Friday, April 18, 2008

Something a tad different as I talk about another love of mine!

It's a given for me to rattle off about film, Polish hip hop, Finland,
self exploration, and other things one could rattle on about on a blog, but would you have expected that I would be a huge fan of UFC and MMA (mixed martial arts)?
My introduction to it was long ago when watching an episode of TSN's "Off The Record" when they were having a debate on a new sport called "Ultimate Fighting". Some Canadian wanna be actress was calling it "barbaric" and it kind of caught my eye. I ended up seeing a UFC 39 DVD or something of that sort and I was kind of interested a little more. But it wasn't until I purchased THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER reality series at Target when I kind of got hooked. Light heavyweights Forest Griffin taking on Stephan Bonnar in the final live round, must have been one of the best UFC fights ever.
When UFC 83 was announced to take place in Canada, I was totally wanting to go. On the card, Canadian Georges St Pierre is to take on Long Island's Matt Serra (who clobbered St Pierre). Sadly, tickets sold out in mere minutes, and coughing up $250 a ticket wasn't on the agenda. Considering I balk at the mere fact of paying full price for a film, and having friends kind of not really too into going to Montreal to see the fight (Well, maybe Ricky J would go!).
Anyhow, when it was announced, the Canadian press gushed all over St Pierre with a slow handjob, painting the guy almost pretty much like he had won, and the fight hasn't even taken place. Only Sportsnet UFC specialist Showdown Joe Ferraro was saying that basically even though he was friends with St Pierre, that Serra might be the underdog. Indeed.
Seeing interviews with both Serra and St Pierre this week, I gotta say (and I'm sure Canadians will call me traitor) that my bet is on Serra as well, and I'm a St Pierre fan. St Pierre appeared in one interview with two dime sized bruises on his face with his head looking like a human bowling ball. Meanwhile, Serra who might not have really fought in a pro bout for a year due to a back injury said he's fully recovered. Like Liddell or Couture, it looks like St Pierre has kind of fallen into the Canadian hype machine. He looks tired. It will be interesting to see the turnout, but my prediction is St Pierre taps out in the 2nd.
Out of any sports, there's two that appeal to me in actually doing. My pal Lorraine in Chicago got me interested in Yoga, and second, mixed martial arts. Oddly enough before dealing with a family crisis, I was going to train. When telling my friends about this, they thought I was mad. Well, Tim and Brenda thought it WAS typical for me to do. And consideiring Couture is in his 40's, do I feel too old to pursue this? Nooooooooo!
But yeah, there you have it. Besides being (as one online website referred to me as) "the overlord of Flea-Market cinema", I'd pursue ultimate fighting. Now, it's just being able to find the routine for traning as the new shiftwork kind of is preventing this at the moment. But once it does, you've got the tip up, not the tap out ;)
OK... Back to our regularly scheduled programming!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Goodbye Dino Video

It's interesting times right now in home entertainment.

Let me be honest about something. I don't rent movies. Since I tend to have more in my collection than the average consumer, I find keeping up with that keeps me away from the videostore, plus I'm horribly cheap. For a couple bucks more, I usually will buy something to watch again at a later date, or lend friends. With bigger chains like BLOCKBUSTER or ROGERS, i find the releases kind of kind of a dull mix of Hollywood hodge-podge that I'm not dying to see for a nite and the ones that I do want to see, I can eventually own second hand for a couple bucks more. Collecting isn't for everyone's tastes, especially when most people CAN watch something that night and don't want it around collecting space.

Peoples tastes have also changed with the times as well. When VCR's first came out, people could easily get suckered into checking out films due to the title or a description from some small VHS studio. People just wanted something to put into the machines. This was before Hollywood kind of caught on to the home video revolution and also dropped prices on the product. Mom and Pop stores always seemed to stock so many of these obscuro titles, especially if they were cheap to fill the shelves. With the bigger chains stomping these smaller ones into the ground, it's been tricky to find video stores that have lasted over a decade. That's why I was sad to hear that DINO VIDEO EXPRESS, a videostore out in the Agincourt area close to my work was closing its doors, but interested in their collection being sold off.

One thing seems to be certain, regardless of how much is STILL not on DVD, people don't seem to want to embrase VHS any longer. After going through so much of what has been re-released on DVD, I've still been finding that I've wanted to see many obscure titles that still haven't made it to DVD and with the market being saturated, they were not going to find a release anytime soon. The same way people went gaga over the first CD's, repurchasing their vinyl collections, die hard collectors will still not finding so many releases that didn't make it to compact disc.

So, I go to DINO during my lunch hour the week before they close their doors. The VHS is now down to the rock bottom price of 25 cents a tape. Dino had a collection of tapes basically caputuring the full history of the VHS industry. My younger co-worker Coralie joined me on the treck looking at racks upon racks of obscure titles. I ended up grabbing about 40 my first visit. Nobody else was in the store.

The next day, I knew I had to make a pilgrimage back to get more and came out with another 25... It's funny, at 25 cents a pop, you would almost think that ANY title with your remote interest you would snap up right? Still, I would hold some tapes in my hand with indecision. One thing about picking up VHS now is the whole storage issue. After people collect DVD, VHS seems so unappealing with it's bulkyness. But still, the nostalgia of picking up tapes I can remember seeing in my youth which developed my tastes for strange cinema in the first place (I'm not of the generation to be stuck in grindhouses or cinema matinees, but cheap VHS rentals of cheaper films). While many of us pine for so much urban nostalgia, a film geek like myself will get it with cheap logos by studios from back in the day. Companies like Interglobal, Premiere Entertainment, Paragon, Academy, and Lettuce Entertain You would provide titles that you HOPED would be entertaining. Early video was always a mystery box, and hell, I love grab bags.

Visit 2, I thought I pretty much got what I needed. Then they e-mail me and tell me there's one final day where the tapes were 10 cents each, or $1 a bag. Remember those ones I told you I was balking at 25 cents a pop for. Well, not for a dime!

In total, I came out with over 100 VHS tapes for less than $20, and an incredible document of the VHS movie industry. Even at this price, only a local was inside talking with the perky Asian owner, "I'll miss this place" he said.

In the meantime, I'm going through tons of films on top of the rest of my collection. Every time I seem to hit play, there's a surprise going down.

I still don't know where to put them all!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Thanks Cleveland!

A long overdue notice to say thanks to all those in the Cleveland area who made HJ there such a huge success including the Cleveland Cinematheque, coolcleveland dot com, The Cleveland Free Times, the Martins, The Alkazar Hotel, and all those that came out for the United States premiere!

It had been some time since going to Cleveland, and there's always been some sort of bonding I've had with Ohio since going there back in the early nineties to see punk bands at Kent State U. Besides dealing with announcements back in Toronto about a impending snow storm, I always enjoy my time in Cleveland and noticed many things since last being there in 2004. But the one thing was the potholes. When you drive on Martin Luther King Drive, look out! You can lose a car in some of them!

The audience was great, and I got a chuckle out of someone who kind of knew about the whole Finland connection thing asking me to sign their DVD, but in Finnish, which I did.

Otherwise, on the news front. My production company has finally completed my first doc in some time for the upcoming release of the film "Second Chance" with a documentary called "Second Chance at Second Chance" which will be included with the DVD released by ALPHA HOME VIDEO. Dave and Brian, my other partners in crime are truly professionals and great to work with.

Nicer weather is on it's way, and I look forward to the spring and summer. Slowly, plans for Europe are falling into place. That's good!