Sunday, March 22, 2015

Movies: Someone Else

Disclaimer - this review may not be objective, since I backed the movie on Kickstarter and talked with the cast and crew (they were all very nice) before and after seeing the film.

At this year's Miami International Film Festival, I attended the world premiere of "Someone Else," a film written and directed by Nelson Kim. The movie starts off as a fairly standard "town mouse and country mouse" story, but things rapidly spin out of control thanks to drugs, deceit, and depression:



Aaron Yoo ("Disturbia," "21") plays Jamie, a shy law student who moves to New York City for a summer associate job. Jamie stays in the apartment of his suave entrepreneur cousin, Will (Leonardo Nam), and is at first entranced by the magic of the big city. But when he meets a mysterious woman named Kat (Jackie Chung), his pursuit of her, and what she represents, threatens to destroy him.

"Someone Else" is Nelson Kim's debut feature, but it doesn't feel like it. The movie is shot and directed skillfully, with some fun mirror scenes and good moody lighting throughout.  The three stars also put in fine performances, especially as the tension rises between the naive Jamie and his brash cousin. Though the stakes in the movie are rather intimate and familial, Aaron Yoo's pained facial expressions keep it from feeling trite.

The major problem I had with "Someone Else" was plotting; not much really happens in the way of action, and even at 72 minutes, the story seemed slight. I also felt that some of the dramatic twists near the end were a bit unfair to the audience, and were not executed as well as other similar films. Overall though, this is a solid first outing that will resonate with anyone who's ever felt dislocated upon moving to a new place.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guns: Mulliga's Carbine Weight Loss Program

The Daniel Defense M4 carbine I use as a housegun had some tried and true parts on it, but they were all a bit on the heavy side. So, in the spirit of spring cleaning, I cracked open a Brownells catalog and queued up some replacements...

The Stock

For starters, I switched from a Magpul ACS to the BCM Gunfighter Stock. The ACS is a solid unit with tons of storage capacity (two internal battery tubes and a central lidded compartment), but I had forgotten how bulky it was. Switching to the minimalist Gunfighter stock shaved off half a pound from the back of the gun, made the overall package much slimmer and shorter, and didn't sacrifice much in terms of cheekweld or stability.




The Grip

The Magpul MIAD grip I had on the gun functioned fine, but was, again, a bit heavy. I also didn't see much benefit in the adaptable internal storage system (do you really need to carry a spare bolt inside your grip?). I chose the BCM Mod 3 grip - it's a couple ounces lighter and gives a better wrist angle for the modern, non-chicken-wing stance that everyone uses nowadays.


The Barrel

I've never liked heavy-barreled ARs, and while the original barrel on the DDM4 was fairly svelte, it had an unnecessarily thick area out past the front sight base. To remedy that, I ordered a new lightweight barrel direct from Daniel Defense, which stays pencil thin all the way to the muzzle. Since I was changing everything out anyway, I added on a newfangled BCM Gunfighter compensator for testing, too.  Unless the new comp blows my socks off, I'll be switching back to the good old A2 flash hider later on, though.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Food: Happy National Egg Cream Day




An egg cream is a frothy dessert drink made of milk, soda water, and chocolate (modern versions contain neither egg nor cream). When made properly, the mixture separates into two layers; in a single sip, you'll get a foamy head from the top, along with a pleasant burst of bubbly chocolate milk flavor from the bottom.

March 15th is "National Egg Cream Day," so if you have the following ingredients, try one today:

Mulliga's Egg Cream

Ingredients:

1 part milk (works best with whole)
1/4 part Fox's U-Bet Chocolate Syrup, during Passover season (or any chocolate syrup made with sugar)
2 parts Perrier sparkling water

Directions:

1. Pour chocolate syrup into a tall glass and allow it to settle for a minute.
2. Pour milk on top of syrup.
3. Pour sparkling water on top of milk.
3. With long spoon, violently stir and mix the glass. Allow contents to settle slightly before consuming, but drink it before the bubbles dissipate. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

TV: Danger 5

If you liked the absurdity of viral hit "Too Many Cooks," you're probably going to like "Danger 5," an Australian comedy TV series that parodies '60s spy-fi shows (in season 1) and '80s movies (in season 2):




Set in a surreal version of WWII, "Danger 5" follows a group of five headstrong super-spies: straight-arrow Tucker, uptight Claire, the happy-go-lucky Pierre, tough American Jackson (played by series co-creator David Ashby), and uninhibited Russian Ilsa. Each episode, the team tries to disrupt one of Hitler's dastardly plots (like arming the Nazis with "superior golden superweapons, made of gold") and, of course, to kill Hitler. All the while, they battle Nazi henchman (who are based off of real-life villains, like Josef Mengele) and internecine squabbling.

Director Dario Russo and the rest of the "Danger 5" crew take great pains in replicating the look and feel of the material they're aping, whether it's a comically fake scale model of the Eiffel Tower or '80s action movie-inspired big hair and backlighting. The upshot of it is that "Danger 5" feels like it comes from the eras it parodies, which makes the humor hit a lot harder. Also critical is the fact that the cast is playing it Nielsen - that is, completely straight. It gives a nice contrast to all of the Nazi dinosaurs and Japanese robot super-soldiers on screen.

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