Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

Some random post about me, today, maybe some links, maybe some lit type stuff

December 7, 2012

My updates have been few and far between over the past month or so. It’s not because I haven’t been reading (I just finished The French Lieutenant’s Woman), I just haven’t been willing to sit down and talk about what I have been reading. Also, the whole book links thing hit a tremendous dry spot. I just wasn’t coming across anything overly interesting. I tried to do a few posts with some links, but it really just wasn’t enough to make it worth while.

Mostly, though, I’ve just been in a foul mood, and when I am in a foul mood I simply shut down. Over the course of this week, I have been making a more concerted effort to pull myself out of that mood. Yesterday, I forced myself to try working out again, and I got twenty minutes of jogging in. Today, I am forcing myself to wear clean clothes. That sounds ridiculous and maybe a bit disgusting, but I don’t do anything. I rarely leave the house, and I hate doing laundry when clothes don’t seem “dirty” in a, “hey, let’s go dig out a stump and burn things” sort of way. But I’ve sort of realized today, as I sort of have to end up realizing at some point in all of my funks, that I need to change things like clothes to help work out of my funks.

Over the past month, my kid has been a random projectile of confusion and horror. I don’t think it’s right to detail his life here, but he has some social/behavioral issues and this school year has been *very* rough on him and us, the past month in particular. It culminated in him deciding he needed to just leave school one day resulting in a school lock down, a call to the police and a subsequent 45 minute conversation involving him, me, the principle, his teacher, a therapist and a cop. This sucked. Bad. Since then, I haven’t had to talk to any cops about his behavior so I am willing to chalk it up to incremental progress.
We also had, then backed out of, a house. What it can be boiled down to is that we leaped when we should have done some more looking. The place had some problems we didn’t notice before we bid, then the inspector pointed them out, and we quickly said, “well, hell no” and got out of it – much to the chagrin of our real estate person, and probably everyone involved on the seller’s side.  So, that was fun.
My work has been its normal blah self. With my crappy mood, the crappiness of my job sort of mutates and grows exponentially and just sort of pancakes me.
Other than that,  my thoughts have drifted a bit from literature and have centered a bit on movies – strangely enough, mostly superhero fair. My wife brought The Avengers home from the library, and it wasn’t horrible. I thought Whedon did a very good job of making an action/superhero movie entertaining and engaging. I, also, watched bits of Thor, which….yeah. It wasn’t nearly as good as The Avengers, but it was far better than the last two Spider-man movies (#3 and the reboot). Of course, conversations between me and the wife went the only direction conversations between us can go when the Avengers are involved and quickly centered on Hulk. I thought this was the only real way to use the Hulk – small doses, smashes everything, and some jokes like smacking Thor in the head. I just don’t see a lot you can do with the character in a feature film focused solely on him. However, I still prefer Ang Lee’s film over whoever did the reboot with Norton, while my wife things Lee’s film is too cartoonish.  Now, what I didn’t bring up with her is what I’ve been thinking about since: Lee’s approach to “collateral” damage in Hulk. One of her prime contentions is that when the Hulk did things like chuck a tank for a few miles across the desert, that they shouldn’t show the soldiers later climbing out unharmed. My opposition to this is that you can’t show the Hulk slaughtering largely innocent people and still have him work as the protagonist, especially not as a sympathetic protagonist – which he is supposed to be, since he’s dealing with his inner demons, his rage, etc. Her response is that they just shouldn’t have shown the soldiers climbing out.
But I think Lee was doing something that I’m not sure a lot of other superhero movies do, or even both to hint at: he’s confront collateral damage done by superheros doing superhero type stuff. In The Avengers, for example, when Loki’s army eventually invades there are creatures crawling all over walls, there are cops in the street taking pot shots, there are massive armored flying gator things….and I don’t recall seeing any people getting hurt or killed. What exactly are all of these creatures doing? Just hanging out on the side of the building, waiting to be picked off by Iron Man or chucked into the ground by Hulk? You see a lot of people in danger, but I don’t recall seeing any actual harm done to them. Somehow, with armegeddon breaking out all around them, no one seems to get hurt. And this seems more realistic, or less cartoony, than Hulk chucking a tank and not hurting anyone?
Watching Lee’s Hulk, I think that’s part of the genius of it. Lee is saying, “hey, it’s a comic book movie, people are not going to get hurt in this.” He rips away that idea of reality, and institutes his own.   This seems like something that could be interesting to look into, how collateral damage is treated in superhero movies. Lee made a clear choice of saying that he would show the results of Hulk’s strength and rage, but take away the repercussions of it. Even with the dogs, they just sort of disappeared with a green cloud, removing the movie further from the attempts of “gritty reality” that we saw Nolan strive for with this Batman trilogy.  Something that should be differentiated, though, is the ramifications of actions by villains and heroes. I have a feeling that there are far more people shown harmed by villains than by the heroes in any capacity.
Something that has been a major bright spot over the past week has been the videos with Adam Savage at (I’d like the newest, but my internet service is apparently down)(again).  I like Mythbusters. I think it’s an excellent, fun show that does a good job of highlighting science and making it interesting.  I grew up with shows like Bill Nigh the Science Guy and Newton’s Apple, and there are not enough shows out there to do what they did – make science interesting, accessible, and fun. The videos at Tested retain the fun aspect of the show, and Savage in particular, but it also gives us a different side of Savage. He loves films. He loves (LOVES) making stuff, everything from replicas of movie props to Dodo birds. He loves literature and is a huge Murakami fan. He’s engaging. He’s funny. He’s just damn good viewing. If you have the opportunity, look for the Untitled Adam Savage Project, and kill your day at about twenty minutes a clip. You won’t regret it. Check out the whole Tested site. It’s worth it.
Alright, some links.
Amazon is launching a subscription service focusing on hooking kids when they’re young to cheap Amazon content and gutting publisher’s ability to get people to buy books. Yeah, I think damn near any publisher taking part of this is just making a deal with the devil, and it’s going to only be a matter of time before the real payment comes due.
It’s the end of the year, which means the beginning of lists. The Atlantic has a best YA/Middle Grade list up. I browsed through it, interested more in the publishing possibilities and seeing what’s been big this year than any real interest in reading the stuff.  This is probably going to sound offensive, but I just have a terrible time becoming invested in these stories. But they can sell insanely well. So, yeah.

Lethem’s “Gun, with Occasional Music” a future movie?

December 11, 2009

as a fan of Jonathan Lethem, I like hearing about new books from him and I like hearing of the possibility of new movies based on his books (though I don’t like Ed Norton essentially casting himself as the lead in Motherless Brooklyn). 

Guns, with Occasional Music is one of those books that I loved to read but wasn’t sure could ever be a movie. Or at least a successful movie.  depending on who is involved,  I can certainly see it being pulled off. But with its mix of Dashiel Hammet style detective story with weird sci-fi, I’m not sure I see an audience for it unless it is drastically changed for the screen. Which would take out all of the fun.

So, if it gets done, I’m hoping for something with a modest budget, modest special effects, and a director who knows how to stretch a buck and get the image he wants (I’m thinking Gondy or Jean-pierre Jeunet, personally).  Whatever happens, it’s a project I’ll probably follow.

Kurtzman and Orci are poor writers

May 14, 2009

I saw the new Star Trek film yesterady.  Right up front about this, I’m a Trek fan and there will be spoilers. I really like the series and while I don’t read the books or have everything from the shows/movies memorized, I am pretty damn picky when it comes to Star Trek and what they do with it. Especially when they want my eight bucks to see what they’ve done.

A glance at Rotten Tomatoes tells me that a lot of people really like this movies. From talking to other people, the movie has also been really well received by the public.  But so was Transformers.

And it was crap, too.

If all you are looking for is an action movie with Star Trek props then this movie is for you. As a special effects extraveganza with a lot of stuff blowing up it excels. Abrams sets a break neck pace that attempts to not allow you to think about anything that is happening on screen.

Which is goood because the moment you start thinking about the movie it goes all to hell. This isn’t to say that I, or anyone, should expect Oscar calibre work on a Star Trek film. For better or worse it will always be looked at as just “Star Trek.” But Kurtzman and Orci can’t write a decent script to save their lives.

They get the character names right, they get the props right and they lift all of the significant lines for the characters from the original Star Trek cast. But they have no idea how to deploy their forces correctly or efficiently. The lines seem thrown in and forced by the actors, used because they were expected to be used. They don’t give Nero any real depth of character, relying heavily on “he’s a bad guy with a big ship” while never really giving him a chance to be an enemy. He blows up a planet and…well, that’s it. And he really hates Spock.

And this isn’t the half of it. The method of destroying the planet, and the tool used for it, are less than thoughtout and seem to be around because, well, it looks cool and allows space for another fight scene where one guys brings a gun, which he loses, and they end up fighting with swords. And you have to wonder, or at least I have to wonder, why Nero wouldn’t go to Romulus and work to save his own planet with his knowledge of the future rather than detroy a bunch of other planets while still leaving everything else the same. He says something about destroying the federation to ensure Romulus’s future but the Federation didn’t blow up the star that whiped out Rumulus (and, apparently, most of an entire galaxy which makes me think that Kurtzman and Orci don’t have any idea on how big a galaxy actually is and how many stars actually explode without whiping them out). 

The movie entirely lacks an internal logic and structure.  While Trek isn’t exactly hard sci/fi, this movie continues a Nemesis tradition of showing a frightening lack of basic knowledge about science and isn’t even consistent with it’s mistreatment of science. Sometimes blackholes suck you through space and time, sometimes they just rip your ship all to hell. Apparently, it’s justa coin toss as to which of these events will happen and you just take your chances.

On the plus side, Simon Pegg was excellent as Scotty but I think a lot of that goes to Pegg  just being good at his work. Bana was horribly underutilized as Nero. Nero could have become an iconic Trek movie antagonist if the writing was better as it looked like Bana was really selling the character. The rest of the cast I’m lukewarm over. They cast for the right ethnicities but none of them were overly memorable beyond Chekov’s accent jokes (which were funny). Unfortunately, I thought Urban’s portrayal of Bones bordered more on charicature than anything.

So I’m not looking forward to the next Trek movie as Kurtzman and Orci seem to have been given the reins for that one, too. They write bad movies. They have always written bad movies and they will continue to do so. But people like seeing stuff blow up even if it makes little to zero sense in the events leading up to and leading away from the stuff blowing up. I’m not against revamping Trek, or even against Abrams speeding it up a bit, but they need better material to work with.