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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