Amoeblog

Part of the Treasure Hunt – Round 5 Action Figures

Posted by Chuck, June 1, 2011 12:00am | Post a Comment

MMA action figures

The Round 5 UFC action figures are crazy little finds at Amoeba Hollywood. With exaggerated features (like over-sized Hobbit feet and Thing-sized fists, impossibly squat legs and real to life thoraxes) and really pretty startling likenesses, they are the coolest caricatures of cage fighters going . If you're a fan of the sport, you know that the astonished look in Matt Serra's face as he's pointing to his belt isn't to denote his own shock at beating the unbeatable Georges St. Pierre, but yours. The stoned  look on Joe Rogan's face is priceless. Bas Rutten is burning a hole through your liver, and he wants to punch it.

Them's good times.
I honestly cannot tell you whether these collectibles are at Amoeba because we order them, or because people bring them in at the buy counter, or what. But they are a cult fixture in my office at home, precisely because they go along in strange harmony with my vinyl and my books. Baudelaire gets on fine with Gina Carano. Giono and Brock Lesnar are a handsome pair. Somehow Rulfo's "The Burning Plains" and Diego Sanchez makes sense next to one another.  At the store, they match the random Brobee figures and Ace Freeley's or Misfits figures that are also available. Somehow there are toys that make sense to independent record stores.



The latest series, so the Round 5 website tells me, will feature not only Matt, but superstar Jon "Bones" Jones, who is MMA's Cassius Clay, and the "Outlaw" Dan Hardy, who is an Amoeba fan (check out what he found there in his What's In My Bag? video here) among others.

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Ranking Aronofsky’s Films

Posted by Chuck, May 27, 2011 07:34am | Post a Comment
Darren Aronofsky

With Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky has now directed the requisite number of films (five) that he can be mentioned peripherally among the likes of his most major influences—David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Roman Polanski and (I could swear) the Beelzebub himself. Here is a look how I’d rank the Aronofsky canon, and why you might want to check out these darkly existential films.

Requiem for a Dream

1) Requiem For A Dream (2000) – Ellen Burstyn is phenomenal (she was nominated for an Oscar in this role as Sara Goldfarb) in this film that centers on addiction and spiraling delusion of four linked characters played by Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans. I’ve said it before: though it’s labeled a drama it’s actually one of the better horror films released in the last decade, and I remember Aronofsky himself saying it was a roller coaster ride that crashes into a brick wall — like that was most moviegoers' idea of fun! Burstyn’s palsied declaration, “I’m going to be on television,” with the refrigerator coming after her is indelible stuff. Each character ends up in the fetal position.

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The Sobbing Sea Lion... or Disney's Oceans as PSA

Posted by Chuck, May 4, 2011 05:00pm | Post a Comment

Disney's Oceans

If you were born in the 1970s, then there's more than a fair chance you're as deeply scarred/inspired by the “Crying Indian” commercial—the most effective public service announcement ever made—as I was. All the Earth Days in the world can't match what you knew at first glance watching that commercial... litterbugs are the worst sort of people and if you didn't give a hoot and went ahead and polluted, well... you'd make the Indian cry. (It turned out the tearful one was an Italian American named Iron Eyes Cody, now buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery . . . oh well, them's the shits.)

These days people need more than a one-minute PSA to get the message about protecting the planet. Between the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and others, there are currently airing (as in, right this second) a zillion programs that relay the incredible diversity of life on Earth. Of course, the subtext for many is the nasty effect that we humans are having on it. Think it means anything? It does. But I personally still see people chucking things out of their car windows, or discarding plastic sacks directly onto the sidewalk, at which time violent atavistic urges course through me and I see that tear trickling down that sad, betrayed cheek. 

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Posted by Chuck, April 21, 2011 11:06am | Post a Comment
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

The latest installment of the Harry Potter universe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, gives one a distinctly sinking feeling. Not because it means there’s only one more episode left, but because one begins to wonder if the films will be able to wrap up the series in a remotely satisfying way.

There’s still a popcorn kind of glee in watching a Harry Potter flick, but of late it’s seemed trickier for the films to capture the whimsy of the books, something present even in the later, darker chapters. Hallows, Part 1, for example, sees the appearance of Mundungus Fletcher (Mundungus being word that means “foul smelling tobacco”), one of the many fantastical character names author J.K. Rowling rolled out. The movies have just seemed to have lost the ability to have fun with them.

It’s been interesting to see them evolve. As Harry has grown older, the stories have become more sinister and ditto the movies, beginning with the genius stroke of allowing Alfonso Cuarón to direct the third installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. That film shed the twinkly quality that Chris Columbus brought (appropriately) to the first two flicks for a darker, hipper vibe. Suddenly Harry and company wore street clothes more often and felt more like real, modern tweens. It swerved visually away from the book in the small ways that movies should, without derailing Rowling’s narrative.

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The Violent Itch—Rewatching The Dirty Dozen

Posted by Chuck, April 8, 2011 08:30am | Post a Comment

Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen

There are certain situations—usually in Tarantino films, or any Sandra Bullock movie—where you end up pulling for people to be slaughtered wholesale. I had a chance to watch all 150 minutes of that glorious Nazi-quashing movie The Dirty Dozen again, the 1967 WWII film that stars a pantheon of iconic actors, and this became (as it’s always been) the case. If you’re not egging Jefferson on at the end to get those grenades down the air shafts of the gas-soaked Nazi bomb shelter to carry out massive, truly satisfying immolation, well, there’s something wrong with you. Yes, Hollywood knows you know the context of WWII. But its finest directors—in this case Robert Aldrich—know even better that your mind is totally malleable and that the trick is not directing actors but in directing audience desires. Even hidden ones.

That’s never truer than in this case. 

The Dirty Dozen does what a good movie-watching experience does well, which is take you out of yourself (reconnects you to your closeted self?). In it we are dealt a series of derelicts, felons and military rogues—some of them already scheduled for the execution by hanging—who are given a chance to exoneJim Brown in The Dirty Dozenrate themselves by carrying out a very tall order. In other words, we’re presented a band of underdogs. These guys are like Virginia Commonwealth making their run at the Final Four, only they’re on their way to a Nazi raid in France and they have records. They can’t possibility succeed—we’re told this in as many words. It’s written in Ernest Borgnine’s big diabolical smile. Telly Savalas (as “Maggott”) is incorrigible; Charles Bronson (as “Wladislaw”) is disinterested; Donald Sutherland (as “Pinkley”) too knuckleheaded. Even Jefferson—played by a just-retired Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns—has the blank-faced nothingness of the deeply psychopathic.

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