Archive for March, 2009

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More Thoughts on 24

27 March, 2009

This seems to be a trend in my articles lately (this one here, and this one over at my new co-authored site, Dream Reviews), but I guess it’s on my mind. Well, that, and I’m watching a lot of it. Which brings me to the focus of this article. Although I have been keeping up with the current season, I have also been slowly working my way through the first season of the show. I’ve been a huge fan of the show for about 7 years now, although those of you who are aware of it will notice that the show has been on for around 8 years (because of the writer=strike-induced hiatus). I started watching the first season, but both VCR glitches and other uses for my time intervened, and so I never finished it.

So, now that it’s being slowly cycled through on Hulu, I have a prime opportunity to catch up. And man is it different. First of all, everything is yellow. This I remember very well from when I watched it the first time. For some reason, all of the outside shots, and indeed anything with vaguely natural light, is very tinted. I’m nor sure if this was a conscious choice (like the color masks in Traffic, which I haven’t seen), or whether they just weren’t used to filming yet. I’m tending towards the second option. There’s a few more bits of evidence that point to that.

My reaction to the aforementioned evidence is really skirting the boundary between “Argh that’s so distracting!” and “Aw, that’s so cute. They’re new at this.” At least twice (I think maybe three times?) in the first season of the show, there has been a very obvious camera or cameraman in the shot. Now, a few things about this. First, I have never seen this in any other season, so I think they learned how to deal very quickly. Secondly, one could think of this as poor filming technique, poor editing, and so on, but think about what they’re doing. When this happens, it’s when they’re setting up one of the really cool shots of multiple angles on the same event simultaneously. This isn’t something they could just edit out without making everything more boring, and I think it is surprising that this doesn’t happen more. Yes, maybe you never see cameramen in other shows, but I don’t think they’re setting up the same kinds of shots. And you do see a boom every now and then. But there have been a few times when, in my mind (or out loud), I’ve said “Look out Nina!! Someone’s sneaking up behind y-… Oh. That’s just a cameraman. Never mind!” or “AAAH what’s that crazy machine?! Ah, a camera.”

Now, about the characters. Firstly, it’s really weird seeing this season and knowing how it turned out. I know the twists, but not when they happen. And so it’s almost like watching The Sixth Sense for the second time (or the first time if the surprise is ruined by stupid Time magazine…), except that there are really no clues. I think they probably figured things out as they went along, so I’m not sure if the characters who turn out to be evil even know they’re evil at this point in the season.

Jack. Jack is a person! It’s crazy. He’s driven, yes, but he loves and cares for his family, and is almost kind at points. I really hadn’t noticed that he had hardened through the series, but the events (that haven’t happened yet) of the first season did in fact change him. I sort of thought (because he was roughly the same for all 6 seasons I’ve seen all of) that he was always like that, but it’s cool to see him as not only a tool of the (neo-cons and) government. Also, Kim Bauer isn’t as annoying as she is later in the series. Still annoying, but not as much.

It’s cool to be seeing the very latest and the very oldest episodes of a series roughly at the same time. I kind of want to do this with more shows. But first, I want to get through the ones I’m watching at the moment. And believe me, there are a lot of them.

As a parting gift, I point you towards the Jack Bauer Torture Report, a really entertaining live blog of each of the episodes.

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Review: The Age of Stupid (RATING: 5/10)

22 March, 2009

I wish I could say I liked this movie. I really wish. It heralded itself as the new Inconvenient Truth, shepherding in a new generation of caring environmentalists. I heard that it was bringing those concerns to a wider audience by fictionalizing the narrative, rather than the fact after fact that Mr. Gore gave us. And that part, at least, was true.

A little background. The Age of Stupid is a movie that was primarily crowd funded (and this shows at points), with a main character played by Pete Postlethwaite looking back at the recent history of the earth from 2055. The climate has been destroyed, and so has the human race. He is an archivist who is trying to figure out why we didn’t save ourselves when we had the chance. Although it is fictional, it primarily follows, as a documentary, five stories from real life—an oil scientist from New Orleans, a doctor-to-be in Nigeria, an old mountain guide in Switzerland, a cheap flight start-up in India, and a wind farm planner in Britain. (I think I didn’t forget any.) These people, as you can probably tell, at least for most of them, directly affect or are affected by climate change. And so this movie shows the true effects of climate change, and what is causing that change. It intersperses this with some fairly obnoxious animations about consumerism, the future, etc., etc. It succeeds pretty well at telling these stories in a moving fashion, and, if it weren’t preaching to the converted (myself included), which is one of the largest criticisms of the movie, would incite people to act.

And that’s where this movie fails. However great it is at gaining attention, gaining funding, showing the world as it is, it does not tell us what to do. There’s a brief mention that everyone can do their part to help, but not once—or at least not once in a clearly set out way—does it suggest a course of action. And that’s what this kind of movie needs to do. Whatever it shows, it needs to tell the world how they can help. Whether they have just accepted climate change as a product of man (through this movie or otherwise) or if they’ve been a strong proponent of change from Day 1, for something like this to be useful it has to give people something to do. And this doesn’t. For the few stories that are about champions of climate change, it shows what they do, but clearly not everyone can put up windfarms. There’s a general hint towards demonstration, activism, to show the government that we care, but it’s not clear. And it has to be clear for it to do any good.

I went to the premiere of this movie. I didn’t see it then, but I saw the stars. And so today, a week after, I went to its test opening weekend, the one that decides the real distribution of the film. There were about 15 people in the theatre of 300. And I wish I could do a better job of promoting this film. I wish I could help it out by saying “Go see this movie now!” But, honestly, I can’t. If you want to see a movie about climate change that will move you, both emotionally and to action, then see An Inconvenient Truth. It didn’t win an Oscar for no reason. Or maybe The 11th Hour (which I haven’t seen.) Leave this one alone. Keep thinking about its impact, its goals, but in this case, the means are not worth the end (if you’re “the converted,” going for the end already).

So as a final thought, I’ll plug its website, its movement. Make sure the Copenhagen conference is useful (and listen to a fun little speech by the President of the Maldives). Notstupid.org (It truly launches April 1st, but you can sign up now.)And you don’t have to see the film.

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

21 March, 2009

Why is the iTunes version of the series finale of Battlestar Galactica only half of it!!!! WHERE IS THE SECOND HALF!!!!! I’ll pay more, I just want to see it!!!!

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Another Great Email

19 March, 2009

Well, maybe it’s not actually the email that’s entertaining. But just look at the “targeted” ads on the side. I see one that has to do with Twitter. What about the others? Gmail is hopelessly confused about the subject matter of this email, it seems.

Oh Gmail, When Will You Learn...

Once again, click for (real) full-size.

(I don’t actually know the person who followed me on Twitter, but I think s/he still has the right to privacy, hence the censorship.I swear it doesn’t have anything to do with hemorrhoids or any other medical condition.)

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Another Good Spam

17 March, 2009

I believe I was just rickrolled. By spam. This almost makes me want to buy whatever it is:

Bigger Rick Roll

That picture is really small. When they say insert full-size, apparently they’re lying. If you can’t read it, just click on it and you’ll get the (real) full-size version.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m pretty sure this is a reference to the weird internet meme that went around a while ago—and is still going, kinda—of Rickrolling (there’s a post of mine on it here). I thought you might enjoy.

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Another Heads Up

16 March, 2009

I know, I know, I’m due for another roundup. Long overdue, even. I have a bunch of links, they’re just all over the place because I switched from Firefox to Safari. I’ll try to get it out in the next couple days. Should be some interesting stuff in there. I hope, anyway.
In the meantime, read my review below!

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Review: THX 1138 (RATING 5/10)

16 March, 2009

Let me preface this by saying that only its reputation allowed me to give this film a higher rating than Next. [EDIT: After actually finishing this review, I have decided to take away that extra point.] I watched them one day after the other, both on Netflix Instant Viewing (which is, by the way, amazing), and had roughly the same opinion of each’s quality. Which I feel are not the opinions I should have.

I think George Lucas has some problems that he has to deal with, in terms of his filmmaking. The first, which is as relevant to THX 1138 as it is to the original Star Wars is, well, STOP CHANGING THINGS ONCE YOU’VE MADE THEM!!! NO ONE CARES WHETHER THE GRAPHICS ARE QUITE AS REALISTIC AS THEY COULD BE. NO CGI IN MOVIES MADE IN THE 70S! SERIOUSLY! I didn’t realise when I started watching this that it had been George Lucasized. That is to say, when it was rereleased, he changed it both (I assume) content-wise (which is acceptable, in terms of editing scenes, adding in new ones, etc—as long as you make the original still available) but also by taking out what I presume were fairly low-budget special effects, and replacing them with CGI. Which really stands out, and does NOT help the movie in any way, shape or form. It even distracts from it, because you look at the new effects, realise that they’re new, and start thinking about that rather than what is going on in the story.

What is going on in the story. Ah, yes. Well, there, George, you have your second problem. You managed to surpass it with Star Wars, but ultimately you failed with this (a growth curve, perhaps, since this was made in your earlier days). And yes, this is apparently now an open letter to George Lucas. You are really good at creating worlds. You think of lots of cool things, and you make them fit together really nicely, and they seem like they have backstory. But then, when it comes to writing, you know, plots, those little tiny insignificant parts of films, you break down. Let’s see… Well, everyone is surpressed by drugs in this society. So let’s have… ummm… a romance! Yes, that’s it! A romance! Where they don’t take drugs and realise their feelings for each other! And then, well, let’s have them get caught! Haha! That will show the Man! And then… uh… I guess they’ll escape? But no, let’s just forget about the woman and focus on the man. Where did she go? Well, I guess she must have… died. Somewhere. And let’s have him escape with a crazy guy! Who is annoying and then goes somewhere else, while the man escapes into the wild. Which will surely kill him. But we don’t have to think about that part, because the movie will end right when he gets out. And done.

Because really, nothing happens in this movie. I mean, things happen, but not within people. Movies are, for the most part, supposed to be about character development. But not once in this movie do we ever get a sense of why someone is doing what they’re doing. Maybe with the crazy guy. But he’s crazy, so he doesn’t count. Neither of the main characters (one of whom, as I mentioned, disappears about 1/3 of the way into the movie) ever gives reasoning, and we never get a sense of how they actually feel. For a movie that’s about people rebelling against the non-feeling mainstream (because they all take sedatives, other pills), they don’t really feel at all. Or, rather, they feel for no reason, which again is not really a good rebellion. They just suddenyl have emotions, that aren’t necessarily related to things around them, or anything at all.

I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for a long time now. I felt that it was part of my cinematic education. But, just like, say, a bad math class, it was a part of my education that I should have enjoyed, but didn’t. It is, though, supposedly one of the films you should see. So, don’t take my word for it, see it yourself! (Thank you, Levar Burton.)