Thursday, 11 June 2015

So Fetch Friday: Back on Track

Wow, it's been a few weeks since I last did one of these. Things have been a bit hectic lately. I've still got this class to worry about, but fortunately I've only got two more (excruciatingly boring) lectures to attend before I'll be done with it. It has been hard to really think about anything. I have managed to see a few movies over the past few weeks. I've also got a few assignments that have been causing trouble lately. For the first time since I was in highschool I've had to do some really confusing mathematics about box office revenue and none of it is making a whole lot of sense right now.

Last week of course I saw Back to Bataan and I also finally got a chance to watch the theatrical version of Apocalypse Now which was quite the movie. I even wrote a whole analysis of that film. I also got a chance to revisit a great comedy that I had not seen in years: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Watching it now a lot of the humor did make a bit more sense than when I first saw it. There were a few historical figures I'd never even heard of before I first saw Bill and Ted. There were a couple I was somewhat familiar with, like Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Socrates, and Joan of Arc, but it was not until much later that I even realized that Ghenghis Khan or Billy the Kid were actually real people. I also was not exactly familiar with Freud at the time either (in fact I think I initially confused him for Jules Verne, seriously). Naturally seeing it again when I actually knew a bit more about all these people allowed the film to make a bit more sense.

The rock and roll puns also made a lot more sense now that I actually have some familiarity with 80's rock music. I did know something about most of the bands that Bill and Ted kept referencing at least, and amusingly there actually is at least one instance where a pun was not intended but it works retroactively. When Bill and Ted first meet Billy the Kid and sit down to play cards with him, Bill tells Ted "Dude, you got to have a poker face like me!" Obviously there was no intended reference here, but when you consider that Lady Gaga now has a song called "Poker Face" it actually makes that line funnier.

Unfortunately I did not get to finish the movie. I was in the middle of the climactic sequence where Bill and Ted deliver their report with all their historical figures when the film started glitching. I'm not sure what happened, I didn't see anything wrong with my DVD. For some reason it just started skipping, freezing, and rewinding and I had no idea what to do. That was somewhat annoying but it was still a pretty fun movie up until that happened. Also, amusingly, I found out that Ted's father had a bit part in Eraserhead. He was the guy who operated the machine that turned Jack Nance's brains into pencils.

I also got to see Now You See Me, a curious film that brought out some intriguing ideas. It did have a compelling narrative and I'll admit that I did not see the twist at the end coming. The only trouble was it was hard to tell who was supposed to be the hero in this story. Maybe that was the intention, I'm not sure, but I never could tell who I was meant to be rooting for. I also had some uncertainties about the part where the French Interpol agent decides to cover up the presence of a corrupt law enforcement officer and let a man rot in jail for a crime he didn't commit because "some things are better left unexplained." It just seemed like a weak motivation for an otherwise fairly strong character.

Of course, the real amazing parts in that movie were every scene in which the characters were debunking illusions. They did a pretty great job of creating all the magic tricks and then finding clever explanations for how the magicians pulled them off. There were even a lot of clues in plain sight that didn't make sense until they were explained later.

I've finally been talked into seeing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. I'm not the biggest fan of the series, but this one had some interesting ideas. The first Hunger Games was alright, and Catching Fire was basically the same movie again so it was nice to at least see something new. I liked the idea of focusing on the propagandist aspects of the revolution more than the actual fighting itself. That's a side of revolutions that often gets overlooked to s seeing a lot of emphasis on the process of generating support was a pleasant surprise and I found that part to be very interesting.

Apparently they're remaking Point Break and released a trailer for the new version... which seems to bear very little resemblance to the original at all. I wasn't the biggest fan of Point Break in general, and I'd argue it to probably be Kathryn Bigelow's weakest film (at least from what I've seen of her work). To be totally honest, it always felt like it had its priorities skewed, because I actually found the love story between Johnny and Tyler to be far more interesting than the central plot involving the former going after the bank robbers and developing homoerotic relations with their leader. During that final scene where Johnny Confronts Bodhi I kept thinking "no, I want to see what happened with him and Tyler." I know this is going to be an unusual position for me, but honestly I think Point Break would have been a far better movie if the romance with Tyler had been the primary focus and the stuff with Bodhi was just a side plot.

In any case, this remake doesn't look like it's going to be all that good. They seem to have completely changed the character of Bodhi from a reckless adrenaline-addicted surfer to a Robin Hood-esque outlaw robbing the rich and giving to the poor (why?). It also looks like they've completely dropped the whole character of Tyler (who I'd say was the best part of the original) or at least reduced her to an even smaller supporting role. It doesn't look like it's going to be worthwhile.

Additionally, it seems that Ridley Scott is trying to make another science fiction film. This first trailer has not given me the best impression, but it does have Jessica Chastain which is a positive (and she seems to be good in everything). On the other hand, I know that while I haven't always hated them, a lot of Scott's more recent films have... not always been up to standard. I might want to wait until I find out more about this film The Martian before I decide if I'm going to go see it. There are some decent ideas and it looks like they might be going the hard science fiction route so if that's the case I'd be open to finding out more. I know a lot of people were disappointed with Prometheus but it has occurred to me that his two big science fiction films, Alien and Blade Runner are drastically different stories. Perhaps trying something new in the science fiction genre instead of trying to repeat a previous success will get Ridley somewhere.

On Game of Thrones we finally got the long-awaited meeting between Danearys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion managed to prove his worth and has now officially become the new advisor to a queen who actually seems to recognize his intelligence. Tyrion has also started to develop a few good skills in combat. Unfortunately, Daenerys still has to attend what amount to Gladiatorial games and watch people fight to the death for the crowd's amusement. She is not happy about this. Worse still, those ominous masked men who hate her are also getting more powerful, and they've even resorted to murdering civilians to emphasize their point. Daenerys managed to escape with the help of Drogon (who she is apparently getting better at controlling). If she can handle Drogon maybe she'll start to release the other two dragons. This should be interesting.

Meanwhile, something horrible happened to an unfortunate young girl and I'm sure everybody who saw the episode knows what I'm talking about. Arya stark encountered a character who we haven't seen in a while, Meryn Trant. It's been so long since we last saw this guy I didn't even recognize him at first until I read up on the episode later. In any case, we learned one nasty thing about this man when Arya followed him into a brothel. He was presented with a bunch of prostitutes, nearly all of them looking like they were in their 20's, and he responded to every single one with "too old". Yeah, it turns out one of Cersei's top lieutenants is a pedophile, and the really horrible part is that Arya herself almost ended up an unwilling client. It's a darn good thing she was kicked out before Meryn saw her.

Finally, just when I was finally starting to gain respect for Stannis as more than a tyrant he goes and commits the brutal atrocity of murdering his own daughter. The act of murdering his own daughter is bad enough, but it gets worse because the way in which she was killed was to be burned alive. From what was shown, I suspect Melisandre had a hand in forcing the decision. I find myself starting to wonder if she is like the Hannibal Lecter of Westeros: someone who is very good at getting into people's minds and then using that to manipulate them to her own ends. If that is in fact the case, Stannis isn't even really in charge, she just wants him to think he is.

Suddenly I'm beginning to reconsider what I said before about how Stannis is probably the best hope for Sansa. The best case scenario is that Brienne gets her act together and devises an extraction plan to storm Winterfell and then teach Sansa to stand up for herself so she can stop being the victim all the time. Come on Brienne, where are you? We haven't heard anything from you in the last few episodes.

I started season 3 of The Killing and it has brought about a few surprises. At the end of Season 2 we finally found Rosie Larsen's killer. Now for Season 3, it looks like they've decided to try and bring out a new plot. We've got the two central characters still but a lot of the storylines from the previous seasons seem to have been dropped, and I think I have mixed feelings on the subject. Part of me is a bit unsure about this choice. I can see why they might have dropped the plot about the Larsens, since that was concluded in the previous season, but they also seem to have dropped the whole storyline about Darren Richmond. I guess I can still see why he is no longer given any focus but it might have been nice to at least give him a cameo or something now and then.

On the other hand, the new story that is unfolding looks like it could be interesting. The focus is shifting towards runaway teenagers and some sort of mystery that is gradually unfolding. A girl has been murdered, another has disappeared, and the latter's friend "Bullet" is struggling to cope. Meanwhile, a number of bodies have been found revealing that something bigger is going on. Linden tried to get out of being a cop but she is back in again, and ready to solve the case. There does seem to be something interesting about the relationship between Holder and Bullet. I'm half-expecting a plot thread where he becomes a father figure to her. Seeing Hugh Dillon (Ed Lane from Flashpoint) show up as a prison guard also proved a pleasant surprise, and I could not help noticing that the prisoner he's guarding seemed to remind me a lot of Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom.

I'll just have to get through one more week and finish the final assignments and then I can be done with this class permanently. It's hard to stay committed to blogathons at the moment but as soon as I'm done I'll try to find some time for them, so if anyone wants to invite me to join in on a blogathon, next weekend would be the time to do it. The good news is that I might have a new blogathon for the summer. I don't want to say too much, since it's not 100% set in stone yet, but I can tell you I'm looking at making a formal announcement as soon as my class is done, with the blogathon itself taking place near the end of August.

I do think this one has potential to be something interesting. It will definitely be something different for me. I love coming up with ideas for cast-a-thons, they are a lot of fun and I am open to doing more in the future, but right now I think it will be good to try something new. This concept will also be based on film analysis and the type of in-depth critical research that has made my articles so compelling. In other words, it should be quite fitting to my academic experience. Even better is that I'm pretty certain that this one can appeal to a wide audience with a variety of different tastes. As for the actual content of the blogathon, I'm not going to reveal anything until I'm certain it's happening (though so far it's looking good). I do believe that if I do go through with it though, you'll all like it.

Stuff From Other Bloggers


  1. You know where I stand on The Martian. I'm hopeful.

    Oh, and if you think Chastain is good in need to see Miss Julie. She's atrocious.

    Point Break was decent fun, expertly edited and exciting...but wholly forgettable. That remake looks like a disaster and a really bad move for all involved. I'm not sure why this is happening, to be honest.

    1. Right now, I'd say The Martian could either be a pleasant surprise or it could be really stupid. I think I'm going to have to wait for more information before I make a final judgement.

      Wow, was there actually a film where Jessica Chastain wasn't great? That would have had to have been a pretty bad movie if even she couldn't do a good job in it.

  2. I really liked The Killing, and Bullet was a stand-out character for me. I loved her. :-)

    1. I think this new storyline will take some getting used to, but Bullet is certainly striking me as an interesting character. She has that interesting balance of different sides, since she constantly has to mediate between her street life side and her other side which shows she's really an okay person in a difficult situation.

  3. Nice to see you back! I struggle to like The Hunger Games. To me, Katniss depended too much on what her male counterparts thought of her in the books. Then, the movies are progressively boring. I also happen to like the Divergent series (for Tris/actors mostly, not worldbuilding or script) which is not popular at all, so my opinion on YA franchises might be moot. lol

    1. I can't say I'm the biggest fan of either. Divergent was alright but I'm not in any hurry to see Insurgent. I'd also been putting off the last two installments of The Hunger Games for a while. I don't necessarily have anything against young adult franchises, I think I'm just sick of them using the same basic plot over and over again. Between those two and Jupiter Ascending, the plot of every young adult franchise these days is that there is a teenage girl in a dystopian future who ends up starting a revolution. While I can applaud the efforts to create strong female protagonists it might be nice to see something new in terms of story for once.

  4. Thanks for the mention, no worries John, it's all for fun and you take part in what you can manage :) Enjoy reading your thoughts on the other films, good variety of things. I still haven't seen any of the Hunger Games movies so you're ahead of me there.

    1. Thanks. These posts are really good for mini-reviews, when I don't have enough material to write a full post but there are one or two thoughts I'd still like to share.