Wednesday, January 30, 2013

RwP: Interview with Madison Alder Bridget Maniaci and a Look into Michael Best & Friedrich

This week on Rants without Pants, an interview with Madison City Council Alder, Bridget Maniaci. I also take a look at the shady workings of the Republican law firm Michael Best & Friedrich.

Beginning - 17:19– Interview with Madison City Council Bridget Maniaci

Maniaci discusses the diversity of her district, how her age relates to her constituents, how great government can be, comparing Waukesha and Dane County, cheap shots, why local races matter, the process of an Alder, how age and gender has inserted themselves in politics, the future of Bridget Maniaci and much more.

17:19 – End A Look into Michael Best & Friedrich

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

RwP: Farewell Interview with Co-Founder of Dane101 Jesse Russell (Part 2)

This week on Rants Without Pants, Part 2 of our "Farewell Interview with Co-founder and Publisher of Dane101 Jesse Russell".

As I stated in the video, Jesse Russell has been an inspiration to me. I am in awe of his commitment to Madison, of the endless amount of creative ideas that is banging around in his head as well as his willingness to give a guy like me the opportunities that he has. I will always be in Jesse Russell's debt.

Jesse Russell's departure will leave a hole in Madison that simply can not be filled. He will leave a legacy all his own.

Anyway, to me, Part 2 of this interview is facinating as he says his goodbyes and discusses so many interesting topics.

After the interview, there is a new segment called "Five Rants in a Minute". (I cheated and only put in four...shhhhh...don't tell anyone)

00:00 - 00:38 Intro/Whoring Shabelles Show with The German Art Students
00:38 - 17:39 Interview with Jesse Russell -
Jesse discusses, covering the Capitol protests, homelessness and mining
Jesse's Tea Party picture that went viral
The Wisconsin Film Festival Coverage
The Fireball (which is taking place this weekend...THE TICKETS ARE GOING FAST!!)
Freakin' Halloweekend
The Forward Music Festival
Dane101's relationship with Mark Pocan, Herb Kohl, Tammy Baldwin and how Jesse met Russ Feingold
The future of Dane101 and the future of Jesse Russell
Jesse says goodbye to Madison
17:39 - End Five Rants in a Minute

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

RwP: Farewell Interview with Co-Founder of Dane101 Jesse Russell

This week on Rants without Pants, Co-founder and Editor of Dane101 Jesse Russell gives his Frewell Interview as he will be moving to San Fransisco at the end of the month with his lovely wife Maddie.

In Part 1, he discusses the inception and history of Dane101, blogging in general and answers questions from the internets.
Part 2 will be up next week.

00:00 - 14:48 Interview with Jesse Russell 14:48 - 15:45 And That's the Truth and I THINK You Know It Jingle 15:45 - 19:20 And That's the Truth and I THINK You Know It - Canada and Israel's Approach to Gun Control/Health Care. 19:20 - 20:41 And That's the Truth and I THINK You Know It - Wisconsin Job Numbers (TOONCES...NO!!!!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Ten Movies of 2012

I know. I know.  You’ve been asking yourself: “When can I read a top ten list of movies of 2012 from a bald-headed, pantsless blogger?  Well, here ya go! 

My biggest disappointment was that I was not able to see Zero Dark Thirty due to it not being released in Wisconsin anywhere at the moment.  Based on everything I read, it probably would have made this list. 

Anyway, here is the list.

1. The Imposter

This documentary about a pathological liar/criminal who claims the identity of a boy that went missing 3 years previously is an examination of who we are and who we perceive others to be.  Shockingly, the family and authorities do not question his identity, even though he has a different eye color, hair color, height, age and suddenly now speaks with a french accent.

There is a little bit of a twist at the end of the movie which I did not see coming.  The movie reminded me of The Thin Blue Line which proved re-enactment scenes can be successfully used to examine a complex story. 

The mystery, the psychological questions, the willingness to ignore what is right in from of you.  It was just simply fascinating.     

Admittedly, The Imposter plays to my weaknesses and my guilty pleasures. I’m addicted to true crime documentaries (I salivate over the Investigation series on the Discovery Channel.).  So when there is a crime documentary this well done,  it just fell nicely into my number one spot.


2. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino films are like children.  You have an order, but you still love them all.  For me, Django Unchained would have been one of my middle Tarantino children.  And like all middle children, they at times can be easily forgotten, but always loved.  

This mash-up of Spaghetti Western and Blaxploitation films is one of Tarantino’s most straight-forward and linear movies.  And for that, I thank him.  This didn’t need to be complicated and Tarantino is smart enough to know that.  It’s a simple revenge story told the only way Tarantino knows:  In a fun, bloody mess.

For me, even though the movie is funny, action packed and yes, violent, there isn’t a movie around that has tackled the issue of slavery with this type of raw truth. 

Some outstanding performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Jamie Fox.  But honestly, this may be Samuel L. Jackson’s best acting role ever.  I hope his performance isn’t lost in the weeds when it comes to award season.

3. Cabin in the Woods

Only once in a few years do you get a movie like Cabin in the Woods:  A movie that perfectly satirizes genres while still being a true entry into those genres. 

I can honestly say, there is no movie from 2012 that I had more fun watching, especially the last 20 minutes when the shit hits the fan. 

The screenplay by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard pays homage to the great horror folklore from, well since the beginning of time. 

Their script is ballsy, unique, funny, scary, witty, and have I mentioned flat out fun?

Even if you are not a fan of horror movies, I urge you all to watch Cabin in the Woods, because I can promise you that it’s not what you think it’s going to be and you will enjoy it. 

Oh yeah, also, can we get another movie where Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins team up together?   Please?   

4. Compliance 

Is it possible to have a movie that is on your top ten list but that you don’t want to see again...EVER?!?!  Well, I’m telling you it is possible. 

I reviewed this movie for Dane101 when attending this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival.  Compliance is based on a true story about a fast food manager who receives a call from a person claiming to be a police officer. The caller asks her to detain one of her teenage employees in the back office and things go disturbingly insane. 

The film explores the findings of the Stanley Milgrim experiment back in the 60's which found most people, from all different backgrounds, would give the subjects what they believed to be even fatal doses of electric shocks simply because a person in a white lab coat told them to.

If you do see this movie, I would suggest trying to set up a Q & A afterwards with the actor Patrick Healy. For me, having a serious, intelligent discussion with Healy regarding the film, it's subject matter, and it's true components helped ease some of the tension and uneasiness I was feeling after it showed at the Film Festival.

I can’t think of a movie that has made me use my brain this much throughout the last year, so for that reason, it had to make my list.  But be warned, this is not a “fun” film to watch.

5. The Grey

Man against nature. Liam Neeson against wolves.  You will not find a more heart pounding suspenseful film this year.  Liam Neeson was born to play this role.  It requires intensity while at the same time a bit of stillness. He is the master at juggling the two.   

Within the first 15 minutes, I knew I was all in when the plane crash was filmed so simply and Liam Neeson’s character, Ottway, calms a wounded passenger by saying this: 

Ottway: You're gonna die. That's what's happening.
Cimoski: No no no no no .. hold on, hold on, hold on ..
Ottway: It's OK. Look at me. Keep looking at me. It's alright. It'll slide over you. It'll start to feel warm.    Nice and warm. Let it move over you. Let your thoughts go. All the good things. All the good things. Yeah. Who do you love? Who do you love?
Cimoski: Rosie ..
Ottway: Is she your daughter? Let her take you then.

Oh man I love that scene...and the movie.

6. Ted

Yes.  A movie about filthy-talking teddy bear named Ted made my top ten list of the year.  The movie is funny.  Funny as hell.  What makes the movie work is the twisted relationship between Ted and Mark Wahlberg, which is unique and oddly sweet.

Besides Wahlberg being funny (anyone who has seen Four Kings knows he is capable of), he’s actually doing some great acting in Ted.  For a good part of the movie, he had to play opposite of a CGI teddy bear…meaning while filming, he’s acting opposite to no one.  But yet onscreen, they have chemistry that completely works and is entirely believable.

7. Lincoln

Spielberg went a different way with this film then he could have…and I can’t tell you how happy I am that he did.  Lincoln tells the straight-forward story about what it took for our 16th President, played masterfully by Daniel Day Lewis, to pass the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery. 

The film shows how even back then, politics and getting bills passed can be grimy and slimy and flat-out sleazy.  Oh, how little has changed. 

As a political junkie, I was captivated by the idea of CSPAN in 1865.  Playwright Tony Kushner knew the concept of “less is more” was the way to approach this material.  The dialogue had elements of Aaron Sorkin, but with less schmaltz and more wit. 

Also, Tommy Lee Jones playing Thaddeus Stevens and James Spader playing W.N. Bilbo are a blast to watch.  As for Lewis, just give him the Oscar right now.  He deserves it.

8. Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson is back, and almost in full form.  Almost.  It’s his best film since The Royal Tenenbaums and has a similar tone to Rushmore.  

The oddly bright colors, how the camera meticulously swerves around, the long takes, the dialogue, the awesome slow motion scenes, Bill Murray - that’s how you know it’s a Wes Anderson movie.  He has a production design and cinematic style all his own. Anderson’s directing is as much of a character in the movie as the actors.

Moonrise Kingdom is about two odd rebellious youngsters in love that run away from their family and/or summer camp to explore the woods and each other. The two kid actors (Jared Kilman and Kara Hayward) are great together. Actually, all the kids are great.  I love how they all team up together to revolt against the adults.  This is SO Wes Anderson! 

As for the adults, Edward Norton's Scout Master Ward is a blast to watch.  It's also nice to see Bruce Willis going back to doing these smaller movies.  After all, he is the one who took a chance on Pulp Fiction, Nobody's Fool and The Sixth Sense just to name a few.

9. ParaNorman

I knew nothing about this movie or it’s existence until we randomly stumbled upon it while searching for a movie to order on-line.  

A spooky animated feature directed towards kids about zombies and the supernatural?  How could we NOT check it out?

But this isn't a Tim Burton style kids film, ParaNorman is actually quite conventional and mainstream. 

It's about a kid named Norman that sees dead people and is determined to save the town from witches and zombies.  The story is exciting, funny, scary and ultimately has a good message for kids while at the same time respecting their intelligence to understand the message. 

It's the first stop-animation film to use a color 3D printer. So I guess, that's cool too.

10. Skyfall

You will not find a better looking film than Skyfall this year.  The cinematography is simply dazzling and deserves the Oscar. GIVE IT TO THEM NOW!!!

While I love James Bond movies, I never would have thought a Bond movie would make my yearly top ten list, but there it is.  Like it’s got a license to be there.

Skyfall is so much more than a James Bond movie while at same time being the Bondiest James Bond movie ever.  

Daniel Craig plays Bond with less sophistication and more roughness than any of the Bonds since Sean Connery.  That’s how it should be. It’s more accurate to the books and frankly, it’s a more interesting character that way.  I learned more about James Bond as a character in Skyfall than I have in the previous 22 movies combined.

Of course, lets not forget the great Judi Dench as M, who thankfully has just as much screen time as Daniel Craig in the movie.  In fact, in many ways, Judi Dench is the bond girl in the movie.  Sure, an old cranky bond girl, but the smartest and most interesting Bond girl to date. 

Then we have the best villain of the year in Javier Bardem’s flamboyantly fun Silva. Bardem chews up the scenery and is having blast doing it. 

So while I had my hesitation of Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition, American Beauty) directing a James Bond movie, I was proven wrong.  If he wants another crack at it, give him back the camera and let him do whatever the hell he wants.   

Worst Movies of 2012
Red Tails – “Another failed George Lucas movie”

Total Recall (Remake) – “Once again Total Recall proves my theory that Colin Farrell is one of the most boring actors ever.  There was no reason to remake a masterpiece especially with Farrell as the lead”

The Bourne Legacy – “The weirdest and most unbalanced movie I saw this year.”

Dark Shadows - "Tim Burton and Johnny Depp need to get a divorce, or at the very least a separation."

Worst Cameo
Quentin Tarantino – “Dude, if you insist on giving yourself cameos in your movies, don’t give yourself an accent.”

Best Foreign Film
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkey) – “Slow moving, but very moving. A film about a doctor, a prosecutor and a police chief that are trying to find a buried corpse.”

Best Villain (Besides Javier Bardem's Silva)
Michael Shannon in Premium Rush. “Once again, Premium Rush proves my theory that the more Michael Shannon is in a movie, the more enjoyable it will be.”

Best Sci-Fi Movies
Prometheus – “While I was disappointed in Prometheus, there is a scene where the lead gives herself a Caesarean Section to remove an alien in her stomach.  It’s pretty awesome.”

John Carter – “This was a huge box office flop, but to me, this is a solid sci-fi flick. Too bad there will not be a sequel.”

Chronicle – “I’m usually not a fan of found footage movies, but this low, low, low budget movie proves that you can make a film for very little, but still craft a story that requires exceptional special effects.”

Looper - "While it's not at all the film I thought it would be, it stuck with me after watching it.  I need to watch it again as I suspect I will enjoy it much more the second time around." 

Best Blockbuster
The Avengers - “Pure Fun! It’s amazing that this film actually worked considering all it’s elements.  Proves once again that Joss Whedon is a genius ”

Most Underrated Movies
Rock of Ages – “A nostalgic hair metal musical featuring songs from Guns-N-Roses, Joan Jett, Twisted Sister, Poison, Bon Jovi and so much more.  Oh, Rock of Ages, you had me at GnR.”

Ghost Rider 2 – “This surprised me.  It’s from the director of the Crank series and for some reason this flick worked for me.  Don’t know why. Don’t know how.  It just did.”

The Watch – “I don’t give a shit what anyone says.  This is a funny movie.  I’m giving it ‘The Death to Smoochy Award’”.

Biggest Disappointment
Men in Black 3 - “I really, really wanted this to work, especially with such a great Tommy Lee Joe impersonation from Josh Brolin.  Unfortunately, the jokes fall flat and the action is bland.” 

Best Indie Movies
Bernie – “Jack Black’s best performance since School of Rock.  This true story about the most liked guy in town doing something awful.  It’s an odd, funny, sad little movie.”

Jeff Goes Home – “Like Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms proves he can act. Perhaps now that The Office is coming to an end, he can focus on these nice little indie movies.”

Most Overrated
Argo – “It was alright, but I don’t see why it’s on anyone’s top ten list. I still think Gone Baby Gone is Affleck’s best film as a director.”

More Honorable Mentions
The Queen of Versailes – “This documentary started out about a rich family building the biggest house, but then turned into a serious and heart-warming story about a mom and wife trying to keep her family together, while the family loses tons of money from the recession.  There is a scene where they shop at Walmart. It’s priceless.”

21 Jump Street – “Wow!  I always new Jonah Hill was funny, but damn, so is Channing Tatum?  That was surprising!”

I would like to admit that I haven’t seen "Killer Joe", "Cloud Atlas", "The Master", "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Flight". It’s possible those could have made my list.