Non-Stop

>> Saturday, May 6, 2017

Has it really been three years since this was released in theaters? With all the airline shit that has been happening recently, this movie feels completely relevant. Not because it's completely realistic. But because it captures my current feelings of what a shit show it is to be on an airplane because you need to fly. All you want is to get from point A to point B like you planned, but other punks on the plane have different ideas. One wrong word and you're going to be screwed. It kind of reminded me of Speed, where everyone is trapped on the bus; although, it didn't have the element of the protagonist possibly being crazy.

I really enjoyed the who-dun-it aspect of this movie. It wasn't easy to figure out. I'm not sure I buy the motive of the villain/hijacker/terrorist at the end, but this isn't supposed to be a completely realistic movie. Great cast though, which kept me thinking as to who it could possibly be.

This is the first Liam Neeson action-renaissance movie I've seen since he started doing those almost 10 years ago. I've long wanted to see The Grey but just haven't been able to watch it yet.

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Stardust

>> Thursday, May 4, 2017

I remember wanting to see this when it originally came out 10 years ago. (Has it really been that long? Yes...but you know sometimes it just doesn't feel like it.) I think my main reason was because Michelle Pfeiffer was in it. Don't get to see her much at the movies, which is always a shame. She always gives a good performance.

I liked this. I think it's really good, but kind of suffers from a lack of pacing. Everything just seems to happen with equal impact and focus. That and it does seem just a tad long. Like, you could probably trim a little bit more here and there, and it might be better for it. It's not indulgent by any means, but by the time I got to the end I thought everything had taken so long. By the time I got to the end, I had totally forgotten about Peter O'Toole at the beginning because it felt like an eternity. Which isn't to say that I was bored, but...just needed a little bit less of something.

I must say that I was somewhat confused by Charlie Cox's hair in the first half of the movie because it didn't match what was on the poster. It made sense later on, but part of me was slightly mad because it felt like false advertising. Like, it's super flowing, kind of long hair on the poster, and in the first half of the movie he had a normal, non-flowing, short hair cut. Yes, I was disappointed by his hair! And since I'm still nitpicking, Claire Danes lack of eyebrows kind of annoyed me. Like, were they supposed to be super blond eyebrows because she was a star? I don't know. I think she looks better with a little more eyebrow. Otherwise, I really liked her as Yvaine though. And that silver dress she wore at the beginning.

I was kind of surprised that Matthew Vaughn had directed it. I saw Layer Cake so long ago. I've seen X-Men: First Class, which I mostly liked. Sienna Miller pops up in this, and it always makes me think back to 10 years ago when she was the latest ingenue. I remember thinking "why her?" back then. I still think that sometimes when it comes to her, but I think she's much better actress now. But when I saw her in this, "why her?" came to mind once again.

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Brangelina: The Untold Story of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

>> Saturday, April 22, 2017

I finished this a month ago. Couldn't bring myself to write about it earlier due to school stress (aka finals). This isn't the most revelatory read, particularly since it was published in 2009. Clearly it's due for an update.

But what struck me the most while reading it was how much I had forgotten. At least half of this book is taken from previously published tabloid material. Material that Angelina Jolie would probably rather everybody forget. And I name her specifically because she is much more the focus of this book than Brad.

I suppose it's a shame that I turned the book back to the library because I can't remember all the shit she did way back when. It's been too long. I do, of course, remember her kissing her brother at the 2000 Oscars. And that was already after she made out with him at the Golden Globes. If I remember correctly, Andrew Morton's biography of her made it seem like she did the kissing out of some kind of revenge strategy since her brother was considered to be more talented than her growing up. Morton didn't seem to address as much of the controversy that happened when AJ did what she did. Or at least not to any extent that I can remember. (And Morton's book has to be one of the most boring considering the star subject. It just droned on and on...)
AJ kissing her bro at the GG

But at least this book took her actions a little more seriously. The author did the somewhat dopey thing of posing with a paid actor at a "sibs" gathering--brother & sister romantic & sexual pairings. Yeah, it's gross, I know. But when I think back to 2000 when all of this happened, this was what most people were genuinely wondering and talking about after it happened in such a public fashion. It wasn't undercover. She did it where all the world's cameras could see.

And why? No one really knows. Some of the "sibs" that the author secretly talked to genuinely thought that AJ and her brother were legitimately getting it on and were going to come out and state it. But that didn't happen. No, she decided to marry Billy Bob instead.

Which was something that this book actually called bullshit on. And that's something worth noting regardless of what kind of journalist you think he is. He noted that no one ever noticed any kind of relationship or romance or affair happening between BBT & Jolie until they were suddenly married. Like, NO ONE bought that it was a real romance or relationship in Hollywood. It was all just a show so that she could seem more stable and normal to land the Lara Croft role in Tomb Raider.

Kissing at the Oscars
Something that makes total sense given that it was well published back in 2000 that she had herself committed to a psych ward for 72 hours. I remember back at the time I found out about it in the tabloids, and the reason given then was that she was upset that she might not be able to be with BBT. This book calls bullshit on that. He established briefly that she was forced to see a counselor back in high school for some unknown reason. She's made reference to it in interviews, but basically was able to swat the question away when it came up and make it seem like nothing. But when you consider that her father went on television and spoke about her needing to get mental help a few years later, quite possibly there is something truly there.

And speaking of her father, the book does a pretty good job, with its cut and paste from previously published material, establishing that Jolie's relationship with her father was fairly decent until he went on Access Hollywood and stated that she needed mental help. The book notes that it was basically Jon Voight's hail mary pass to get her attention since she and her manager (Geyer Kosinski) had already cut him out of her life. On the one hand, what's a concerned father to do? On the other, they're both drama queens.

Strangely this seems slightly relevant given that The Hollywood Reporter published an article just after I finished reading this book--Angelina Jolie's Drug Tests, Harassment and Wacky "Spiritual Hokum" on the Set of 'Tomb Raider'. It's an except from a biography of Paramount Studios chief Sherry Lansing. The book excerpt notes that Jolie's father AND Jane Fonda (!), who happens to be a family friend, both called Lansing to inform her that Jolie was "extremely fragile" back in 2000 before she landed the role of Lara Croft. It makes sense given everything that we know publicly happened--sucking face with her brother in public, past professions of suicidal ideation & wanting to hire a hitman to kill her, multiple statements about past drug abuse.

PDA w/boob squeeze
At this point, I'm somewhat of the opinion that she was sucking face with her brother because she knew she could get attention. She always wants to make things about her. So when it basically backfired after the Oscars, she probably down-spiraled into a pit of despair. She was friends with Billy Bob, and somehow convinced him to marry her to maintain her image as not an actual brother-lover so she could nab the role of Lara Croft. (Condolences were never given to Laura Dern about this.) AJ & BBT then commenced acting all loved up all the time in public to make people believe that their relationship was legit.

It makes the author's point that she knows how to pivot to protect her image the one continuing theme in her life. And she's able to do it so well because--according to the author of this book--she was supposedly diagnosed as a sociopath in high school. Something that sounds really headline-grabbing, but when I think about it, it makes total sense. She has hardly any friends and even admits so publicly. Plus she doesn't seem to have any regard for other people's feelings. Like, even her children. I cannot abide the way she handled her separation from Brad because it seemed purely motivated to trash her children's father publicly, which certainly wasn't in the best interests of her kids. But, she needed to look like she was a wronged woman in some respect so that she could maintain her public sainthood. Whatever...

That's something most people were able to realize given how many people have either been through divorce with children or are children whose parents divorced. Except for Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip. Because she has been--on more than one occasion--posting about the Brangelina relationship or divorce from straight up AJ's ass. And there is no more perfect, recent example than her commentary on the Sherry Lansing biography excerpt titled "Babysitting Angelina."

We've already established that by 2000--where this excerpt takes place--AJ has admitted to past drug use, suicidal ideation, publicly stated that she tried to hire a hit man to kill her, made out with her brother in public, and had herself committed to a psych ward for 72 hours shortly after winning an Oscar. But this is how Lainey interprets everything that could necessitate AJ needing a "babysitter":
Angelina Jolie was 24 years old at the time. She really wanted to the job. She already knew what that job would do for her career – and, you could say, her life, since Lara Croft took her to Cambodia and that’s where she met Maddox. So she was prepared to meet their conditions and do the work. What’s fascinating to me, however, is how in the retelling of this story, all these men were making decisions for her. They were the ones who decided to hire the babysitter, they were the ones who fired the babysitter, like let me tell you what’s best for you, little girl, because we’re concerned about your emotional wellbeing…but, you know, at the same time, we really need to profit from you.
Yeah, it was all about the men keeping Angelina Jolie down. Men like...Jane Fonda? Lainey conveniently forgets to mention that there were REASONS why the studio and those involved in the production had reason to believe that AJ could go off the rails. She committed HERSELF to a psych ward. That was well established back in 2000 shortly after it happened.

AJ in 2016. (The legs are NOT photoshopped.)
And posts like that by Lainey are why I can no longer take her seriously as a gossip columnist. One, she doesn't write much gossip anymore. It's mostly commentary either by her or her contributors. Two, she won't comment on obvious problems regarding people she likes such as Angelina Jolie. AJ has looked pretty damn skeletal for years. But does Lainey comment on the obvious? State why AJ is so damn skeletal? Nope. And according to Lainey, AJ isn't on heroin. Or on any other kind of opiate. And yet how do you explain her legs at the Kung Fu Panda 3 premiere last year? I can explain it with the simple "drugs & eating disorder" answer. But Lainey doesn't bother to ask the question at all now. She would comment on the obvious lack of nourishment 10 years ago but not now. All Lainey wants to do now is talk about how much of a "boss" AJ is, even when AJ doesn't do anything particularly noteworthy like giving an interview to Vogue magazine while promoting a film. Ugh.

I've long been of the opinion that Ted Casablanca was always king of the gossip heap. I've also long been of the opinion that AJ is Fake-à-la Ferocity. I vaguely remember that Ted commented a long time ago--before his column ended--that Brad & Angelina were no longer love birds as of years ago. Lainey, however, has an actual Pitt Porn tag/category for her posts to document the very public affection of Brangelina.

What Ted said & wrote about definitely made more sense after reading this book since the author noted that AJ would yell & scream at Brad when other people were around to see. She can be charming, but then that would just flip and she'd be her psycho self. After seeing how she was able to sell a relationship with BBT for a couple of years, it probably wasn't much of a stretch for her to do it with someone higher up the totem pole, aka Brad Pitt. Ted was right; Lainey is wrong.

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The Crown

>> Friday, February 24, 2017

Finally finished this last night. It took me almost a month to finish this because I've been so damn busy. There were two weeks in between the last two episodes I watched last night, and when I watched episode 8. It was almost as if I couldn't really remember where the story was when I started watching again. I guess that's the power of midterms...

Anyway, I think the episodes in the first half are the best. That and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. His episode focused on his portrait was quite excellent. Had no idea that had even happened. Too bad the painting didn't survive. And I didn't recognize Stephen Dillane (aka Stannis Baratheon) as the painter until I saw his name on cast list.

It's really kind of hard to understand or perhaps empathize with some of the drama back in the 1950s though. I mean, Princess Margaret's situation regarding wanting to marry Peter Townsend wouldn't happen today. And it's even harder to understand why the government wouldn't allow it when so many cabinet members and MPs were divorced and remarried. Hypocrites & politics always go together though.

I actually am looking forward to more of the future seasons, particularly when they get to Margaret's scandal & divorce in the 70s and Diana. Can't wait to see how they handle Diana.

I also can't wait until 2060 when the British Parliament can reveal that Prince Philip isn't Prince Andrew's biological father. I always thought it was weird how different Andrew looked compared to Charles & Edward. Now I understand why. Lord Porchester is his biological father. Only four more decades to go before it's officially revealed!

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Not sure I agree with this

>> Sunday, December 25, 2016

but she has a valid point.

Q: So much contemporary female writing is accused of narcissism. Have you escaped the charge of narcissism, or have you received it? I’d like to bind this question to your comments about women who “practice a conscious surveillance on themselves” who before were “watched over by parents, by brothers, by husbands, by the community.” You have written that women who practise surveillance on themselves are the “heroines of our time,” but it’s precisely these women—real and fictional—who are accused of the sin of narcissism, as if a woman looking at herself (rather than being looked at by a man) was insulting to everyone. How do you understand this charge?

A: I’ve never felt narcissism to be a sin. It seems, rather, a cognitive tool that, like all cognitive tools, can be used in a distorted way. No, I think it’s necessary to be absolutely in love with ourselves. It’s only by reflecting on myself with attention and care that I can reflect on the world. It’s only by turning my gaze on myself that I can understand others, feel them as my kin. On the other hand it’s only by assiduously watching myself that I can take control and train myself to give the best of myself. The woman who practises surveillance on herself without letting herself be the object of surveillance is the great innovation of our times.
~Elena Ferrante, interviewed by Sheila Heti

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I like what he's saying...

>> Monday, December 5, 2016

But Tom Ford is still in there, so he can’t stop himself. So he says this next thing, and it doesn’t come off as lascivious, the way it might have years ago, but thoughtful and aware: Yes, he says, all men should be penetrated at some point. And not as in emotions. He means: All men should be fucked. “I think it would help them understand women,” he argues. “It’s such a vulnerable position to be in, and it’s such a passive position to be in. And there’s such an invasion, in a way, that even if it’s consensual, it’s just very personal. And I think there’s a psyche that happens because of it that makes you understand and appreciate what women go through their whole life, because it’s not just sexual, it’s a complete setup of the way the world works, that one sex has the ability to literally—and is expected to and is wanted to—but also there’s an invasion. And I think that that’s something most men do not understand at all.”
~Tom Ford, "Tom Ford's Wild Kingdom," GQ Magazine, December 2016.

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The Lobster

>> Thursday, November 24, 2016

I guess this is a sci-fi movie. Doesn't really feel like it though. It's not super obvious. Seems more like an avant-garde romantic drama, which it certainly is. But people have mentioned it as a sci-fi film. I'm not sure if it's also supposed to be a dark comedy or not too.

It seems like such an abnormal society, but when I was watching it I actually just thought that it was mostly an exaggeration of how society reinforces certain notions of relationships. For instance, it's expected that after you get out of a relationship that you start another one soon after. Like, I remember--a long time ago--when people used to annoy me by asking why I wasn't in a relationship, and I remember answering that it's not like I was breaking the law by not being in one. Except in this society, I would be breaking the law. (It's almost like growing up in Utah.)

It demonstrates all the stupid shit people will do just to still be in a relationship, such as lying about weird personality traits or getting involved with a complete asshole/psychopath just so you won't be alone. And knowingly getting involved in relationships just for the social pretenses, 'cause society says you have to. When David went and joined the loners, I was like, hey, those are my people. Until they mentioned the "red kiss" and you notice that they're fanatics on the different end of the spectrum.

I'm not sure I found the last scene in the restaurant to be romantic. There's something about it that doesn't sit well with me. It makes total sense in the scope of the movie. I just would have thought that by the end David would have realized that being together is the most important thing, not trying to make another artificially forced reason for them to be permanently paired. Maybe it's because I have a clone, but wanting to be like someone else just to be with them seems like a waste.

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The Bling Ring

>> Monday, November 21, 2016

This was a bit of a let down. I thought I would like this movie more, but I guess it's just the trailer that's great.

This is a story about completely vapid teenagers, who are almost interchangeable. There's nothing very significant about any of them except that one of them is a boy.

All they do is party, steal, party some more, do some drugs, and then get arrested. Not much story there the way it's told.

I think the mother of Emma Watson's character is completely ridiculous, and she unintentionally makes a good case for home schooling being a complete waste of time. I had no idea there was actually a religion based on The Secret book. Considering that all of her daughters seem to be completely shallow and vapid, I got the impression that anyone who actually follows that book as a religion must also be shallow and vapid. Are actual established religions not worthy of consideration? Would Daoism be an option for them? Oh wait, actual existing religions would probably tell these kids that they're full of shit, and they don't want to hear truthful things like that.

Maybe I'm just an old fogey, but these kids were failed by their parents. I wasn't allowed to be out all night when I was in high school. I would have had to call my parents and tell them what I was doing. Being an old person, I just get the sense that these kids were lacking in social and emotional development, which then later led to their criminal behavior. That and they seemed to have no hobbies. They're not interested in doing anything but being associated with the rich and famous, which makes them kind of lame. When one of the girls was putting on Paris Hilton's lipstick, all I could think of was "EW! Who knows where Paris' mouth has been! I wouldn't be putting that on my mouth!" But I actually have these pesky things called standards.

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Christian Supremacy in the White House...yuck.

>> Sunday, November 20, 2016

Today, Pence and his allies have warded off the return of another secular Clinton regime that their ideological and theological prophets once contemplated overthrowing. They will now have the opportunity to build the temple they have long desired. “Secular viewers forget that King David wasn’t always such a nice guy in the Bible, but he was God’s chosen man,” said Jeff Sharlet. “So there’s a coalescing idea that somehow, obviously, God is doing something with Trump.”

Donald Trump’s grasp of the bible is certainly not up to the standards of Pence and the religious zealots behind him. “Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame,” Trump declared — in the same way he spits out “Make America Great Again” — in front of an audience at an evangelical college on the campaign trail. People laughed. At him. It is Second Corinthians.

Perhaps that episode is telling. The radical religious right doesn’t need to save Trump’s soul. As they saw in the campaign, Trump has staked out a hateful agenda — one that tracks quite well with the crusades of Pence and his fellow apostles. Even if elements of Trump’s vile rhetoric and his various threats were a psychotic form of performance art, or mere opportunistic political strategy, as some suggest, they have set the stage for the pursuit of a civilizational war that poses a dire threat to vulnerable populations throughout the world. President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a slew of prominent Democrats have publicly said that Americans should give Trump a chance. With Mike Pence seated at the right hand of the father, running foreign and domestic policy, they will do so at their peril.
~Jeremy Scahill, "Mike Pence Will Be The Most Powerful Christian Supremacist In U.S. History"

This shit scares me, particularly in the sense that they basically have all three branches of government for two years, at least....

I've actually read Blackwater, which Scahill draws upon in this article. Back when Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, I stopped thinking about these righteous assholes. Now they're going to have their moment in the sun, and we're all going to suffer for it.

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The Big Short

What I love about this movie is its attention to detail. Even in that first scene set in the late 1970s, they used an overhead projector with transparencies. It's so easy to forget how the low-tech ways things used to operate. I saw that thing, and it instantly brought me back to my college A&P classes where different professors both semesters used that to go over the notes.

It's a semi-weird experience watching this. You totally know that they are completely correct in that the housing market is going to collapse because it was built on fraud, that they truly are following real logic, but weird in that they knew the timing of when the receipts were going to be shown. Like, I often connect some of the housing crash timeline to where I worked at the time since the company I worked for had a real estate division and also manufactured building products. I can still remember in late August 2006 when I guy I barely knew was talking about declines in the housing market. I specifically remember him saying he wasn't that worried about it because he stated that when the housing market drops, people tend to do more remodeling. So he wasn't worried about losing his job or a huge market downturn. I'm sure that's true in a certain sense, but it didn't turn out to be the case in 2006-2008.

Ryan Gosling's character seems like a total cynical asshole. The first time I watched it, it was hard to like him. But the second time I watched it--mostly listened to it while washing dishes this morning--I'll admit that I had a lot more respect for him the second time around. He didn't have any faith in the system anymore, and he was right to feel that way. Probably even more correct now considering that the problems that caused the crash are still happening.

I can understand and relate to Steve Carell's character's absolute disgust after talking to the CDO manager. That manger totally believes his net worth should equal his self and societal worth. Asshole. That guy doesn't contribute more to society than elementary school teachers; all he does is take people's money. And it shouldn't really happen. There should be regulators and government entities preventing these things from happening. That brief SEC conversation by the pool was spot on: "Our budget was cut; we're not investigating anything." Yup. Not surprised. It's what people who don't want to pay taxes because the government is "too big" just never understand. If there is no third party arbitrator making sure things run fair, honest, transparent, and legal, then it really is a free-for-all where the banks are just going to take your money because they can.

And then there's that part with Brad Pitt's character Ben is in Boulder, Colorado. When I saw the mountains I was like, hey, I live there now. Kind of weird to see it in film like that. But that part where he was talking about colonics...that is SO Boulder. I shit you not.

The breaking the fourth wall didn't bother me at all. It was a little weird at first, but I totally see it as part of the movie's charm. (This is not easy material to get people to understand, and they made it engaging and understandable.) Those moments where Gosling's character points out things that Carrell's character actually did, I actually appreciate him pointing it out that he actually did those things. Because in some ways, when you consider how ludicrous this situation was (and still is really), it is nice knowing that someone really did speak up and point things out. Because the people in charge of everything would like everyone else to believe that none of this could have been predicted or prevented. Except that's not true.

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