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Life in the Empire

Thought it was time to create a thread dedicated to the cinema.

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Saw District 9 based upon references to the movie made on this site. I thought it was quite effective in first creating fear and loathing of the creatures which then became empathy. I do wonder about a few things though.

The siting of the even in Johannesburg immediately made the connection to the former apartheid policies of S.A. and thus was an understandable device. However, by doing that it missed the opportunity to connect their metaphor to Gaza. Additionally, since the creatures were stranded from another planet, the metaphors to refugee camps and illegal aliens were right there but overwhelmed by the S.A. site.

There were two things that I had problems with as far as the film's internal logic. The effect of the black fluid on the human was just too extreme for me to buy into - it was a necessary device to create the central character's journey but it just seemed too far-fetched and I never fully accepted it.

From what I saw, the Prawns had superior technology, superior physicality and superior weaponry. Why were the Prawns trading away their vastly superior weaponry for food with a gang leader (who also was killing individual Prawns) when they could have easily have used those weapons to just take it from him?
On the Smirking Chimp I saw an article about Avatar - the most expensive movie ever made by the Titanic director James Cameron claiming that it a science-fantasy about the U.S. invasion of Iraq with the Iraqis portrayed as twelve-foot high blue creatures.

I never saw Titanic based upon the huge pan Ms. Medusa gave it (she went to it after seeing a TV docu-advertisement about it showing all of the special effects and was thoroughly bored for the three hours of plot that preceded the iceberg event). Though curious about Avatar's special effects I think I will give the the product of Cameron's once again bloated budget a pass until, and unless, I start seeing some credible favorable reviews.
Saw Avatar when it first cam out. 'Tis a benefit of having a 12 yo kid that dad can go see questionable movies and blame it on the kid.

Avatar left me cold. It was more of a cowboys and indians tale set on another planet. The ugly americans attempt to move the 'Pandorans' to another part of the planet so they extract a precious resource. Unfortunately, that includes destroying a spiritual tree that contains the source of their power and wisdom. At the center of the story is the developing love affair between an American marine who switches sides and becomes one of the Pandorans, and the daughter of the Pandoran chief. Essentially the plot line is similar to that in Dances with Wolves.

I tend to like "Romeo and Juliet" plot lines. But, the setting was just too disney-esque and cartoonish to draw me in. And the subtext in the movie was far from subtle. Guess I would call the overall effect, overbearing.

Maybe it's just the sign of the times, but I use to look forward to seeing a block-buster film like Avatar. Especially from a premier director like Cameron. I did like Titanic (mainly for the love story and Kate Winslet), and Aliens is one of the best movies ever made. But, if one thing seems to be consistent with large budget movies these days, is they seem to be missing a soul. Character and story development have been sacrificed for big visual effects. I don't know if it's because audiences expectations have diminished, or movies have become so corporatized that it's impossible to produce anything of value on a large scale.

Who knows. Maybe it's the zeitgeist.
Well I gave a family present to all of us this year, which was a box of dvds of the Russian War and Peace, parts one and two.

I had read the book and I saw the film in two parts in Oxford when it came out a few decades ago, and have been haunted since by the beautiful Russian soundtrack and the bells.

"Don't they know how much I love to dance?"


Rented The U.S. vs. John Lennon last night. I was just young enough to not be fully aware of all of the crap that went down during that time. I found the movie very moving, especially seeing the obvious bond between John and Yoko.

During the preview of Deliver us From Evil Ms. Medusa realized that the subject of the movie is her former parish priest, Father Oliver O'Grady and upon further research saw that he is one of the more notorious pedophile priests that was shuffled from parish to parish.

A little over 10 years ago my father told me that a lawyer wanted to contact me to get a deposition about a priest that I had been good friends with concerning accusations of molestation. I had had no troubling experiences with him other than the time I helped him move to Rhode Island and a priest friend of his tried to seduce me. My friend was upset because the other priest "didn't even know you". He told me that he wished he could be married and be a priest - and also told me of his infatuation for a friend of mine's mother (who, after 9 kids, left her husband for another woman) After he left the priesthood (with a PhD in Psychology) he went back and got his MBA but, apparently, his reputation proceeded him as he spent the rest of his life delivering pizza.

There were more than a few priests who came to the college parish to study psychology. We had a Freudian priest (almost an oxymoron) who was directly challenged in our religion class by the principal - who I heard left the order to live in lesbian bliss. That celibacy thing just doesn't seem to have worked in my childhood parish.
Finally rented Where in the World is Osama bin Laden.


Some good, thought-provoking material that the gung-ho Pax Americana supporters should hear but the opening cutesy, video-game shit felt more than a little forced. I felt like he was trying a little too hard to be entertaining in a Michael Moore-lite way.
Saw two really awful movies that I wanted to warn you about since they feature big budgets and big names - both are post-rapture Xtian fantasies: The Road and The Book of Eli.

The Road is a Father and son post-apocalypse. The son, who was born on the night of the "big flash" is spoiled, whiney and naive....how does that make sense....he never knew the luxuries of before.....lots of scenes of human depravity and cannibals. And then The Book of Eli......I imagine the pitch was Road Warrior with a touch of Fahrenheit 451 meets the Left Behind series. Ms Medusa was complaining after the first scene when Dentzel Washington kills a hairless cat for food - "Stupid choice.....are we to believe that a very expensive and fragile pedigreed cat survived the holocaust.....does the film maker really think we don't know about cats?"

For a good film with Robert Duvall about faith skip The Road and rent The Apostle or for one about the Xian eschatological belief The Rapture Both are excellent and neither proselytize.
Watched 'the Road' whilst on the road. Dreary, for sure, but I found the father and son dynamic pretty touching. Could identify cuz I'm old and my son is about the same age as the boy in the movie. Saw it as a kind of dark poem that was very well done. But I can easily see why it's controversial and some wouldn't like it.
In the Loop a spinoff from the BBC Television series The Thick of It satirising Anglo-American politics in the 21st century.

In the film, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom are looking to launch a war in the Middle East. The plot follows government officials and advisers in their behind-the-scenes efforts either to promote the war or prevent it.
Micmacs, a delightful fantasy from the director of Amelie and City of Lost Children about a man seeking justice upon two arms dealers.

Watched Bunraku last night.  The plot is just your basic futuristic, noir, chop-saki, revenge flick - no guns so everyone fights with kung-fu and swords after the collapse - manga thingy.  But the art direction and music are very cool.  There is no pretense that this isn't a graphic novel/comic book.  There are even some fights where the punches are accompanied by blares of horns like the 60's Batman TV series.  I almost didn't pick it up because Demi Moore is in it but she is little more than a cameo so I could stand it.  I'm thinking BO might like this one for some mindless entertainment that is artful.

Too bad there isn't any actual bunraku but the opening credits are way cool with paper cut-out puppets being manipulated in a bit of an homage to the ancient art of puppet theatre.

Thanks for the rec. Got it queud-up in Netflix to watch tonight. 

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