Tuesday, August 23, 2016

WHY IS PAT ROBERTSON STILL ON THE AIR? NOT WHAT HE SAYS, BUT WHY IS HE STILL ON THE AIR SAYING IT!? HOW RELIGIOUS TELEVISION IS MONOPOLIZING THE DIGITAL NETWORK MARKET AND PROMOTING MAINLY TO THE POOREST AND LOWLIEST OF THE POPULATION AND WHY/HOW THEY STILL GET AWAY WITH IT. (I'm gonna probably get in some trouble with this blogpost, aren't I?)

So, like every Olympics, I and everybody else, complain about how NBC’s coverage is, oh, what’s the word, um, incomplete, I guess. Sometimes it’s been terrible or barely adequate or mediocre, although it’s got its moments and high points and dammit, they’re trying. Basically, my complaints about the Olympics and other similar events really basically thread the same needle however, and it's this belief I have that, certain important culture, sociological, political even, certain important events are so important whether literally to the future of the free world, or at least, are or should be ingrained culturally into the culture landscape, that they should be widely and readily available to as many people as possible, and while it’s easy to say that the internet is surpassing that, television is still the best and most readily available tool out there to provide that, and it really pains when I observe that they’re not doing that. It’s the same complain that I had when I bitched about the NCAA Tournament Finals being on TBS instead of CBS this year, or hell, it’s the same complaint I made in the nineties when they canceled “The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show”, “There shouldn’t be a world where Looney Tunes isn’t easily and readily available to everyone, it shouldn’t be relegated to cable television!” I said that, when I was like, I don’t know, 13, 14, however old I was when they canceled that, and now we have a generation of people who are all grown-up celebrating the twentieth anniversary of “Pokemon” by walking around with their phones, until hopefully, they get run over by somebody who was Pokemon Go-ing, while driving. (Yeah, still think I was wrong about letting Looney Tunes slip away from us, 'cause I sure as fuck don't!) So yeah, I don’t like how I have to go stream on Roku, or borrow my friend’s account so I can stream the Olympic basketball on Roku, or Olympic boxing, or wrestling, or whatever cool sport that I used to be able to watch when NBC seemed to air all the Olympic events, instead of the ones they choose to air on the main channel. And I think it’s still important now, maybe more than ever, ‘cause more people are without the easily accessible capabilities of the modern world, even in America than you think. There’s a reason why the Redbox machines are still around, but the Redbox streaming service, completely flopped, not only was there too much pliable competition, but the people who rent from Redbox aren’t the ones who stream on the internet. If they could do that, they wouldn’t be going to the Redbox in the first place.

So, here’s the thing, as somebody who, coincidentally, currently doesn’t have available my normal streaming services, ‘cause of, circumstances, I do pay closer attention to what’s being broadcasted to those who don't have all those extra services and what’s more readily available on the basic networks of television than others might, and while we’re probably a few years away from the Super Bowl going on ESPN, or the Oscars airing on ippv or some other obnoxiously moronic and stupid backwards choice in culture like that, what I actually look at and care about and more-often-than-not nowadays, worry about, is, “Well, if we aren’t inundated with these cultural and societal events and milestones and-eh, (Sigh) I don’t know, whatdoyacall-‘em, eh, these major significant moments that we so associate as apart of ourselves, as well as with television itself, then, what exactly is there now on the most basic of television anymore? Without cable or satellite, just a half-broken antenna and a converter box, what do you get to watch? Well, there is a lot more than there used to be with digital, but a great deal of the programming however, and this doesn’t get talked about enough, is religious programming.

Okay, I’m going into a touchy area here, so let me be clear, it’s not that I have any problems with religion or all denominations, okay I do, but I don’t actually object to it being on television, in theory. This isn't even a new phenomenon either, hell, at the very first Emmy awards, Milton Berle lost the Award for Most Outstanding TV Personality to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, so you know, it's as much apart of television and our broadcast history as everything, so even though I don’t get wasting time on Sunday mornings for some preacher or sermon, I would counterprogram that with, I don’t know, anything I can find really, perhaps an Educational/Informational program that actually was both of those things, and didn’t suck. (Seriously what kids wants to sit down every week and watch “Pet Rescue”, ugh. I already wrote a blog on the damn E/I logo, you can find that at the link below:

However, the fact that there are so many, and yes, there are many and they seem to be on all weekend even on some of the major local networks and affiliates, and in the case of who I’m going to talk about, his own broadcast network, but many of them are only available on these obscure digital channels that only air religious programs, and are, as far as I can tell only/mainly readily available to, well, the poorest of the poor, that’s-eh,-, yeah, that’s-um… (Sigh)

Okay, real talk now, and yeah, this’ll probably be the part where I piss off some of the religious folks who might be reading this, but here’s why I, and most of us nowadays, really hate religion, and it’s not because you guys don’t believe in science, or think religion is science, or whatever…- no, it’s really not that. It’s that, when you go back through the history of religion, not the stories in the Bible, the history of religions, what you realize is that, they are essentially nothing more than a body under which, a small group can have a certain amount of power over a wider group. You see, religions, used to essentially be governing bodies through most of history, in many places, they still are, and pretty much all religions act in this manner, as though they are a governing body. That’s why it’s such a huge fucking deal, when a bunch of old white landowners put it into law that government and religion are supposed to be separate; ‘cause until then, they weren't any other faux sort of separate governing body, was basically a pawn for the major leaders of whatever church was in charge, usually monarchs. And that’s still how religions work, the infrastructure of most religion is of a governing body, one that, in this modern world, in many ways, especially is essentially in competition with the government for control of, the populace. And whether or not you think there’s an imaginary all-knowing being in the sky or not, when you realize that, that’s really what religion’s about, it really begins to irk you the more you look into most religions histories, even and especially sometimes modern day ones, those post-U.S. Constitution ones like, Scientology and LDS come to mind in particular, even though they’re more cerebral than a typical religious governing structure, they’re still essentially a way of controlling others, and that’s why we don’t look to highly on those people who do nothing but preach they’re damn religions everywhere, and nothing else. Yeah, that’s not devotion, or believing, that’s brainwashing. And yeah, all religions are basically cults until they get popular and/or enough power and don’t, you know, off themselves with Kool-Aid or whatever, until they get recognized as a religion, from a respected governing body, so there’s that too, but yeah, there’s something disturbing about the idea that, religion, now that there’s competition, and you know, things like the Renaissance that happened that made us realize that, the church wasn’t the be-all and end-all of knowledge, so now many religions, really seek out and pick out the weakest and lowliest and most uneducated and poorest of people to “spread their word”, so, sorry if you guys got caught up in that, but…. (Shrugs) yeah, look most of the teaching and main lessons we’re supposed to learn from most religion, when they’re not perverted by people like this, they’re fine, decent rules to live by, but still, those that pervert those supposed words of the lord, (sigh) and especially those that then spread their perverted wisdom and guidance of the Lord and Savior to the masses, that’s who we’re talking about here. And yeah, in many ways, this is an extension of such practices, and that’s why this abundance of religious programming really for people who don't get CNN, while the people who do don't have that same option, it really bugs at me, pisses me off in many respects.

(Deep breath)

Anyway, again, if it’s just, airing a sermon once-a-week, or something, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, hypothetically. Religion has a place in this culture, and I don’t have a problem in general with it being represented on the airways, but that said, currently there's I don't know, 50 or so channels on my digital television, and at least 9 of them are devoted full-time to producing nothing but religious televangelism programming and that's not including another 3 or 4 that devote some time to it, like more than Sunday mornings to it, that's quite a bit. If that was the percentage of religious programming you got on your cable packages, trust me, you wouldn't buy it, and yet it's free? That’s where we come to, Pat Robertson….

You might be familiar somewhat with Pat Robertson as some old-ass dude who shows up on your Facebook wall occasionally where there's an article about how he's something unbelievably offensive and beyond stupid; I get that on my wall about once a week or so, (Thanks "Right-Wing Watch", I do not want your job) and doesn't actually garner that much impact and influence as he used to, and that's all true, and it would be really, really easy to just, find a bunch of examples about how all the absolutely stupid moronic shit he's said over the years and point to, hell, I'm sure I can just type, "Pat Robertson Saying Stupid Shit" on Youtube, and sure enough find somebody who's already put a few clips together. Ooh, Anderson Cooper did a good one, but let's see, oh this one has him agreeing with Jerry Falwell about the ACLU being responsible for 9/11, that'll work. 



Yeah, he's an easy target. I don't want to go after him for what he says, there's hundreds of others who do that, what I'm actually kinda curious about it, "Why is he still on the air"?! I mean, yeah, I know why he's still on the air, but seriously, why is he still on the air? Why does he still have a forum that goes out to numerous of these poorest people to vent the stupid shit he vents? In fact, these are broadcast television stations, you have a get a government license from the FCC to be on the air and follow certain rules and guidelines to remain a broadcast channel, why has he and all these others been consistently given one? How do they get away with this, other than, "1st Amendment, freedom of speech", yeah, that's the given, I grant you, but still, there's other ways to make this speech, without using the airwaves, that's a different thing altogether.

Well, that's the question I keep asking myself, and I don't really have a clear answer for why the FCC is so lenient on this, I've tried and really struggled to find one, in fact I've had multiple plans to do this blogpost before and I've abandoned them until now, 'cause I really could never find a good enough answer, and I still don't, but (Sigh), you know, this really needs to publicized and brought up more, so we're gonna try and investigate this the best we can, so let's start at the top. Once again, Pat Robertson, why is he still on television, why is he influential, why is he still influential, why is he still important?

For starters, he might not be, 'cause even though "The 700 Club" claims it's in syndication still, I can't find a station that still airs it, outside of Freeform, (I'll get to Freeform.) although I know as recently as a couple years ago, I could find him on Channel 17.1 in Vegas, which is, a station that,-, huh. Okay, huh. Hold on, I'm looking up, stuff on it now, and.... Huh.

(Long researching pause, sporadic typing)

I'll get to that in a second, but they did air "The 700 Club" as recently as 2010 here; I know this, 'cause skipping through the channels once, I happened to stumble into the middle of an investigatory piece about the Nevada Senate Campaign that year between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle, which at the time was the biggest Senate race in the country, between a highly-respected and knowledgeable and powerful moderate-to-Liberal Democrat in Harry Reid, and a diluted batshit crazy Tea Party Religious psychopath, Republican Sharron Angle and I paying particularly close attention to that race. Oddly the piece was actually fairly benign, although it certainly skated over the insanity of a woman who in the Legislature was so anti-anything the government did, they pressed started nicknaming the voting roll calls, "41-to-Angle", and got her start in politics by forcing a high school football team to not where black jerseys because "black is the color of evil", and no, I did not make that up, look it up. Anyway, Robertson made some comment praying and hoping Angle would win, but I remember it was channel 17 KEEN-TV or KTV here, so they used to air it, and before that, a couple local channels used to air "The 700 Club" in the mid mornings and afternoons until they got picked up by some national affiliates decades ago, um, hmm, that's strange. I'm trying to find KEEN-TV's television schedule and although they seem to air a bunch of religious programming now, wow this channel is shockingly hard to find online.

(Long pause)

Okay, this is weird, I'm having an incredibly difficult time, even finding the channel's website. It's Youtube page:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Keen17TV 

has, not added anything new in five years, Huh? That's peculiar, even for these places, hell, there's like new Roku channels for churches and preachers every week, why would they...-

(Checks television)

No, they're still active, still on the air at least, as atrociously annoying as they ever were. Hmm.

(Two minutes pause, delayed)

Okay, I found their wikipedia page finally, and it says that they're a CLASS A Television Station, that's a classification given out by the FCC with rules they have to follow, owned and operated by, huh, who's LeSEA?

(Searching)

Hmm.

(Searching)

Okay, LeSEA is one of one of the major Religious Broadcasting Networks in the country, but it also says that they still play "The 700 Club", but they also have shifted their focus on "The Harvest Show" one of "The 700 Club"'s competitors, somebody named Lester Sumrall, who's dead, and I'm not particularly familiar with, started it. He even predates Robertson's actions to some extent, but I seriously doubt their programming has reached 90% of the world's population, there's no way you can do that with eleven television stations, a satellite ministry, 3 FM radio stations, five shortwave stations and a magazine; that's some stretching-your-numbers bullshit there. 90% of the world population,- I doubt Coca-Cola has that kind of reach.

http://lesea.com/about-us/legacy/

Let me find the schedule, there's gotta be a website for the actual station, somewhere:

 http://keen.lesea.com/

(Grunts) Finally, well it looks like a LeSEA website, and it promotes "The Harvest Show" now. Let me check their schedule, where is it.

http://keen.lesea.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2015/09/keen-program-schedule-2.jpg

Okay, there's "The Harvest Show", right in the prime "The 700 Club" spot, right befor-.... you gotta be kidding me!?!?!

Jim Bakker, really, this sonofabitch fraud is still around?! (Sigh) Okay, this Wikipedia page is all really old, like probably out of date, 'cause this station is now a TBN channel, for the most part, oandthem and LeSEA have come together at some point, and anyway, this leads me to Jim Bakker, who I didn't think was still around, but oh well. Well, it circles me back to Pat Robertson either way, so okay, Robertson, the main architect of this formula.

Robertson was a son of a notoriously anti-Civil Rights Democratic Senator, back when the Democrats were Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond at their worst, and Pat was an ordained Southern Baptist minister, and in '61 he bought a local Portsmouth, Virginia television station, and founded CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and rebranded the station WYAH-TV. (It's-eh, supposed to sound like W-Yahweh, the name of the God, get it?) Mostly he aired religious programming throughout the day, with occasionally speckling in some reruns of public domain documentaries and some "secular programming" in between, which is basically how these stations still get away it, they basically play and replay a bunch of religious programming and sneak in one or two other things. For instance, going back to KEEN-TV, my local station that's under some scrutiny, you'll notice on their website, they're really big on promoting they're "Family Friendly Programming". What is they're "Family Friendly Programming"? It's reruns of "The Lone Ranger" and Roy Rogers. No, seriously, that's it's they air two episodes of both of those every weekday, that's they're big push. Look, I know these things have to be "Non-Profit" for some reason, but-eh, yeah, they literally air the least they can literally air, with no attempt to actually show, anything else, other than religious broadcasting, and most of that, is basically just sermons, or some asshole with a Bible talking to a camera for an hour or half-an-hour, however long they're on. (And if you have to go back to "The Lone Ranger" and "Roy Rogers" to find "family friendly", even for free to air, you've really got problems.)

Anyway, as you would've suspected, Robertson's station struggled financially, what a shock, so they held a telethon, and after suggesting that they only needed 700 people to donate ten dollars a month to keep the station open, at the last second he got the funding. That's where the title of "The 700 Club" comes from. For those unfamiliar, that's the television show that Robertson broadcasts on, it's been the central program under the CBN umbrella ever since. It promotes and advertises itself as one of the longest-running television programs in history, which is way more deceiving than it looks, 'cause Robertson's basically kept it on the air irrelevant of ratings forever. Anyway, the CBN is still around, and "The 700 Club" is still the centerpiece of the channel, which is mostly a cable channel, although it has a heavy online presence and if you have more of a tolerance to it's bullshit than me, than, you can see some of their programming here as well as some of their, "News" shows, There special report "Homosexuality: A Christian View" they seem to find particularly important, sigh.

http://www1.cbn.com/700club

Anyway, the show has evolved over the decades from a Variety show to eventually the news-ish program it is; it originally was hosted, (Slight pause) by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Yeah, I told you this would all come back.

Now, say what you want about Pat Robertson, most of it will be accurate, but something you actually can't call him is a fraud, and at least legally. Bakker is a fraud, and the legal system has said it too. Robertson fired Bakker in '72 over "philosophical differences" and he started TBN the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and he would ask and pray for donations from viewers hoping to build, some bizarre time shares or whatever it was. After a sex scandal, which led to the fraud scandal he was then imprisoned for five years for numerous counts of defrauding the public. Apparently he went back to being a televangelist, with TBN, after a few years off, and they've begun working with LeSEA among other, although all of these networks are basically intertwined with each other in order to, do nothing but preach to America.

Robertson, who still holds his annual telethons for CBN, for all I can tell, basically puts all his money into CBN, and in most other respects seems like a legit guy. He's a businessman, who is legitimately successful, and does have actual international influence, albeit limited, and after his disastrous Presidential run in '88, he removed himself from being as an active member of any church, so he's no longer a baptist preacher, his CBN is an international broadcast channel that's not limited anymore to local television stations and Roku, He also dived into cable television which had financial success called the CBN Satellite Service and later CBN Cable Network, but because religious programming is consider a public service, they weren't allowed to be a non-profit, so the channel was evolved into a for-profit channel, the CBN Family Channel, and then, become just "The Family Channel" before becoming "Fox Family Channel", and then, ABC Family, yes that channel, before becoming Freeform, it's latest incarnation, which Robertson, for all-intensive purposes doesn't have any real control over, other than the fact that, he still requires the channel to air "The 700 Club" three times a day. They definitely would rather not and they sure don't promote it like they do air it, but it's built into that network's long, confusing and arduous history and they can't seem to get rid of him, even though they badly want him to be off the air. They've been trying to rebrand themselves for decades now, from the channel that aired "The Waltons" all the time to the channel that has interesting if not great series involving complex modern families. But "The 700 Club" is Robertson's baby, and the flagship program of CBN, and other than online, or if  you actually subscribe to the cable channel, Freeform is where "The 700 Club" currently remains.

At least, CBN is a cable channel however. Most of these channels, they're primarily on basic television. But, that's the thing, why are we letting all these channels take over basic network programming air time? I don't get it. The same way I don't get why, NBC doesn't just add all their subchannels to digital, for the Olympics at least? Why have the other networks allowed them to overrun with the basic programming with all these religious channels and programming? Hell, why doesn't the FCC strengthen the standards, sure you could argue they're providing a public service, but 22 hours a day/7 Days a week, a bunch of random people proselytizing about religion? Yeah, I don't know any denomination of any religion that insists on pounding that much religion into us, certainly not any Christian denomination. That's the other weird thing, these televangelists, many times, don't speak for the actual religious denomination they're corrupting. If they did, you'd probably see the Pope on TV more often, but you don't, do you?

It's not like, the networks don't have the channels, or the ability to do that. Before NBCSN the channel was available to all on digital under the name, "Universal Sports" and many other networks also put correlated digital channels underneath their main channel, so why not just, put those more cable channels on digital? They already own them and are under their umbrella, especially since, cable's dying anyway, it's not like they're losing much? Or have some other independent channels created to take over these seemingly unlimited amount of extra digital channels we have, there's three channels currently I get, that are nothing but a sign telling people who to call if you want to buy time on the channel, we could've seen something else? Well, whatever money they think they'll lose rebranding their channels for a more open market, there's these other people coming in and swooping them, I don't even get it, if I was one of the major networks, I would've completely fought for as many viewers as possible, even if it's only temporarily and for the major events that only take over more than one channel for a little while, why not do that? I don't know, and I don't know how or why the FCC lets them get away with having legal Class A networks by meeting the most minimal amount of requirements and then have them promote mainly to the people with the least amount of modern technological advances, is even worse.

So, there's really plenty to blame for this, all around, but yeah, if there's still gonna be a market for them to overflow, I think it's time we start looking at it closely, and figure out exactly what we can do to mediate their influence.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

CANON OF FILM: "BLAZING SADDLES"

BLAZING SADDLES (1974)

Director: Mel Brooks
Screenplay: Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, and Alan Uger based on a story by Andrew Bergman



I recall once reading that John Wayne dodged the draft for WWII due to a foot deformity and that he hated horses. I know the first part of that statement is true, I doubt the second one is, but I recalled such anecdotes often while watching the last scenes of "Blazing Saddles", where the "heroes" are riding off into the sunset towards their car-and-drivers, it really personifies all that "Blazing Saddles is trying to do. After Mel Brooks's failed second feature, "The Twelve Chairs", he started to stumble upon an idea to really take a sharply satirical look at feature film and genres. In the same year, 1974, he would make arguably the two greatest spoofs of all-time, look before "Airplane!" officially got credited with creating the comedic subgenre, with "Young Frankenstein" and of course, with "Blazing Saddles". I used to think it was just a satire of Western movies, which it is, but looking at it again, it seems more like it’s pulling the rug out from under them, and probably pulling the plug out of film, Hollywood, and basically film altogether. Most westerns, were morality plays or “oaters”, where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black, but those don’t play particularly well anymore (or then for that matter), because they overlooked prevailing thoughts and attitudes of the time. Here, they’re embellished and placed in an absurd reality of a Mel Brooks film. “Blazing Saddles,” has a plot that’s about as difficult to explain as most David Lynch movies, but the film is actually more in the tradition of the best Marx Brothers movies, which basically ignores plot and instead moves from one hilarious scene to the other, and because Mel Brooks is behind it, as well as numerous other comedy legends like Andrew Bergman, Norman Steinberg and Richard Pryor (Who was originally supposed to play Black Bart), it’s incredibly funny. People who think that violence and sex and drugs are the “taboo” subjects to make comedies about nowadays, would be astonished as everything from race, sex, disheartening bodily odors, the entire Western genre, the Western filmmaking style, filmmaking in general, and about fifty other subjects, that get annihilated in the film. 

Pretty much from the first joke about “Campfire Songs,” to the numerous breaking of the third wall, there’s not a subject that isn’t parodied; it even has a score that sounds similar to the music from “Shane,” when the Count Basie’s orchestra isn’t leading it. The bulk of the story involves an old Western town that’s supposed to be destroyed for some sort of project, and under the veil of misdirection, the Governor (Brooks) of the state names Black Bart (Cleavon Little) Sheriff, which, well look at his name. Anyway, once he gets to town he hires an old drunk, Jim (Gene Wilder) as his Deputy, with him being basically the only one he can trust. Meanwhile, there’s… I wasn’t kidding when I said the plot was complex, if not completely indescribable. This helps anyway, the more things in the movie, the funnier it gets. The movie is basically a bunch of scenes, like the notorious campfire scene. My favorite is the scene involving the Ku Klux Klan after Jim and Bart attempt to crash their meeting. This movie eventually had to break off the backlot and attack the studio itself; it’s the final yank of the rug, completely glorifying all of Western mythology, even using the pie fight ending that Stanley Kubrick didn’t use in “Dr. Strangelove…” Rug pulled, everybody now on the floor, like a half build old Western movie set in a studio basement. Brooks would use this idea of simply taking a genre or a film and make jokes about it, like "Spaceballs", "Silent Movie" and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and probably my favorite of these second-tier Brooks films, "High Anxiety" but in terms of absolute wall-to-wall comedy and absolute destruction of it's target, "Blazing Saddles" is his best pure satire. 



Sunday, August 14, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS #122: "THE REVENANT", "CAROL", "EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT", "MUSTANG", "TRUMBO (Roach)", "THE PEANUTS MOVIE", "CHI-RAQ", "EXPERIMENTER: THE STANLEY MILGRIM STORY", "THE NIGHTINGALE", and 'MEET THE PATELS"!

Well, busy week for me. I get up, I turn on the Olympics, although I don't understand why they put many of the cool sports on cable, I mean, sure I love seeing as much beach volleyball as everybody else, but you do know that USA has a basketball team competing too, right, NBC? Plus there's rugby now! And boxing, they never show the boxing anymore, I don't get that; '92 watching Olympic boxing in the morning was one of the best things about the Barcelona games. De La Hoya, winning by knockout for the Gold Medal, that was awesome! (Sigh) I swear, NBC, one step forward, two steps back when it comes to Olympic coverage. And they've locked it up for like another decade, so we're stuck with it here in America, but still, we're winning a lot, so I guess I can't complain too much, although for the Olympic network, it sure seems like they could show more Olympics than they do on the main channel. Doesn't all have to be live, (Although more of it should be) but still, you got some extra time, get rid of Ryan Seacrest and the replay of the Primetime and show other stuff late. Really be the Olympic network; give us so much Olympics we don't know what to do with it. And except for the green pools in water polo and diving, it seems like Rio has held up nicely as an Olympics site, although I'm definitely promoting and hoping Los Angeles wins their 2024 big. If they gave it to Tokyo twice and London three times, I think it's legitimately time for L.A. to get it a third time. Hell, Beijing's getting the 2022 Winter Games, so why not go to L.A. for the Summer again?

Anyway, between that, and trying to catch up on more television in lieu of the upcoming Emmys, and yes, I think I'm starting to get the appeal of "Mr. Robot", now, and double-checking Fivethirtyeight.com to make sure Hillary's still ahead in the Polls twice a day, I haven't been able to catch as many of the movies I would've preferred, but I still watched quite a few recently. There's a couple I didn't get to review, two from 2012, one of them is an independent film called "The People I've Slept With", I'll start with the obvious joke, "If I made that, it would've been a much shorter movie."

(Ringshot)

Hahaha, joke stolen from early Woody Allen. Anyway, this is a movie about a young Asian woman, who sleeps around, because, she can? There's some stupid line in the beginning about how "sluts" are just women with the morals of a a man, which is really, kinda offensive and outdated to be honest, not all men are sluts either, ladies! Anyway, she ends up pregnant, and naturally, she has to go back through who she's been dating in order to find the kid's father, 'cause now she wants to get married. I will commend the movie for being an Asian-American film comedy, and that's a bit unusual, but no, this movie really isn't that funny or memorable and the main character is really not as interesting as she wants us to think she is and that's a shame.

The other movie was "The Man with the Iron Fists", which is definitely a more interesting film, although that's not necessarily a good-thing. The movie was written, directed and starring RZA, yeah, the rapper from the Wu-Tang Clan, and feels mostly like Tarantino-esque fan-fiction, which is basically is. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's definitely that's full of wonderfully fucked-up ideas and Russell Crowe's character and performance alone might be worth a viewing; he seems to be having more fun that he ever has with a role, but yeah, I can't recommend this film either. RZA's a great musician, a decent actor, and he has ideas as a director, but it never came off like he had a really coherent vision for the film. There are some interesting shots in the movie, where I just wonder why the hell he decided to shoot them that way. Anyway, it might be fun as a curiosity for a bad movie night, but I mostly bored by it, and couldn't about any of the characters.

Anyway, that's enough for now, and this is a big week, lots of Oscar-winning and nominated films to get through, and a ton more, so let's get to it. This week's edition of our MOVIE REVIEWS!


THE REVENANT (2015) Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu

✰✰✰✰1/2



Well, before I bring up anything else, I have to say the cinematography for "The Revenant" is un-fucking-believable. Emmanuel Lubezki won his third consecutive Oscar, the first Cinematographer to ever do so for this film, and it's, just-, it's really hard to describe without actually seeing it. Not just the look of the movie, which is amazing enough, but especially for much of the first part of the movie, the camera angle and movement. I'm not even sure I can describe it, it's weird. I mean, it's even weird when you consider the context, but it's even weirder in execution. It's s not a low-angle shot, it's shot at a small angle, but then the camera is always looking up from that angle; it's almost like we're seeing the movie from the perspective of somebody who's 3 ft. 6 in, and is therefore always has to keep looking up at everyone. And the camera moves constantly in elaborate steadicam long-takes. It might on dollies, but wow if it is, it's...- Normally it's a bad thing to notice the cinematography, but Lubezki is constantly changing that perspective more than anybody arguably ever has. "The Revenant" (For those who don't know, and honestly I didn't, the word means "ghost or spirit, or one who returns) is loosely-inspired story based on Hugh Glass, (Oscar-Winner Leonardo Dicaprio) who, on a western expedition was attacked and mauled by a giant grizzly bear. And survived. There's already been a couple movies made based on his myth, and I'm fairly certain he was the guy that "The Simpsons" satirized with their Jebediah Springfield guy; he's one of the more forgotten myths of American folklore, in the Paul Bunyan mythos, but he was an actual person and there's no grandiose mythology here. It's a gritty and brutal, well, it takes place in the Great Plains, but essentially it's a Western. The crew is traveling west and they've lost a lot in battles with numerous Native Americans and it's the cold of winter. Hugh is travelling with his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) who's part Pawnee Indian, is a bit of an outsider in the group, particularly to John Fitzgerald (Oscar-nominee Tom Hardy) who is supposed to look at Hugh after the bear attack, but instead, leaves him to die and kills his son. This begins, the revenge part of the film, which is the majority of the movie, a long, grueling, torturous slow-speed revenge story and most of that is all a good thing. It's not much on story, I can see why the movie conspicuously didn't get a screenplay nomination, but visually, the movie is always fascinating, even though it does slide into some surreal fantasy moments at times, it's understandable. It's a movie, essentially about a guy fighting his own body as much as it is a revenge story between a money-hungry villain getting his comeuppance from the man who wronged him. Inarritu's filmography since he finished the "Trilogy of Death" with his then screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, has been eclectic to say the least. The only truly consistent aspect is that darkness is constantly looming ahead. You really couldn't three different films like "Biutiful", "Birdman..." and "The Revenant" if you tried and it shows a range that I really remember that he had before. Ambitious and overabundant, "The Revenant" shows he will go to the lengths to get his movie made. The film was famously a nightmare of a shoot, and DiCaprio's really often fought the bitter cold while shooting. His performance is intriguing; it's famous for finally winning him his Oscar, which was something apparently something people thought he was long overdue for, (I wasn't one of those people) but it's a quiet and subtle performance, filled with, painful grunts and he's crawling and being buried alive, and all that. I might have more respect for the film than I like it, it does drag on and the story is fairly simply, arguably not big enough to justify the epic qualities of the film, but I can't deny the craft involved. It takes skill and determining and the highest quality of both for this film to have been made, and I hope people realize that when they're watching it.


CAROL (2015) Director: Todd Haynes

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Todd Haynes is one of the most genuinely romantic directors out there. His films are always so wonderfully soft and made with elegant care, often using inspirations from the past, not just in time period but in style of film to be inspired from and uses them to tell tales of the ways things were through the guise of the elements of the ways we thought they were. His best film, "Far From Heaven" an homage to Douglas Sirk's films was a beautiful film about a Connecticut housewive who not only finds out her husband is secretly gay, but she begins an casual affair with her African-American gardener. At first glance, "Carol" seems like, a similar tale that probably is a reference to other films of that era, only with the symbolisms of the past stripped away, and he does use some stylized influences, probably most notably, the films of Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin, a less-remembered directing pair that are unfortunately a little outside even my wide sphere of knowledge, but no, his more direct inspiration is actually somebody who I do know quite a bit about. "Carol" is an adaptation of a rare Patricia Highsmith novel, you might recognize her name, her work has and continues to be remade into films from some of the greatest of filmmakers today. She wrote the novel that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train", which I consider one of Hitchcock's very best films, although you might recognize her more for her most famous creation, Tom Ripley. I've seen three films and there's at least three others that I'm aware of, the best of which is probably Liliana Caviani's "Ripley's Game" with John Malkovich and Dougray Scott, however I think more people are familiar with Anthony Minghella's adaptation of "The Talented Mr. Ripley", which is his best film as a director, and is also slightly more interesting and better in my mind, then the original French film that was an adaptation of that novel, entitled "Purple Noon", from Director Rene Clement. Since her passing in 1995, there's been almost a dozen more adaptations of her work, including most recently Hossein Amini's "The Two Faces of January", and later this year, they're remaking her novel "The Blunders" entitled "A Kind of Murder" from TV Director Andy Goddard. Yet, with all that inspiration, this is by far the most interesting of her works yet to be adapted and it's clearly one of her best. She was an out lesbian for most of her life, but until recently, she never wrote anything personally about it, all her character were typical, male usually, at least the protagonists, and also on some symbolic level either bisexual or homosexual, and also naturally, they were usually murderous. She's a crime novelist more than anything, and that really makes "Carol", which is a straight-up lesbian romance, based on her own experiences, really stand-out. This is the girl who gave us "Strangers on a Train" and Tom Ripley, and now, here's her version of "Brief Encounter". Published under a pseudonym, and under an alternate title "The Price of Salt" she didn't admit to having penned the novel until late in life, after the book being out of print for years until it got republished under it's current name. The movie itself has been in production for almost twenty years now, from Nagy's original adaptation was written. The main girls are Carol (Oscar-nominee Cate Blanchett) a divorced housewife who's fighting her alcoholic husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) over custody of their daughter, and a young girl Therese (Oscar-nominee Rooney Mara) a young shopgirl who's got more than a few young male suitors. They meet while Carol is Christmas shopping and soon enough they begin to develop a friendship that begins to slowly turn into romance. Carol divorced her husband, it's insinuated after she had an affair with her childhood friend Abby (Sarah Paulson), however, it seems they've now amicably broken up. Therese has never been in a serious relationship but she's intrigued more by Carol than any of the guys who are around her. One of them gets her work as a photographer at a newspaper, some of them aren't so friendly to hear about her sudden romantic tryst, which climaxed on a post-Christmas vacation, which is where they find out just what extents Carol's husband would go to to get full custody of her daughter. I saw a lot of criticism of this movie, and I don't think I get most of it. It's the main movie I've heard being called "Oscar bait" this past year and the movie did get multiple Oscar nominations although it was snubbed for Best Picture and Director among others, so even if it was "Oscar bait," which is a term btw, that I've never actually found that believable but (Shrugs) they didn't exactly take it. They probably should've though, it's a based-on-a-true romance, and the fallout, emotional and literal results of the affair for all involved. It's the one movie I seem to love and admire the more I think about it, and it reminds me of just how great and unique a director Todd Haynes actually is.


EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (2015) Director: Ciro Guerra

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I might be chalking this up to unfamiliarity, as well as just, eh, going more towards my tendencies of being a superficial intellectual snob, but I really didn't quite get this movie. "Embrace of the Serpent" is the first film from Columbia to receive an Oscar-nomination for Foreign Language Oscar, and it's the first film I've seen from Director Ciro Guerra, and it's visually incredible, but hmm-... I think it's the storytelling device of telling two stories at two different time period that really troubles me. (Especially since, as the movie continues to point out, they're the exact same story) They are the same story, both center around a Shaman named Karamakate. Karamakate is the Guide in both stories, told thirty years apart. The first takes place in 1909, and recreates the travels of Dr. Theodor Kuth-Grunberg (Jan Bijvoet) who was the first Westerner, a German ethnologist, to go to this part of the world. Young Karamakate (Nilbio Torres) promises to help them as they are not only exploring, but are searching for a mythical cure-all plant called the Yakruna. A quick google search for the Yakruna plant, mostly comes up with images and links to this movie, so I will presume if it does exist it hasn't been found yet. The movie's second story, is led by Dr. Richard "Evan" Schultes (Brionne Davis) who I'm told is the father of modern Ethnobotany. He's come with Dr. Kuth-Grunberg's book, in search also for the plant and now an again Karamakate (Antonio Bolivar) is his guide. This time however, his entire tribe has been slaughtered due to Western-, well, just because of the West basically, like everything else we ever do, we took over the area, mostly for potential profit, most likely in that area of the world, rubber. Karamakate is wiser and older, the last of his line, but he's lost all his former ability to connect with the plant-life world. He was there when the first Westerner came and is now there as he is the last of his tribe. Even the Spanish mission forbids the kids to speak indigineous tongues, so the languages themselves are dying out. Purportedly nine languages in total are spoken in the film, and I can appreciate the skill. The movie was shot in black-and-white mostly, to recreate the photographs that were taken of the actual explorations into this now-non-existent part of the world, however, I wonder about that decision too. To me, the two time period were way too similar, and with the same story being told twice, it really makes me wonder, why not shoot one time period in color to differentiate them. I mean, I get why they didn't, don't get me wrong, but I found myself having a difficult time to care. With these kind of movies, it's an emotional core and tone they're going for at the center and they either get it or they don't for the viewers, admittedly, I can easily see myself ten years from now, revisiting this film and declaring it a masterpiece of tone on par with "Apocalypse Now" or something from Terrence Malick, but the reason I'm still reluctant is the device of splitting the stories into each other; I think that was a mistake. I've always been told to "never do two" when you're writing, and this does feel like a reason why. I think the movie might've actually had more power if they were told, chronologically one after another, combining them, oddly makes them more like, being told the same thing twice in a row, as though the person talking doesn't think you heard what they were saying the first time. I have a feeling I might prefer a re-edited version that limits this cross-cutting and tells the story with more continuity, or chronologically, really. I know, I'm nit-picking, and I can totally see why some would think I'm being hard on this film, but I genuinely had a difficult time determining or even caring which era we were in at any given time. Like I said, that was probably the point, but I think it ultimately lost itself by doing that, and making the movie just seem like it was beautiful images instead of a story. Still though, it's definitely deserving a watch multiple viewings. It's one of the best films about the Amazon and certainly about this era and time period and gives us a look, albeit idealized look at some Ancient civilization of people that frankly have been mostly written out of history books. In many ways that makes "Embrace of the Serpent" might be one of the most important movies of the year.


MUSTANG (2015) Director: Deniz Gamze Erguven

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Despite the film being France's submission for the Foreign Language Academy Award, the movie is probably more accurately qualified as a Turkish feature. The movie takes place  mainly in Turkish, takes places in northern Turkey and it's first-time director, Deniz Gamze Erguven is a Turkish-born woman. The movie, is based around five orphaned young sisters, Lale (Gunes Sunsoy) is the narrator, I believe, and I think the youngest of Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan), Selma (Tugba Sunguroglu), Ece (Elit Iscan) and Nor (Doga Zeynup Doguslu). Forgive me, I don't recall exactly which girl is which, or which one is the oldest or which ones, do what in the movie. (I've really gotta start taking more notes when I'm watching these films.) It's the last day of school, and they're hanging out by the Caspian Sea with some of their male classmates.When they get home, they each got punished and admonished by their Grandmother (Nihal G. Koldas) and their strict Uncle Osman (Erol Afsin). They were seen by the neighbors. What were they seen doing? Honestly, not much. They were wearing their schoolgirls clothes, which is not as sexy as that sounds, even in this context, they were playing in the water, most they really did, other than some of the boys being a little grope-y, was chicken fighting. You know, when you're in the pool, and two guys put a couple girls on their shoulders and the two girls try to knock the other off their guy. Yeah, that.  I know it's a different culture, and religion, and even hypothetically, at least, the actions of the guardians aren't even particularly hostile, but they are outdated. They make every attempt to keep their kids segregated from the outside world, shamed for what they did, or what others would say. The girls manage to occasionally sneak out for awhile, once to a soccer game where only girls were allowed to watch because of all the havoc and violence the men fans had caused, (I'm sure there's some commentary there about Islamic sports fans and religion and whatnot, I'd watch Jafar Panahi's wonderful film "Offside" about that in regards to Iran, but again, I'm not 100% sure on all the details) They then begin boarding up the doors and putting bars over the windows shortly after a few such events and quickly after that, they begin marrying the girls off, as in arranged marriages. There's one ominous statement after the oldest girls get married off and leave when they say that, "That was the last time all five of us were together at the same time." There's a few movies that have similarities to this one, although the most obvious example would have to be Sofia Coppola's film "The Virgin Suicides", also about a set of five sisters, each of whom were basically also, forced to stay at home and not have more than essential communications with the outside world, including with kids their own age. (And of the opposite sex) That's a good film, and was a promising debut feature from a talented young female director, but "Mustang" is much better. Coppola's film was an outsider perspective, multiple ones in fact, of the young almost mythic girls in the neighborhood, seen mainly through the few young boys who had contact with them, but "Mustang", brings us into the home and is shown directly from the girls' perspectives. We see how they're literally imprisoned and how the parents are outdated and overreact to their supposed "shames" and why they feel willing to do whatever it eventually takes to escape. The movie ends on a happy note, I won't give away what note that is, other than to say that I was so happy that the movie did end that way; if this movie went with the alternative, which it very easily could've and, frankly I'm not sure I would've been able to take it.  "Mustang" might have more of a symbolic resonance for some, but it has an emotional resonance for all.


TRUMBO (2015) Director: Jay Roach

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It should come as no surprise to anybody that Dalton Trumbo (Oscar-nominee Bryan Cranston) is one of my heroes. Not only would he make any shortlist of the greatest Hollywood screenwriters of all-time, but his legacy as being one of the most outspoken people on the Hollywood Blacklist is pretty legendary. He was one of the Hollywood Ten who refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was even jailed and cited for contempt for being a Communist back in the '40s. He was outspoken, and his family would've probably gone broke, if, of course, he didn't simply just work for more below-the-line studios under pseudonyms, him and his fellow blacklisted writers. Trumbo famously won two Oscars writing under multiple pseudonyms. It's amazing how much he actually wrote. Typing over a bathtub while smoking and drinking. He wrote anything and everything, from horrible b-movie schlock to classics such as "Roman Holiday". The movie makes this seem like this was a well-known fact, but from what I remember from watching "Trumbo", the 2007 Peter Askin documentary on Dalton Trumbo, his family wasn't even aware that he wrote "Roman Holiday" 'til years later, so that scene of them watching and cheering as Ian McLellan Hunter (Alan Tudyk) accepts the Oscar, seems a bit off. I get why they change, but it also underscores the bigger problem with the movie, as much as I love and admire Dalton Trumbo, his life isn't really a great story for a biopic. The movie knows this, and expands it greatly, making, what even the documentary tried to do a bit, was give us a sense of what it was like for the blacklisted and a sense of what Hollywood was like during this time. In a few ways it succeeds, like how actors like Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg, in a wonderful piece of casting) who was a registered Democrat all his life and even contributed to Trumbo's and the Hollywood Ten's legal fees, was still blacklisted by the John Wayne (David James Elliot) led Actors against Un-American Activities community, until the point where he basically either had to name names or go broke. That's the one thing that kinda helped the screenwriters, they could be anonymous, actors, most of them couldn't during this time. Now, depicting the entirety of Hollywood during this time, on both sides is difficult. Louis C.K.'s performance as Trumbo's fellow screenwriter friend, is a composite character of a few different people for instance, but they do try to do it. Stephen Root and John Goodman in particular, as Hymie and Frank Kozinsky, the brothers behind King Brothers Production, which was the king of the schlocks before Roger Corman came around, are particularly fun and inspired performances, Goodman especially; I'm about ready to start calling for him to one day soon be given an Honorary Oscar for his lifetime work, I can't even remember the last time I even saw a somewhat bad performance from him, and he's really good here. So is Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper, she's got a couple good scenes in the beginning as she leads the charge for the Anti-Communist movement. (Oh, Hedda Hopper, okay, she's a bit hard to explain for those not familiar with this era, there's not really a good equivalent today, um, she was a failed actress in New York and Hollywood who somehow turned that into a career as the most influential gossip columnist in the movie industry, rivaled only, and I do mean, "rivaled", they hated each other by Louella Parsons who worked for William Randolph Hearst's papers, but despite that, Parsons was a lot better, and didn't out people as Communists in her columns, [That's actually somewhat surprising considering who she worked for] imagine if Stacey Dash had actual influence, today, kinda, like the kind of power that could end or make careers, and you kinda get Hedda Hopper. [Oh and if you want a good period piece with Louella Parsons as a good side character in a fun little Golden Age of Hollywood film, check out Jennifer Tilly's performance as her in Peter Bogdanovich's "The Cat's Meow".])  Anyway, as to the film itself, it's directed by Jay Roach, who's kinda got one of those strange yet interesting careers, in theatrical releases he's usually known for bad and/or forgettable comedies but when he's directing for HBO, he's won four Primetime Emmys, for his work on some wonderful television movies like "Game Change" and "Recount", and most recently he and Cranston worked together on the filmed version of "All the Way", for which Cranston won a Tony recently. That does, kinda explain "Trumbo", I heard criticism that the movie basically is a really good TV movie that made it's way to theaters and has a great performance at the center, and yeah, I can't really argue that. I don't even know how good Cranston really is at this too, btw, he's good don't get me wrong, but this performance doesn't read as special to me, but then, there's really not a lot for him to do. This is probably as good a live-action film you can get made about Dalton Trumbo; it's really kinda difficult to put his life into a narrative. It's hits the marks of course, how Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel) begged for him to work with him, how Kirk Douglas (Dean O'Gorman) used his power to put his name on the credits of "Spartacus", the first time a blacklisted writer was given screen credit after he was blacklisted, but yeah, it's really not so much a story, as putting the events in the order in which they occurred, or close enough. I am glad to see a positive portrayal of a heroic screenwriter on film, and the story of Dalton Trumbo needs to be constantly retold, but ironically, film might not be the best way to do that.


THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015) Director: Steve Martino

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Do I actually have to clarify that I'm a "Peanuts" fan, and a big one at that? Aren't we all huge "Peanuts" fans? I can't imagine a world or a scenario where anybody isn't, unless they somehow lived under a rock in the depths of the Amazon or something and never heard of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.... In fact, outside of something like that, just on general principle I probably wouldn't be friends with you if you weren't a fan of "Peanuts". Hell, I probably would turn you into the U.S. Government under suspicion of being a terrorist or alien or something like that, it's so ridiculous to me, but then again, I've ran into people close to my age who've lived in America all their lives and presumably had the available of a working television for most of those lives, who have someone never seen an episode of "M*A*S*H", so I don't know anymore. All I can say is that I consider "Peanuts" to be one of those things that's so ingrained in our psyche that it's impossible to imagine somebody who doesn't love them. I follow the comic strip to this day, which still gets reprinted in most newspapers even long after Charles Schulz's passing. In fact, if you ever check the list of the most successful dead celebrities, I think Forbes puts it out every year, the people who make the most money on their fame after they've passed away, Charles Schulz is third or fourth on that list, like, right behind Elvis Presley and, Michael Jackson might've surpassed him, but not too many others and I don't think he's falling off the top of that list anytime soon. So, naturally, I and everybody else is at least interested in this new "Peanuts" movie, even though, it's the notorious Blue Sky Studios making it. Blue Sky is the studio that's, pretty much the bottom rung of the computer animation industry. I guess they have a film or two I liked, "Robots" I kinda defend more than I probably should, but they're most famous for their "Rio" movies, two of the vapid and forgettable animated movies I've ever written reviews for, and they, for reasons that I cannot fathom or understand, still to this day, continue to release more movies in their "Ice Age" franchise. I, I literally have no idea who keeps watching those that makes them think we want more of them. I didn't even think the first one was that good. My best guess, they must've replaced "The Land Before Time" sequels as the go-to DVDs to be played at pediatrician's waiting rooms. So yeah, putting them in charge of this, very worrisome, even with the blessings of the Schulz estate, hell,his son and grandson wrote the screenplay, and Paul Feig working as a producer. That said, this shouldn't be hard; you can basically re-animate three or four classic episodes of "The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show" and shove them together, and I'd be happy. They do decide to go with a plot and a story though, mostly centered around Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) and his fascination and love with The Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi) which, I'm not crazy about but actually sense as an homage to Schulz, who based that character on a beloved longtime friend, although admittedly I've never really been fond of those episodes. He spends the movie, trying to find ways to grab her attention and confess her love to her, mostly some hair-brained scheme that, naturally being Charlie Brown, completely backfires. He tries out for a talent show, that doesn't work. He learns to dance, that doesn't work, etc. The pattern repeats over the school year, which is the kind of school year that seems to go from the cold winter beginning to the end of the Summer about as suddenly as the second Christmas happens in "Rent". In fact, most of the movie, curiously enough is in winter and everyone's in their snow outfits; I'm not sure why they went that way, but that's not a horrible decision I guess. Like the original television specials, there's no major actors in any of the kids' roles, as they're all voiced by kids, and they seemed cast incredibly well. I never once thought any of the character's didn't sound or seem like who they were. Snoopy's fascination with the Red Baron is a little overboard here, I think they continued to focus on that because it's probably the one place they could've really shown off something special with animation, and it does provide us with the one celebrity voice in the film, in Snoopy's novel the love interest Fifi, who I didn't realized had said anything until the credits rolled, is voiced by Kristin Chenoweth for some reason. Bill Melendez, who passed away in 2008 still voices Snoopy and Woodstock using old recordings of him from past animated works, which is also a very nice touch. So, overall, I can't say I'm overly enthralled with "The Peanuts Movie", I still greatly prefer some of the original "Peanuts" feature films, like "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" and "Snoopy, Come Home" much more than this one, but as a nice homage to Peanuts, I don't see anything harmful or wrong with it. Maybe it's too referential, there's a scene for instance that's blatantly bringing up their famed Television Christmas special that really doesn't fit the rest of the film and there's no real reason to have it in there, and there's a couple other things like that, and yeah, too much focus on Snoopy's obsession with the Red Baron, but I can forgive all these things enough to recommend it. I mean, it's "Peanuts", it's-, it's not gonna be bad or ruined entirely, it's too good to begin with and even Blue Sky isn't that incompetent.


CHI-RAQ (2015) Director: Spike Lee

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Oh boy, this one's gonna take a lot of explanation. Man there's a lot to take in and I know the first reaction that I suspect many if not most will have is that Spike Lee has just completely lost his mind. I know he's a controversial director and I know some people who constantly dismiss or berate him, saying things like "He's a racist" or some shit like that, frankly I've just never understood. Yeah, he's not always gonna make a great movie and some of his movies are just strange and "Chi-Raq" belongs in the strange category, but I've always said I'll take a bad Spike Lee movie over a lot of people's good movies. Hell, I think I'm the only one that recommended his other film from this past year, "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus", and that was Spike Lee's erotic vampire thriller. No, correction it was Spike Lee's remake of an erotic vampire thriller.  And yes, even with that "Chi-Raq" is strange, but man is this film loaded. (Deep breath) Okay, first of all, the title, is pronounce, like "Iraq", so "Shy-Raq", "Chi-Raq", and that's on purpose, 'cause, something very unusual for a Spike Lee movie is that, the movie doesn't take place in New York at all, it takes place in modern-day Chicago, and we're gonna have to talk about modern-day Chicago for a minute, 'cause, for whatever reason right now, Chicago is going through one of it's worst times, ever. You know how all the Republicans, talk about how much more violent and murderous the country's been in recent years, since Obama too office especially. Well, that's total bullshit, in fact, the crime rates in most of the country, particularly the violent crime rates have continuous gone down and they're down to their furthest they've been in decades at the moment, but that said, there are a few places in the country where that's not true and Chicago is the prime example. In the last few years, there's been more young men killed by gunfire in Chicago then there has been in Iraq during the entire war, hence the title, Most of it, is because of the gang warfare that's been going on there, and the sad thing it's not just them killing each other, they're actually terrible shots and people, especially teenagers and younger kids, mostly African-American, are getting killed in the crossfires most of the time. So, it's no real surprise that Spike Lee would decide to explore aspect of modern-day Chicago, it's right up his alley, it's a message movie about the current gang culture, in the poorest African-American neighborhoods, a look at the human aspects of it, from multiple difficult complex perspectives, I mean, this is right up Spike Lee's alley, couldn't be more prime for him to come in, and basically shoot a documentary if he wanted and he's done work like that before. Um, well first of all, if you want a good documentary on this area of Chicago and the people trying to survive in this world of bloody sidewalks and wailing gunfire, check out Steve James's wonderful film, "The Interrupters", so he didn't need to do that, so what did he do instead? Oh boy, well,

(4 HOURS LATER)

Okay, I stopped the review here on purpose, because I wanted to go back and-, well, I don't recall if I read Aristophanes's "Lysistrata" before, I heard about it of course, but I went online to find a copy, and looks up some notes on it, and yes, "Chi-Raq" is an modern-day adaptation of the play, it's even written in verse. Yes, the dialogue is often in verse for most of the movie. But, I'm not even gonna get into that aspect, "Lysistrata" is an infamous Greek comedy, about the women withholding sex from their husbands in an attempt to stop the Peloponnesian War. It's graphic, it's sexual, and you can look up some pretty interesting modern theater interpretations on Youtube, and most theater companies have at some point done their own adaptation, at least, most college ones; doing this in high school could probably get you in trouble. It wasn't tame even 2,000+ years ago, and now there's so many interpretations I guess something like this was inevitable. So, back to the movie, there's a long prologue and then, multiple shootings beginning with Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon, his rap/character name is Chi-Raq) is almost shot at one of his performances, because, I don't know, something to do with Twitter, and because he's the head of the Trojan and the Spartans, led by Cyclops (Wesley Snipes, who has one eye, yes) were angry, yes the rival gangs are Trojans and Spartans, they have colors and everything, fill in the two stand-in gangs you think they obviously represent, and turn it Greek. Her girlfriend, Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) after a particularly violent night, after which ended with a little girl, murdered, her mother Irene (Jennifer Hudson) begging in the streets for somebody to have seen something and the local priest, Father Mike (John Cusack) to absolutely explode during his eulogy at the girl's funeral. (I never realized 'til just how much religion comes up in Lee's films until now, the church is surprisingly prevalent) There's an all-star cast here, I'm not gonna be able to name everyone, although Samuel L. Jackson plays a familiar character for a Spike Lee movie; he's known as Dolmedes and basically acts like a Greek chorus, although it's probably more accurate to think of this as an extension of his role as the radio DJ in "Do the Right Thing". Now, this movie gets ridiculous, and surreal and it's just a wild and crazy mess of a movie, but so is the original play, and frankly, believe it or not, this isn't actually that unrealistic. They even point it out in the movie, this happened very recently in modern time. Lysistrata's influence isn't the play, it's Leyham Gbowee, a Liberian Peace Activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize after she stopped the Second Liberian Civil War, by gathering together the women of the country, and through many different protests, including a sex strike, was able to stop the war. That happened, this century; this was very recent. Now could/would that ever happen in Chicago, today,....

I mean, yes, "Chi-Raq" is surrealistic fantasy gone run amuck, but holy fuck, is it surrealistic fantasy run amuck. It's over-indulgent, it's message-y, it's beyond absurd, it's full of just, some of the strangest sequences of film, I've seen in a long time. I mean, this is like Spike Lee channeling Luis Bunuel of all people. I mean, he's known for aberrations and flights of fancy, dating back as early as the musical numbers in "School Daze", but this whole movie feels like one of those sequences. And yet, you know, it's weird to think about it, 'cause we really forget just how of much of a classical filmmaker Spike Lee actually is and can be, we know he's stylized, but his influences are firmly in the traditions of the greats, I just didn't think he had this avant-garde a project and idea within him. Part of me is tempted to throw this away and call it is a disaster, but it's way too interesting to do that with. I legitimately have left, well over a 1/4 of all the interesting aspects of the movie out of the review, there's way too much here to tackle in one review, and I can't pan a movie with this many interesting ideas that comes at you in so many different directions. In a comedic direction, a political direction, a religious direction, a tragic direction, a Greek tragic direction, a commentary on modern media and journalism, a look at the deadly warzone that is Chicago in 2015,... Most movies, if they're lucky, have a couple interesting ideas and once in a blue moon we might get something that actually borders on an original idea. This movie has dozens of ideas, and it doesn't necessarily all work, but I'd much rather watch this over and over again, then even really good movie that only have a few original ideas. This is a movie that made me want to read stuff and look shit up; I can't probably count on one hand, maybe two, if I'm stretching, how often that's happened. I can't pan this. Albert Einstein once said, "If a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind, than what does a clean desk lead to...?" or something to that effect, well, "Chi-Raq" is a cluttered desk, and I love a cluttered desk, so I love this movie.


EXPERIMENTER: THE STANLEY MILGRIM STORY (2015) Director: Michael Almereyda

✰✰✰1/2



This is another example of an interesting and important guy, but maybe not really an important or interesting enough of a life to have a biopic made of him. I suspect most everybody who's had even the most basic sociology or psychology class has heard of Stanley Milgrim, (Peter Sarsgaard) He's rather infamous for a particular experiment, and the movie begins with showing exactly how that experiment took place. There would be two subjects coming in to participate, each would go on the opposite sides of a door, but they would be able to communicate, and one would give a test while the other would take the test, just a simple memory test. However, after each wrong answer, the instructor would be give the testing subject an electric shock, with the shock being more higher and higher charged the more wrong answered they'd get, each time, able to hear the pain and screams of the subject as he's shocked more and more. Except they weren't really shocking the guy, the test was to see exactly how long the actual patient, the tester would continue to give the exam, with nothing more than, brief and calm insistence by Milgrim, although it wasn't even really Milgrim, but one of his assistants, that it's critical that they continue the test. Most projected that very few of the subjects would continue 'til the very end, where they were shocking the patient to extreme levels of electric shocks and at some point, the screams and yells suddenly stop. There's some footage of some of the testing, and it's an exam that's been replicated since with similar results. It's actually shocking when you think about the results, how people who were not particularly vicious or anything, would be so willing to basically kill somebody they don't even know if somebody that's presumably in charge insists it's important. (The original tests came out during the era of the Nuremberg Trials, so thoughts like these, were in the public consciousness.) Now, the movie itself, is okay. It's told through an interesting device of having Milgrim talk to us and show us many of his other famous experiments and where he got some of the ideas, "Candid Camera" believe it or not was a big influence, and we also see some of the struggles he has with his family, and his continued work. He died in 1984, while on a speaking tour after his experiments became en vogue again, due to, well, it being 1984 and all. Considering how little their actually is to Milgrim's life, in terms of a real narrative or anything, I was actually at how entertaining the movie actually. It might've helped that I already have a keen interest in the subject. but still, it's an interesting way to not fictionalize or glorify a real-life subject that's doesn't really have a natural narrative film structure to his life, but manage to make an interesting film and character out of him. The film was written and directed by Michael Almereyda, a director who's recently come back into the spotlight after not making a feature for almost a ten-year period; his most famous film to me anyway, is that infamous modern-day "Hamlet"' that starred Ethan Hawke, which I enjoyed a lot, although I never hear that much praise for that film nowadays, but I'd recommend it. He's a talented filmmaker and it actually makes sense to give him this kind of material, 'cause he's interested in finding creative ways to tell familiar stories and he does a pretty good job here; the movie's probably better and more entertaining than it has any real right to.


THE NIGHTINGALE (2015) Director: Philippe Muyl

✰✰



(Sigh) Is it just me, or does this genre, rarely work the way it's supposed to. Well, I guess that's just me, I can certainly think of some examples to compare "The Nightingale" too that actually are really stellar and amazing films, but, eh, I don't know if this is one of them. This movie was China's entry last year in the Foreign Language Oscar category, and it's a particularly strange one considering is Philippe Muyl, which, if that name doesn't seem Chinese to you either, it's a French director, his first feature film since 2002's "The Butterfly", which is actually very similar movie, in fact, this film apparently originated as a remake of the film, although it evolved slightly from that, but that fact doesn't surprise me. No wonder this movie feels like every other movie like it, it already a movie like it out there. The movie is the story of a Grandfather, (Boatian Li) who is tasked by his daughter, Ren Quan Ying (Xiaoran Li) to travel with her daughter Ren Xing (Xin Yi Yang) with him on his pilgrimage to his birthplace. It's the young girl, the Grandfather and a caged bird, a nightingale, heading to Western China, and eventually getting lost in Guangxi Province, and having to find a way to get to the village, by any means necessary. I think this is another reason I hate these kind of movies, these subtle tales about how great traveling on the road is and roughing it, and how horrible modern technologies like cell phones and IPads are. Okay, I don't actually like IPads, that much myself, but still, this theme of coming back to nature has never really worked for me that well. And that's really the message, I mean there is a subplot, one that seems way more interesting actually between her and her husband (Hao Qin) as they seem to be fighting since their work literally keeps them continents apart. Don't ask me why, but she's in Paris, and he, I think is in Hong Kong for most of his work, he's an architect, although they're fighting out their problems in a Paris hotel room during this adventure. That's an interesting idea, the family splitting up and trying to figure out how to make it work, kind of thing, but that's not the focus of the movie, but instead it dwells on this, admittedly somewhat crazy and dangerous journey between a grandparent and young kid. I can think of some other similar road movies, eh, I guess the obvious one to me is Walter Salles's "Central Station". Although, any Walter Salles movie is basically a road movie, he makes them more often than Wim Wenders even, but that one also involved an old person and a young kid, traveling across a vast country, this one was Brazil, but that one had a lot of stakes to it. The kid's mother had passed away suddenly, the old woman was the only adult he knew, she was a letter-writer for people who couldn't read, although she didn't even send the letters she wrote, and they're looking for the kid's father, meanwhile, she's also breaking the law by taking the kid..., what I mean is, there wasn't just a gorgeously shot travelogue disguised as a story of two people travelling across country. and honestly, that's all "The Nightingale" really is. I mean, the biggest revelation here is that, the little kid learns to like nature, or realize that she doesn't need her technology all the time, except that's not true at all they were constantly trying to figure out how to get their phone or Skype to work so they could contact people, so, no, really there's not much here. I think I might actually be being generous to this film. Is it shot beautifully and it looks nice, but yeah, I think I expect a little more out of Chinese cinema than this.


MEET THE PATELS (2015) Directors: Geeta Patel & Ravi Patel

✰✰✰✰1/2



Okay, um, well, I don't really know much about dating. That is, a surprise to, literally nobody who knows me. there's a few reasons why I'm eh, (Thinking pause. Checks resume) eh, that I'm, the.-age-it-says-I-am-on-my-resume, which is accurate enough, and still haven't gotten married, or for that matter, gotten close, or for that matter, ever dated anybody. Yeah, that's reason A., I don't ask anybody out, ever. The few times I have, have gotten mixed results, and frankly, I wouldn't know what the hell to do even on the few occasions where people have said yes. Frankly, my bigger concern, is something I don't think gets talked about enough, is that, men, at least from my perspective, have absolutely no idea how to even relate to a woman. I mean, I hear all these complaints by women, about how they're constantly harassed by men, and how annoying it is that, if they show the slightest amount of positive engagement to a member of the opposite sex, that the guy immediately thinks they're attracted to them and want to date them, and fall in love with them, and, to be fair, yes, that's really repugnant and terrible of us, and we really shouldn't do that, but, that said, I think that's because a lot of men, especially ones like me, who are quite shy in introverted, are really don't any basic knowledge of body language, or even able to tell when somebody's attracted to them, or not, and they're trying to pick up, whatever "Signals" there supposedly are, and...-, I think men, are just confused. I know, there are times I can think of where I've worked with someone pretty and been encouraged to ask the girl out, even though I had no interest in being with them, but you know, you're taught to try to find somebody who likes you, to ask them out, to, do a bunch of things, and seek out those with common likes and dislikes, and all that, and even be friends with somebody before asking them out, and then, you end up "friend zoned" or, well, not "friend zoned", that's stupid, but suddenly you can't tell whether you missed an opportunity or thought there was an opportunity when there wasn't.... I think the point I'm trying to make is that,...- well, actually I'm not trying to make a point, what I'm actually trying to do is put together of my thoughts and personal experiences regarding "dating" so I can then discuss "Meet the Patels", 'cause I think they accurately go over a few of them hiccups that I think people don't talk about enough, or that they don't talk about them in a way, that helps both sexes understand where they're coming from enough, but I'm not doing a good job of it, and that's because I don't really date, and have stopped looking, not that I ever good at even looking anyway. (Many of my "personal experiences" don't involve dating at all, [well actually, all of them don't involve dating] but one of the major things with me, is that, by my count, I'm had at least, eight, maybe nine different women come up to me, and talk about how they had a crush on me at some point and would've liked to have been with me, or gone out with me, or were trying to be with me, like, blatantly obviously trying to be with me, and giving out every signal possible, and apparently I missed all of them, and never found out until years later that I missed out on these possibilities. That said, Experiences #2, involve the few times I'm fully aware of the possibility and have somehow found myself in such situations, and somehow I still manage to say no to these requests, if you heard some of these scenarios they don't seem believable, but yes, I am that dense, and yes, I've said, "No", to these, despite, no real reason not to, and reasonable people wouldn't. I'm not going to go into all of these, you can ask me privately, let's just say that "The 40-Year-Old-Virgin", feels more sadly realistic to me than it probably does to all/most of you. Ugh. Still a great movie though) Anyway, uh, "Meet the Patels", is a documentary about, dating, more specifically the dating life of Ravi Patel, who like most Indian-Americans, struggles with the conflict between some of the old ways, particularly the tradition of arraigned marriages, and the modern ideals of dating. Ravi is an actor of some note; he jokes about how he's often cast as a doctor, and he's approaching thirty and has decided to let his parents, begin the process of setting up dates and having him arranged a married. Okay, now two things, arranged marriages are not what everybody thinks they are in this context, even in India, you don't meet your wife one day and then a few days later you're married like in "Monsoon Wedding". (Another great movie if you've never seen that one, check it out.) basically, it's more akin to hiring your parents to be a matchmaking service, and boy do these parents know the ins and outs, and by whole family, I mean, every Patel in the world. Yeah, this is a bit outside my understanding too, "Patel" is a very popular name in India, and the name itself, is a reference to a particular caste of people, so it's kinda like "Smith" or "Jones" in America, but there's also a thing where the Patels, always marrying another Patel. It's not as incentuous as it sounds, although the Patels are very friendly to each other and really common. It's practically having an international calling card. You need a room for the night, go to the motel, and Patel will be the guy at the front desk, and pretty soon you're staying at his family's house and having fun and getting together like family and then, the next day you're off to your destination. So, the movie, directed mainly by his sister Geeta, is a documentary about these dates through all these Patels. If you think they'll run out by the way, no, there's a whole industry behind this. There's a profile book that's passed all around to other Patels of all the available ones, there's numerous meetings and conferences, even one Patel get-together that's pretty much a long, extended speed dating thing, there's setting up dates from their parents, all across North America, so he's travelling all the time just for dates at one point. Not to mention all the Indian matchmaking websites he keeps joining. The movie details a lot of, just, the unknowns of dating. He's been in the dating world, although only a little bit, and their parents don't know about those experiences, although the sister does and they get brought up occasionally. There's also several other little asides and interviews about the struggles of dating while Indian, 'cause since the tradition is arranged marriages, they also, both sexes, are often confused by the rules of the dating game that it seems like most people not only know and have mastered, but that it just seems completely natural to them. And when you're a Patel, and once you decide you want to get married and there's literal lines of people that are being set up for you, you're probably less likely to know anything about modern dating. At one point, the sister talks about being through the process since she was 20, and Ravi tries to turn the camera onto her, since she's been at this way longer than he has. This is a really delightful documentary that's been praised as the next "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", in fact, it's already in pre-production for Ravi and Geeta Patel to direct a live-action version of the documentary and I suspect that could actually be more fun than this film, although I'm glad I saw this, 'cause I bet when that film comes out, too many might not realized how much of it is based on actual experiences. (It'll also, more than likely, be better than "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" a movie that gets less and less interesting as time goes by, and yet for some reason, they made a sequel recently, and suddenly. Oh well, I'll get to it at some point, I'm sure.) Anyway, "Meet the Patels" is surprisingly insightful, not just about dating in the modern time for an Indian-American, but dating in general, if anything, they probably could've dived into that stuff even more than they did, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

CANON OF FILM: "STRANGERS ON A TRAIN"

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Raymond Chandler & Czenzi Ormonde from the adaptation by Whitfield Cook based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith




One of the most underrated of all Hitchcock villains, one that I’d even argue is equitable to Norman Bates even is Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). There is a coldness to him, a tunnel-visioned devotion to his goal, to his plan. There is only one solution to how the scenario must play out and he will stop at nothing to make sure that they succeed. Yeah, he’s putting up a façade, a charade, but that’s only in his nature, a tactic that’s he adapted to get what he wants, and that façade doesn’t lift, even at the very end. That’s how deep into the depths he’s become, and while normally that would only make him a sociopath, here, it makes him a genius sociopath. His plan is brilliant. He sees Guy Haines (Farley Granger) a pro tennis player who’s married to Miriam (Kasey Rogers) who's having an affair behind his back, and besides, he's wants to get with his mistress Anne (Ruth Romain) a Senator's daughter. The two strike up a conversation and Bruno comes up with the brilliant plan, that Bruno will murder Guy's wife, and Guy, will in turn, kill Bruno's father, who for reasons that aren't elaborately explained, he wants to have killed. It’s truly perfect, cause both of us will have an alibi and neither one of us could claim they know the other. They’re just, “Strangers on a Train.” 

It’s one my all-time favorite Hitchcock films, but it’s also one of his most iconic. It's almost perfectly conceived for him, the wronged man, the fear that you'll find out that you've committed a crime, the fear of being accused of a crime you didn't commit. It's so slick and sly and slimy, in all the best creepiest way. The premise is probably more famous than the movie, and that's rare for Hitchcock. He's known more for his shots and those frightening moments, the shower scene is "Psycho", the crop-duster scene in "North By Northwest", the zooming and out while tracking the camera to create the sense of fear, but exactly how many people even remember without thinking about it what "Vertigo" is even about? That's not to say that the movie doesn't have some frighteningly Hitchcockian imagery, like the shots of Bruno staring down Guy during a tennis match, while everybody else follows the ball back and forth and back and forth, but he watches Guy, eyeing him like he's burning a hole into his soul. Of course, most famously, the movie has the most frightening and scary ending sequence of any Hitchcock film, as they chase each other off into a carnival and they begin fighting on a runaway merry-go-round and required a stunt man to crawl underneath the merry-go-round in order to stop it, which alone is one of the most dangerous stunts ever done in film, and Hitchcock outright refused to allow somebody to do something that dangerous again, but then the destruction of the merry-go-round itself, is just an unbelievable sight to behold. There was no special effect in that scene, and it's all-too obvious that it wasn't, making that last scene of Anthony, still refusing to admit the crime at the end, all the more, creepy. 

This film would be Robert Walker's final performance, he passed away very suddenly shortly after the film was released due to an allergic reaction to a prescription drug. Hitchcock encouraged him to have a seductive approach to his performance, to give off homosexual undertones towards Guy. It's also perfectly matches the tone of the original novel by Patricia Highsmith, her first novel. She's more famous now for creating the character of Tom Ripley, and this character, while changed from her novel, is essentially an early dry run. It's amazing Hitchcock didn't try to adapt more of her works, she was a lesbian who wrote about murderous characters who often seemed to be hiding their true personas from the rest of the world, and that included sexuality, if they had such a human trait. While it's even more tempting to look at the screenwriting credit and for film noir fans to get orgasmic at the idea of Raymond Chandler adapting a Patricia Highsmith work, from most reports, the final script mainly came from Czenze Ormandi's draft.

Seriously though, this movie could almost be hypothesized as a parody of Hitch if you didn't know that it was one of his best films. It's everything you can expect and want from a Hitchcock film, and more. Maybe it's just a tribute to him that with an author's first novel he was able to tell a great writer from the start long before she's become one of the twentieth century's most interesting and enigmatic crime authors, but still, this is one of those rare perfect matches in film. The perfect story matched with the perfect director to adapt it. Maybe that's why it's somewhat secondary to some of Hitchcock's other classic, it's almost too perfect and natural for him, and Hitchcock's at his most acclaimed when he was coming up with things that weren't obviously terrifying but he found a way to make them scary. I don't know if you can completely say that about "Strangers on a Train", but then again, how many truly great thrillers hinge on nothing more than a casual conversation between two random people?  

Saturday, August 6, 2016

4-LETTER WORDS ABOUT THE ROTTEN TOMATOES PETITION!



Okay, there's quite a few posts of mine that I can just go back into the well and bring out and quote regarding this topic, to give some of our newer readers a sense of how I tend to think about situations like this, especially considering my long history of denouncing "fans", but the one that immediately comes to mind, is this little rant I had during my most recent article on trailers and how people paying any attention to them at all are paying too much attention to them:

Yeah, I know the trend is to watch the movie first and then check the reviews, hell, I do that, but I do it because I write movie reviews now and I don't want the bias, other than that, no, it's a stupid trend and it should STOP! Yeah, ignore the experts who tell you it's shit, waste the money and the time off your life, just to find out, hey, it's shit, and now because you've all seen it and made the people who made it rich, they're making a sequel to the shit.... Yeah, yeah, to paraphrase an old Billy Crystal joke, I'm a critic, I have to, but you...?

You don't even have to wait to read me, like, I'm not that self-obsessed and sadistic, at least not today, but you know, read the ones that actually know what they're doing, at least read your local critics in the newspapers and alternative magazines. I mean, it's not like there aren't hundreds of movie critics out there, professional names and otherwise, it's not that hard to find good ones, and nowadays, with the internet, with more access to critics than ever before..., and that doesn't even mean, read the reviews and if they're negative don't go see the movie, go see it if you want. The best critics will always try to write their reviews in a way that, even if you disagree with the critic, they'll reveal enough to give you an indication of whether or not you'll like the movie, without giving away too much, and it's not a bad general rule either. I always try to get the feel of the movie across while writing my review, as oppose to just describing the actual content, so as to help out the reader in determining whether you'll like it, a lot of critics do that. And, they don't come out with the reviews months before the movie's ever released, so there's not that much buildup, and again, tempering expectation, it helps, it really does, I cannot stress that enough. (And you don't even have to read the critics either anymore, [although I still recommend doing it] there's a lot of very good online critics who post in video form too, and many are just as professional as the more traditional print critics)

You can read that post in it's entirety, here:
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2016/04/trailers-again-grrrrrrrrrrrr-and-now.html

Yeah, you see, this has come up, again-, well, I'm sure most of you have heard about it, that on, Wednesday I believe, yeah, Wednesday, 'cause I was just about to post my previous blog when it broke, that apparently the reviews from the early screening of "Suicide Squad", which, is, um, eh, I don't know, a movie where the villains are called in to be the heroes or something, 'cause I don't-, anyway, I've been hearing about this movie, for quite a while, and it's a big Summer movie so many of the major film critics across the country got early screenings of the movie and it turns out that, at least according to Rottentomatoes.com, most of them are negative, about 1/4 of the overall critics, including only about 1/5 of the "Top Critics" gave the film a positive review. Okay, too bad. However, and keep in mind, the movie didn't open in theaters until, today, Friday August 5th, 2016, the day I'm writing this, (It'll be posted on Saturday) but two days earlier, after the "outrage" a Change.com petition was created,  to get rid of Rotten Tomatoes. I will not post the site of the petition, but currently it has 20,148 supporters, and the petitions reads as follows:

There's A Disconnect Between Critics And Audiences
You may enjoy a movie regardless what the critics say about it
we must get the people to know that the criticism not the measure of the quality of movies, it's just the opinions of the critics


Uh-huh. Just to go back to my trailers blogpost, I also wrote this:

But, you get why trailer analysis and fascination/obsession offends me, 'cause it's the less accurate and less qualified bias perspective of the same service that the film critic offers. And, here's the other thing, I know, that should be enough, for me to despise it, but it's more than just, ignoring critics in favor of trailers, there's one, ever really worst thing about this, and it's the fact that, well, the trailers are kinda irrelevant in terms of the goal of, "Trying to get people to go see these movies" at least in this context, because, most of the time, when people do obsess or anticipate over the trailers of a movie, it's a movie you were probably gonna see anyway, no matter what, not every movie trailer, it's just the, particular ones that.... Yes, this is fandom, once again, I'm going after, and no, as I've said many times before, I'm "Not a fan", and I don't take a fan's perspective, and this right here, the outright rejection of the critics, and the over-obsession of such unimportant menial aspects like trailers, this is everything wrong with fandom, basically in a nutshell. You get excited for the trailer, because you were going to see the movie anyway. Not, "Holy shit, that movie looks good, I should remember to go see it." That doesn't happen that often anymore. It does, but, no, no, no, not the way it's being discussed and done here; if you're just obsessing over something just to obsess over it, that's a fetish, not analysis. That's the thing, critical reviews will actually get people to see a movie, while trailers, um, they don't do that as much, they're just, I don't know, foreplay? No, they're not even the foreplay, they're the photo on the Match.com profile page of the other person, except you've already know you're dating them. This is superfans getting their instant gratification pressed in their heads and trying to pass it off as something that's actually worth analyzing or discussing.

If it doesn't even matter for it's intended purpose, then why are you supposed "fans" obsessing over it? (Frustrated sigh).... 

(Deep breath) Sssssssssss-So, now, fans, particularly DC Comics/Universe whatever "fffff-fanssssszzz" have decided, without seeing the movie, remember, one movie, only one movie, they've decided, that it is now time to revolt against, "the opinions of the critics". (Sighing breath)

I know what some of you are already thinking, You're thinking, "David, do you happen to have any thoughts on this? Any chance at all? I mean, you've constantly said, you're "Not-a-Fan'\ and in particular fans of the ever-increasing popular comic book universes of films and you'd been particularly vicious about them in the past, well now they're going after movie critics, we're just curious, you don't happen to have any thoughts, or anything to say at all about this?" I know that's what a lot of you are thinking, and-eh, well, as a matter of fact, yes-um, (slight chuckle) well, yes. It-, it's a little amazing, but, yes, I-eh just happen to have some thoughts and a-eh, a few words I would graciously like to tell these people, in particular, these, 20,000+ who have so far, signed this petition. I just-eh, want to take a second to collect my thoughts real quick.

Let's eh, (Outstretches arms and back) Ow, yeah, that-eh, that feels good. Yeah, let's (rubs shoulders back in a circular motion) Oh yeah, that feels good. (Deep calming breath) Ahh. Clear mind, clear mind.  Deep breah. (Deep breath) Ah, alright, sip some of my diet soda. (Sips soda from old 7-11 iced coffee cup) Mmm, (Wets lips) There we go. Okay, things I have to say to these fans. Alright one last deep breath, go into a zen place....

(Long deep breath)

My thoughts on this? Okay, you ready? Alright, here they come.:

(Deep breath)

FUCK YOU YOU LITTLE PIECES OF BLOOD-SOAKED DOGSHITS ON THE BOTTOM OF MY SHOE YOU ARROGANT LITTLE FUCKWADS! YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES ARE THE SCUM OF THE EARTH! I'M CONSTANTLY BERATED AND CONDESCENDED TO BY GODDAMN SHITS LIKE YOU FUCKERS CLAIMING I'M THE ONE WHO'S OUT OF LINE GOING AFTER ALL OF YOU, CALLING ME, "PRETENTIOUS", THE ONE WHO GOES TO SEE EVERYTHING AND JUDGES FILMS BASED ON QUALITY, NOT WHETHER OR NOT I HAVE AN PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE MATERIAL, BUT YOU PRETENTIOUS LITTLE ASSWIPES GET YOUR SHITSTAINED PANTIES IN A BUNCH, 'CAUSE (mocking)"Oh, my the God, the movie I've been waiting for for years is being poorly reviewed, those critics are ruining the thing I love, they must be stopped! AND I'M SUPPOSEDLY THE PRETENTIOUS ONE?!

FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! I DON'T THINK I'VE SAID IT ENOUGH, FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKK YOU! 

FUCK YOU! I still haven't said it enough, and oh, I ain't changing the font back by the way, you've all pissed me off now! Cause this, this shit, is what I've been talking about for years now. You little shits, all have to now, stop pretending you guys have any high ground to stand on. (mocking) "We're fans, we love arbitrarily things that we didn't have any input in creating, for reasons that most of us can't articulate 'cause it would reveal just how shallow and childlike our minds, but we go and see everything...-," You don't go see everything, I SEE EVERYTHING, you guys see the four things that ring the "Oh, I know that" part of your brains and are shocked when you discovered something new that's seven years old already. FUCK YOU! How fucking arrogant do you have to be, to actually claim that a movie you haven't seen is SOOOOOOO GOOD, that the people who have seen it and say it isn't, need to be STOPPED! 


I am so sick and tired of FANS, claiming that they're inclusive, and that they represent the general populace 'cause all of us, got together because of the "THINGS WE LIKE", and we're such good friends, such good friends 'cause we love these, and even if we don't we're cool with it, but we obsess over those things we like and we talk about all those things we all like and..." FUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKK ALL OF YOU! 


Not only, do you, completely obsess over things that frankly you shouldn't obsess over, 'cause you're not five anymore, most of you, not only are all those claims of inclusiveness actually just complete BULLSHIT, like I've been saying for years, 'cause they're not! Like any group, that's formed like that, they're objective isn't to get people together, it's about SEPARATING YOURSELVES from everybody else, but not only that, you're gonna after FILM CRITICS, specifically because they're NOT LIKE YOU! 


That is some DONALD TRUMP-TALKING-OUT-OF-HIS-ASS BULLSHIT! You don't want to read the critics, fine, I don't really care, but no, it's not that, if it was, you wouldn't start a petition, it's that YOU THINK EVERYBODY, who's NOT LIKE YOU, is out to get you. Well, they aren't, until now, it was probably just me! 


(mocking) "They don't understand!" Really? THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE DEVOTED THEIR ENTIRE LIVES AND CAREERS TO WATCHING AND REPORTING ON THE QUALITY OF FILMS, DON'T UNDERSTAND! THEY, don't understand. By the way, most of those critics, are COMIC BOOK PEOPLE and nobody, and even if they weren't, NO-BODY, myself included, would ever do a job like being a film critic, voluntarily or for money, unless they absolutely LOVED MOVIES! Trust me, if you didn't, you wouldn't last a month and I wouldn't be doing this for as long as I have if I didn't love it. YOU ASSHOLES, don't understand that just because it's something that you have decided to focus your attention on, doesn't mean that everybody has to love it, or is going to love it, or for matter, is any fucking good at all. SORRY YOU DELUSION WAS SHATTERED by the COLD-HARD REALITY of PROFESSIONALS who might have an opinion, and knowledge, and expertise, outside of your own! 


This shit, you pimples on the bottom of my ass, You 20,000+ are the reasons that I feel completely justified right now, in every single thing I ever have said negatively about FANS. 


Rotten Tomatoes, is a REFERENCE PUBLICATIONS, DUMBASSES! You're essentially trying to BAN the DICTIONARY, from the INTERNET! 


EAT ME YOU GODDAMN...- 


FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! HAVE I TOLD YOU TO GO FUCK YOURSELVES YET!? NO! GO FUCK YOURSELVES! AND FUCK YOU! AND FUCK YOU!


Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK is wrong with you people!?!?! Trying to eliminate Rotten Tomatoes, first of all they're not the only site, Metacritic.com for one, is just as good if not better, second of all, all Rotten Tomatoes does is list the major critics in the country, and the world, and link to their reviews, if possible, of all the movies, and shows how all the movie critics, rate the films, on a simple "Good or Bad" rating system. Remember rating systems like that, "GOOD or BAD" Like one comic book-reading movie critic I can think of would put it, "THUMBS UP or THUMBS DOWN"?! And then they average it out. They don't even take into account, how much the Critics like a movie, and they tell you that! They're not hiding or deceiving anything from me or you. It's not a bias thing. How about, instead of showing all those images about how great a supermodel-actress looks when dressed as a fucked-up abuse victim who's in love with her abuser, how about, maybe taking into account the, POSSIBILITY that maybe the CRITICS, who've again, HAVE ALREADY SEEN THE MOVIE, THAT YOU HADN'T SEEN YET, you thumbsucking little pricks, that "Maybe it's not that good a movie?" "Maybe I should see something else?" "Maybe I shouldn't spend my money at the theater for it, ensuring that the studios will make another five or six of these, but instead, check it out some other time, or maybe, just maybe, avoid it as long as possible, and see what the critics are actually really enthralled about right now and check those films out, more." "Maybe take into account the possibility that they might've completely fucked up whatever franchise or story you were so excited to see made into this film (Or that the original product isn't actually that good to begin with, so naturally a movie based on that product remains disappointing, no matter how many times they try)" "Maybe actually read some of the reviews, before you see the movie." They link to the reviews you know, they don't just post a quote and forget to link it (Most of the time). And it ain't that hard to look them up anyway, I don't exactly need Rotten Tomatoes, it's just a convenience, the same way I don't need a remote control to change the TV channel, but it helps, and it's nice to have, and you're all trying to fuck that up, for NO REASON!!! other than to massage your own inflated-ass egos!

This isn't a rebellion of the FANS who are uprising against the proletariat overlords that are FILM CRITICS, no. This petition is the PETULANT LITTLE CHILD complaining that he didn't get the damn toy he wanted from the box of cereal he made his parents get by crying and screaming in the supermarket aisle. 

You guys don't even read the reviews anymore, let's not pretend you actually think this is having any impact other than, "I want to be noticed!" (mocking) "Yes, I want to say, I love, this thing, and everybody should love this thing as much as I do, and those who don't love this thing, need to go!"

You're all the ANJELICA PICKLES of the MOVIE WORLD. Yeah, seriously. Being all arrogant and know-it-all and complaining that everybody around you is an unknowing baby, while you're only a three-year-old who knows how to bitch to the right people to get whatever you want, and everything's fine, until suddenly it doesn't work.

I know, I know, these arrogant pieces of shit, they don't represent all fans, blah, blah, blah, yeah, but those ROTTEN APPLES that bitch about these ROTTEN TOMATOES, let me tell you, they're the ones who's voices get heard and get noticed by people, like ME and everyone else; they're the ones representing you all. They're the bad influences, emphasis on "Influences", and they're speaking for you, so be more careful of who's you're side you're hanging next to, 'cause this is the kind of shit they cause, and you don't see this from my side. It might be a lonely side, but let me tell you, I would NEVER think of something like this. I, or we, people like me, whoever they are, actually are inclusive, we don't focus on the few things we like, we try to see as much of everything we can, and we try to help and guide everyone we can and occasionally we come up with our own ideas and thoughts and not just follow whatever the crowd is saying, or whatever we wish the crowd was/would say. I don't look at the major critics as the be-all and end-all of what I think of a movie, but I sure as hell, don't flat-out reject the opinions of people more qualified than me and have more expertise than me, just because I may happen to disagree with them occasionally. They know more, they have experience, I listen to them. You people want to blow them up! Just because you only listen to that id part of your brain that fellates your ego, doesn't mean that's the only thing worth listening to.  

This is FANBOY TERRORISM at it's worst, and yeah, I- I was laughing too, like everyone else at first, 'cause they're not getting anywhere, Rotten Tomatoes isn't going anywhere, and people were going to see the movie anyway, so they're not even getting as many more people interested in the film as they think they are. But no, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU'RE A FAN! You become BLINDLY DEVOTED to the point of DE-LUS-ION, to the point where only you and your viewpoints are relevant in the world. ([Chuckled scoff], god, no wonder everybody else thinks "Fight Club" a good movie, you've all deluded yourself into thinking you're Tyler Durden). It isn't funny 'cause they think this is serious. I've heard it, quite often, "How often the critics got, whatever wrong", I hear it all the time, and it's not even a real analysis or criticism of critics, which by the way, they don't actually try to do either, which would've actually been an interesting approach, but instead, it's a desperate attempt to justify they're own uncontrollable emotions, by demeaning others, and those others are critics. 


And supposedly you're the ones who are bullied by people like me, and not the other way around.

Seriously GO FUCK YOURSELVES with A RUSTY DOUBLE-SIDED RAKE YOU EGOTISTICAL BASTARDS!!! And anybody who thinks they're making any point at all, other than showing just how lost in fandom they've become, you can all just SUCK MY ASS!!!