Saturday, 26 August 2017

Film Review: "Death Note" (2017).






"The name and the face is all you have to have." This is Death Note (2017). This American version of the Japanese fantasy horror thriller franchise of the same name created by Tsugumi Ohba and by Takeshi Obata. The film is directed by Adam Wingard, and written by Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides and Jeremy Slater. Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L.

In April 2009, Variety reported that Warner Bros., the distributors for the original Japanese live-action films, had acquired the rights for an American remake, with Charley and Vlas Parlapanides as screenwriters, and Roy Lee, Doug Davison, Dan Lin, and Brian Witten as producers.  In 2009, Zac Efron was rumoured to play the lead role until he shot down these rumours. In January 2011, it was announced that Shane Black was hired to direct the film, with the script being re-written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry. In July 2014, Gus Van Sant was rumoured to replace Black as the film's new director. In April 2015, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Adam Wingard would direct the film, that Lin, Lee, Jason Hoffs and Masi Oka would produce. The producers have stated the film will receive an R rating. In April 2016, TheWrap reported that Warner Bros. put the film into turnaround but allowed Wingard to take the project elsewhere. Within 48 hours, Wingard was reportedly approached by nearly every major film studio. In the same month, it was confirmed that Netflix had bought the film from Warner Bros. with a budget of $40–50 million and a recent draft of the script being written by Jeremy Slater. Production officially began in British Columbia in June 2016. By August 2016, the film's cast was rounded out with Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, Keith Stanfield, Paul Nakauchi, Shea Whigham and Willem Dafoe. The casting announcements, like all other Hollywood productions based on Japanese properties, proved to be controversial. In response, producers Roy Lee and Dan Lin stated that "Our vision for Death Note has always been to...introduce the world to this dark and mysterious masterpiece. The talent and diversity represented in our cast, writing, and producing teams reflect our belief in staying true to the story’s concept of moral relevance — a universal theme that knows no racial boundaries."

The film stars Wolff, Stanfield, Qualley, Whigham, Nakauchi, and Dafoe. The cast gave confident performances despite the lack of characterization that made their characters appealing in the first place. The only performance that stood out was one other than from Mr. Dafoe himself. He embodied the role of Ryuk perfectly.

Death Note (2017) boasts cool visuals and a show-stealing performance from Willem Dafoe, but the end result lacks the magic of the movie's classic source material.

Simon says Death Note (2017) receives:


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

'A Tree in Water: My Journey From Aotearoa to The Great White North' Chapter 16.

As I had hoped, I’ve finally got a job interview, for Apple, and finally found a way to connect with people. The time came to get prepared for an important interview. And God I hope it’ll finally get me a job. Looks like I’ve got to do some research and get my best, and only, suit ready for the big day. This isn’t so much of a problem; I’ve had some knowledge of Apple and had some experience doing job interviews. I just need to get ready. When I do get to my interview, I’ll need to just go over my notes and make sure I don’t pee my pants and get my hopes up too high. But so long as I don’t do any of those two things and stay cool, I’ll be fine. So help me God. Connecting with people wasn’t much of a problem. I found a great way to meet new people through the conveniently titled website MeetUp. All I had to do which group I wanted to be a part of, go to the scheduled meet up and the rest is straightforward. Standard. Job interview, as I said, a little trickier. Well, job interviews are not designed to be easy. Especially if its for a company such as Apple. So it wasn’t easy. According to Adam Lashinsky, Apple is known for having business practices that are different to other companies of similar stature and reputation. One of those being that Apple is highly secretive and thus interviews for potential employers are especially difficult since Apple’s interview process hardly revealed. So no matter how prepared you are and how much you think you’ve got it in the bag, think again. So today, I faced one of my most important interviews to date. Long story short: With these thoughts and concerns running and racing around my head, I’ve had a difficult time prior and during the interview. That’s a doosey! Especially when the interview was all way in the Fairview Mall in North York. That may seem really bad, but I am going to remain positive. Besides, if it doesn’t work out, then “Move on. Next” to paraphrase Robert DeNiro’s NYU Commencement speech.

While I was job hunting and went off to my interview for Apple, I had made progress in finding the right MeetUp group to first attend. I was excited when I joined the first group. Then I searched for more potential groups I could join, so I was in the right place. It was easy to find a group that peaks your interests and opened up the possibilities of meeting like-minded people. That’ll help me meet people and improve my social skills, as well as keep me occupied and help me take my mind off the consuming aspect of job hunting that needs to exit my head. So that’s everything so far. Once I attend this and other groups, I should be fine making new friends from there. Already another a big step forward has been made. And I can look forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Film Review: "Logan Lucky" (2017).



From the director of Ocean's 11, 12, 13, and Magic Mike comes Logan Lucky. This heist comedy film directed by Steven Soderbergh, and written by Rebecca Blunt. This is Soderbergh's first film since his announcement from directing. Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Behind the Candelabra (2013), was intended to be Soderbergh's final directorial effort in film. Soderbergh has said that he was initially given the script of Logan Lucky in hopes that he could recommend a suitable director for the project, but that he enjoyed reading the script and decided to comet of retirement and take it on for himself. At the time Soderbergh was also theorizing a new distribution model and felt that the script gave him the perfect opportunity to do so. Thus the film was distributed independently through his own company Fingerprint Releasing. In February 2016, the film was announced along with the announcement of Channing Tatum's casting. Between May and August, much of the rest of the cast was announced, among them: Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan, Hilary Swank, and Jim O'Heir. In August, filming began and lasted 36 days. Much of the production took place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway during the NASCAR race meetings at both circuits. There has been speculation regarding the identity of the film's screenwriter, Rebecca Blunt. The film's production notes state that she is a native of Logan, West Virginia who now lives in New York City, and that she is a first-time screenwriter. No-one other than Soderbergh and Adam Driver has personally vouched for her existence. Some people involved with the film have exchanged emails with a person they believed to be her, and believe that she lives in the United Kingdom. Sources speculated that "Rebecca Blunt" was actually a pseudonym for Soderbergh's wife Jules Asner, for comedian John Henson, or for Soderbergh himself. According to The Playlist, Jules Asner was the sole screenwriter and chose to use a pseudonym because she didn't want the 'story' of the film to be that "Soderbergh was directing his wife's script."

The film features an ensemble cast consisting of Tatum, Driver, Keough, Craig, MacFarlane, Holmes, Waterston, Sebastian Stan, and Swank. The cast gave terrific performances that were just as outrageous, larger-than-life, and human as you would expect from a Soderbergh film. Extra kudos goes to Craig who stole the show from the first moment his character entered the screen.

Logan Lucky is an entertaining witty, funny, and well acted piece of comedy heist. It was pure entertainment from start to finish - a fun-loving, carefully crafted romp. It bounces along with finger-snapping high spirits. It can, at times, be forgettable in a fun way, especially when its funniest performers are caught in Soderbergh's spinning crosshairs. Soderbergh, throughout his career, has made deeper films, however this carefree caper movie is nothing to sneeze at.

Simon says Logan Lucky receives:


Monday, 21 August 2017

'A Tree in Water: My Journey From Aotearoa to The Great White North' Chapter 15.

I’m no longer in that bnb. I’ve finally gotten my own place after an extensive search. But I’ve never imagined that I would score an apartment like this. You wouldn’t think that a guy like me, in my current predicament, would finally get to stage like this in my new life in this timeframe. But it happened. As I got into the Uber car and made my way to the apartment, it hit me: Toronto is a cheap place to live, then again what city or country is, and somehow I’ve got a place in a city like this. I already that when I landed in Toronto. But there’s a difference between knowing it and experiencing it.  In my mind this thought was occupying it but it was a good thought as opposed to my unemployment thought. The city is not exactly known for the past decade, or many decades, of being a cheap city to live but it’s definitely cheaper to live in than Auckland. So it’s not that expensive. It’s not as expensive as Vancouver. The apartment is now my home, and seeing it as I got out of the car made me both a tiny bit nervous and really excited than I would have liked to have admitted. I tried to calm the uncertainty and the excitement by just concentrating on what was in front of me. It wasn’t too hard. I just had to focus on dragging my luggage into the lobby and get myself up to my apartment floor. I really wanted to make sure that I did these things, and it worked out fine. It was a bit of a big job getting lug two large pieces of luggage. I could feel both the frustration and enthusiasm that it gave off. That’s a normal feeling to have, right? In the fifteen minutes that it took to get to the apartment, and the almost ten minutes to get my luggage upstairs, even with some help, the anxious and exciting feeling couldn’t exactly be restrained. The feelings definitely were unleashed when I opened the door. I spent the rest of the day unpacking and exploring the building. After I finished both these tasks, I rested up and went to sleep early. Almost right away, the feeling cooled down again, and finally a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Tomorrow, a new phase of my new life begins (which is just like when I came here, just now with my own home).

Today, I write to you all from my new apartment. I’ve accomplished the first phase of my goal and things are starting to look up. I now set out to fulfil my second phase of my goal, by trying to connect with people. The first step is to find a way to connect with people. After that do what needs to done, obviously. When all was said and done, I’ll have more confidence and an easier time to connect with people. That’ll be very good. Mind you, the process will be a bit difficult at first, as I am not Canadian. I have no idea on how Canadians behave and their customs in socializing. The second phase will be easier than finding an apartment and a job, but, like the other two aspects, it can’t be guaranteed that I will make friends with the right people, or people in general before I can make any effort. Remember, I need to find the right avenues. Now I’m just finding the right avenues to connect. It’s not easy, so I need to make some effort. I’m not exactly enjoying this. I have very little experience and techniques of making friends. As my friends mostly came from school and my previous jobs. So we became friends because we were sort of forced to due to my circumstances. But not reluctantly though. That’s weird, I know. But is it really? Well, my readers and friends, wish me luck, as always.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

'A Tree in Water: My Journey From Aotearoa to The Great White North' Chapter 14.

Phase one of my mission complete! More accurately, I’ve finally found an apartment. I guess you could call it a “success”, but I prefer “I’m awesome.” Things are starting to work out. I had a nice delicious meal and a good break to reward myself, then I stopped job and apartment hunting as continuing any or both these tasks were not necessary for the time being. I definitely was happy to have finally found a place. After a few hours of excited hours of celebrating and excitement, I was finally able to get some decent and relived sleep after a long while ever since moving here. A nice, well-deserved sleep, which finally took some stress away and gave me some good thoughts inhabiting my dream world. Nothing like a good sleep finally put me at ease. So I loosened up a bit. I slept like someone who finally won something. Something that wasn’t too huge or important, but something. After a good nights rest, and I mean a good nights rest, the stress of finally finding a home other than the bnb I was staying in for a while went away. When you have lived in the bnb that I was in for as long as I’ve stayed for, you’ll understand what I’m happy about and why. As I said, I felt great for the first time in a while. My own mind and body could finally be at some ease, and some stress and pressure could be driven out. The stress and pressure had been killing me for some time. But now there can be some resolution even though I still had to find a job, but that will eventually be relieved. Within the timeframe before I finally would move in, I talked and negotiated with the landlord. The conversations and negotiations were important. There was no way that I was going let anything screw up my chance with the apartment. After numerous conversations and meet-ups, I could feel more and more at ease and more excited. Once I would get home, I would get happy a bit more. All the things I had hoped for in regards to the apartment were coming together. Damn it, I couldn’t be happier. I’m in a happy mood. The bnb had motivated me to find a place of my own faster than I had anticipated for the past weeks.

Well, I’ll de damned. It’s finally the day to move out. The landlord has accepted me as a tenant and we sorted out the paperwork, so I’m out. Henceforth, I’m finally out of the bib. Yay! I will be moving out on 21st August. Priorities: pack up all of my stuff and move in problem-free as possible and purchase whatever I need to make myself at home. I won’t be roughing it as much as I did at the bib. I’ll actually start to live a little bit more. I’ll finally have a place of my own. Tonight, I finally could have a nice shower so that I could begin my new life in my apartment clean. I finally get to cook and eat that I want and in a kitchen that wasn’t filthy and infested with bugs. Most of all, I finally get to have roommates I get to talk to on a daily basis who doesn’t get sick every three days because of astrological reasons like my bnb host. Having my own apartment is exciting. I’ll finally get to feel really at home. I can do anything I want (well… almost). I’ll get to do it whenever I want (well… almost). I think I’ll enjoy this while I can.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

'A Tree in Water: My Journey From Aotearoa to The Great White North' Chapter 13.

Finding an apartment was a lot easier than I had thought lately. They are commodities that are always on sale. Well, okay. It’s my opinion. I pretty much search REALLY hard in my search for an apartment. But not just an apartment, the right apartment. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time online and through a real-estate agent (an associate of the Mins who got them their apartments). Where I searched on websites such as Kijiji and scrolled listings upon listings of potential apartments. You might be wondering out of all the apartments I scrolled through, which one caught my attention. Well, there were quite a few apartments that looked good. For your information, everything I was looking for in an apartment were the following qualities; $1500 per month rent (that included utilities), a modern apartment in a nice area, and, if I ever got lucky, good, nice and/or decent roommates. Each attribute was essential in my search for the right apartment. I’ll admit, these were quite a bit to ask for considering my current situation. But something about my past experience in living an apartment (I’m talking about my Disney internship) that absolutely convinced me that these qualities were important. Anyway, removing or taking away any one, if not all, of the qualities listed would decrease my chances of finding and acquiring the right apartment. I considered the possibility that I might have to settle for an apartment that did not have the qualities I wanted. It’s a possibility I had feared throughout my search. With some time on my hands, I made all-consuming efforts. The search was daunting and exhaustive for hours and hours. The hours were killers. They were killing me in the inside and crushing my soul. I sat at my desk, staring endlessly into my laptop screen. Hey, how else am I supposed to go about it? I know it’s not good for my eyes but it was the only way. At least I took breaks in between. I came back from my bathroom break, had a drink, and got back into my search. It had been over five hours, and it was time that I gave it a break and had my well-deserved dinner. The search became harder and harder than I had anticipated. Finding an apartment that was $1500 per month, a good building in a good area, and with a roommate was challenging for all of my daily searches. All I wanted in an apartment was these specifications. I pretty much went through dozens upon dozens of apartments, carefully looking at them and making sure they were what I was looking for. Then I’d eliminate the ones that did not make the cut. If only there were more apartments like the ones I had imagined, I’ll be able to stop this exhaustive search and I would’ve finally stop worrying about finding a good home. After that entire search, I stopped and called it a day. I’d wrap it up and finally spend the rest of the night for some downtime until I’d hit the sack.

The time had come for me to stop searching for an apartment! Kijiji had finally delivered in presenting an apartment that would be a suitable home for me for a year. The apartment: a nice apartment in a nice three-year-old building in Fort York Boulevard (a nice area close to the Harbour Front), with a rent price of $1300 per month (utilities included), and, fortunately, I would be living with a roommate. I know for a fact that it doesn’t take an idiot to realize that this was the one I was searching endlessly for. Plus, it wasn’t too far from Koreatown, it was next door from the public library and a great supermarket, and it was in walking distance to the Entertainment District (this includes TIFF Lightbox). Today was finally the day that I’d found a place I could actually live, unlike my bnb. I was ready to make that phone call to see the apartment in person. I’m pretty sure, if not confident, that the apartment is the one. And I’ll be meeting with the landlord sometime next week and have a look at the place. And I’m really excited.

Film Review: "Detroit" (2017).



"It's Time We Knew." "Based on the true story of one of the most terrifying secrets in American History" These taglines sum up the story of Detroit. This period crime drama film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. Based on the Algiers Motel incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot. This is the true story of one of the most terrifying moments during the civil unrest that rocked Detroit in the summer of '67. Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel. 50 years after the events of July 25th, 1967, the question remains: what happened at the motel? This film answers that question.

In January 2016, it was announced that director Bigelow and writer Boal would reteam to make a film about the 1967 Detroit riots. Bigelow was inspired to take on the project after she unearthed the Ferguson (MO) riots events (Aug. 2014), where a black man was fatally shot by a white police officer. The film was scheduled to shoot in the summer of 2016, in order to be released in 2017 for the 50th anniversary of the riots. In June 2016, John Boyega and Hannah Murray joined the cast. In August 2016, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, Ben O'Toole, Jacob Latimore, Algee Smith, Joseph David-Jones, Kaitlyn Dever, and Anthony Mackie were cast. In September 2016, Jason Mitchell and John Krasinski joined the cast. In October 2016, Jeremy Strong, Chris Chalk, Austin Hébert, Ephraim Sykes, Laz Alonso, Nathan Davis Jr., Malcolm David Kelley, Peyton Alex Smith, and Leon Thomas III all joined the cast of the film. In late July 2016, principal photography commenced in Boston, Massachusetts. Other locations included Brockton, Dorchester, Lawrence, Malden, as well as Detroit, and Hamtramck, Michigan. The elimination of Michigan's film incentives in 2015 affected the filming locations. Specific locations involved included Ashmont Street, All Saints Ashmont Episcopal Church, and the Dedham District Court. For the Algiers Motel, the exterior, including the neon sign and poolside scenes, were shot in Malden. The pool was installed in the parking lot of the motel specifically for the movie and removed once shooting ended and the parking lot restored. The majority of the film and all of the Algiers sequences were shot in chronological order. Survivor Julie Hysell was present throughout most of filming. Despite being still alive, the producers couldn't reach Vietnam vet Robert Greene.

The film stars Boyega, Poulter, Smith, Latimore, Mitchell, Murray, Dever, Reynor, O'Toole, Davis Jr., Krasinski, and Mackie. The cast gave riveting performances from the moment the story delves into the nightmare scenario that was the Algiers Motel incident. Boyega, Poulter, and Smith, in particular, gave masterful performances that made them the stand-out actors in the entire film.

Gripping, suspenseful, and brilliantly crafted, Detroit dramatizes the the Algiers Motel incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot with intelligence and an eye for detail.

Simon says Detroit receives:



Also, see my review for Zero Dark Thirty.

Friday, 4 August 2017

'A Tree in Water: My Journey From Aotearoa to The Great White North' Chapter 12.

I pretty much finished meeting up with people I’ve managed somehow to get connected with. People who work in industries I dreamed of being a part of. The meetings and conversations went pretty nicely even though it didn’t go exactly where I thought it would go. But then again, nothing ever goes according to plan. And my mind had started to become even more disturbed than usual. Things are not easy here in Toronto. It was about time I started to think about other avenues of getting work. Even if I found ways, there’s absolutely no guarantee that I would be able to get something. I needed to be more productive. I needed to figure out a way and I needed to do it fast. Again, it wasn’t going to be easy. The Staples copy centre was about a five-minute walk from my bnb. In fact, making copies were so cheap that it didn’t cost me much. I know because I checked it out, and it was fine by me. It took me five minutes to get there, by foot, and it only cost me six dollars and seventy-eight cents to print out twelve copies in the best paper possible. But more importantly, it meant that making the next step in getting myself out there just got straightforward.

And what other way of getting yourself out there were effective as direct job-hunting; meaning going to potential places and dropping off your resume. August is not exactly the time of year for job-hunting season, that’s September, but it was a good time to start. I’m fortunate, I guess. I’m here as the job-hunting season is on the horizon. It could be worse; I could have arrived during dead-season. This is going to be an exhaustive effort, with some possible soul-crushing rejections. But I had to overcome this fear and had to what needed to be done. The good news is I had some time to accomplish the task. Some stuff was obvious. I had to go after jobs that fit my qualifications, i.e. customer service and retail. It’ll take some time, so I’ll need some patience and hope. I needed to be prepared. Lucky for me, I have the resources and tips available for the task ahead, even though I may not have all the tools and resources at my disposal. But I guess I had to make due with what I had. I just had to put myself out there. Basically go out there and show people what I could offer in person. There was so much shit I had to figure out and get done. So for now, I’ll just think about that and that only.

Well it’s a start. My mission onwards: job-hunt like crazy until I get one.

In life, some things are straightforward, and some things are hard. My father taught me this lesson. He believed that life was both these things and that there is no such things as ‘easy’. Finding potential apartments and work places were pretty straightforward. But writing good cover letters and resumes, and going out to put yourself out there was another story. There’s no other way of putting it.  The task is HARD. I was barely able to get the task itself done, considering doing it in another country. And not being in my own home country, which would have been easier (not ‘easy’, ‘easier’). But fear not, I know what needs to be done, and I’m not alone in this.

For times of trouble and confusion, my good friend Adrian is there for a chat and a good lunch. The kind of chat and lunch that takes my mind off the consuming nature of job-hunting. In the event of an exhausting job-hunting process, and in need of some down-time, I would either Skype my family, all the way back in New Zealand, or call a good old friend I know who lives in Toronto. Which, in this case was Adrian. I’d make one phone call and we’d organize a time and place to catch up. Once we found a place, we’d chat away about what had happened with out lives since we last met. Then he’d reassure me about getting a job and place. The place, or places, where we met up today was first The Poet Café on King St. E, and Greg’s Ice Cream on Bloor St. We had to take care of our own stuff in between. The Poet Café, like all the other cafes I’ve been in, was a nice and quant. We were originally supposed to meet at a French café next door. However, due to being over-booked, we decided to go to the Poets Café three buildings down. We both enjoyed our drinks and sandwiches. Those short periods of time were a great time away from the stress and pressure that is job-hunting. If there was ever occasion to get away from to feel as though you could live again, it was during job-hunting. So when I’m too stressed, I say “Fuck it, I don’t need this shit!” There’s absolutely no need to feel this stressed about looking for a job and/or apartment. Especially when it is to the point where I just want to rip all of my hair out and scream/curse to the heavens. I’ve pretty much spent the early part, and the rest of the month, as well as September, looking for jobs and an apartment.