Saturday, August 10, 2013

Both sides of the war in Vietnam

Many war movies stylize war, glorify it, or soften it.  We Were Soldiers (2002), thankfully, isn't this type of film.  Vietnam was a brutal war, and this movie really gives us a small glimpse of that brutality.

The film follows Lt. Colonel Hal Moore, and his cavalry in the Battle of Ia Drang.  The US really wasn't prepared for the war, especially since the Vietnamese were fighting on their own rugged home turf, with years and years of experience.  Ia Drang was the first major battle for the Americans in the war and really set the stage for the rest of the war.  The US was actually letting family members know about their deceased via telegram at first, that's how unprepared they were for this very deadly war.

While the film primarily follows Moore and the US, occasionally it shows opposing Vietnamese soldiers, writing in a journal or mourning their losses.  This technique further depicts the brutality of the war. People are on both sides, and no matter what side they are on, they really do believe they are fighting for the right side.  People fighting against people.

I'm not sure about the historical accuracy of this adaptation, but I do know that it accomplishes its goal and making war realistic for the viewer.  It really makes you appreciate what you have, and the many people who died defending it.  Thank a veteran and thank God.

We Were Soldiers runs 138 minutes and is rated R.  This film is not family friendly, it is quite violent with some language.  I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Jimmy's Movie Preview and CONTEST: Copperhead

I got an email last week asking if I would cover another book-to-film adaption, in exchange for a book and a poster.  I did a similar thing for Life of Pi.  Before committing to it, I looked into the film, and once again, I'd be interested in seeing it, so I have no problem previewing it.

This time, the movie is a Civil War film called Copperhead.  Based on the novella "The Copperhead" by Harold Frederic and actual events during the Civil War, the film is about a man who lives in the Union and hates war just as much as he hates slavery.  Here is the official synopsis:
Inspired by actual events and based on the extraordinary novel by Harold Frederic, which the great American critic Edmund Wilson praised as a brave and singular book that “differs fundamentally from any other Civil War work,” Copperhead is the story of Abner Beech, a righteous farmer of Upstate New York, who defies his neighbors and his government in the contentious autumn of 1862. Abner despises slavery – but just as passionately opposes the war that is waging in the name of “union” hundreds of miles away because he believes the Constitution of the United States is being trampled. Abner is neither a Yankee nor a Rebel. He is what is known as a Copperhead.
The film is directed by the same guy who directed Gods and Generals and Gettysburg, Ron Maxwell, so the film is poised to be a great wartime film.

Copperhead is limited availability, so if you really want to see it, make sure to click the link to demand it come to your city.

Here are some links to the website, the trailer, and a countdown to when the film comes out:


Finally, since this is a sponsored post, you have a chance to win the book, a movie poster and some movie cash.  Just comment on this post with your favorite film that features war or combat.  The winner will be picked by random from commenters and will be contacted for their name and address.  The contest ends on June 20 and the winner will need to give me their information by June 23 at 11:59pm.

Note: the countdown above is for the movie, not the giveaway.  The giveaway ends on June 20.

Good luck!

Friday, May 24, 2013

State of the Jimmy: End of May 2013

I've been lazy lately when it comes to blogging.  I've probably had time to blog, but I just wasn't in the mood.  I've been spending my time getting moved in my our new bigger place and, because of the move, catching up on TV.


I got really behind on Once Upon a Time and I got slightly behind on The Office, which just aired its last ever episode last week.  It was an emotional finale, but it was one of the most satisfying finales (and overall last seasons) I've ever seen.  Steve Carrel even made a small cameo as Michael Scott!  I definitely recommend this season and the entire series to watch (or binge watch).

Once Upon a Time on the other hand is probably the most average of the series that I am currently watching.  It is good, but not as mind-blowing as similar series (Like LOST, Fringe, etc.).  It just ended a couple weeks ago and I'm intrigued, but the entire series feel so gimmicky to me.  I still like it enough to keep watching, but I don't look forward to it as much as the other shows I'm watching.

Revolution's first season will be wrapping up in a couple weeks and I've been really impressed with the grittiness of this show.  The concepts are really amazing and they've really blossomed as of late, but the execution really went in a war-like and violent direction that was a bit unexpected for me, but in a good way.  I'm also pleased that it was renewed for another season.

Another show that was renew, even though I didn't expect it to be, is Community.  The 4th season started in February and ended a few weeks ago.  It was funny, but it wasn't by any means its best season, but it was must have been good enough for NBC to renew so I'll be watching.

Psych has really been awesome.  I'm glad there was been at least a couple more seasons of this hilarious and addicting comedy.  There are a couple more episodes this season and I'm excited for what is going to happen.

My wife and I have been watching Firefly, which is a very good show that we can stream on Amazon Prime.  Space cowboys.  Enough said.

Finally, I've started watching The X-Files and I'm already hooked.  It reminds me of Fringe in a lot of ways.  (I know that Fringe came much later, but I watched it first...)  Amazon Prime with my Roku is awesome.


I haven't seen any new movies lately, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, Man of Steel, World War Z, The Wolverine, and After Earth.  The only downside of having kids is that you need to get a babysitter to go somewhere...otherwise parenthood is awesome.


I'm looking forward to camping this year, we're going car camping a bunch of times already this year, starting with next weekend.  I'm pumped.

I've also been slowly acquiring some backpacking gear, you saw my tent, but I've also acquired a Sawyer filter water bottle (which has a 1 million gallon guarantee), some para-cord, and a foam sleeping pad.  I decided to go foam with the sleeping pad because it was cheap and I do like a firm sleeping surface.  I'll try it and see how it goes.  Plus, I won't have to deal with leaky air mattresses.  

I'll be getting a backpack from my father-in-law, and hopefully that fits me.  Otherwise, I've got my eye on a Kelty Trekker external frame backpack as a backup.  I'm also going to get a lightweight, compressible sleeping bag from Suisse Sport for a great price.  I'll probably also get a fixed blade knife, but for now my folding Buck knife will suffice.

Honestly, I won't have the best gear, and I don't have backpacking experience, but I've got to start somewhere.  I enjoy car camping and the outdoors, I really want to get into backpacking as well.

Finally, I'd like to shout out to my beautiful and talented wife for getting me this t-shirt (and for being awesome in general!):

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A bunch of mini-reviews from movies I've seen in 2012 and early 2013

So guess what?  I'm employed.  At a great company with great people doing stuff I love.  This means that I'll be able to blog more.  First, though, I need to play a little catch-up.

The Avengers (2012) was a great action comic book movie.  It is really jam-packed full of action, the plot is a little thin, and Hulk is actually done well, thanks to Mark Ruffalo after one bad and one mediocre attempt at feature film.  It is pure comic superhero entertainment.  Thumbs up to Joss Whedon.  I give it 9 ramheads out of 10.

Next up, another comic book flick, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was the close to a great Batman trilogy from Christopher Nolan.  It tied up loose ends, brought everything full circle (many Batman Begins and The Dark Knight nods), and features more real character development than in the past.  All the acting, action, and plot were top notch.  I like the film better than its predecessors, though it wasn't quite as shocking as The Dark Knight.  This was probably my favorite film of 2012.  10 ramheads out 10.

Not comic-booky at all, Will Ferrell's Everything Must Go (2010) features a Will Ferrell acting, not too much unlike his performance in Stranger than Fiction.  This time his character is an alcoholic who hits rock bottom.  His wife leaves all his stuff on the lawn, changes the locks, and then leaves.  He works it out.    Funny.  Sad.  And shows some of the effects of alcoholism on a guy.  I enjoyed this one.  I'll give this one 7 ramheads out of 10.

My Amazon Prime subscription led me to watch a few films that I wasn't sure about.  I had a good experience with Everything Must Go, but not so much with Melancholia (2011).  I only made it half through.  The part I saw was a couple at their weird wedding reception with a weird family and the new bride was going back and forth from being happy and depressed.  Then she sleeps with a random guy, not her husband.  I still don't get the point of this depressing crap, and I know I wasted 45 minutes of my time.  1 ramhead out of 10.  I really don't recommend seeing this.

Another Amazon Prime flick that was very highly regarded with critics and award shows, was Winter's Bone   (2010).  This is Jennifer Lawrence's foray into popularity, even if it was more of an indy film.  While I can't say that I enjoyed it, it was very interesting.  The gist of the it: in southern poverty a 17 year old girl (Lawrence) has to find her drug-addicted father, who owes money, otherwise they will lose their land.  Her mom is severely depressed and pretty much useless, so Lawrence's character is also raising her younger siblings.  Her character is very similar to Katniss in The Hunger Games.  The culture of drugs, family, and poverty is really what strikes the middle class Midwesterner that I am.  It is an honest picture of a world I'll never know.  I give it 6 ramheads out of 10.

The final film in this post is another Prime watched film.  Into the Wild (2007) is a film about a young college graduate with a tough past and a very high intellect, just disappearing on a quest of sorts traveling across America and ending up living in solidarity in Alaska.  He's trying to figure out life and how to be happy.  His final conclusion is very interesting.  Into the Wild is based on a true story.  I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Zombie with Heart

I've always enjoyed post-apocalyptic films, television, and literature.  So when I saw the trailer for Warm Bodies, I was intrigued.  A comedy about zombies.  Zombies with a heart?

I won't go so far as to say it was a romantic comedy, because aside from a select few (noteably, Crazy, Stupid, Love) the genre itself is lame.  Plus, the main character is a zombie, impressively played with blank zombie look for most of film by Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class's Hank McCoy/Beast).

I won't go too into the story, because most of it is in the trailer:

I will say though, that this is the freshest, most unique take on the Romeo/Juliet story I've seen in a long time and the most creative movie I've seen since Inception.  (I know that Warm Bodies was based on the book of the same name, but it was still an excellent movie.)

The music was great, the jokes were funny, the acting and makeup was stellar, and the plot was very original.  There was a bit of language in this PG-13 film, not suitable for younger kids.  I give this excellent film 9 ramheads out of 10.  (P.S. I'm sorry, I review so many good films...I just don't like wasting my money or time on bad ones. But look forward to my mini-review roundup.  I know there will be at least 1 bad film in there.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My New Backpacking Tent: the Kelty Gunnison 3.1

Just a quick update on my backpacking gear:  I got my new backpacking tent!  It is the Kelty Gunnison 3.1 three person tent.  I was excited, because I got a great deal on it since they just introduced the new model version of it.  I paid essentially half price.

I just set it up in my living room and it looks to be a great size for me alone or for me and one other person, which is what I expected based on the dimensions.

Straight away I'm impressed with the quality of the tent.  The aluminum poles are very light and very strong.  Way lighter than my family tent's heavy duty fiberglass poles (my Cabelas Westwind Tent, which I previously reviewed and love).

The tent materials are high quality and I'm eager to use it and get the vestibule on it (there was not enough space in our living room, and we couldn't stake it down).

It weighs in at 6.5 pounds, which is great since I don't plan on doing ultralight, minimalist backpacking, but still want a pretty light tent.

Take a look:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jimmy's Sweet Job and other things

That's right, I have a job now!  Well, I had a job until the end of the year, but then I didn't.  Now I have a sweet new job at a sweet company with sweet people.  I'm a software developer (in training) at Digital Measures (don't worry, a new website is in the works and will be coming in a month or so) in Milwaukee.  I'm very excited and I enjoy coming to work.

This means I don't have to use my time outside work to search for jobs anymore.  I still spend time with my wife and son, but I'll definitely have more time to spend on writing this blog.

I'm actually in the process of writing a bunch of mini-reviews of movies that I've seen in the last several months, since my time in the last year on this blog has been a bit minimal.  I'll continue to write some full length reviews and share my thoughts on the TV I've been watching as well.  (I've gotten into more survival TV that Discovery Channel puts out, and some other shows.)

I also plan to share my media server setup, which I put together after we got a Roku for Christmas.  I'll even share some photos as well.

Finally, I've car camped my whole life and I love it.  I've decided to go a little 'rougher' and do some backpacking as well.  I'll share some of my gear, and my experiences as a beginner backpacker.

Stay tuned.