These are my film reviews as well as other review pieces that I’ve written. My film and other media reviews do contain spoilers a fair amount of the time, and not all of the reviews are tagged with SPOILER! notices. Consider this fair warning.
I just finished watching the Netflix series Dark. To say I enjoyed the series would be an overstatement; my emotional state while watching it was more akin to the emotional state you might have while watching a train wreck in progress. I sat up and watched the last three episodes back to back this morning before tumbling into bed and sleeping like the dead for twelve hours.
When I woke up the show was still there in my head and so I felt compelled to write something about it here. Felt compelled to write something if not for other people, then for myself so that I can at least get this dark mess in my head out where I can analyze it. I have enough dark shit in there of my own to deal with.
I was dissatisfied with the conclusion of the show, but I was happy that there was a conclusion. There is nothing worse in the entertainment world than being teased along through dozens of episodes for a show only to discover that the story has no real ending. This story does end. Like LOST, like the director’s cut of The Butterfly Effect, the ending simply isn’t very satisfying and leaves you wondering what the message, the theme of the show, really was.
The play of Ariadne (Araine, Tragedy by Thomas Corneille) that the character Martha is seen performing in during the first season is pivotal. There is a labyrinth to be navigated and a monster to be slain before the story is finished, but neither of these things are what we think they might be by the time we get to the end. Read on if you want to know more. There are spoilers beyond the break.
The Wife and I watched this movie two days before our 33rd anniversary. In my opinion there are few stories that can compete with this one for romantic impact on an anniversary date night. This new version of the story, set to music:
Is the first time that I ever took a real interest in the story. The reason I took an interest was because of this man:
This wasn’t the first time I had seen him in a show, but it was the first time that he owned the screen so convincingly and persistently. He commanded my attention and I fell in love with his onscreen presence. I loved the show even though they canceled it. This seems to happen a lot with things I love. Most people simply can’t wrap their heads around why the thing is worth paying attention to.
This appears to be true of the Cyrano musical as well. I suspect that this is because most people can’t take little people seriously in leading roles. The Wife is convinced that it is the poor pacing of the movie edit that causes the problem with viewers. I personally don’t think most people are deep enough to notice that the pacing drags in several sections. They see a little person in a leading role and they refuse to pay to see the movie because it simply isn’t believable.
This is to their own personal detriment. The film is beautiful. It is a marvelous example of a period piece set in a variety of real world locations. Cyrano de Bergerac was a real person that came from a particular place and time in history. However, that Cyrano seems to have had little problem with women. While he apparently did have a very large nose, it was apparently no more pronounced than several popular actors of recent years (yes, I am looking at you Adam Driver) He did seem to be touchy about it, though. In the musical they simply abandoned the fake nose that has come to be associated with productions of the classic play. Who needs a large nose when you’re leading man is so distinctly not normal looking right out of the box?
The play was written by Erica Schmidt, Dinklage’s wife. Even though the part seems almost written for him, he reportedly had to beg her to be allowed to play it. They first performed the play in New York city; off, off Broadway. The future director of the movie just happened to be in the audience one night and the rest is history.
As beautiful as the movie is, it is the soundtrack that makes it memorable. The passion in the performer’s voices is palpable. Dinklage’s vocals are raw and moving at all times. The lackluster reception for the movie does force me to wonder what the audience response would have been like if they had gotten someone more traditional to play the leading man’s role? If they had simply used movie magic and computer animation to make Peter Dinklage six foot tall? Would audiences have noticed how beautiful the film was then? Noticed the emotion? I don’t know. I’ll continue to love it anyway.
Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.
John Dickinson, 1776
Today I discovered to my horror that I have never written a proper review for my favorite Independence Day movie. Facebook reminded me that I sat down on July 4, 2013 and watched the Blu-ray version of:
But on that day eight years ago, I wrote a single line of text as a review for Facebook. I also quoted the movie twice, the quotes I include here, but all in all, not much of a review for a movie that I have seen no less than a score of times now. I searched the blog for a review; and while I have mentioned the movie many times here, I have never written an article just for the movie itself. I will rectify this lack of a proper review here and now.
1776 started life as a musical written by Peter Stone and the movie was written by Stone and directed by Peter H. Hunt. I have watched a variant of this film on the fourth of July every year since the Wife convinced me that musicals could be interesting by forcing me to sit down and watch A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum back at the beginning of our relationship. After that movie it was time to watch My Fair Lady and Victor/Victoria to name just two of my favorite musicals. On and on this introduction to the genre went, until I actually wanted to watch The Sound of Music for myself, and then I had to admit that there were some musicals that were okay. Somewhere in the middle of this educational series we sat down and watched a friend’s laserdisc copy of 1776.
The story of the existence of this version of the film is a tale all on its own. Peter Stone wrote his narrative on the creation of the Declaration of Independence back in 1969, and it was performed on Broadway 1,217 times. It was an unlikely success given its subject matter and the fact that the play went nearly thirty minutes between songs in the first act. It is a who-dun-it of a story about events that we know transpired successfully, and yet you wonder how it ever happened as you watch the actors on the screen. After the play left Broadway it was picked up to be made into a movie, the screenplay for which Peter Stone also wrote. He and the director struck up a good working relationship, and both were pleased with the resulting film when they put it to bed in preparation for its scheduled wide release.
Unbeknownst to them, the producer of the film, Jack Warner, had gotten a personal phone call from Tricky Dick Nixon, requesting that the musical not be released without at least being modified from the stage play. Specifically, he wanted this song removed from the film:
Jack Warner happily obliged, taking a handy pair of scissors to the film that he had told the director and the writer would not be altered from their approved cut. In the end he removed not only the offending song, but several other scenes and verses of songs so that the film flowed more to his personal liking.
After this radical revision it should have been no mystery why the movie went on to financial failure, being shoved into the historical waist bin along with the objectionable parts of the movie that Jack Warner removed. Except that the removed sections were not destroyed as Jack Warner directed. His secretary took the scenes out of the trash and preserved them so that they could be returned to the film’s director. This way he would know what had happened to the movie that he had so lovingly crafted over the preceding years, but had never been allowed to be seen by movie goers.
Decades went by, and interests came and went. There was talk of a revival of the Broadway musical, and along with it the question of what happened to the movie version that had tanked so horribly when it was released? Enough interest was generated that Pioneer contacted Warner Brothers and Peter Hunt about creating a laserdisc version of the movie for interested collectors.
Peter Hunt decided to reassemble the original film for Pioneer’s laserdisc version. The movie is complete with Jack Warner’s scribbles at the edit points, and the dust and scratch marks on several of the removed scenes. One removed scene was only available in black and white, a test-run, a connective shot that explains why some characters are outside the hall when the crucial independence declaration arrived from Virginia. There is a secondary audio on the laserdisc that goes into more depth about the story that I’ve related here as well. If you have a laserdisc player, you really should own a copy of this movie on laserdisc. It, like the making of The Abyss on its laserdisc release, is unique. There is no place else to find the exact content that is on that disc.
Watching that version of the film is to travel back in time to the years when it was made, an interesting juxtaposition between the times that were being celebrated with song, and the times when America was burning with internecine conflicts at the hands of the most ruthless man then living, the sitting President of the United states. It is nice to have that perspective as we nurse ourselves back from the brink of destruction, yet again. It’s hard to know how to feel this July fourth.
The United States has survived the presidency of the despot, Donald Trump, and the pandemic that he allowed to rage unchecked across the country and the world while he worried about what this meant for his re-election chances. The sun still rises and sets without him in the White House today, and it is quietly reassuring to not be told what it is that pisses Joe Biden off every single day that we wake up. What a nice change from the last four years of hell that we have all endured.
The Blu-ray version of 1776 is different from the raw attempt at destruction that is on display in the laserdisc copy of the film. Gone are the jarring ink-marks and color changes that announce Jack Warner’s and Tricky Dick’s violent raping of the movie before it was allowed to be seen by American audiences. The scenes flow smoothly in and out of song, just the way the director left it. Just the way he intended it to be seen. It was a nice contrast to experience the film the way it should have been seen back in 1972. A nice change from the conflict that has consumed us all for the last few decades.
I find this depth of hindsight inspiring. The hand of destruction escaped at the last moment, leaving the people to reflect on what it was that we almost allowed to happen. Again. And again. And again. Let us recommit ourselves to the experiment that started in 1776. It would be a shame to let all the sacrifice be for nothing if we don’t. Watch the reconstructed version of the movie, or see if you can find that secondary audio track that I mention on the laserdisc. Be inspired, yourself.
Commitment, Abby, commitment! There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth: those with a commitment, and those who require the commitment of others.
We only made it about 15 minutes into the movie before she says “I’m bored. Next film.” I know why she said it because she said as much when we watched the trailer. “I get a real Vanilla Sky feel from this one. I doubt I’ll like it.” So we stopped watching the movie and we turned instead to watching another movie we’d skipped over a dozen times or more by this point.
What that movie was really isn’t relevant to this article. This article is about the journey I went on when she got up and went to bed, and I turned back to Bliss in order to see if it really was anything like Vanilla Sky. When I finished the movie I was pretty sure that “like Vanilla Sky” wasn’t far off the mark as far as judgment calls go. But I had to be sure, and that started the real journey.
This article contains detailed spoilers. You have been warned.
I was blindsided at about six in the morning with a reference to the Snyder Cut on some Reddit thread somewhere, and I had to go look up what the fuck a Snyder cut was so I could understand what it was people were arguing about. Ah. the Justice League movie that a bunch of digital people seem to think would have been better the way Zack Snyder shot it. Before Joss Whedon got his accused sexual harasser fingers all over it. That movie came out when?
2017? Why are we still talking about this? Oh, right. The Wonder Woman movie I didn’t see this year. I’ll watch it when it gets to a streaming service I already pay for. The first one was good, we’ll see what that one is like eventually. When I see it. As far as Justice League goes, I’d be willing to bet that either version will end up feeling about the same in the end, and Snyder’s version would have been far too long to be successful in theaters.
I wandered over to Facebook this afternoon, and they are bitching about Justice League there too. Now I’m thinking what the actual fuck is going on? Because this smacks of some serious evidence that we have too much time on our hands these days. It’s either than or an orchestrated campaign to get people to talk up the Snyder cut of Justice League right before the revised version of the movie drops.
You like a film you like a film…you don’t you don’t. Seriously, so what? Life is a lot less stressful saying ”so what?”
I think we have forgotten how to say “I don’t know” which is far more important than just ignoring the things that piss us off. You don’t have to say “so what” to just keep scrolling on.
For most people it is safe to say “Don’t like it? Don’t watch it and don’t dwell on it.” I myself will frequently queue a movie I like when some other movie I’ve just watched for the first time leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Bad images behind my eyes. But if you aspire to be a storyteller yourself, it is important to understand how the story doesn’t work and how it might be fixed. There is also a use for criticism when you are trying to describe to others what the film was about and why it did or didn’t work for you.
Criticism is at the same time all too easy and way harder than most people give it credit for being. How to talk about a thing without spoiling it? How to offer pointers that are constructive for the next person to pick up that script? I mean, if all you have to say is “it sucked” you probably shouldn’t bother to say anything. Scroll on. If you have more to say than that, then sharpen your pencils and get to work on it. Don’t expect to be thanked for your efforts, though.
As far as Justice League goes, I didn’t talk about it on the blog when it aired and I watched it, and I didn’t talk about it because it made no real impression on me. I’d rate the movie with a solid three stars. It was popcorn and it was enjoyable while it was on. I was never emotionally moved by DC characters in comic books, although Batman was a comic I would occasionally read. His movies have been hit and miss over the years, more misses than hits.
I never cared for Superman because there is no real story to be told when you have an invulnerable protagonist, which is why the writers had to invent so much Kryptonite to affect him that there is enough kryptonite in the DC universe to make a neutron star out of the stuff. Maybe that explains his strength? I watched his movies because they were on, and I liked the first two largely because I had a thing for Christopher Reeve whether I cared for the character of Superman or not. I’ve seen the later movies as well, and as someone who was not emotionally invested in the character, I have to say I liked the extended version of Batman vs. Superman. It had just the right amount of grim reality to it to make the story interesting to me. Aside from which, the ending sets us all up for the beginning of the Justice League movie. If you haven’t seen the extended version of Batman vs. Superman you won’t understand why there is no Superman at the beginning of Justice League, and that is going to throw anyone off the story right from the start.
Why are people bitching about Justice League anway? They should try watching Super Friends like I did with my sibs back in the 70’s. That show will stop anyone from ever taking those characters too seriously. I’ll happily watch the Snyder cut if it ever shows up somewhere I can watch it without having to expend too much effort, but I’m not so interested in seeing it that I’d start talking about it on social media everywhere, all the time. That smacks of obsession. If you are the one doing that, turn the screen off and go outside to breath for a few hours. Try some meditation. Come back when you’ve found your equilibrium again.
I tried calling in to the Freebirds locations that I usually go to (Tech Ridge and Hancock) and they instructed me to go to the website to order because they weren’t allowed to take orders over the phone any more. There is a problem with this scenario, of having to go use the Freebirds website. The problem? The website sucks.
I’ll go through the order just to prove the point. I can’t order all three types of beans or multiple meats on the website. Maybe I want more than one kind of bean on my burrito. Maybe I’m in the mood for steak and chicken. I can get ancho on the side for the Daughter and extra chicken for the Wife, but there is no way to say extra pico for the one and extra lettuce for the other. We don’t want to talk about food allergies. That is a lecture too long for this feedback. It will require a second submission.
Use the custom field, I hear you saying. That would be a wonderful challenge for my communication skills since the custom order field is limited to forty-five characters. When Twitter limited me to 140 characters it was sometimes tough to get the right message across in one tweet. That was a challenge that I was willing to take on because the worst outcome was that my message was misunderstood and I would have to tweet a second time to try to clarify my statement. I wouldn’t have to pay for and then eat the resultant mess. A custom field of 45 characters means I have to write the order out in code, and I’ll be willing to bet that my code and your code will not match since the encryption/decryption key isn’t provided with the order form.
The problem of “go in the restaurant and order or use the website” is solved for me by going to a different restaurant. Going to a restaurant with a drive through or having food delivered from some place that answers the phone or whose website allows me to clearly and unambiguously order what I want from the menu. I love Freebirds burritos, but I don’t love them enough that I will jump through extra hoops, settle for something made in a way allowable by the kludgy website or risk my health during a pandemic in order to get Freebirds food. Lady Liberty is going to have to find another job if those are my choices.
The microfiber blanket we recently purchased is almost miraculously soft, and it’s cozy warmth is a comfort on winter nights when your state has left you stranded at home with no electricity, gas or running water in the middle of a blizzard.
When we put it on the bed for the first time and noted its behavior, we were concerned that it might have been possessed by a mischievous spirit. Since it hasn’t sucked out anyone’s soul, bled anything dry or eaten our pets, we’re guessing it’s either a benign spirit or a new form of life.
In addition to warmth on cold nights it also provides entertainment. While you are asleep, it will crawl across the bed to keep the spouse warm while leaving the purchaser cold, and it will repeat this process nightly if required to. Simply put the blanket back in its original position on the bed, and then go back to sleep again. When you wake up you will once again discover that you have all the blanket.
I highly recommend microfiber blankets. Get your spouse to buy one for you. If you discover what it eats please let me know so I can keep mine properly fed.
Sentient Bed Covering Review posted on various sites.The Wife kept wanting me to change this one, so if it looks different than you remember, it’s her fault.
It too is a respectable entry into the annals of the shitshow that was the year 2020. Stay for the credits. How they put the comics together digitally is a thing of beauty.
The Wife and I sat up drinking until midnight, watching both these shows before tuning in to the creepy-assed feed from an empty Times Square on Youtube to watch the ball drop for Central Standard Time, before they hauled that sucker back up again to drop it again the next hour.
Or maybe they just put the video of the ball drop on on a loop and replayed the one-hour loop twenty-four times? Who can tell? What I can tell is that the official feed did not have the sad CST drop that I saw as part of my New Year’s celebration. Everyone had cleaned up and left aside from some holdouts who were still braving the cold at one am EST. NYC needs to break with tradition and embrace the universal time code (UTC) they should celebrate the new year at 7:00 pm EST and call it done. It’s no more midnight in NYC at 12:00 am than it is noon (as measured by the sun) at 12:00 pm. Tell those railroad barons what they can do with their time zones! Throw off the yoke of the tick-tock man!
Anyway, fuck you 2020. Your next of kin might well be worse, but I’m well done of you no matter what happens later.
Ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day, fritter and waste the hours in a off-hand way.
The story of the downfall of Spiro Agnew, Tricky Dick Nixon’s Vice President. He was insanely popular with American conservatives of the time, just as Richard Nixon was popular with the majority of Americans of the time. They were both popular when they were elected. Spiro Agnew had a secret that wasn’t much of a secret in Baltimore where he had come from, and that secret would lead to some strange twists and turns in the near future as Richard Nixon broke laws in his attempts to stay in office.
Without that advisory from the Office of Legal Counsel Donald Trump would have been indicted for his crimes before he was impeached, and his impeachment and removal would have been a foregone conclusion because you can’t be President of the United States and conduct the business of the United States from prison. Well, Mitch McConnell and the cult-like followers of QAnon would have said he was railroaded and that the superhuman Donald Trump could easily do the country’s business from prison, but they wouldn’t have represented a majority. They would have been an even smaller minority than the one that came out and voted for Donald Trump in the November election.
I’ve mentioned the podcast that spawned the book she is out stumping for three times on the blog over the past few years. Unfortunately all the links that were in previous articles now lead to non-existent feeds as far as I can tell, so I will have to re-edit them eventually to point to a new feed location (Done. However the feed was restored when I started editing, so I left some of the old links in. Fingers crossed that the feed stays up this time. -ed.) In the meantime, the podcast is also on Youtube just like the segment of LSSC that I linked above.
If you love a good yarn, especially a true tale of intrigue, check out this podcast and book. you’ll definitely enjoy the story. I did.
I get banned from forums pretty frequently. A username of mine has a lifespan that is generally numbered in weeks, not years, on any given forum on the internet. And since I historically have only used my real name on forums (belief in anonymity on the internet is a common delusion) that means that my time on a forum is strictly limited to how long I can manage to stay in the moderator’s good graces.
The one forum in history that I managed to not get kicked off of was Dan Carlin’s forum for his podcasts. There are other forums I participated in that expired before I managed to offend a moderator, but that offense would have occurred given enough time and interest in the forum. Dan had his own problems when it came to hosting a forum full of hate speech and bullying and confusing that thundering noise with a dedication to free speech, but the fact was that you couldn’t get kicked off of his forums. Consequently I was a member on that forum when it too expired, even though I had long since fallen out of Dan Carlin’s good graces. Weirdly, I miss that dysfunctional place. I reminds me of my dysfunctional family.
Not only do I routinely get kicked off of forums that I join, I have even been asked to leave forums that someone has been silly enough to ask me to moderate. Perhaps one of my few saving graces is an unwillingness to linger where I’m not wanted, to the point of setting out on foot facing a walk of many miles just to get out of an uncomfortable situation that will only become comfortable if I leave. The latest place to reach that uncomfortable stage is the purported Front Page of the Internet, Reddit.
The biggest problem with Reddit is that it isn’t really one place. It is one system with a near-infinite number of sub-forums (subreddits) a confusing hodge-podge of purportedly different forums with completely different rules and readerships, each managed by it’s own little group of absolute rulers who enforce rules (or not) completely at their own whim.
Back when news aggregators first started showing up on the internet, there were several sites like Reddit that sprang up that allowed subscribers to recommend articles to other visitors to the website. Most of them have since closed their doors or been bought out and turned into spamming e-mailers, but Reddit remains pretty much as it was in the beginning, very nearly the sole survivor of an earlier internet age.
If you go back through my blog archive, as I have been doing since I started writing this blog (this is how you teach yourself to write. You try to figure out why your previous attempts to communicate failed to communicate even with later versions of yourself. A free writing tip for the newbs) you’ll notice links that say digg story (at least, you will until I manage to edit them all out. -ed.) Digg was one of Reddits early competitors; one that allowed, even encouraged, self-promotion. While Digg still exists, it was bought ages ago by another corporation that uses it to spam former contributors like your’s truly with articles upvoted somewhere as being popular for whatever reason. I liked digg back in the day. I liked the fact that it catered to various media types and allowed for a free-form interrelation of text and video and audio all mashed together in one location. But the fickle finger of fate choose it to fail and so it failed.
These days the dominant stream of information on the internet is Facebook, not Reddit. Facebook is not a news source no matter how many people treat it like it is. Reddit can be a news source, but the subreddits allow the kind of balkanization of information that you get on Facebook, potentially leading to as much disinformation as you will find on Facebook.
If you have the right sources on your twitter feed, Twitter can serve as a reasonable approximation of a news feed, and it does this by its very brevity, it’s cramped confines of 140 and the now expanded 280 characters. But the nature of Twitter, the fact that it is a glorified headline writing contest, also limits the time you spend on the platform. Time spent on the platform or engagement is how internet businesses are rated these days, and the way to increase engagement is to force the users of the platform to create their work on that platform directly.
Which brings me back to Reddit and my ongoing fights with the petty little dictators that run the various flavors of subreddits which you are required to post to in order to get content onto Reddit. I write political pieces reasonably frequently. One would think that /r/politics/ would be the place to post links to original political opinion pieces. One would be wrong to think that.
[–]from TheRedditPope[M] via /r/politics/ sent You really aren’t supposed to submit your own content. If you have content that is on topic for this subreddit someone will come along and submit it themselves.
[–]from hoosakiwi[M] via /r/politics/ sent Blogspot is a filtered domain in /r/politics. We do not allow personal blogs, so your submissions from your blog will not be approved here. If you want to promote your blog, take out an ad with reddit.
Well, that was news. Looking at the rules over at Reddit.com it doesn’t say anything about not being able to post your own material. In fact, it encourages you to post your own material as well as material from other people. How, precisely, is anyone supposed to find content if links to it are routinely autodeleted or treated as spam? When I posed this question to the moderators of the subreddits that I posted to, I was told to take out an advertisement on Reddit if I wanted to promote my blog.
…no seriously. A lot of bloggers have commented on the death of blogging and I think I’ve found one of the culprits. It is Reddit and Facebook and the advertising funding model that has been rejiggered to fund the internet, as if the internet was just one more entertainment source like TV or radio is. Were turned into, by advertising. If I had the readership that afforded me the ability to advertise on Reddit, I wouldn’t need to advertise on Reddit.
I think you can see the problem here, denying attention to bloggers which in turn squelches the blogosphere and promotes mass media and other commercial ventures which can afford to purchase advertising. I begin to realize why I’ve never taken the time to build a rep on Reddit. I’m simply not consumerist enough to buy into the capitalist charade going on there and on places like Facebook.
I’ve been banned from several of the subreddits now because I refuse to write my content on Reddit directly and instead link to it here on the blog. I won’t create content for Reddit to use to make money directly. I really don’t give two shits if they make money, anymore than they care if I can get readers for the blog or not. But they care if they make money, and they make money by keeping me on their platform creating there, clicking on ads there, getting people to read my work written there. It’s the same way that Facebook makes money, and that is also the reason I don’t invest my time creating work on Facebook, either.
All authority based systems will fail when tested in this fashion. This is the reason why I consistently agitate for democratic approaches to policing and policies. Authority for authorities sake will always succumb to mob mentality. Always.
I noticed, after being kicked off yet another subreddit again today, that Reddit now allows me to self-publish links and full articles from the blog directly to my user profile, bypassing the requirement that I submit to the vagaries of the petty little modos that run most forums, including the majority of subreddits on Reddit.com. So I guess I’ll try posting links and shortened blurbs for some of my better articles straight to my user profile and see if I get any traffic from Reddit. Worth a try, guess. Can’t get any worse than the headaches I get trying to deal with moderators of any stripe.
I would like to thank the moderators and residents of /r/atheism for reminding me exactly why I don’t identify as atheist anymore even though I am one. Their harassment and then banning of me for daring to post on the sub and subsequently defend myself from attack has once again confirmed for me my firmly held belief that moderators and forum dwellers really don’t like conversation. Moderators especially hate posts and conversations because posts and conversations make them have to do the thankless job of moderating. A dead forum means that there is a happy moderator enjoying his porn videos on another tab, somewhere else on the internet.
When told “you have to write your material here, not link it” the only logical response after the way I was treated there is to say “why would I write for you assholes? I don’t even know why I thought a conversation with you would be interesting in the first place. Have a nice life.”