Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Entertainment in Samoa

Okay, so I’ve been in Samoa for the past six months and have had limited access to current entertainment. But, just for fun, here’s the lowdown on some of the movies and such I’ve had opportunity to see over the past few months. I should point out, that I don’t really watch movies in the same way I did at home. I analyze in much the same way I always have, but in terms of what I actually enjoy, I’m all topsy-turvy. I get way more enjoyment out of something bad (see: Eagle Eye, Death Race), but there’s no way I can get through something heavy or thought-provoking I would have enjoyed at home.

(There are spoilers, but all these movies came out months ago.)


I just watched Transformers this week on DVD. Definitely not a movie I would have watched at home. As I was watching (in the opening credits, production is in association with toy manufacturer Hasbro), I was trying to figure out what this movie is all about, that is: is it a kids’ movie? an action movie? It’s a popcorn movie, but without a clear genre, I feel totally lost – I don’t know what to expect. An hour into the movie, when the Transformers (Autobots) are finally introduced as characters, it hits me, “Oh! It’s just like the cartoon – that’s awesome!” Ultimately, I think they were trying to hard to straddle two demographics – on the one hand, this is clearly a kids’ movie (a movie based on a cartoon inspired by popular action figures), which I guess means casting Shia LaBeouf makes sense. But at the same time, Transformers seemed to be trying to be something that it wasn’t – playing it too straight as an actual action movie aimed at twenty/thirty-something males caught in adolescence. If the Autobots had been introduced as the main characters within the first 20 minutes, and had just gone for kids and went cornball, it would have been awesome. And besides, kids movies are the big money makers anyway.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

I also watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang this week. This one I actually enjoyed. It’s sort of along the lines of The Big Lebowski, in that’s it’s an L.A. detective story that really isn’t (and by the end you’re not totally sure what it was about, but enjoyed the ride nonetheless). Although, where The Big Lebowski revels in the absurdity of the setting, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is more about mocking La La Land from a New York perspective (favorite line: “This isn’t Good Cop/Bad Cop, this is Fag and New Yorker”). I was also thinking today about the scene where Robert Downey Jr. has his nuts hooked up to the car battery and Val Kilmer won’t shut up, RDJ keeps yelling, “Stop helping! Stop helping!” – I kind of related to that sentiment sometimes…

Death Race

Unlike Tarantino’s Death Proof (which was actually a pretty good movie) Death Race is a true B movie. I went to see this one at Magik Cinemas; I was hoping for something a little more over-the-top and ridiculous, something that would make me chuckle, but it didn’t really do that. I can’t complain too much I suppose, because really, Death Race delivered what it promised: cars with Gatling guns and lots of T & A. Personally, I give more credit to a undeniably bad movie that never tried to be something that it’s not than a mediocre movie trying to be something more. Although, as a friend said leaving the theater, “I kept hoping for a plot point just so the cameras would stop moving.”

Eagle Eye

So Hal has a girlfriend, who knew? Other than that, I’m not totally sure what this movie was about. I spent most of the movie with the same look I used to get when I tried listening to George Bush speak (head slightly tilted, eyes squinted and brow furrowed, mouth slightly open as though about to speak, trying to make some sense out of what I’m witnessing). I enjoyed Billy Bob Thorton in a totally out-of-place role just being Billy Bob Thorton (as always), and Shia LaBeouf isn’t bad to look at for a couple of hours, I guess. The ending had the canned stench of a focus group influence (LaBeouf was supposed to die, Billy Bob was supposed to live, I’m sure that’s how the script must have read). I didn’t mind the absurdity of the plot, although overall the movie was a bit seizure-inducing (although still not as bad as Death Race).

Good Night and Good Luck

Good Night and Good Luck could be one of those movies I may have liked at home, but not so much here. Although really, my problem with GN&GL was that the characters were totally flat. Such a great cast, but still no character development – the characters felt less like people and more like these bodies reciting dialog to each other. By the end of the movie I felt like, “Oh that was it?” I just didn’t feel the dramatic tension.

Tropic Thunder

I went to see Tropic Thunder in the theater the night of the U.S. elections. My company did not catch the fact that the three trailers before the movie were phony, just a device to introduce the characters. I guess some alcohol had been consumed (but still, three famous actors being introduced as names that clearly aren’t theirs and two of the trailers were sequels to movies that don’t exist, come on guys). I think “Satan’s Alley” was my favorite, no I take that back, “Scorcher VII: this time it’s different” was the best.

I’ve seen more that a few Nam movies, and I enjoyed the spoof. Robert Downey Jr. totally stole the show (“Why are you still in character?” “I know, but I don’t have to tell you”). I caught a few references: Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Saving Private Ryan, I was watching for an Apocalypse Now nod, but didn’t catch it (although apparently it is in there).

I’ve also since watched the DVD cast commentary, during which Robert Downey Jr. stays in character. The commentary is well worth the extra time, I was cracking up through the whole thing.

Prison Break

When I first got to my site, my host family had the first season of Prison Break on DVD. This is another one I never, ever would have watched at home, but here I got totally into it and now I’m dying to find a region four copy of season two. I’ve been assured that the series goes steadily down hill with each season after the first mediocre one and I can’t wait.

I guess Prison Break, for me, is another lesson in what makes a TV show watchable and successful – it’s the characters. The story is ludicrous and the writing is questionable, but the characters (especially the B characters) are just so good that I kept wanting to watch just to see what would happen to them.

Wall•e & Ratatouille

I keep waiting for the newest Pixar movie to let me down and not be quite up to par, but man, it sure hasn’t happened yet. Wall•e was adorable – a little ironic that Disney produced a movie about a huge corporation that takes over the world, but okay, we’ll accept that Pixar was the driving creative force and let that one go (since the movie was just so charming). Ratatouille was great all-around, but that one moment where the food critic tries the ratatouille and is instantly rocketed back to his childhood in the French countryside was one of those totally perfect moments.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hamas = Big Scary Thing on Lost

So, earlier this week John McCain was on the Daily Show. Now, I used to like John McCain - but less so since he started his presidential bid.

Part one below, part two here.

Is it just me or does McCain talk about terrorism/terrorists sort of like the weird smoke monster thing from Lost? That is, a disembodied, formless force of pure evil and death, that instills pants-shitting fear into all those who encounter it; a force with no traces left of humanity, culture or history, but only a thoughtless, programmed objective of total destruction.

I mean, geez guy, even Darth Vader was human in the end.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Never trust Rupert Murdoch

I apologize for my earlier post where I said "House" would be new tonight. I've been lied to by the Fox network. Let's take a look at some of the other horrible things Fox has unleashed on the world:

Speaking of dumb ideas...

There are several reasons I won't be participating in TV Turn Off Week, which began today.

  1. I enjoy watching television and I have free cable and a tv I got for free. Why shouldn't I enjoy it?
  2. Given the state of the nation, I don't think I want to be participating in any national activities.
  3. Fresh of the writers' strike, I've just gotten back in the swing of watching my favorite shows. Whoever organized this clusterfuck couldn't have picked a worse week. As we speak, I'm watching the countdown to a new "House" on Fox's website, eagerly awaiting a new episode of "The Paper," and Barak Obama is going going to be on "The Daily Show." That's an important political event, man! God, and then tomorrow, Jon Stewart will be interviewing John Waters. Wednesday is "South Park" day and Thursday means a muchly anticipated new "Lost." This is just a bad week to not watch tv.
  4. And, finally, what does a week of no tv teach us? I get that turning off the tv sometimes is a good idea. I mean, people who only have one interest are lame. But why not learn self-control? I mean, no tv means you miss out on many well-written and educational programs.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A literal media whore

Hmm...I call up the local paper and tell them I'm doing x, y, and z and they think it's pretty interesting so they come interview me and then run a story on it. But, haha, joke's on them. I didn't tell them the truth and omg isn't it funny how the media can be manipulated?

Last week I followed, with interest, the saga of a pretentious art school bitch who may or may not have been shooting herself up with jizz and then taking drugs to induce chemical abortions.

The story about Aliza Shvart's "art project," for which she was going to show videos of her home-abortions and have her period blood on display, hit the mainstream media after an article about it ran in Yale's student newspaper. That story, it appears, came after Shvart issued a press release about it. Naturally, this didn't sit well with anyone with half a brain and the day after the story broke, Yale issued a press release saying the project was not what it appeared. Then Art Bitch backpedaled a bit, but stuck to her main story.

It's seeming like part of the project was supposed to include the media and public reaction. But the way Shvart went about it really don't make any point. I mean, if you lie to someone and they believe you, aren't you the bad guy?

I never thought I'd say this, but I really like what Ashton Kutcher is doing over on E!'s Pop Fiction. (Sidenote: I really like a tv station whose official name includes an exclamation point.)

I've only seen a few set ups, but the premise of the show seems to be that various celebrities get involved in ambiguous situations and then let the paparazzi make what they will of the situation. Naturally, they always get it wrong.

The best-executed episode I've seen focused around Eva Longoria and Mario Lopez who are, apparently, BFF. The two went out shopping a few times and the celebrity gossip columns started buzzing that they were doing it. Then, over lunch, Lopez gave Longoria a necklace. IRL, Longoria was opening a restaurant and the necklace had a congratulatory message engraved on it. Naturally, that was not what made press.

What kind of world is it where the dude who starred in Dude, Where' My Car? gets how to make good social commentary and an ivy leaguer doesn't?

We're all too young for syphilis

Hey, God, it's me, Meghann. Are You mad at me? Here it is, 4/20, I'm sober and She's Too Young is on. I mean any movie with the tag line "To fit in, you've go to put out" and a bunch of kids getting syphilis requires some serious drug use.

Seriously, though, "She's Too Young" has it all: the totally over-protective, naive, out-of-touch mom; the younger girl with no self-esteem; the slutty, cool mom; the older boy who, because his parents are never home, has a lot of time to have unprotected sex with younger girls; and, most importantly, the girl who plays Emma on "Degrassi: The Next Generation."

What takes "She's Too Young" to the next level, however, is that once her daughter gets syphilis the totally over-protective, naive, out-of-touch mom tries to do a whole bunch of syphilis awareness. As if getting an STD when you're 14 isn't bad enough, your mom has to tell everyone about it. Oye.

As South Park has taught us about AIDS, diseases go out of vogue. Since syphilis stopped being cool about 300 years ago, Lifetime really had to step it up by making a movie where a bunch of underage hotties get it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Politics of silly

Wow, Thursday night's Daily Show/Colbert Report pretty much made all of my wildest dreams come true.

I mean, I'm a total politics junkie, and even I'm totally burned out on the Democratic primary race ridiculousness.

But somehow, whenever Jon Stewart calls "bullshit" on the candidates and/or the pundits shenanigans, I feel a little bit better (even if only temporarily).

I also enjoyed the surprise guests on the Colbert Report's final night in Philly, especially the "Ed-word."