Thursday, 13 July 2017

An Evening with the Philosopher

Is there an illness common to all of us, something not even medicine can tackle - a sort of incurable, long episode of Love Island?
"Perhaps," said the Philosopher. "But I would rather submit myself to the mysteries of waterboarding than watch an episode of that. You want to challenge me intellectually? Bring me an episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show."

We gathered around the Philosopher every evening, attempting to emulate his almost divine wisdom. Instead, we would end up digesting cheap Aldi wine and wondering why we didn't choose paint stripper instead, as it would have tasted the same. We mostly looked at memes and released drunk farts, whilst the Philosopher described his views on life and occasionally picked his nose in the most serene manner.

"I don't like discussion, especially arguing, as I think argument is an exercise in ignorance. How can someone prove whether they are right or wrong? Opinions are immaterial as we can't prove them scientifically... so what we can discuss are the morals behind each idea  or person. Which is better, Jabba the Hutt or Chewbacca? Corbyn or May? Obi-Wan or Palpatine? A pointless exercise, although I must point out the DUP is to Theresa May what Jar Jar Binks was to Darth Sidious."

We looked at each other silently and heard a rattling noise in one of the bushes nearby as we sat around the fire. I got up to check if it was some sort of wild animal only to find it was nothing as dangerous but merely Hansel, one of our loyal students, masturbating.

"Politics bore me. Unlike Hannibal Lecter, I have very little interest in seasoned politicians," said the Philosopher.

"So what interests you, honorable Philosopher?" I asked. He paused for a second and looked at me with sweet eyes, sweeter than those of a prostitute from Prague who is about to mug you at knifepoint.

"We have been questioning ourselves since the dawn of time: is there life after death? This is something many religions have attempted to answer, and in my view failed. Because perhaps the foolishness lies not in the answer but the question itself. Do we need life after death? Do we need a perpetual cycle of tiny Donald Trump hands sexually assaulting us? Perhaps we don't. But there is a sort of life after death. Or have you not witnessed the faces of these celebrities after a plastic surgery? These people, who clearly belong more in the set of The Walking Dead than on Celebrity Big Brother prove that."

"Life after death is no mystery. A mystery is who the hell is writing the lyrics to Nicki Minaj's songs, these deep and thoughtful poems, chronicle to the life of this somehow famous singer whose butt looks like a road roller. In a  sense, it gives hope to all of us who are intellectually challenged, I suppose."

Monday, 13 July 2015

Not Another Terminator Movie - aka the Terminator Genisys review


Imagine a universe where the promoters of The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects put these films' respective plot twists in the trailer. That would be pretty stupid, right?
Right?
So the Terminator Genisys crew goes and does that. Oh well.

'Come with me if you want to live'
 
It's not terrible. It's good. And it's bad. Confused? Same here.
Of the non-James Cameron Terminator movies, it's probably the best, but still not good enough.
It can't decide on what it wants to be, and that might be its biggest failure.

Endless nods to the original Terminator and Judgement Day are found here, if only to be noticed by the hardcore fans - those new to the franchise will be lost. But then even the fans will be confused at the many changes, twists, turns, timelines crammed in to try to make the movie interesting - making it in fact more annoying than mind-bending.


'Show more than tell'

If I could suggest an alternative title for Genisys, it would be The Terminator Monologues. Some screenwriting basics: characters explaining stuff is not as good as characters doing stuff. Because that's what happens most of the film. Kyle Reese explains stuff. Sarah Connor explains stuff. John Connor explains stuff. Arnie explains stuff. And there's action in between the explaining of stuff. But much of this stuff isn't really worth explaining. And no one cares about this stuff anyway.

'Bite me'

Perhaps the strongest point of Terminator Genisys is the attempt to recover some of the humor present in Judgement Day and the silly one-liners only Arnie can deliver. Emilia Clarke brings some good energy to the role of Sarah Connor, only for Jai Courtney to show less emotion than a Terminator.
Strong Points
  • The action scenes are good, even if sometimes hugely unrealistic
  •  Plenty of good ideas - John Connor and Matt Smith's characters - but executed poorly
  • Bringing back some humor that was missing from the franchise
  • Emilia Clarke and Arnie on top form

Weak Points
  • Too many callbacks to the James Cameron Terminators
  • Excessive monologues: can we see stuff happening instead of stuff being said? Please?
  • Jai Courtney's acting is borderline comatose
  • The dialogue becomes very cheesy, in particular towards the end of the movie
  • 'Killer app' - whaaaat? 
  • Jason Clarke: what a waste of a good actor

Verdict

Apart from some good action scenes and funny moments, the film is nothing more than a mishmash of old ideas presented in a new packaging that adds little and confuses more the Terminator mythos. One more Terminator film like this and you may well find yourself rooting for Skynet.


Author's Note

Perhaps the most interesting and overlooked part of the movie is Arnie's Terminator mention of a time where he worked in construction. Can we see that spin-off please?
'T-800 the Builder' would be a great watch.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Hey, thanks for helping me with this procrastination business, Netflix.


Get ready for the real Kingpin

Daredevil

The best thing Marvel has done yet in the MCU. Period.

I knew Charlie Cox was very good in Boardwalk Empire (a totally underrated show) and Vincent D'Onofrio, well, he's been one of my favourite actors since I watched Stanley Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket' back in 2006. 

Not so much of a surprise then that D'Onofrio delivers the greatest Marvel villain yet (sorry Tom Hiddleston and Loki), living out a Wilson Fisk that is a fiery, ferocious child monster that makes us empathize with and fear him all at once. Like all the great villains do.

A word of advice Marvel: stop killing off your villains, you'll have none left soon.

PS: Malekith, Ronan the Accuser and even Thanos are soulless villains. Learn from Wilson Fisk and get better. If you don't treat them like a true character but a mere obstacle to the hero(es), no one gives a shit about them.



This show is - surprise! - good.
Fringe


A criminally ignored sci-fi. Like the remake of Battlestar Galactica (a masterpiece, go watch it), this is a meticulous, well-thought show (Apart from some bits of seasons 4 and 5 which seemed to be all over the place).

It starts out like a CSI-meets-X-Files and turns out to be a very complex and rewarding experience, with so much detail you should probably not miss a single episode (unless, of course, you have a life, since some of the earlier seasons amount to about 22 episodes. Ouch!)

Plus, John Noble's performance over five seasons was criminally ignored, of course, because it's science-fiction we're talking about.

Remember Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens or Michael Biehn in The Abyss? That is the company in which John Noble's interpretation of Walter Bishop should be.

If there is justice, this will be recognized as one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made.




Supermensch


Do you know Shep Gordon? No? Ask yourself why, because the guy is a genius.

We tend to associate genius with art or science - meet the genius of management.

The documentary, directed by Mike Myers, shows how Gordon has single-handedly, among other things:
  1. Created the character of Alice Cooper, got him off drugs and alcohol and turned the guy into a global superstar in the process;
  2. Turns the unknown Anne Murray into a star by having her take a picture with John Lennon and the Hollywood Vampires;
  3. Faced with Alice Cooper's unknown status in England, has a truck with a picture of a naked Alice posing with a boa constrictor break down in the middle of London. The media coverage resulting in - ta-da - Wembley selling out;
  4. Creates the figure of the superstar chef.
Really good documentary about a genuine nice guy.

Monday, 8 June 2015


Bojack Horseman makes me laugh.

Chinchilla!



Netflix does kick ass. Lenny Abrahamson's film Frank, far from being perfect, is still a joy to behold. A film about strange creative people in creative relationships and processes.

Contrary to anything and anyone, Frank the character doesn't have much of a process, he is the prototype of the mad genius. A myth, more than a man. After all, he can write songs about anything. Really.

Based on Frank Sidebottom, Chris Sievey's comic persona, and inspired by Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhall are great, but Michael Fassbender is just incredible. For a guy who spends 90% of the movie wearing a fake head, he does a hell of a job.

The soundtrack is something. In particular "I Love You All", a song that ends the movie and makes me think of what Joy Division's Ian Curtis could have done if he ever played with The Beta Band. Amazing stuff.



Michael Fassbender cantando I Love You All en The Colbert Report 6 Agosto 2014 from Michael Fassbender Fan on Vimeo.

Stephen Rennicks whose responsibility of coming up with all these crazy ass tunes fell upon, gave a pretty interesting interview to LA Weekly. The whole process is messy, as Austin Kleon would put it.

Just go ahead and watch it, it's good stuff.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

David Ogilvy's 'On Advertising' has some great advice on recognising big ideas: