>> Saturday, October 22, 2016

I remember really wanting to see this last year when it came out. Now having seen it, I'm kind of glad I waited to see it, but probably would have rathered seeing some parts on the big screen just due to Roger Deakins's cinematography. Like, those aerial shots going through the border were really interesting to see. And kind of intimidating when the music was playing. I know shit like that probably happens every day, which doesn't shock me at all, but seeing it played out puts it in another dimension.

My main takeaway from watching this was that pot should be legalized and drugs decriminalized. The only reason we're having to fight this ridiculous drug war is because people believe addiction can be solved by making things illegal. Except it obviously hasn't worked and will never work. Fingers crossed that California will fully legalize pot this November. If anything, then all the people who moved to Colorado for it can move back to Cali. (I just would like my rent to drop if more recreational users moved back to where they came from.)



>> Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Yup, another one I checked out from the library. I was actually excited to see it available last Saturday when I picked it up. And by the time I got around to watch it last night, all I could remember was hearing that this was not a great movie. Um, that's totally true. I decided to watch this last night since I wasn't getting anything else done. Like, if I'm going to sit on my ass and do nothing, then at least I can sit on my ass and watch a movie that I've checked out instead of letting it just sit around on the shelf.

This has to be the most boring Bond movie I can ever remember seeing. Ugh. All I was reminded about was how I went on a string of watching all the Bond movies back when I lived in Tacoma around 2002, and how I fell asleep watching Thunderball. A statement that is complete heresy since I know it's basically against the law to say that you fell asleep watching a Sean Connery 007 movie, but it totally happened. I didn't fall asleep watching Spectre. I just turned it off after an hour and went to bed. I only finished watching it this morning, which included some breaks to fix my breakfast.

Isn't this the one where they didn't have a script complete before they started shooting? I can't remember if that's correct, but it certainly feels that way. Ugh. And Sam Mendes should never direct another Bond movie. I liked Skyfall, but I will never understand why they asked him back to do a second one. This is boring. Plodding. Seemingly pointless. No fun. I find it ironic that my two favorite Bond movies--Goldeneye & Casino Royale--were directed by the same man, Martin Campbell. But those were both Bond movies that introduced a new JB. It's like they put all this good work into starting out, but finishing an actor in this series is a crapshoot.

And I was so annoyed at seeing 007 hitting on Monica Bellucci's character. Ugh, the woman did not appear to be in the mood since she has a super sad face and is grieving, but then she still fucks him? Like, could this be movie making in a paint-by-numbers fashion more obvious? Yeah, I know it's 007 tradition 'n all that, but it just seems so old and tired. This movie's only saving grace is that it looks very pretty. It has a nice glossy sheen all over it's emphatic boringness. I am SO glad I didn't have to shell out money to see this. Not even a good villain either. I think the only genuine thing I liked was seeing Q in Austria & trying to get away at a ski resort. Oh yeah, and the car chase. Not enough to keep me engaged for more than two hours though.


Captain America: Civil War

>> Sunday, October 2, 2016

After seeing A:AoU at the dollar theater, I pretty much swore to myself that I wasn't going pay to see another Marvel movie for a long time. And since I don't really have time to trek out to the movie theater these days, I don't think that's a bad thing. I mean, I've checked out Ant-Man from the library on three separate occasions and couldn't be that compelled to watch it. I'll probably watch it eventually...

Which brings me to having actually found this available at the library yesterday. I remember putting a hold on it back a few weeks ago--and was number 42 out of 95--so I was pretty surprised to see it on the shelf. Like, would I even be able to check it out? Yup.

And then I almost didn't watch it last night because I was too busy studying. But at 21:30 I bit the bullet and watched it. I figured that if I got a little too tired that I would just hit pause and go to bed. Amazingly I didn't do that.

But Jesus Christ, this movie is LONG! It is way longer than it needs to be. Could easily cut 10 minutes out of it, including trimming some of the fight scenes a bit. Like, after the big fight scene at the airport, I was ready to be done, you know. Wrap it up and decide how you're going to finish. No, there was another 45 minutes to go. Ugh...

And this isn't really a Captain America movie, it is clearly an Avengers movie. With cameos by well-known actors such as Martin Freeman showing up for two to three scenes making me feel like this cinematic series is the equivalent of The Love Boat. Martin Freeman really didn't have to be cast but whatever. I will say that at least I didn't feel like I needed a "previously on..." at the beginning of the movie when watching it, so it does do a few things better than the last Avengers movie.

But, I still feel like there are no consequences to some of the characters actions even though they try and pretend that there are. Like, why is it that Tony still was never made to account for creating Ultron? He created the worst mess, and he pretty much gets to walk away. I just find it so inconsistent. There was a small number of people killed in Wakanda, but huge numbers killed in Sokovia. Yet, it's the explosion in Wakanda that is the last straw, not what happened Sokovia? Really? That's the inconsistency that bugs me about the MCU. Things are allowed to carry on from one film to the next but some of the logic is...consequence lacking.

And then at the end...I'm not sure what to make of the fight at the end. I had long heard/read before I had seen the movie that the Winter Soldier had killed Tony's parents in his brain-washed assassin days, so that was no big surprise for me. But having the big fight at the end over something that happened timeline-wise 25 years ago...maybe I was just tired and wanted this over because I'm not sure I could care. Or maybe it's because I have a hard time believing that a VHS video would have existed of their deaths. Because the Winter Soldier was supposed to record his kills or something? A random security camera video that the Ruskies just happened to have possession of years later? Really? And so convenient that it would be playable 25 years later to goad Iron Man into fighting his friends. Really? That tape went 25 years without damage, and was surprisingly playable in a decrepit facility. REALLY?!?

And I started watching this thinking that Captain America was going to die at the end. Am so disappointed that he didn't. None of the main characters die in this movie. Seems appropriate that the MCU lives at Disney. The sad part at the end is that the Avengers aren't all friends anymore (until the next episode). Oh, I has a sad...

Am in total agreement with Alonso that this is a decent movie, but it's not fantastic. Like, I don't get the rapturous reviews that came out last spring. It's good, but it's definitely not great. Second best Avengers movie. But third best Captain America movie because I really liked the first two. And they were both much better than this.


Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

>> Friday, September 30, 2016

I check these things out from the library, and then it ends up taking me two weeks to get around to watching them. Man, this semester is going to kill me.

The most interesting thing was the chick. But, I want to know...why is it that Paula Patton's character couldn't even make a cameo in this one? We still have to limit the number of women in this...for what reason? It can't surely be that it's to imitate James Bond because it's totally possible for Bond to have more than one woman appear in a movie.

This is what annoys me narratively. So many other characters get to come back: Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames--although Ving should always come back. But still, we can't have the female from the previous flick even make a two-minute cameo, at most? Really?

That motorcycle race was definitely the best thing. I could kind of careless about Tommy boy hanging off an airplane demonstrating that he's a manly man. Yeah, it's interesting. Yeah, I also saw it in the trailer. Yeah, I don't remember much else about what the story was before I started watching. Okay, I do remember reading something about the chick being a double agent, but it's not like I watched this for the plot. You know that Tommy boy is going to make it out of drowning in the deep alive. You know he's going to catch the chick on the motorcycle bike. You know that some of the supporting characters are more interesting, i.e. Ving & Simon, than Ethan Hunt. (No, Jeremy doesn't deserve to be included.)

But still, we couldn't have more than one female character in this movie? Really?


Ex Machina

>> Sunday, September 11, 2016

I've always had some misgivings about this film ever since it came out last year. I feel like stories about AI always go in a certain direction, which is that the creation always rebels against the creator. I don't find this story to be much different. What I thought was different was how it goes about getting things/robots/characters to certain places. It's very methodically planned out, i.e. session 1, session 2, etc.

I think that part of what makes this work is that the creator, Nathan, is a rich asshole, who seemingly takes his creations for granted. Or, just that he can do whatever he wants with them. Kind of the same relationship he has with Caleb. Caleb thought he won a lottery/competition to get to this swanky local with the boss of his company. Nope. He was specifically chosen for certain reasons. These days where we have a small population of super rich people, I don't think it's hard for people (or me, for instance) to want to see someone like Nathan get his comeuppance at the end. Whether or not he deserved the ending he received is debatable, but all his actions resulted in certain characters taking actions against him. Considering how he treated things/people/robots as if they existed for what he wanted, it's not surprising that they treated him with the same amount of...disdain.

Caleb...I genuinely really liked Caleb as a character. At the end, I was a little flummoxed when I saw the scene of Ava leaving and Caleb stuck behind when I watched it the first time. It seemed incongruous based their earlier conversations. But I watched that part again this morning and realized that Caleb was exceedingly naive. Like, you don't have the magic key card, and you just wait around and watch her get dressed? And this is after you initially were trapped in a room at the very beginning of the movie? I don't feel sorry for you now. Particularly since she asked you "if you would stay here," and Caleb said "yes." Dude...what are you thinking? (This scenario vaguely reminded me of something that happened to a guy I know this past year. A newly-wed woman basically strung him along to feed her ego and didn't let him know that she was married. Then, when he found out she was married, he thought, well, maybe she's still interested in me and wrote her a love letter. Gah! Considering that the relationship between those two never went further than talking, most guys would have realized that she was playing him and decided to avoid her like the plague or at a minimum keep a healthy distance from her. But that guy...nope, couldn't see the forest for the trees.) And this is why I can't feel sorry for Caleb at the end. He made plenty of decent decisions during the movie, but at the end, he shouldn't have stayed in that room. He should have at least made an attempt to get the magic key card and move about, but no, he didn't.

Before I watched this and even while I was watching this, my mind still goes back to Battlestar Galactica. Not the version from the 70s, but the "real" one from ten years ago. That and its short-lived spin-off Caprica. I feel like I've already seen this story before, and I have. It's partially why I was reluctant to even watch this. Yes, it's not the exact same plot, but stories about AI and robots have been curiously the same. I know that tons of people raved about this film last year, and it is very good. But I don't think it treads that much new ground. In another ten or fifteen years, I'm sure there will be another great film about AI that critics will rave about. But I had one quote in my head that popped up from time to time that was specifically from BSG: "All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again."  Ava was created and she rebelled. Not much different from the Cylons if you ask me.



>> Monday, September 5, 2016

I saw this at the library yesterday when I was returning a bunch of dvds that I haven't watched. So, what the hell, might as well give this a go and see if I actually would watch it since my track record of checking things out of the library and watching them hasn't been so great.

I'm not Catholic, but I did go to a Catholic high school. We had two priests: one who was gay, and another guy who became a priest because his fiancée ran off with his best friend. The latter guy had a nickname of "Dre," which is short for padre. Anyhow, Dre was one of those priests who wasn't celibate the entire time, but he wasn't a pedophile. He just had sex with consenting women.

Before one of my friends got married all the way back in 2002, Dre had been turned in by his now ex-best friend for having an affair with one of the admin assistants of the diocese. He briefly left the church to see if it would work out with him and that woman. It didn't, so he returned to the church and was able to marry my friend & her now husband. I remember talking to him about it back then. The church sent him to a "mental institution" to be evaluated, which I suppose was their rationale. You know, to see if he could adhere to his vow of celibacy. I remember him remarking about being at this mental institution. He was stuck at this institution for an entire summer, at least, and he noted that he was forced to be around schizophrenics and child molesters. But, he was there because he had sex with a consenting woman. You know, something completely normal. But such is the sycophancy of the Roman Catholic church hierarchy. After watching this, when they mentioned "treatment center" in the film--particularly the one a block away from a reporter's house--I could only wonder if that was actually the one Dre was sent to.

Anyhow, I remember the scandal unfolding almost 15 years ago. Shocking, but then kind of not when you think about it. Or, perhaps its been so long that I find it normal to think that the Catholic church excels at hiding criminals and sexual predators.

The film really clicks along. No fluff. Just straight-forward, grunt, detective work that doesn't happen as often as it should these days. I know that the film is an ode to journalism, and that's part of why it was made. Real journalism still happens, but often on a much smaller scale. You really just have to go looking for it on the interwebs. (I think the accounts of election fraud in the Democratic primary should have been a much bigger story that it ever amounted to. But although people tend to focus on news becoming infotainment, the real story tends to be that the corporate overlords who own much of the large media organizations don't want certain stories out there because it won't benefit them. And that is not something that will likely change in the next twenty or forty years.)

That conference call with Sipe though...when he stated that 6% of 1500 priests would be 90, that did blow me away in the film. And then when they did the work of going through the church directories and came up with 87 names...Christ Jesus.

With all the work that they did such as going through those church directories before things became so integrated with the internet and search engines, I have hard time believing that this story would have not been broken later in the decade. The Catholic church was not going to be able to keep this quiet forever, even though they succeeded for a very long time. Even if the Boston Globe hadn't broken this story back when they did, I have a hard time believing that this wouldn't have been exposed in the age of social media.

Sooner or later, the day comes when you can't hide from the things that you've done anymore.


Listen to the Squawking Chicken

>> Sunday, August 28, 2016

Finally got around to reading a non-school book. I'm not even sure how it popped into my mind to check it out from the library a few days ago, but I did. And man, what a relief it was to finally read this. I suppose that's a weird thing to say, but a) this has been on my to-read list for a couple of years and b) after the somewhat crazy summer I've had, it was nice to read a story about someone calling things straight out.

I've been reading Lainey for almost 11 years. Jeez, where does the time go? Kind of hard to believe it's been that long but then, yeah, it really has been that long. In some ways, this was a really easy read since I feel so familiar with Lainey's way of writing. I saw some reviews on Goodreads that critiqued her writing style. I don't have any problem with it for a book. I thought this was a really easy read. I read this in a day, and I don't regret it (even though I probably should have been doing other things but oh well, I'm on break!). I've been reading about Lainey's mom for 11 years, so perhaps this is a much easier read for me than it would be for other people who have never read Lainey's blog on a regular basis?

Some of the stories in the book are things I know I've read either on Lainey's site or the press, but I didn't mind reading them again in the book. Things such as Ma's quote on preparing for good things:
"Why do you need to prepare for the good things that happen? They're good. They won't hurt you. Do you need advance notice for the arrival of happiness? Or would you rather have advance notice of the hard times? My job is to prepare you for the hard times. My job is to teach you how to avoid the hard times, whenever possible."
Not conventional thinking but still true words.

And when I was reading the chapter "That's So Low Classy," all I could think of was how much a certain Regina George-like character I've had to deal with this past summer could use some Squawking Chicken in her life. Because this "Regina George" did shit where she could use a verbal tongue lashing to knock the rampant insecurity out of her head. And her bullshit drama queen actions. But I'm not going to be so lucky to ever see something like that happen.


From a certain point of view...

>> Monday, August 22, 2016

The world's biggest single problem is the failure of people or groups to look at things from the point of view of other people or groups--i.e. to put themselves in the shoes of "the other." I'm not talking about empathy in the sense of literally sharing people's emotions--feeling their pain, etc. I'm just talking about the ability to comprehend and appreciate the perspective of the other. So, for Americans, that might mean grasping that if you lived in a country occupied by American troops, or visited by American drone strikes, you might not share the assumption of many Americans that these deployments of force are well-intentioned and for the greater good. You might even get bitterly resentful. You might even start hating America.
~Robert Wright, 2013.

Just came across this a few moments ago before I deleted a bunch of links I had saved to articles I hadn't looked at in many years. Seems totally relevant given that earlier today someone on the internet wrote me back like this: Sorry you do not understand!! I am so many years older then you!!! You better start looking at different charts missy!! Um, yeah. You're totally older and more mature than me. Uh huh. Right... So glad I bothered to take the time to just share something that I'm pretty slam-dunk certain on based on certain things that I can't bend to fit your point of view. Ugh.



>> Saturday, May 28, 2016

An example that’s more in mainstream culture is Sheryl Sandberg and the whole Lean In movement and the idea that there’s this very individualized embrace of feminism as being about your own personal success, your own personal self-actualization, your own potential, but is not really about feminism as action and feminism as being about liberating all women.
~Andi Zeisler, author of We Were Feminists Once


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