Archive for February 2017
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Viggo Mortensen is nominated for Best Actor for his role in Captain Fantastic as an ultra-liberal but in some ways also ultra-conservative father who raises his family in the woods of the Pacific Northwest without electricity or any other connection to the outside world except for his library of great works of literature and philosophy.
The conservative part of Mortensen’s philosophy is that he teaches his children to hunt and also trains them in hand-to-hand combat including knife fighting. They’ll be ready for the nuclear holocaust or whatever else causes the end of civilization! And he has six children: what kind of liberal has more than two kids?
The plot of the movie is that Mortensen gets word that his wife, who has been hospitalized for three months for mental illness, has died, and he takes his six children on a road trip to New Mexico to her funeral, where Mortensen and his family clash with his wife’s wealthy parents who want their grandchildren to be raised normally.
The movie very clearly shows some of the limitations of Mortensen’s child rearing philosophy. For example, when his oldest son meets a hot girl at the motor home park, he has no clue how to behave around her. If you want your sons to get married and give you grandchildren, I don’t think that raising them in the wilderness with no human contact outside of your immediate family is a good way to go.
Sorry to talk about the ending (spoiler alert!), but I feel very let down. It seems like a cop-out. After his daughter breaks some bones falling off the roof of his in-laws’ house, Mortensen has the realization that he’s not actually a good father and his children are not equipped to deal with civilization at all. So he leaves them with their grandparents and drives away. Thus the message here is that the ultra-liberal left has graduated from Utopia, radical anti-capitalism and On Walden Pond to become SWPLs who go to Ivy League schools and then work in self-actualizing careers, preferably in Manhattan. Right?
Nope! Wait a minute, that’s not what happens! Mortensen’s kids were hiding in the back of the bus, and then they steal their mother’s body from the cemetery to give her the proper Buddhist cremation that she wanted for herself, the oldest son goes off to Namibia instead of going to college (huh?) and the rest of the family goes back to the Pacific Northwest, but now they live in a small house with electricity instead of in the woods, and they go to school. What’s the point of that? Is that a happily-ever-after ending or something?
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Does Mortensen have any chance in hell of beating out Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck and Ryan Gosling for his role in a movie that’s probably too weird even for Hollywood? Not likely.
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Both of the older daughters are redheads. I tell you, redheaded women are suddenly a big thing. Emma Stone from La La Land. The foster mom played bye Nicole Kidman in Lion. The girl linguist in Arrival.
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I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to watch Hidden Figures or Hacksaw Ridge before the awards ceremony. Which I’m not even sure I want to watch because surely there will be a lot of Trump hatred on display.
Still working my way though Oscar-nominated movies.
Lion is named after my blog, so it has to be a good movie! In truth, it’s a very likable movie about a little Indian boy who gets lost, and is then adopted by nice liberal white people who didn’t want to have any children of their own because the world is already overpopulated and it’s selfish to give birth to your own children when there are so many orphans in India in need of parents.
India is a very photogenic country, so there are a lot of interesting scenes.
Dev Patel, who plays Saroo as an adult, is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. But the black Muslim guy who played the drug dealer father figure in Moonlight is considered most likely to win that award.
This is the most watchable of the Oscar nominated movies, about two white-trash brothers robbing banks so the one brother can pay off the mortgage on his mother’s ranch to prevent it from being foreclosed by the bank, which he does for the benefit of his children.
Jeff Bridges, nominated for Best Supporting Actor, plays a Texas Ranger who’s obsessed with catching the bank robbers before he retires in one week. Jeff Bridges takes on a hick prole West Texas accent, which I guess is what makes it Real Acting. Jeff Bridges makes a lot of American Indian jokes at the expense of his half-Indian half-Mexican partner. I’m not sure how he gets away with being racist. (I suppose it’s because someone thinks that the racist jokes are in-character for an old-coot West Texas Ranger, but I also predict he will not win the Oscar because the Academy doesn’t want to award racism.)
Lots of scenes of West Texas, a barren place with ugly decaying buildings, trailer parks, gas stations, oil well pumpjacks. Lots of people who voted for Trump wearing cowboy hats and carrying guns. There’s nothing in West Texas that’s of any interest to SWPLs.
Perez is the choice of the Obama/Clinton wing of the party, while the black Muslim Israel-hating Ellison is the choice of the Sanders wing. Who will win?
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Looks like Perez will win in the second round. He was only one vote short in the first round.
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Ellison picked up no votes at all on the second round. Perez wins.
My last several posts were about movies and books. Some readers really really want to talk about President Trump and don’t care about that cultural stuff. Please leave your Trump comments here.
Fences, another movie nominated for Best Picture.
My recommendation is don’t watch it unless you really really like movie adaptations of plays. It feels to me like I got the cheap seats to the play, couldn’t afford to see it in the theater in the 1980s, had to settle for the movie version thirty years later. James Earl Jones starred in the original play. I wish I could have seen that.
The characters don’t speak in natural conversational voices, it’s more like they take turns giving soliloquies. In a 1950s Ebonics dialect. That type of thing works in theater, it doesn’t make for a good movie.
It’s about a black family in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. The main character, Troy Maxson (played by Denzel Washington who also directed), at first seems like an amiable guy, reminding me of Redd Foxx playing Fred Sanford in that 1970s sitcom. Amiable but grumpy. As the play progresses, we discover that Troy is actually a real asshole, especially to his younger son, but also to his wife and his older son.
I definitely don’t see this as Academy Award material, not unless there’s a category for best motion picture adaptation of a play. I don’t hate it the way I hate Arrival. It’s just boring, not my thing.
Although I don’t see it that way, many pundits think that Denzel Washington will win Best Actor and Viola Davis, who played his wife, will win Best Supporting Actress.
I think this is an overrated Heinlein juvenile novel. There’s some interesting stuff at the end, but in order get there you have to get through a lot of boy stuff.
It takes place in the relatively near future in which men are just beginning to colonize the moon. Teenage boy lives in small town in flyover country that feels exactly like the 1950s and not the future. Boy’s dad is like the dad in every other Heinlein juvenile novel, preaching extreme self-reliance.
Boy wins a used space suit in a contest sponsored by a soap company. (Soap? Heinlein predicted space travel, but failed to see that detergent would replace soap? And that detergents and soaps combined would become a very minor part of the economy?)
Massive amount of copy devoted to explaining the technical details of how space suits work. Various plot elements are contrived so that boy needs to wear the space suit. Boy, supposedly not the best student in his school, knows more about science and math than most valedictorians.
That stuff out of the way, the interesting stuff at the end is that all of humanity is put on trial by a federation of aliens, and the boy is forced to represent mankind. The aliens believe that humans are violent and warlike, and if our technology continues to progress at such rapid speed, we would become a threat to the peaceful races of the galaxies. The punishment, if found guilty, is that all mankind would be destroyed. The aliens are not exactly the merciful Christian good guys.
Good news for mankind: we are given a reprieve and will be re-evaluated again sometime in the future.
Some people think that Heinlein was an evil fascist because he proposed a government in Starship Trooper in which only military veterans are allowed to vote. But the reality is that Heinlein was interested in exploring different ideas and one shouldn’t assume any one novel represents his true beliefs. In this book, he proposes an idea that I associate with liberal leftist science fiction, that mankind is barbaric compared to civilized alien races. This type of liberal leftist science fiction is demonstrated by the movie Arrival in which the aliens come with a gift for mankind, but mankind, paranoid and barbaric, launches a military attack on the peaceful aliens.
On the other hand, the Heinlein aliens, by even contemplating the harsh punishment of genocide of all humans, are much more evil than humans, at least by modern standards of judging good and evil, so there’s sort of a jumble of liberal and conservative science fiction ideas.
These are the three pictures most likely to win, in descending order of likelihood:
1. La La Land
An enjoyable movie that pays homage to a type of movie that Hollywood made a lot of in the 1940s and 1950s but disappeared completely before I was born.
Nothing to dislike here. In fact, whenever there’s a movie with nothing to dislike, you hear people calling it racist. In this case, La La Land is racist because it culturally appropriates music invented by blacks, and shows that it takes a SWPL white person to open a successful retro Jazz club.
My take on the movie is that the Emma Stone character was a real bitch to the Ryan Gosling character. First she nags him about not having a real job, and then when he gets a job in a successful band that plays some sort of Jazz/Pop/NewAge mix which was pretty cool, and it’s a job he seems to enjoy, she gets mad at him for abandoning his original plan of opening a Jazz club and not spending enough time at home with her.
2. Moonlight (spoilers)
Because this was an all-black production, they are able to show the dysfunction of the black ghetto, whereas if a white person tried to realistically depict the black ghetto it would be considered racist.
The problem I have with this movie is that it’s about this shy skinny kid Chiron (pronounced like Shyrone) getting bullied in the ghetto, and then all of a sudden out of the blue he’s doing gay stuff with some other black ghetto guy (Kevin, his long-time sort-of friend). Where did the gay stuff come from?
I appreciated the twist in the ending. You assumed that Chiron would have a happy Hollywood type of ending (or at least you thought it was a possibility), but instead he becomes this huge ultra-muscled drug dealer thug at the end, while Kevin winds up becoming a guy who takes care of his kid and works at a legit job as a short-order cook and even loses some of his Ebonics accent. But maybe Chiron himself considers this a happy ending, because he becomes the sort of person he wished he could be growing up as a kid. Maybe the Hollywood Ending is biased in favor of white norms?
I think this movie has a good chance of winning even though La La Land is favored, because it’s an authentic black movie plus it has gay stuff, so they can tick off two SJW boxes with one movie.
3. Manchester by the Sea
This is the best of the three movies, and I recommend it to all of my readers.
It’s a masculine tearjerker, which is a rather rare thing. All of the main characters are heterosexual men. The women are all gone because they were alcoholics or they had mental problems or something like that.
It’s a successful tearjerker. I cried. Don’t watch this in the presence of someone you’d be embarrassed to cry in front of.
The movie does show the dysfunction of white proles, they get into fights, they have domestic arguments with cursing and screaming that we would never see from SWPLs. They get drunk. Patrick has no interest in going to college. But it’s not as bad as the dysfunction of the ghetto blacks in Moonlight. There’s no extreme violence or children left to fend for themselves. The fights are broken up before anyone is seriously hurt. Everyone has legit jobs, no one lives off welfare. People keep their homes, which they own, neat and tidy.
As observed by some reviewers, the characters have white privilege that they take for granted. Manchester by the Sea is this idyllic all-white town devoid of any minorities except for the Asian doctor. Lee lives in Boston at the movie’s beginning, where he has to take orders from minorities, as a self-imposed punishment. He doesn’t think he deserves the prole white Eden of Manchester by the Sea.
When Patrick gets into a fight at school, the hockey coach gives him a fatherly talk instead of calling the police. After Lee is questioned by the police, he is simply let go instead of prosecuted for a serious crime. Some liberals who see racism everywhere believe that if blacks had been in those situations they would have been treated as criminals.
I think this movie has no chance at the Academy Awards because no one will want to give awards to a movie that glorifies the kind of people who voted for Trump. SJWs are outraged that the movie manipulates people into feeling sorry for privileged whites when immigrants who are in genuine need of our sympathy are being deported.
I can’t believe I never reviewed last year’s Best Picture winner. That movie sucked. There’s nothing more boring than watching journalists at work. The only reason it could have won any awards is because the good deed of exposing the Catholic Church as an organization of evil trumps the cinematic qualities.
All three of the movies favored to win this year are better than Spotlight.
It’s hard to believe this crap movie got glowing reviews and is nominated for Best Picture.
It’s like a bad Voyager episode stretched out to two hours, but without the humor or camaraderie between crew members.
As soon as I saw that the lead character was a redheaded woman with pale skin, I already knew that she would be passionately advocating an empathetic approach to the aliens, while there’d be a bunch of boneheaded paranoid military people trying to screw everything up for humanity.
I think this movie was parodied in the very first Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors Halloween special which aired 26 years ago (or something like that). Which shows you how unoriginal it is.
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The Simpsons episode was actually a parody of a Twilight Zone episode from 1962 which you can watch on Netflix, Season 3 Episode 24 “To Serve Man.”
Just as in Arrival, alien spaceships land all over earth, and a linguist tries to decipher their written language.
But in other ways, this episode is to Arrival as the Bizarro Seinfeld is to Seinfeld. Instead of everyone being afraid of the aliens, with paranoia leading to the threat of global world war, in the Twilight Zone episode everyone believes that the aliens are our friends and here to give us their technology, which leads to world peace and cooperation.
And of course, in both cases, the linguist discovers that the world is wrong, but in the opposite way.
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It’s like a bad Voyager episode stretched out to two hours, but without the humor or camaraderie between crew members.
Explaining what I meant:
Arrival is a humorless movie, taking itself way too seriously, especially considering the movie is just a bunch of clichés from other movies and TV episodes strung together. For comparison, Manchester by the Sea, another movie up for an Academy Award, although a tearjerker, has its funny moments. (Manchester completely deserves the nomination.)
Half of the first season Voyager episodes have some sort of time travel theme.
Several Voyager episodes involve meeting strange new life and trying to communicate with it.
Nearly all Voyager episodes have some sort of moral preachiness about them.