jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I went to the Rio to watch Mad Max: Fury Road - Black & Chrome edition. It was fun, and an interesting exercise, but ultimately didn't add anything to the original.



Basically, this is a black and white print of the movie. What I would have liked to see is more playing around with the techincal aspects. Increase or decrease the saturation/contrast/brightness to suit each scene. Play with the sound, maybe eliminate the dialog in place of subtitles (to make it the loudest silent movie ever, with just the explosions and music).

Another thing would be to include the occasional splash of colour - the red of blood in Max's IV. The green of the plants in the citadel. Doof Warrior's flames and some of the key explosions. Nux's eyes when he asks Capable to witness. I think this would have visually underlined key moments of the movie in a way mere black and white could not.

So I'm glad I went to see it, especially with [livejournal.com profile] garething at the Rio. Hell, there were Imortan Joe and Furiosa cosplayers there, which was fun.

Go see it? If you're a giant Fury Road fan. If you're thinking of buying it, and don't already have a copy, you might consider a version that includes both colour and Black & Chrome.

Inferno

Nov. 13th, 2016 04:59 pm
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
Inferno was OK. If you've seen the other Dan Brown adaptaions (DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons), you'll know what to expect. Cambridge Semiotics professor (Tom Hanks) gets caught up in intrigue that only he can handle because it's all medieval puzzles. He's helped along the way by an attractive ingenue (Felicity Jones, this time around).

I may have seen this on the wrong week, because I was sympathetic to the villain's goals of kill all the humans.

Some problems: There's a big reveal that's telegraphed way too early. The redemption sub-plot needed to be set up way earlier. I wasn't too worried about the characters during the action bits, but I was worried about all that gunfire near irreplaceable artworks.

That said, the antagonists were decent, with a variety of different motivations, which made sense to them. The chase scenes were OK, and the climax wasn't too bad - I may crib from it in a future role-playing game.

If you liked the first two in the theatres, you'll like this one too. If not, wait until you can see it for free.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I'd heard about How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town while watching the Jewel Staite Q&A at Calgary Expo last year. It sounded like a fun movie. And I've been a fan of Jewel Staite since Da Vinci's Inquest. So when I was casually browsing movies today I noticed it was doing a run at the Globe. As this is the sort of movie I never get people to go see, I went by myself.

There was less than a dozen people in the theatre - I don't think this is going to do well. That's unfortunate as it's not a bad movie. Not a great one either, but it means well and had a few genuinely laugh out loud moments.

A few observations:

Confirms my belief that small towns are hell on Earth. I'll allow my chosen family to be in my business. Every busy body and bully I've had the misfortune of knowing since grade school? Nope.

Unlike in porn, sex looks weird, awkward, and somewhat funny. Better to participate than to watch.

The main character's big secret seemed unlikely and unnecessary to the narrative. It would have been better if she was exactly what she seemed to be.

It takes a lot of iterations before the characters actually have their orgy. And the orgy is surprisingly vanilla. It's less about getting one's freak on as it is finding someone who wants to be with us, and not just a convenient set of genitals. Not exactly the most transgressive or shocking of conclusions. Still, it was nice to see at least one character call the others out on why this could be a bad idea, and another standing up for being vanilla in a way that doesn't make it the only moral option.

Watch this if you're a fan of any of the actors (Ms. Staite is the biggest name aside from a cameo by Lauren Holly), or if you want to see a lot of ass. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't something people need to drop what they're doing to see it.

Oklahoma!

May. 13th, 2015 10:37 pm
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
The Furry With the Syringe on Top

I saw Oklahoma! today. It's on it's 60th anniversary release and it was this month's oldie movie at Cineplex. I was expecting an oldie, somewhat staid, musical. That's not what I got.

Oh, it was a good musical all right, with some good dancing to go with it. It also had:

  • A fair amount of violence.
  • A surprising amount of enjoyable ballet.
  • Casual use of pornography by both cowboys and old ladies.
  • A couple successfully negotiating a polyamorous relationship.
  • A nightmarish dream sequence involving cross-dressers that could have been filmed by Fellini.

    I feel that someone could do a successful version of this movie with the sexual subtext cranked to 11 that would end up being high low comedy.

    For you folks who have no idea why I added the picture above:
  • jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    About two weeks before the trip, [livejournal.com profile] wackynephews mentioned a charity event at Pixar Studios. Put on by the Cartoon Art museum, it was to be a day at Pixar. And it was on the Saturday I was going to be in the Bay Area!

    Now the cost was quite a bit more than I usually pay for such things - 500 dollars! However, the more I thought about it, the more I figured that this was one of those things I'd regret not doing a lot more than I'd regret spending the money. As I get older and my regrets pile up behind me, I indulge in these things more and more.

    So was it worth the money? In the sense that it was for a good cause, yes. For the entertainment provided? Maybe, but only because the time of the creators who did the one hour talk in the middle was very expensive. It was like those charity dinners where people will pay thousands of dollars to hear some politician speak - the chicken dinner isn't why you spent the money.

    I took BART across the bay and walked about a mile to get to the Pixar campus in Emeryville. Reaching the site I discovered I was just about the only person who walked it. Everyone else drove their expensive cars to go there. Mostly the other people there were like me - fairly affluent nerds. Some were very affluent indeed, since they forked out for multiple tickets for the whole family. This is what the Technorati do with their money.

    I got a few complements on this tee-shirt. I wish I had a smoking jacket to go with it.

    So what did i get for my donation? Well for two hours it was mostly wandering around a portion of the main building. I have pictures, but I'll save them for the last part of the post, since they're really not part of my narrative. The main lobby of the main building had numerous murals and statues in it. There was also a gift shop doing roaring good business. I picked up an Incredibles tee-shirt and a coffee table book.

    We also got to wander about 1/3 of the way into each of the buildings two wings. No photography was allowed, which is too bad because this was where the really good art was. The east wing was assorted pre-production art for Monsters University. The west wing had assorted personal artwork from the many talented artists who work at Pixar. Most of it had little to do with animated movies. There was sculpture, paintings, a lot of portrait photography. It was fascinating stuff and, as is the usual with such things, made me feel like a fumble-fingered caveman.

    One of the things advertised was "seeing Pixar staff at work". This was a misnomer - none of the people with offices in the section we had access to were at work that day. What we did have was a handful of staff doing presentations in the meeting rooms. Sadly, I missed out on those (they filled the rooms fast, and it sort of depended on you being in the vicinity when one of them started.

    Next up was the main event - a talk about the tenth anniversary of my favourite Pixar movie - and favourite super hero movie, The Incredibles. The talk was with the director Brad Bird, and a half-dozen of the lead animators/creators. Some of the talk was the usual bits of how it was pitched and made and the impact it had. There was also a lot on the collaborative software that was developed for the movie. Fascinating stuff for this software geek.

    Afterwards it was off to another building for drinks, hors d'oeuvres and an auction. You always want free booze at a charity auction - it loosens up the wallet. I set a rather high limit for myself for this, but my one unbreakable rule for auctions is to not bid over your maximum. If it hits that level, stop. No matter what. I followed my rule, but it was so hard. Glad I did though. The two items I wanted were a print of the Parrs in action, and a signed one-sheet of The Incredibles that was very evocative of early James Bond posters. Instead, I bought a reproduction when I got home for twenty bucks.

    The whole air of the evening was that of a proper cocktail party for nerds. It felt good, even if I was my usual wall-flower self.

    At this point I'd like to say that it must be nice being a dot-com-millionaire. I couldn't believe the price that some of those pieces went for. Even if I had that kind of money (I don't, despite being there), I'd feel down right guilty forking over $10K for these pieces. Were they worth it? For the talent that went into it, and being for charity, yes. And yet, I'd still feel guilty. In the end, I'd have to spend that money twice: once for the piece itself, and once again to the food bank so that I could hang it in my house without feeling like total ass.

    Anyway, Pixar put on a nice fête. I quite enjoyed it, and I might consider doing it again if they celebrate the right movie. Brave (or Incredibles 2) would get me in the door. Cars, not so much.

    As an aside, I've recently discovered that I effective paid more for the evening then all those rich folk. It's tax deductible, but it's not for this Canadian. Heh.

    And now, on to the pictures! )

    Alienation

    Mar. 12th, 2014 10:16 pm
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    I had an opportunity to watch a "Classic SF Mystery Movie" for a charitable donation. I screwed up on the donation and ended up paying a lot more than I intended, which doubly sucks because I don't like giving to non-secular causes (but hey, SF movie). I got to the theatre early, but not early enough to make a difference for seating. And I ended up being damn near last in the theatre because apparently you had to jump through some hoops prior to the show and there was no indication of that until I tried to walk in. This meant a seat in the second row.

    Finally they made a bunch of announcements related to Aliens, but ended up screening Alien. A few observations:

    1) It has not aged well.
    2) Judging from the audience's reaction, it's gone from being one of the most terrifying movies ever to unintentional comedy.
    3) The assorted actors are all so young.
    4) Prometheus really was a remake of Alien - up to and including a crew full of stupid people and a duplicitous android.
    5) Computers that make teletype noises while printing characters on a VT100 screen at 300 baud are really annoying. If I were to make one improvement to the movie, it would be to simply have "Mother" (the shipboard computer) be voice activated, thus eliminating the computer interface as a source of unintentional dating.

    I'd have left early, but I found out the girl next to me had never seen it before, and I figured I'd keep half an eye on her during the scary bits to see if she jumped. She didn't. I suspect she found it about as scary as I'd have found a 1950's monster movie scary when I was of similar age (late teens?).

    For an audience full of local SF fans, I recognized damn few people. My position in line and seating in the theatre prevented that. This could be good or bad, depending on who I saw.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    Not quite ready for my big post on friendship or sentience yet. Instead, a few little odds and ends.

    I watched Gravity today. It was really good, and the first real Oscar contender I've seen. I recommend everyone go see it.

    First, this film goes by fast. It's damn near in real time (i.e. the 90 minute film almost covers a single window of 90 minutes). Not quite real time, but close. Also, the cinematography and special effects are top notch. The 3D is probably the best I've seen since Avatar. To the point where you forget you're watching a 3D movie - the 3D never drifts into Dr. Tongue mode and it's also never superfluous (as it is in a lot of after-principle-photography 3D conversions). It is simply immersive.

    What really stands out though is Sandra Bullock's performance. She inhabits the role and manages to convey volumes simply with her breath or a look. Just what you want with a character that spends half the movie in a helmet.

    The only real quibble is that a Kessler event as depicted in the movie might affect geosynchronous satellites or the ISS or Hubble, but it wouldn't affect all three as depicted. But hell, I read comic books, so I don't get to bitch about scientific accuracy.

    Gravity is a very good movie right up until you realize that this is merely set in space, it's not about space. Then it becomes a great movie. Ultimately this story is grounded in humanity, and is therefore relevant for everyone, not just SF geeks. This is a feature it shares with Alfonso Cuarón's earlier film, Children of Men. That movie was about how hope can survive in a dystopia. Gravity is about rebirth through adversity.

    I'm grateful for my friends, but I need a new movie buddy.

    I'm having a spot of rum tonight before bed, mostly to loosen up the brain for writing, but also because my depression is lifting. One drink only though, because I don't want to accidentally blow this gain away by kicking myself in the brain chemistry. I think I've earned it this week. Still melancholy and nostalgic (for things that never were) though. I need to not dwell on that.

    The wanderlust is affecting me again. I want to just quit my job, hit the road and see some sights. I'm not going to though. Instead I'm looking for somewhere off-continent to go see, possibly next year. 2016 will probably involve a trip to Indianapolis, so that means 2014/2015 for one of those big once-in-a-lifetime trips. I'm leaning towards Australia or New Zealand. Probably not both though, since each has more than enough to keep me occupied for a two week vacation.

    Hmm. I suspect the last two paragraphs are more related than I was willing to admit.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    The thing you have to understand about the Oscars is that I understand the Oscars. It's a big media fest that movie producers invented as a combination circle-jerk and advertising generator.

    I'm OK with this.

    You see, I like the Oscars. I like the fashions; I like the song and dance numbers; I like the speeches; I like the whole bloated excess of it. I even liked Seth MacFarlane. Was he a misogynistic asshole? Oh yes. Did I still laugh at his jokes? Oh yes.

    What can I say - I can find something funny while also finding it offensive. This isn't surprising: it is the main philosophy behind every one of his programs. I generally only watch episodes of Family Guy/American Dad/The Cleveland Show once, because the shocked surprise of some of his jokes can only be conveyed once.

    The trick to enjoying rude things? Knowing where you are. I've told some awfully prejudiced jokes in my time and my defence of that is simple - what happens in bars should stay in bars. It's a little like enjoying Las Vegas - you really need to accept the wrongness of it if you are to have any hope of enjoying yourself. Some people can do it, others can't. But make damn sure you're not inadvertently offending those around you.

    I enjoy the Oscars by holding an annual Oscar party. Some years hardly anyone shows (I think there were three people at the "party" last year and I once had only two, back in the days of Ggothic Towers), others I get a full house. This year was a full house. Possibly this was due to the promise of exotic cheese and liquor, but I don't think so. Everyone seemed to have a great time and I like to think they'd have shown up even if the offerings were Bud Light and Velveeta-on-saltines. Or rather, they'd have been there, but they wouldn't have consumed anything quite that awful.

    So how were the Oscars as compared to ceremonies past? I'd say this one was solid. It benefitted from a lot of the streamlining that has been tried over the last ten years to keep the show on time. Seth MacFarlane did what he was hired to do - generate some controversial buzz in a way that made him the designated target over the Academy itself. Will they use him again? Possibly, he does have the stage presence, good looks and a resonant voice that any decent emcee should have. They won't do it this year though - there's a lot of other people whom they'll want to try first - for example, Tina Fey and Amy Poelher, or Neil Patrick Harris. Hell, I'd like to see Hugh Jackman and Ann Hathaway co-host. Or George Takei!

    In the end, there will never be an Oscar as good as they'd like because they don't know who's going to win. That element of surprise is always going to bite you in the end. At the same time, it's what gives the Oscars it's memorable moments that are talked about for years to come. But there's an upper limit to how much that will help since they want those golden moments, but not the risks associated with real controversy. Sure, you can do one-handed push-ups on stage, but god help you if you're a minor award winner attempting to talk about something controversial - the first few rows might hear you, but all the billion or so TV viewers are going to hear is a swelling orchestra.

    And so my enjoyment of the Oscars is akin to playing offensive card games - something you do in private with a lot of like-minded friends who are also in on it. Last night I had a lot of like-minded friends - to the point where we missed about 30% of the show because people were gabbing or laughing so loud - and that made it a great night.
    jamesq: (Villain)
    So I just got back from watching Chronicle, which I had not even heard of until about an hour before curtain time. I saw a very brief description of the movie (Three teens gain superpowers) and the fact that it was getting much better reviews than you'd think based on that premise. I was looking at an evening in front of the television anyway, so I figured I'd just go and have a look. The worst that could have happened was wasting two hours.

    Chronicle was really really good. I was worried when I saw that this was a so-called "found footage" film (like The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield). I really dislike them as a story-telling medium. The footage is by one of the protagonists, who has decided to film his life, and if that was all we saw, my fears would be realised. Chronicle gets around all the things I hate about found footage films, first by introducing a secondary character who also videotapes her life, and later by using security tapes, cell phone video and all the other videography that is ubiquitous in today's world. It is probably the best filmed movie using this technique, precisely because it can use "found video" from multiple sources. Especially the extended action sequences at the end. The director and editor did a spectacular job.

    Anyway go see it, you'll enjoy it a lot more than The Phantom Menace 3D.

    Now for some spoilers as well as why Chronicle affected me so deeply. )
    jamesq: (Default)
    Hugo, the new film by Martin Scorsese is a wonder. It's one of those rare gems that's a well made family movie that doesn't talk down to kids. What else is it? A 3D movie that uses the 3D so seamlessly that you forget you're watching a 3D movie. There's certainly no Dr. Tongue's Evil House of Pancakes moments in it. Also a 3D movie that seamlessly incorporates surround sound. You are immersed in this movie, but you don't drown in it.



    he story revolves around Hugo, the orphan boy who lives hidden in the Paris central train station and maintains the clocks there. The only thing he has left of his father is a broken clockwork robot he tries to fix. But the automaton is missing a key component.

    The movie goes on from there, introducing characters and sub-plots and making us care about everyone we encounter, even the villains.

    And somewhere along the way, you're not just watching Hugo's story, your also getting a glimpse of the intense love of the movies that the creators, and especially Scorsese, have. Hugo is really an ode to movie-making as art, companion, lover. Losing that love can be as heartbreaking as losing a person's love, and where Hugo really excels is in fixing things that are broken. A movie that ends with the message that anything can be fixed is especially worthwhile to me, as someone who is, on many levels, broken. As long as movies have happy endings, they will remain my constant companion. I am happy to have Hugo along for that journey.
    jamesq: (Golf Clap)
    I saw Micmacs (original French title is "Micmacs à tire-larigot" which they tell me translates directly to "Non-stop Shenanigans"), Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest confection. It was really good, but be warned that in the set of people likely to enjoy Micmacs, I'm damn near dead center.

    The best description of it I've come up with is a cross between Amelie and Ocean's Eleven. If that doesn't make sense to you, know that it is a caper movie with a cast of goofy but lovable oddballs.

    It has all the usual Jeunet-isms that we've come to expect: The aforementioned goofy characters (from his stable of character actors), weird colour schemes and character angles, scenes of ugly people having fun sex. Oh and it has Marie-Julie Baup, who is one of the most adorable looking women I've ever seen.

    This reminds me that I have a Jeunet movie I haven't watched yet. I should do that when I get back into Cowtown.

    Another movie I saw in Vancouver was Year of the Carnivore. This was a simple, classic tale: Girl gains boy, girl loses boy, girl gains boy again after having lots and lots of really akward sex.

    It's written by Sook-Yin Lee and stars Cristin Milioti as Sally Smalls, the protagonist who works through a lot of hangups during the course of the movie, mostly to positive effects, though she does get humourously-arrived-at criminal charges.

    I'm predisposed to enjoying the story of poorly-socialized nerds learning to have relationships - one reason why I liked Amelie - This mostly succeeds there, but does so with a guy I don't think deserved the protagonist. He was a bit of a jerk. Oh well, they can't all be perfect. Along the way are a bunch of sexual situations that are at times funny, and at times funny-in-that-squirmy-contact-embarrassment-way.

    Between the two movies, I have to admit I've got a thing for petite and nerdy brunettes. This probably isn't news to anyone who knows me well.

    Would I recommend YotC? Sure, maybe not as strongly as Micmacs, but it's still good. It's just not one for the ages.
    jamesq: (Alice)
    I've always been a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, and the works of Lewis Carrol in general (I have a soft-spot for nonsense fiction). The surreal imagery, the word-play, the skewed logical constructions - it gives my brain a simultaneous hit of things I crave. Give it a gothic/nerdy adult Alice and I'd never want to leave.

    I just wish someone would make a decent Alice movie. Oh, plenty of movies exist - most recently, Tim Burton's version - but they all fall short somehow. Tim Burton's fell especially short. As a film director he's a great set-piece designer - which is to say that his version of Alice was visually stunning but lacking in almost every other area. It sucks that it stole the plot of the first Narnia movie.

    What was wrong with this version of Alice? Wanking mostly. Johnny Depp played the same character he routinely plays. Alice herself is largely undeveloped and he personal dilemmas just didn't move me. I didn't care about her "real world" problems and I never felt she was in peril in the "Wonderland" sequences. I just didn't care about any of the characters.

    It did have some good points. Helena Bonham-Carter seemed to be having fun. Crispin Glover and Tim Spall seemed creepy and noble, respectively. Kudos to conveying that to the audience with so little to work with (both are relatively minor supporting characters).

    I lay about 50% of the blame on Tim Burton, who's been doing the same movie over and over again for years now. Would Tim Burton's Dorothy or Wendy be noticeably different? I don't think so. I'd really like to see him do something against type. Maybe Sex and the City 3.

    The other 50% is the original source material itself. The two Alice books (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) don't by themselves make a compelling film. Consider:
    • The main protagonist is a child.
    • None of the characters show any development.
    • The "plot" consists of Alice moving from set-piece to set-piece.
    • There's little dramatic tension in the books - You never feel that Alice is in genuine danger at any point.
    • Both books end by having Alice wake up, revealing that it was all just a dream.
    • A lot of the (adult) appeal of the book is in the logical puzzles and word-play - neither of which is easily conveyed on film.
    This is not to say that you can't make a straight adaptation of Alice and be successful. It has been done many times, but I find them all to be unsatisfying. Like having a great appetizer at a high-end restaurant and then leaving before the main course. What you had you liked, but you're hungry for more.

    How would I improve on Alice? The same way numerous other have - make Alice an adult protagonist, give her an actual goal to strive for involving Wonderland. Wonderland itself needs to have some sort of existence beyond "just a dream" - either a more concrete psychic dreamscape, or some kind of alternate dimension.

    I recently watched Alice the SyFy miniseries re-imagining that was made last year. It got a lot right, but fumbled towards the end. The climax succeeds because the bad guys suddenly become a lot dumber then their reputations indicate. Sloppy, but then the whole final third of the story seemed rushed. [livejournal.com profile] othelianna posits that they intended to make a longer mini-series but had to cut it short for some reason.

    One of the best versions I've encountered was American McGee's Alice video game. The young-adult Alice in this version is experiencing Wonderland in her own mind and is battling to free herself from catatonia and crippling guilt. The character develops over the course of the game, snippets of the nature of Wonderland are slowly revealed, Alice's actions have real consequences to her waking self.

    While adapting video games to film presents it's own problems, I think the core of a very good movie is in there. There were attempts to make a movie some years ago, but they ultimately stalled.

    Of course, Tim Burton has poisoned the well - no one is going to green light an Alice feature for several years now because it will (for now) be compared to his movie. Not really Tim Burton's fault - a Spielberg (or Lucas, or Shyamalan, or...) Alice would have done the same thing. I'm sure we'll return to this around 2020 - Alice is a timeless story after all.
    jamesq: (Default)
    [livejournal.com profile] shunn writes:
    I was disappointed that Anakin as a child showed no sign of any of the dark character traits—cruelty, rage, craftiness, whatever—that would later turn him into Darth Vader. That, for me, meant I felt no tension in his interactions with the other characters, and it made his eventual seduction by the Dark Side seem kind of arbitrary.
    This led me to thinking about what might-have-been. What kind of story would we have if Anakin Skywalker was a sociopath from the start.

    Fairly long plot synopsis of my re-imagining of episodes 1, 2 and 3, in point form because damn it's long enough as it is... )
    jamesq: (Default)
    Found this wonderful deconstruction of everything wrong with The Phantom Menace via [livejournal.com profile] shunn. It's long but worth it.

    Be warned though - the guy who wrote this decided on a weird framing device: The film reviewer is actually a serial killer. And it fails badly. On the Light Side, all the Star Wars stuff is brilliant and funny.

    It's like a really good, rich ice cream with chunks of cauliflower in it. You love the treat but keep having to work around these irritating annoyances while consuming it and you wonder WTF they were thinking when they mixed the two together.

    In the end, the analysis can be boiled down to "Nobody wanted to tell George Lucas 'NO'" (or Hell No).
    jamesq: (Default)

    So I finally got to see this yesterday. It was a lot more boring and irritating then I imagined it would be.

    First the bad stuff. Steven Soderburg needs to remember that avant garde cinema techniques are all well and good, but when they get in the way of the story, they're to be avoided. The movie is one week in the life of a high-end escort. It's not about time travelling aliens or people with wierd only-exists-in-fiction types of amnesia. Thus shooting it in the temperaly mixed style ala Pulp Fiction is not necessary and actually quite interesting. The only thing I can think of is the director was trying to hide the fact that there isn't really a plot or ending.

    However, despite the lack of plot, there was a few worthwhile things in this film. First, stuff does happen and - if you can unwind the tangled narrative - you can see the very subtle center point of the movie. It's a moment of shattered confidence from which all subsequent bad decisions flow.

    The best thing about the movie is new-to-the-mainstream Sasha Grey, currently one of the big names in porn.

    Ms. Grey can act. And not in a damning "can act well, for a porn star" way either. Her performance is subtle and low key. In fact she might be the right porn actress at the right time in history to actually make the leap into the mainstream - her soon-to-be-past career no more noteworthy then Keanu Reeves Coke commercials.

    There are also a couple of stand-out scenes that will stay with you for awhile, mostly encounters with her clients. Be advised that there is no actual sex in the movie and only a small amount of nudity. If you want to see Sasha Grey having sex, their's far easier ways to do it.

    The creepiest scenes involve a would-be escort "reviewer" that manages to use consensual sex to violate the main character physically, intellectually and emotionally. I wanted to take a shower after watching it. The fact that we don't see the main character do so tells me that the director is confident enough in his abilities that he doesn't have to use the sledgehammer.

    The escort reviewer comes off as the worst of a bad lot amongst the clientelle. I'm not sure I can think of a positive human character in this movie - everyone is broken in some way and no compensatory good traits are in evidence.

    If you're a fan of Soderberg's weird films, or cinéma vérité then check it out. If you're interested in the stunt casting of a well-known porn star, check it out. Otherwise stay home.
    jamesq: (Default)
    The new Star Trek movie is made of awesome with an extra helping of win sauce.

    But it does have it's flaws. Somethings that seem like flaws, but aren't. Other things seem like good points, but are drawbacks.

    More spoilers then you can aim a phaser at. You Have Been Warned... )
    jamesq: (Default)
    Norah: There's this part of Judaism that I like. Tikun Olam. It said that the world is broken into pieces and everyone has to find them and put them back together.
    Nick: Maybe we don't have to find it. Maybe we are the pieces.
    From Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
    On the spur of the moment I dropped what I was doing and went to see this movie. The timing was so short that I didn't even have time to ask anyone to go with me. This is too bad, because this is a movie that needs to be shared.

    I'm not sure it's for everyone. It plays subtly with mood and location to paint a fairy tale representation of the perfect redemptive night. The sort of night that we all should have at least once in our lives, but so few ever do, lacking the perfect set of circumstances, friends and serendipity.

    The movie works because you can honestly believe that these two deserve the happiness that they'll find with each other, and that the broken edges of their psyches will fit each other. With time they'll each grow to be better, because they're what each other needs.

    Another nice touch of the movie was the fact that things that things that would normally be noteworthy in a movie (The fact that some of the characters are gay or Jewish) are simply background. The pejorative labels we all know are becoming less prejudicial and are evolving into one of many traits that characters may have - a simple fact-of-life rather then an oddity.

    Anyway, it's in the cheap theaters now. Go see it if you have a chance, or pick up the forthcoming DVD.
    jamesq: (Leviticus)
    I just saw Religulous. It was good, but could have been better.

    I don't usually go in for movies that make fun of real people - I always hated Candid Camera and its ilk. I avoided seeing Borat for that reason. I may have to conclude that I'm a bad person though, because when it came time to see this treatment applied to people I don't like (as opposed to people I'm merely indifferent to), I was there, popcorn in hand.

    There was a difference though. People were not tricked in this movie. Bill Maher is who he s and is quite upfront about his views. He wasn't Sasha Baron Cohen pretending to be a clueless foreigner. It wasn't Allen Funt setting people up with staged scenarios. The format was simple. Bill would interview people about religion, then try to apply logic to their views. Surprisingly, the Roman Catholics came across the best (Apparently there are Catholic Priests who take a surprisingly ecumenical view of the world, don't like hypocrisy even when it's in their own backyard, and understand that the Bible is not Science. Now if they could only get Benedict XVI to agree). For the most part he dished it out evenly to the major Abrahamic religions. Jews, Christians and Muslims all got a chance to make their beliefs look foolish. He took a few minutes to go after Mormons and Scientologists.

    Mostly it was a matter of him pointing out that their beliefs were not supportable and if they applied their skepticism of other religions to their own, they'd realize that.

    Here and there, Bill also reminisced about his personal beliefs and how they got there. His Mother and Sister joined in on some of this.

    Where the movie breaks down I think is in its turn to the serious towards the end. For most of the movie it's pretty light-hearted. The very end however turns to why atheism is important, and why having a majority of people believing in make-beleive is a unhealthy for all of us.

    Short version: If you expect your reward in the afterlife, and you think God is going to end the world, perhaps in our lifetime, you're not going to be making rational decisions in your long-term planning. Why make peace if it's god's will to come back and smite the unbelievers in the next ten years? Why engage in any sort of conservation if you believe God made the world for us and gave us enough resources to meet our needs?

    A better movie would have kept coming back to this point over and over again throughout, mixed with the humour of the situation - sugar to the nasty (but necessary) medicine of the message.
    jamesq: (Default)
    I want to see Young People Fucking (the movie). It's only playing at the Uptown until Thursday. I don't want to be that creepy guy who goes to see it alone.

    Anyone up for a movie about sex?

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