Saturday, April 30, 2022

Movie Reviews: Road Games (2015)

Road Games (2015)
directed by Abner Pastoll

This 2015 British-French co-production referenced the 1981 Australian-American film of the same name that starred Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis. The 2015 movie is a thriller with twists , not a gory horror film. I thought that the movie missed its mark. Road Games has a lot of misdirection. 

But I quickly guessed the major plot twist. The other mysteries weren't interesting or made no sense. 

I enjoyed the bucolic settings. Road Games is set in rural France. Road Games looked great but could have spent more energy on establishing the difference between urban and rural living. Jack (Andrew Simpson) is an apparently charisma free British young man who vacationed in France with his girlfriend. 

Book Reviews: Bad People

Bad People
written by Jeremy Bates
Because paid work has become more demanding, I haven't been able to do much reading. I want to change that. I hope to read at least three or four new books a month. Lacking the time 
to sit down and enjoy say, something the size of War and Peace , I chose a collection of short stories, or as the author describes them, short novels. 

Collections of shorter works don't take much time to finish. If you read a bad story,  you can find a good story in a few pages. The author has less time to go on and on; he must quickly grab your attention and keep it. The author must put up or shut up.

Jeremy Bates is talented. There aren't many authors who can rework 2500 year old stories into modern thriller tales so skillfully that you're halfway done with the story before realizing what happened.

These are thriller tales with some explicit sex and violence. There are no ghosts, ghouls, vampires, or other supernatural entities. Bad People is about well, bad people--though who the bad guy is may not always be obvious. There are four short novels.

"The Mailman":
In 1985 Mick Freeman is a Los Angeles record executive who is searching for the next big rock band. Mick thinks he's found them in The Tempests, a drug addled group that reeks of danger. Unknown to Mick, his wife Jade has become bored. Mick doesn't make her motor run any more. Jade is a housewife. When the new twenty year younger handsome mailman Ronnie makes a move, Jade reciprocates. Complications arise.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Movie Reviews: The Panic In Needle Park

The Panic In Needle Park
directed by Jerry Schatzberg

I hadn't watched this 1971 movie about the romance of two New York City heroin addicts. I knew it had soon to be superstar Al Pacino's first leading role, which caught The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola's eye. 

Coppola thought that Pacino had the gravitas and intensity to play Michael Corleone and used this film to persuade skeptical Paramount producers and studio executives of Pacino's skill. Watching this movie it seems impossible that anyone couldn't have recognized that Pacino was destined for greater things. 

Hindsight is always 20/20. Many actors and actresses do wonderful work in one movie and then for whatever reason never touch greatness again. So who can really tell. This movie reminded me of similar later movies such as Requiem For A Dream, Leaving Las Vegas, and Drugstore Cowboy. This film has an anti-drug message but it transmits that message without preaching or turning its characters into caricatures. 

The film's characters are lowlifes but they're not always doing lowlife things. They have hopes, dreams, and fun like anyone else.

Movie Reviews: San Andreas

San Andreas
directed by Brad Peyton

This is an over the top 2013 disaster movie that used every action movie cliche and threw in an amazing number of fanservice cleavage shots. 

The director and writer(s) ensured no matter what was happening on screen that the cleavage of the two lead actresses (and most secondary ones) was always on display. 

Someone drowning? Show some cleavage. Building on fire? We need some cleavage shots. Deep conversation between estranged spouses? That goes better with cleavage. Someone dangling from a helicopter? Someone climbing rubble? Someone discussing events with co-workers? What better time to show some cleavage. Snicker. 

Michigan Democrat Fights Back!

It seems that some Democratic elected officials are finally waking up to the fact that when someone hits you, you hit them back. Harder. It's the only way to deal with people in real life. Turning the other cheek or assuming that your presumed audience will see through the lies is an excellent way to lose respect and lose elections. As the saying goes "A lie can travel halfway around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots."

The new Republican tactic is to call Democrats pedophiles and child groomers. One Democratic Michigan State Senator, Mallory McMorrow, recently let everyone know she didn't appreciate anyone, in particular the Republican Senator Lana Theis calling her  a "groomer" in a fundraiser email. This sort of forceful rebuttal to lies could and should become part of a Democratic rapid response playbook.

Movie Reviews: Angel Face

Angel Face
directed by Otto Preminger

Angel Face
is a 1953 film noir that, like Chinatown two decades later, has some Freudian undertones. These were not usually explicit. It was the 50s. When you think about them you might get the heebie-jeebies. This movie didn't use WW2 as a backdrop but did use wealth and corruption as the story environment.

Depending on whom you spoke to, the director was known as a demanding perfectionist auteur or as a sadistic bully.

There is a famous story that Preminger required too many takes of a scene where Robert Mitchum slaps Jean Simmons. Preminger wanted the scene to be realistic; he refused to let the slap be faked or toned down as Mitchum wanted to do. After Preminger kept insisting that Mitchum slap Simmons harder, Mitchum lost his temper and slapped Preminger in the face with his full strength, sarcastically asking him was that the right force or should he do it again. 

Preminger fled the set. Preminger tried and failed to get Mitchum fired. The studio owner, Howard Hughes, had attempted to seduce Simmons, although she was married. In revenge for being rejected by Simmons, Hughes had insisted that Simmons fulfill her studio contract with Preminger as the director.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Movie Reviews: Snowpiercer

directed by Bong Joon-Ho

This 2013 dystopian movie was based on a French graphic novel. The science behind it is hit or miss. Snowpiercer is not concerned with accurate science. When the science needs to make sense for the story to work it does. And when the science must be ridiculous for the story to work, it is. 

The movie is more interested in what we think we know about human society and the various class struggles required. Or perhaps it's just certain kinds of societies that necessitate class struggle?  

Human activity--which some would argue is inseparable from human population--is responsible for the massive destruction of flora and fauna as well as global climate change. 

There is no quick fix because forcing worldwide use of renewable energy, forcing worldwide return to pre-Industrial Revolution living standards, or forcing worldwide population culling to pre-Industrial Revolution population levels are all unlikely or immoral actions. 

Believe Women or Believe Evidence

There are some feminists of both genders who subscribe to a believe women ethos which means that to them the default should be to automatically and uncritically accept allegations of misbehavior that any and all women make, particularly if such charges have to deal with sexual or other violence against women. 

Some such people get frightfully wroth if anyone is impolitic  enough to point out that women, like other human beings, are capable of being mistaken or deceitful. I think that any standard we use, whether in criminal court, civil court, or the court of public opinion, must have some provision for evidence. In other words no one should be uncritically believed without evidence.

Such faith might be something that individuals give to intimates or close relatives but it's not something that society can or should give to anyone who makes a claim. I recently read about another example of this.

Six weeks after Sherri Papini was arrested and charged with faking her own kidnapping in 2016, the so-called Super Mom from Northern California has signed a plea deal and will admit that she orchestrated the hoax, her attorney told The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday.

William Portanova, a prominent Sacramento defense attorney who signed onto the case in late March, said Papini, 39, signed a plea agreement Tuesday morning in which she will plead guilty to counts of lying to a federal officer and mail fraud.

“We are taking this case in an entirely new direction,” said Portanova, a former federal prosecutor. “Everything that has happened before today stops today.”.

Movie Reviews: A House On The Bayou

A House On The Bayou
directed by Alex McAulay
This made for cable TV thriller movie should have been chopped in half and presented as an episode from Tales from The Crypt. This movie used many typical horror/thriller movie tropes. 

There's a teen girl discovering her own sexuality, bickering/clueless parents, a threatening yet polite and mysterious young man, adultery, secrets, and unexplained impossible events. A House On The Bayou was too long. I didn't care about most characters. I wasn't impressed with or apprehensive of the bad guys.

Despite the antics of some couples in Hollywood or other less traditional communities, once they are married many people still initially expect that henceforth they will be the only ones providing that good thang to their spouse and vice versa, forever. It's explicitly stated in most marriage vows: "forsaking all others". Well as my high school gym teacher once ruefully noted to our class, "Forever is a long time, baby!".

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Movie Reviews: Red Rocket

Red Rocket
directed by Sean Baker

Sean Baker directed Red Rocket. Baker also directed The Florida Project, reviewed hereI didn't know that before watching Red Rocket but found it familiar because of its realistic depiction of socially marginalized people. 

Baker creates the grown folks movies that existed in the 1970s, patient character studies that neither judge nor excuse people. I could taste the sweet bakery donuts. I could feel the oppressive Texas gulf coast heat, smell the funk, and gag on the ubiquitous cigarette smoke. Red Rocket's cinematography grabbed my interest and never let go. This movie used 16mm film. It's gorgeous looking. I believe everything was shot on location.

The title could refer to evidence of a male dog's excitement. The title also invokes the hair color of a woman whom the protagonist thinks will change his life.

Baker examines an unsympathetic, manipulative, and unreliable protagonist/antihero. The protagonist can be affable but his friendliness is just a tool. Coincidentally or not, Baker set this film during the 2016 Presidential campaign, with plenty of Trump quotes.

#BLM: Dealing In Dirt And Stealing In The Name Of The Lord

In the George Orwell book Animal Farm, the farm animals successfully revolt against the cruel human overlord and his minions. The pigs, being more intelligent and selfish, seize leadership and gradually return the other animals to their previous low status. 

The pigs either rewrite the rules or employ insulting lawyerly sophistries to declare that a violation of both the word and spirit of the commandment is actually no violation at all. The pigs claim any detractor is a traitor working with the humans. 

I recalled this fiction when I ran across a news story about a similar set of pigs evidently working assiduously to enrich themselves from the blood, sweat, and tears of those they apparently regard as less than.

On a sunny day late last spring, three leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement — Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Melina Abdullah — sat around a table on the patio of an expensive house in Southern California. 

“For me, the hardest moments have been the right-wing-media machine just leveraging literally all its weight against me, against our movement, against BLM the organization,” Cullors said. “I’m some weeks out now from a lot of the noise, so I have more perspective, right? While I was in it, I was in survival mode.” She was referring to an April 2021 article in the New York Post that revealed her purchase of four homes for nearly $3 million.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Elderly Man Shoots Teen Home Invader

Actions have consequences. Unfortunately some people must learn that the hard way. I don't think that anyone should look for violence but the sad truth is that there are predators among us. And the only way to stop them is to apply superior violence. If this incident indeed happened as described then the would be robber is lucky to be alive. I hope he will find a better lifestyle than performing home invasions on senior citizens.  

A homeowner shot a teen who allegedly forced his way into his home in Akron, Ohio, police said. Officers responded to a call about a home invasion shortly before 7:30 a.m. in the 700 block of Johnston Street. A 16-year-old boy was found inside his home with a gunshot wound. The 74-year-old homeowner, James Lowgher, told police that the teen forced his way into the home, and at one point, the homeowner confronted the teen and shot him multiple times. LINK