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Archive for June, 2009

Up

Review for the Kiddies

Up is a fantastic, exciting voyage to South America! With a magic flying house, grouchy grandpa-type Carl Fredricksen and his little buddy Russell explore the jungle, meet a funny talking dog, and save a giant bird from a crazy old man in a zepplin! Featuring lots of laughs and some surprisingly tense action, Up isn’t for super-young kids, but any child over 5 will have a whole flying house full of fun!

Review for Grownups

Up spends its first 20 minutes or so grinding away at its protagonist’s life so savagely that it may reduce you to tears. Carl marries his childhood sweetheart, and in short cinematic order their lives rush by. Unable to have the children they desire, Carl and his wife Ellie pin their dreams on an eventual voyage to Venezuela, one she does not live to see. Crushed and alone, Carl spends all day in his house, talking to his dead wife while a heartless and marginalizing city grows up around him. Eventually, he is committed to a home, and realizing he has nothing to lose in death, flies his house on the voyage his dead wife always wanted to take. Carl’s flying house and the film’s other aeronautic hijinks show more than a passing Hayao Miyazaki inspiration, which is to be expected due to his close relationship with Pixar exec John Lasseter.

Carl is accompanied on his trek by Russell, a boyscout whose enthusiasm for nature is motivated by the love of a father who has long since abandoned him. The villain of the film is Carl’s boyhood hero, a man so lonely and obsessed that he seems less genuinely evil and more completely pitiable. Behind most of the film, these undertones of losing people and ideas we love can be felt in how the characters act and what they do. The whole movie is built on foundations of sorrow.

You might think this would make Up a sad movie, and it does, but it also makes its many happy moments stand out that much more clearly. The movie draws strong, heartfelt performances from all the members of its talented cast, and had, to me, no slip-ups on its way. And don’t worry: if you’ve seen the short film The Ark, and about halfway through Up you start to worry it’ll end the same way- it doesn’t. You can relax. Unlike Pixar’s other movies, Up probably won’t have a lot of commercial visibility. There will be some product tie-ins, but many companies have already publicly shied from the film. The reason is pretty obvious; ageism is an established thing in movies and just because Pixar rose above it doesn’t mean companies will.

In short: Up is a moving, sophisticated film that will appeal to adults and children on totally different levels and shines above other kids cinema on the market as a complex narrative on human feelings and behavior.

9/10

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Categories: Movies Tags: , , ,

Camacho Connecticut

Brand: Camacho
Size: 7.0″ x 48 (churchill)
Wrapper: Ecudorian Connecticut
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras and Dominican
Price: MSRP $170.00 box of 25

The Camacho Connecticut is a sneaky little devil. On the outside it appears as your standard light Connecticut wrapper which normally gives you the impression that the filler is also light. This is where you are wrong. The Camacho Connecticut is full of spiciness with periods of creaminess which is subtle enough to balance out the smoke and provides a very interesting yet tasty experience.

I picked up the Camacho Connecticut from the Party Source Davidoff tastings a couple of weeks ago and didn’t even realize I had put it in my humidor until yesterday (shame on me). So without much thought, I snagged it out and prepared to smoke.

First Third:

At first glance the cap of the cigar is very prominent. You can tell that this cigar was constructed very well. The cigar has a nice aroma too it, almost creamy like. The wrapper looks to provide a smooth smoke. The first few puffs has an incredibly smooth draw and smooth taste, yet has a bite too it. The darker tobaccos mixed with the lighter wrapper really compliment each other well. Near the end of the first third the spiciness tends to die down and sticks with a more smooth and creamy taste which is welcomed nicely.

Halfway Point:

The smoothness continues, and the burn is still very even. The draw is excellent and I haven’t had any problems smoking it thus far. The herbal spiciness returned with hints of cedar mixed in as well.

Finale:

The cigar is now a lot darker and you can definitely rate this as medium bodied, maybe even a bit more than that. Though the cigar has gotten darker (which I normally prefer anyway), the smoothness of the wrapper continues to complement the fillers which creates a very interesting smoking experience. I don’t want to put it out. 🙂

The Camacho Connecticut is an excellent cigar and I would probably rate it as one of my top 10 cigars as of recent, along with the Cuvee Rouge which is also an excellent cigar. Camacho has created a very interesting smoke with the light/dark mixture and the creaminess/spiciness of the cigar will definitely leave your palate excited throughout and wanting more once you are done. 🙂 Good job Camacho!

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Felipe Gregorio Icon Groucho Marx

Brand: Felipe Gregorio
Size: 5.0″ x 55 (robusto)
Wrapper: Costa Rica
Binder: Costa Rica (double wrapper)
Filler: Mixed cuban seed (Condega, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic)
Price: MSRP $49.95 box of 20

I bought a box of these after discovering the Felipe Gregorio fat boy. The fat boy was my first introduction to Felipe Gregorio’s line and I really enjoyed it. It intrigued me to try the other blends that Felipe had, so I started doing some research. Felipe Gregorio seems to specialize in the exotic Figurado shapes and unique blends. This holds true for his Icon line of cigars as well, which seems to be a mid-low priced cigar. I was able to pick up a box of 20 of these from http://cigarbid.com for only 37 bucks plus shipping. I’ve smoked more than half of them and I think I can give a fair review on the Groucho now after going through a few trial and tribulations with this smoke.

First Third:

This cigar starts out strong and bold, which is a good thing. It has an oily wrapper which seems to give it a bit of a creamy coffee type of taste. I could taste hints of spice as well in the beginnings of this smoke. One thing that was a major problem for me when I first got these was the draw. I couldn’t draw anything from it. I think I almost sucked my eye balls out of my sockets to get even a pinch of smoke, and the only way to somewhat remedy this was to use a draw poker. Jerry Cruz from the “stogie review” also mentioned to me that he had heard this from his local B&M.

Luckily after sitting in my humidor for awhile they have gotten better, but the draw problems still exist somewhat. Other than the draw problems I had early on, the beginnings of this cigar is very flavorful and enjoyable. The burn is very even and the construction on these cigars are top notch.

Halfway Point:

Toward the halfway point of this stick the strong full bodied flavor tends to mellow a bit and is more in the medium bodied range in my opinion. This is not to say that the tastes from before are no longer there, it’s more so that the spiciness leaves for a bit. The coffee creaminess still sticks around which makes for a nice smooth smoke. There weren’t any burn or construction problems, though the draw can still be troublesome if your batch turned out like mine.

Finale:

The finale of this smoke picks up it’s spiciness from the beginning more than ever, and finishes as a full bodied smoke. Most of the creaminess flavors kind of die down toward the end and you are left with a true full flavored, full bodied smoke. The draw issues seem to subside toward the end of the stick even on my most troublesome sticks. The burn stays even until the end, and none of the 10 or so I have smoked have unraveled on me which wins many points in my book. Even the best of cigars have construction issues sometimes so this was a very nice surprise.

Overall, the icon line of cigars (specifically the Groucho in this case) are a decent smoke and well worth the price. The price really sells this stick and I can see myself buying them again in the future as an every day smoke. The draw issues are a definite problem and my only suggestion if you want to brave a box of these for yourself, is to over humidify them a bit (not too much!). That seemed to help with mine. The construction of the cigar and even burn impressed me as well. So far Felipe Gregorio seems to be pleasing me with what I’ve smoked of his cigars. I look forward to trying out and reviewing more of his cigars in the future.

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Categories: Cigars, Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Cusano LXI Habano Sun Grown

Brand: Cusano
Size: 5.0 x 50 (robusto)
Wrapper: Double wrapper Ecuadorian sun grown
Binder: part of double wrapper
Filler: Mixed Ligero tobacco
Price: MSRP $4.93 a stick

I picked up this cigar from the recent Cusano cigar tastings and wasn’t sure what to expect. This is apparently the first full bodied smoke from Cusano but I’m not sure how true that is. Cusano is normally in the light to medium bodied realm of cigars. An Ecuadorian sun grown leaf with a double wrapper makes for a smooth smoke. The richness of this cigar is very prominent and it’s a very good competitor for other full bodied smokes currently on the market.

First Third:

The cigar started out with a very full flavor and earthy tones. I’m not sure what happened but the burn was a bit uneven at first. It eventually started to even itself out after about 10 minutes or so into it though so no harm no foul.

Halfway Point:

The cigar really started to pick up on it’s full flavor now but still had a smoothness to the smoke and draw. The construction of the cigar held up very well and there were no burn issues or unraveling going on at this point. My buddy also smoked this with me and his started to come apart a bit but that may be due to his cutting too much into the cap of the stick. Toward the midway point I started picking up more of a spiciness to the stick which complimented the sun grown wrapper very well.

Finale:

More of the spiciness started to hit my tongue and my palate was full of flavor at this point. As I was nearing the end, I was disappointed that I had to put it out (as most smokers probably understand) but it finished nicely.

I love full bodied cigars and this one is definitely up there as a contender. I would most definitely buy this stick again in the future. Cusano has a winner here with an excellent introduction into the full bodied cigar market. I look forward to seeing more full bodied options from Cusano in the future.

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Guyver: Dark Hero

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It’s always dicey adapting a cartoon for live action. Finding real people who look like cartoon characters is hard, as is replicating the unrealistic feats that animated characters are capable of in a  believable way. This problem is doubled when you try to adapt animation from Japan, where the prominence of animated cinema arose specifically in order to depict wild stunts and crazy monsters that Japanese film companies of the early-mid 20th century had neither the money nor the real estate to film.

The Guyver is kind of a media dynasty. There’s comic books, movies, TV shows, and, one would assume, cuddly Guyver plushes. For those not in the know, the Guyver is a suit of armor aliens built in order to shove humans inside and make cheap frontline soldiers for their horrific space wars. The prototypes rebelled and the aliens left Earth, leaving behind some dormant Guyver suits and an army of angry, lonesome mutant soldiers. Everyone wants a Guyver suit of their own, but predictably plucky young people get most of them. Rather like Power Rangers, said hero wanders about encountering danger, transforming with their armor, and kicking lots of faces. Because the Guyver is dark and edgy, there’s lots of blood and screaming and the suit comes out of you eww gross yuck! It’s kind of an adult cartoon, as envisioned by ten year olds.

Dark Hero follows the original properties as well as it can with no budget. Sean (Solid Snake) has what he believes to be the only Guyver suit. It makes him run around fighting crime, even though he’d rather just sit around his filthy apartment doodling in his dream journal. When he sees some symbols on television that he believes are related to the Guyver suit, he sets off for Utah to visit an archaelogical dig. Wouldn’t you know it, an entire corporation of bad guys in rubber monster suits is after the dig as well, and it’s up to Sean to pretty much kill every last one of them as savagely as rubber suit science permits.

Coming up since small times on the 60s-70s Godzilla films, I really got into this film. The suits are surprisingly good, and the Guyver armor is pretty on-model with the anime. The fights are pretty decent too, although there’s a surprising amount of non-fighting and it isn’t particularly interesting. Sean whines and moans about having awesome alien space armor that lets him shoot lasers out of his head, he romances an average-looking archaeologist, and some stuff happens with the FBI. But none of that matters because this is a guys in rubber suits hitting each other movie, and it totally delivers.

Actually, it may deliver too well. The violence in Dark Hero can be surprisingly graphic, and contrasted with the rather silly-looking suitework the effect is sort of confusing. It’s like if you were watching Sesame Street, and Big Bird pecked out Grover’s eyes. But if you can get past that, Guyver: Dark Hero offers something interesting: a live action anime adaptation that is both entertaining and faithful to its source materials.

6/10 (bump it up to 7/10 if you’re like me and giggle with glee when dudes in rubber suits body slam each other)

Churchill Deluxe

Brand: Caribe
Size: 7.0 x 48
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Mixed
Price: MSRP $39.95 Box of 50

I just smoked another Churchill deluxe. These are a pretty good everyday cigar. For 80 cents a stick you can’t beat the value. CI has these in a bundle of 50 for 40 bucks. A Honduras blend with mostly seconds for a filler. Compared to most cheapies these have a good burn and are decently smooth. I recommend these over others such as the del tu dos.

Rating: 6/10

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Categories: Cigars, Uncategorized

Felipe Gregorio Fatboy

This is an excellent cigar. I picked up the Felipe Gregorio because I saw a deal on it at my local cigar shop. I had never heard of it but it was such a small smoke that I figure I would try it out over a lunch break. I’m glad I did, as it was probably one of the better cigars I’ve had in a long time.

The fatboy is a smaller cigar similar to Oliva’s nub but with a slightly smaller ring gauge (55). It has a very good draw to it and the construction of the cigar is excellent. It burned smooth throughout the whole smoke as well. This is a very tasty cigar with hints of cream and caramel flavors.

The entire smoke was enjoyable with it’s rich flavor and spicy ending. I will definitely be picking up more of these though I think I will be going for the bigger ones next time.

I give the Felipe Gregorio Fat Boy a 8/10

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Categories: Cigars, Uncategorized