t prefer it.

But as touching as that article was it didn’t quite compare to the story that you won’t find listed as a “must-read” on Esquire’s website – even if you search for it (I tried!) – about Raymond D. Towler, entitled “The Someone You’re Not“. **Update – I did find the Towler article when I searched for images. You can read the article by Mike Sager by clicking the article title above.

[If you want to read The Hard Luck and Beautiful Life of Liam Neeson click here!]

Raymond’s story struck a familiar nerve with me as a person who has been wrongly accused – for the ease of blame placement – more than I’d like. The problem is that Towler was, according to the article, accused of child molestation/rape and the poor guy was nowhere around when it happened. It was, at the very least, a case of racial profiling. Yeah I said it! He was around 24 years old when sentenced and spent nearly 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The man had to live every single day in several different correctional facilities under the stigma of child molestation. How sick is that?

The reason he was there, as the article suggests, was in no small part due to legal incompetence combined with the drive and push that the Judge and Assistant Prosecutor appeared to have to get the trial over in a way that worked for them.

But here’s the thing that got me after reading it all: Towler isn’t all festering and pissed off about it. Sure, he’s “a little mad” but he’s just happy to be out of there. That’s nearly 30 years of an innocent person’s life; you can’t pay a man enough to fix that sort of thing, but it would be a nice start. He had to endure watching people come and go, either being transferred or dying all through the years most people, like you and I, just piss away doing nothing but worrying about the next time we get to eat at McDonald’s. The only time he was able to get out for a moment was when he attended his mother’s funeral in ’84. Even then he was in shackles.

On another positive side he’s a very talented guy. As an artist and a musician he was able to do things other inmates really couldn’t. He even took some classes in various vocations, got his GED as well as an Associate degree and could have gone further if there was proper funding. Needless to say I thought it was the best real-life Shawshank Redemption story ever! But unlike that story he didn’t have to tunnel through the walls and swim through crap; he just had to be patient and put up with crap. Kinda.

Can I relate to this man? In some ways yes and that’s why I thought it was something worth posting about. But unlike him I don’t think I would have been strong enough to have lasted all those years incarcerated for something I didn’t do. Of all the things I’ve been falsely accused of I still keep some anger and hurt over it all – I even have doubts sometimes as to whether I did them or not – and they’re on a scale that doesn’t even compare to the crap this man had to put up with. Through it all it makes you wonder what the justice system is really about. I can’t help thinking that there is something wrong with the system and I know that’s not an original idea. It’s guilty until proven innocent and that’s pretty scary.

Who knows what Raymond Towler could have done or what he would have been if the justice system was a little more justice than system; if it actually had hard evidence other than the testimony of a scared little child that probably thought all black people looked the same or a prosecutor and a judge that wasn’t out for… who knows what really.

I don’t want to assume anything and throw the “race” card out there but more often than not that seems to be the real case. It’s sad.

Sure, I have my misgivings about people who use the word “racist” to somehow get ahead in life, especially the people who already have everything but seem to think it will help them even more. I don’t know how it works that they can use a word to get power over you but I do know it sucks when people think you’re something that you’re not.

Mr. Towler is in his 50’s and was one of the many people released in 2010 because of DNA testing. I think that is amazing. I’ve never been in prison but something tells me it’s not a place I’d like to be, I don’t even know if I want to visit. I’ve seen the inside of a holding facility and that’s all I care to see.

If you’re interested in reading an actual article about Raymond Towler check out this one from Cincinnati Magazine entitled “The Correction“.

-VR

Movie Review – L’Illusionniste (The Illusionist)

Animation is something that has always been entertaining and that’s why I’ve taken the time to write about the different installments in that film genre which I’ve been lucky enough to see and enjoy.

With the 83rd annual Academy Awards approaching – where they hand out the Oscars for those outside the know – I felt like seeing their nominations in the way of animation.

Alright, I don’t want you to assume I actually keep up with that stuff. I get emails from the Angelika theater about what’s showing and why. When I noticed they’re showing a foreign Animation made by the director of The Triplets of Belleville, I thought to myself why not? and jumped right on it.

Caution: Minor Rabbit Trail

The IllusionistThat movie, The Triplets…, was pretty good – what I mean to say is the animation was great! I just didn’t get the movie at all. The characters weren’t all that likable and the story left me wanting something a little more (however the song from the film is still stuck in my head. It’s catchy although hard to understand).

But it’s been a few years now that I’ve become more open to different animation styles and story’s. It hasn’t been too easy for me to admit that Ralph Bakshi is even a great animator but… he is. Revolutionary, could describe his style; a merging of live action with animation. In his day, he took animation back to its roots with adult themed situations, while keeping the themes relevant to the  modern times they represented which is a big old plus in my book. Always controversial and misunderstood.

Minor Rabbit Trail: End

Since I love both animation and foreign films I decided to take a look at the movie: L’Illusionniste or what we here in the states and for those that speak English in general would naturally call The Illusionist. I didn’t know anything about the film so this is all based solely on my experience and perception. Neat huh?

What I have to say might shock you if you haven’t seen the film and I’ll try my hardest not to spoil anything but this movie is – for lack of a better word – beautiful. I’m not saying the animation and the artistry of it was, in limitation, what made this film immaculate; it was very well paced, well written and an all around wonderful experience. That’s not something I say lightly; I would normally reserve such expressions of “awe” for the experiences had with the different Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films I have seen. The difference: this movie had great build up and kept you there. It didn’t boast of anything that it couldn’t fulfill.

Leaving Paris

The film, set initially in Paris, 1959, is about a man who is a vaudeville performer, a Magician – or Illusionist, naturally. He’s an older man I’d place in his late 40’s. Yes, that’s what I would call “older”.

He doesn’t seem to have much luck with entertaining people or drawing in the crowds anymore and his “assistant” is a vicious animal that causes him more trouble than he can really afford.

Britoons
Waiting on “Billy Boy and the Britoons” to finish their set.

You’re not given any back story so you really don’t know why this man insists on doing this job; maybe it was a dream he had as a child and he’s living it out. Some things in the film hint at this but it’s mostly left open to interpretation which is a great feat in any method of storytelling.

Another train ride.
An example of the beautiful animation. Sorry the quality isn’t that great.

As long as you can lead an audience and gently let them drift off into their own conclusion and still manage to keep everyone happy then you’ve done a great job. The score by Sylvain Chomet is amazing, fitting and filling every scene to perfection, and rightly so! – Since he’s the director.

When I first watched this movie I felt like it was a sad story, but I watched it again and felt better about it. It’s easy to feel bad for the main character because he looks so pathetic and you can tell he loves what he does but I couldn’t help feel that he was sabotaging himself more than anything, greedy people or not.

Curious Alice
Alice wandering about.

The characters are all alike in the way of “dreams” it seems: they all have them and are trying to pursue them. Some of them manage to make it outside their professions and make ends meet but there are those that still suffer for their passions and professions and it’s worth noting how well L’Illusionniste is able to convey that.Scotsman
“The Illusionist” is a great film for people of all ages. It surpasses its directors predecessor The Triplets of  Belleville by leaps, bounds and class. It does however contain scenes of drinking and rock-and-roll so if you’re the type that’s easily offended by this then you should probably skip it until you are open to the fact that people do this and it’s normal. If for no other reason watch this movie so you can know that Magicians do, indeed exist.

Thanks for reading!

-VR

Batman/Superman: Apocalypse

New DC Universe Animated epic!

Alright, well I’ve been waiting for something to get me back into the flow of things blog-related and so what better start than this trailer that a good friend sent me?

It was rhetorical.

This new movie follows up the Batman/Superman: Public Enemies story and looks reeeeally nerdgazmically cool!

The trailer isn’t the greatest so I challenge you to find me a better one!

Enjoy!

-TR!

A hidden Gem among the debris

A little movie theater in Garland, Tx just E. of Jupiter Rd., a little S. of Walnut St. sits alone in the middle of a parking lot waiting for you to stop by and enjoy its presence.

What you see when you pull up.

Sometimes there’s that one place you like to go and spend your money and time and one day you look around and realize you’re the only one there. Walnut Theaters 5/3 is just this place.
Sometimes you can drive by and see cars parked in the lot but they are oftentimes few at most. It’s not the easiest place to see from the road unless you’re looking, this I know because when I first moved here I looked and looked until I was finally resolved that the theater I was looking for was that tiny, lonely building. They have a small marquis/billboard on Walnut street but, again, you have to be looking at the right time or going slow enough in your vehicle to really see it.
Now, I say all that because I wanted to give you a picture of what everyone sees. It doesn’t look like much on the outside and when you walk into the foyer it’s still nothing spectacular but this is where I parallel the idea of “The Secret Garden”. As you walk into the theater(s) you feel like you’re in a whole other time and place.

What you see upon entering one of the two screens. Nice!

The theater is surprisingly clean and spacious, not a foul smell or a sticky substance to be found unlike when you go to the dollar theaters. If you want popcorn or a soda all you have to do is ask and pay and they’ll bring it to you. That’s some service you don’t find anywhere else!

Walnut Theaters $5/$3 is the name of the place and why is it named that? The owner likes to let people know what they’re in for and so why not put it in the title? You see, he doesn’t show old movies like the local dollar theaters. He charges $5 for adults and $3 for children to see first-run movies. Not bad, eh?

My wife and I frequent here and have spent a total of $15 which included our tickets, our drink and a popcorn. That’s barely the price of a ticket everywhere else!

Now one of the most amazing things about this theater is the sound system. It’s not a surround sound system but what the owner calls an “arching” sound system that he developed himself. One night he gave a demonstration and it was definitely a treat!

You wouldn’t know this by looking at it but there have been a few premiers held here. The owner boasted, though humbly, that he had been asked to host a couple of movie premiers. It just goes to show that even though you might not see something so wonderful in front of your face for the way it looks, the right people do know about it and use it to their advantage. If you never try something you never know what you’re missing out on. And I guess ignorance is bliss but what else is life but a series of experiences?
I love going here, it’s quiet, spacious and no one bothers you, but that is also a draw-back. This theater is giving us a service and an experience that we are neglecting to have and share. Some day the owner may wise up and close the doors forever but he loves what he does and likes to share it. It’s his dream and I for one like being a small part of it.

Just don’t expect to see any of the tags at the end of movies, to make sure that the bulbs in the cameras have time to cool they cut off the credits. Yeah, it’s lame but it’s also lame to have to sit through the credits for an extra nugget of something that may or may not come. I’m really not interested in who the caterers or drivers were for each set enough to really care whether Professor Xavier somehow telepa-ported his mind into that of a brain-dead person.

So there you have it. If you’re local, check it out and if you’re not… then visit when you’re in town. It can’t hurt!

This message was not brought to you by Bob Phillips.

-TR!

Batman: Under the Red Hood trailer

You know, since I’m on a roll I guess I can post this trailer too.

When I think of being under the “red hood” it always brings me back to my ’88 Beretta. Yes, the car.

Hopefully I’ll get lucky again and get to put in a review before the release, but I believe the link I’ve posted for the trailer has that covered as well. But it won’t be as good as mine I’m sure!

Enjoy!