Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stars Wars: The Sequel to the Sequel of the Prequel

Here we go again.

With Star Wars VII announced today as part of a takeover by Disney, I believe we're all having a fraction of the excitement we had when George Lucas announced Episode I.  Yet even just a fraction of that feeling is more than most press releases get.  And yet, what's that old saying from Tennesee?

Fool me, uhh.

So let's all get our heads straight this time.  The STAR WARS trilogy (IV, V, VI) is perfect.  And you will never get that again.  And if any movie that comes out is not adequate enough for your judgment, it is not George Lucas's fault, it is not Disney's fault, it is your fault.

Star Wars is for children.  You loved it as a child.  And your childhood is over.  And Star Wars isn't responsible for making you feel like a child again.

There have been some amazing movies since Star Wars came out and many of them have altered how you can appreciate a Star Wars movie.  For example, listen to how a gunshot sounds in a Christopher Nolan movie.  It's intense!  And you like that intensity, don't you?

So now you're addicted to an intense gunshot sound effect.  You like the terror and anxiety that one bullet left in the chamber makes you feel.  Why can't Star Wars be that awesome and intense?

Because Star Wars is for children.

So let's just go through the next 5 years.

Now-January 2014: It's gonna suck
January 2014: Oooh, that's actually an interesting cast.
April 2014: That title's stupid.
May 2014: The teaser trailer made me very excited.
November 2014: Oh my god I need to see this movie.
May 2015: C'mon I need to see this please please please
June 2015: It was eh.
June 2015 -January 2016: Next one's gonna suck
January 2016: Oooh, that's actually an interesting cast.
April 2016: That title's stupid.
May 2016: The teaser trailer made me very excited.
November 2016: Oh my god I need to see this movie.
May 2017: C'mon I need to see this please please please
June 2017: It was eh.

Let's just save the bullshit.  STAR WARS is dead.  Let the new STAR WARS begin.

Update: It keeps getting better and worse. From the official announcement video...

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Wachowski Burden: The Ghastly Ordeal of Cloud Atlas

I like to say I was raised by my mom, my dad, and HBO.  I know the HBO FEATURE PRESENTATION song by heart and when I hear it, to this day, I power dance with my fist pointed to the heavens.  It's probably really weird to watch, like stumbling upon savages praying to a pagan god.  That's because movies are my religion.

I went to film camp when I was 17 to learn how to make movies, and made a Star Wars inspired comedy about a kid whose life was "ruined" by American Pie.  [It was definitely inspired by sadly apt comparisons I got to "the Sherminator".]

He and his friend, who speaks through his Yoda pez doll, overcame a bully, and at the climax, Yoda Pez says "Suck my lightsaber, you will."  Star Wars, American Pie, movies movies movies.

The first day of class, our teachers asked us to raise our hands if we'd seen the movie in question.  RUSHMORE, most of the class.  CLERKS, maybe fewer.  SHAWSHANK?


You... haven't seen Shawshank?


The Shawshank Redemption.

No, I know.  I haven't seen it.

That summer was supposed to be about finding my kind.  I had left unsophisticated-jock-jerk world to be welcomed by my cool nerdy-smart brethren.  I could be cool and popular!  But in literally the first hour of our summer-long program I was made to feel shamed.  Over Shawshank.  

Just over 10 years later, I still haven't seen Shawshank.  I used to be more proud of that, hence the following birthday invitation:

And then, SPEED RACER happened.  It was a love letter to cinema, a rainbow soaked battle of art vs. commerce, a 22nd century Kubrick... it doesn't matter.  The movie tanked, the critics hated it, I heard it sucked, were you on drugs when you watched it?

Suddenly I was back in that classroom, only the situation was reversed, and I was swimming against the tide of conventional wisdom.  To me, Speed Racer was so much an optimistic and cautionary tale of cinema's power and future, and I practically had to beg friends to see it.  I still do.

This weekend I saw CLOUD ATLAS.  I loved it.  A triumph.  And yet here I am again, right where I started with Speed Racer.  A friend at a party after the movie: "I heard it sucked."  Eternal recurrence.

So now what?  Do I walk out of the classroom, or stay, make intellectual arguments, quote philosophers, rinse, lather and repeat?  (I'm sorry, I meant "pseudo"-intellectual, because god forbid our conversation gets pretentious)

I'm proud of all the positive things I've read about Speed Racer this past week.  It took a lot of passion on behalf of the fans to keep the conversation alive.  I hope and expect Cloud Atlas to have a similar fate, whatever that is worth.  For the Sonmis and Wall•Es, you never know.

As for me, I'll quote the scripture.

You think you can drive a car and change the world? It doesn't work like that!
Maybe not, but it's the only thing I know how to do and I gotta do something.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

National Review Goes There

Not that I give a shit about National Review's blog, but this is how they ended a post critical of Obama's Rolling Stone interview.

Yeah, so extraordinarily lame.  The shirt is stupid.  What is that white? Off white? That blue tie is horrendous.  What is that, a watch on his wrist?  What is THAT about?

And oh yeah, what's with the sleeves?  C'mon, really?  Oh look at me, I'm the president, I like to roll up my sleeves.  I'm getting serious about work.  Dumb dumb dumb.

And that grin, what the hell is that about?  Is he smiling because he knows something we don't?  That he's gonna tank the economy if he becomes president again?

And what about those stupid arms attached to his body, crossed over.  Is he getting impatient?  He looks sortof angry.  I wonder if they had to photoshop that smile onto him.

And seriously, can you fucking straighten your head?  Your left ear is tilted higher than your right, so you're obviously crooked, like your politics, or your brain is weighing you down.  Probably because you only have half a brain.

And what's with showing your teeth?  You are sending a clear message to the terrorists that America is weak.  And showing that you have all your teeth is an insult to half the world.  You're basically asking America to be bombed.  Probably begging for it, amiright?

So extraordinarily lame outfit AND pose. I'm just glad National Review was brave enough to go there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Skeptics, Freedom, and Shmaltz

This week's episode of FRONTLINE is an investigation of climate change deniers. These people are very creepy. They are soldiers, fighting for the truth!  The truth is, obviously, the opposite of whatever "they" say, because, y'know, control!  Open your eyes to the truth!

Deniers attend (paid, surely) events in fancy hotel ballrooms to hear from top skeptics, and no one is more credible than British "scholars".  There has to be some irony that to this day a "knowledgeable Brit" gives comfort to Americans nervous about their country falling into tyranny.

Then came the backdrop for the event.

Gold torches!  The bearers of holy freedom! 

I guess I'm just impressed with the shmaltz of groups that provide paths to "freedom."  This past weekend I drove past the Mormon church in San Diego.  It was quite possibly the cheesiest thing I'd ever seen.  Planted beside the 5 South, it is by far the most attention-grabbing building south of Disneyland.  

But you have to give it credit.  I'm sure if you're poor and in need of direction, why not go for the glossiest church?  You want the iPad of salvation or an HP Touchpad?

This of course applies to all of mankind, I'm sure.  The Romans were the worst at shmaltz. But as we move increasingly into a new gilded age, shmaltz will surely be returning with a vengeance.

Shmaltz seems to be a strategy when you instantly want to carve out attention to a new idea, or identity.  Create an eyesore and then just scream "SEE!?"  It's deeply insecure.  It requires you to acknowledge it, and then accept it, because how could it be so big if it wasn't acceptable.  It is the opposite of humility and doubt, and all the qualities we admire in mankind.  It aspires to transcend those values, in order to convince people of a superior way, one that you can participate in.  After all, it's not minds you're after.  It's the mindless.

Or maybe it's not a strategy.  Maybe it's a lack of creativity in the wingnut community.  Maybe century-old movements in art are still too offensive in the face of Jesus.  Subtlety is the work of Satan!

Strategy or not, when you get behind the shmaltz, it always ends the same way.