Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Death Penalty

            Let's talk about the death penalty.  All governments must answer the question of whether they have the authority to end the life of a criminal should the crime they committed be so heinous or so damaging that only the death of the perpetrator could bring proper catharsis and assurances to the community at large that the crime could not be repeated by that individual.

            Here is a thought game to the moral quandary:
            You are in a switching station to train tracks, a train is coming and unable to stop, there are two tracks, the track the train is currently on has 5 workers who are doing some routine maintenance and will not be able to get out of the way, on the auxiliary track there is only one worker who would not be able to get out of the way. Do you throw the switch, killing the one worker, in order to save the five?

            Effectively you either allow 5 people to die, by not rescuing them, or you kill a man in order to rescue the 5.  The death penalty works off that similar logic, let me modify this.

            You are in a switching station to train tracks, a train is coming and unable to stop because a maniac disabled the breaks, and killed the engineer.  There are two tracks, the track the train is currently on has a broken security camera so you can't tell whether the track is clear, but you know that track is due for maintenance; if the track is being serviced for maintenance then there will be workers present and they will not be able to get out of the way.  On the auxiliary track there is only one person, the maniac.  After killing the engineer he fled down the auxiliary track and will not be able to get out of the way of the train if you send it his way. Do you throw the switch, killing the one maniac, in order to save an unknown number of workers that the maniac put into danger having already killed an engineer?

            Now substitute those potential maintenance workers with fellow prisoners, guards, psychiatrists, all of the people that might interact with the maniac, should you sacrifice them for the sake of the maniac?  Is his life worth even the potential threat he posses to the hypothetical people now that he has already killed someone?

            I say kill him.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Movie Review: Divine 2011

            In an effort to keep myself funny I am going to try to write a movie review a day for the next 30 days.  This will be exhausting but I have done it before, so when I fail this time I really won't have the excuse of going beyond my means.  For the sake of simplicity I will just review all of the movies that came out in 2011 that I saw.

            So I am told by people who believe in god that such a being works in mysterious ways, that seems like sound reasoning, if good things happen your prayers are answered, bad things happen it is for some unfathomable greater plan.  Either way, I saw two movies with very religious overtones to them, well three, but I am going to put that third movie into a Superhero review later because he's more of a highly advanced Alien in that iteration.

I am better than either of the movies covered here anyway.
             I... Liked(?) these movies.  And I must be clear they are as distant from one another as they could get while still being in the same stadium, not the same ball park, but one is on the field the other is at the concession stand.

            First was "The Adjustment Bureau" (side note: I cannot spell the word Bureau without reference, it confuses whatever circuit responsible for me sounding things out).  Matt Damon is in love with a pithy and cute woman who is distracting to his political career, so the Men in Black will alter the memories and circumstances of the world to keep her out of his life so he can be President and make green technology more of a thing.  The world is full of hidden doors that are operated by magic hats, and the whole thing is overseen by the Chairman who pens the master plan.  So it is love versus destiny, and you can guess how that works out.  I like the subdued style, I like the acting, I like the thesis of the movie and the romantic ideal it exalts, there are some idiot ball moments but it is a movie about love, the idiot ball is used for catch in movies like this.

We are the most low key and stylish divine intervention in history.
             Style is a funny thing, it can be sleek and simple like "Adjustment", it can be colorful and garish, it can be an atomic bomb of the absurd, or it can reach the heights of "The Immortals".  Holy shit is this film crazy as hell.  People get hit with magic war hammers at super speed and are exploded by it.  There is a magic bow that shoots exploding arrows made out of fairy dust, and the hats... Oh, boy the hats.  There are some unintentionally hilarious parts to this movie (like the hats), some fantastically badass moments, like everything Zeus does, sexy, colorful, and one scene in particular in which a magic bow is discovered and the main character for the first time in his life realizes that gods and magic are real because he is holding a magic bow that shoots exploding fairy dust arrows (watch the actor's face when he plays with that magic item, it is really good acting).  And while the idiot ball is passed around in "Adjustment" in "Immortals" it bounces around like an errant electron.  I think when the bad guy is literally moments away from unleashing an army of titans that will destroy the world and is holding a god forged weapon, the Prime Directive needs to be put on hold, in favor of the bigger directive of Common-Fucking-Sense.  But that is just me.

This guy will be Superman, and I am alright with this.  He's a very sincere and capable actor.
 Final Scores
"The Adjustment Bureau": 3.5 out of 5 (4 out of 5 if you have a date)
"The Immortals": 3 out of 5 (3.5 if you like over the top bullshit)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Movie Review: Sports 2011

            In an effort to keep myself funny I am going to try to write a movie review a day for the next 30 days.  This will be exhausting but I have done it before, so when I fail this time I really won't have the excuse of going beyond my means.  For the sake of simplicity I will just review all of the movies that came out in 2011 that I saw.

            Hello Sports fans, I am going to talk about the two sports movies I saw in 2011, "Warrior" and "Moneyball".

            I will say that in the end both movies were good, equal in whatever subconscious mathlympics I use to devise the scores I give.  That being said these movies are rather different animals.

            "Warrior" is a movie about brothers with a complicated history between them and their father.  Both have their personal drives and causes to fight for, and in the typical fashion a chance at riches, stardom, and dream fulfillment presents itself in the form of a gauntlet fighting tournament of martial arts.  the fights in this movie are excellent, the impacts look and sound great, and in a movie that is framed with fights that is important (I'm looking at you "Highlander").  If I have any issue with the movie it is the treatment of Joel Edgerton's character, who is the family man who retired from fighting but needs to win the big tournament to keep his house... You know, "Cinderella Man".  His day job is teacher and to make extra money he fights in local exhibitions, he is suspended from teaching for participating in one of these fights... BULL SHIT.  I'm sorry are there any other legal sporting events that can get you penalized from teaching?  Is weekend volleyball a no-no?  Whatever.  Tom "I'm Bane in the next Batman movie" Hardy is in this as the troubled war vet who needs to prove to himself he deserved to live by being a champion character... So, kinda "Raging Bull"... That had a war in it right?  He splits the demons with Nick Nolte who plays the father.

Nick Nolte with personal demons.  How will he pull that off?

            "Moneyball" is how baseball completely changed in the last 10 years because people started to properly game the system...  Or system work the game...  Something with economics and baseball.  The core of the movie is Brad Pitt who plays a really cool GM for the Oakland A's, and Jonah Hill who does the real revolutionizing as Brad's assistant, Brad being the pretty one takes all the credit.  The only weak point in this movie is it being so decompressed, I guess that is to simulate the feel of a baseball game, but movies written by Aaron Sorkin usually have quick popping dialogue and this movie has great dialogue scenes which are to far spaced and lose some of their cadence.  It is a good movie.

Why does Pitt look like a hipster in this?

            Neither of these films would be my pick for movie of the year though, even with their strong elements, but they are both worth watching.

Final Scores:
"Warrior": 3.5 out of 5
"Moneyball": 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Movie Review: Documentaries 2011

            In an effort to keep myself funny I am going to try to write a movie review a day for the next 30 days.  This will be exhausting but I have done it before, so when I fail this time I really won't have the excuse of going beyond my means.  For the sake of simplicity I will just review all of the movies that came out in 2011 that I saw.

            Today I will do two quick reviews of documentaries.  The first one is a sad and confusing movie which deals with a group of actors who have played central roles in something I really like, "The Captains" of Star Trek.  William Shatner talks to Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and Chris Pine (I managed to spell their names right on the first try, that is shocking to me) about portraying someone in command, being science fiction icons, and what they have done since.  I had no idea how balls to the wall crazy some were, and how fun and personable Shatner can be, it is a fun look into the creative process and is a decent way to spend a couple hours if you are a Star Trek fan.

I'm sure you can't.
             The other movie is possibly the most uplifting documentary I have ever seen, and takes a real touching look into the creative process beyond being a performer, into the realms of creator and artist, more specifically the art of puppetry.  "Being Elmo" is such a cute and sweet and legitimate movie.  I think it should be watched to put you in a good mood.  If anything I would have liked it to be more in depth with the technical aspects of the show, it really sparked my curiosity on the topic, but I wanted it how they presented it, I don't have the patience and drive to seek this out on my own.  Really "Being Elmo" left me rather jealous too, I don't have the level of creative fire that Kevin Clash does and I wish I did.  I write this blog and try to be entertaining or thought provoking in my life, but I don't know how far that can go.  One day I will write enough on one thing to have it be a book and that creative energy will be out of me like popping a metaphysical zit, till then I will just look on with green eyes at people like Kevin who have unmitigated success making their dreams real.

Who wouldn't want to be an icon of this Stature.  Shatner wouldn't mind.

Final Scores:
"The Captains": 2.5 out of 5 (3 out of 5 if you are a fan of Star Trek)
"Being Elmo": 3.5 out of 5 (4 out of 5 if you are in need of a mood pick up)

Video Game Idea: "Ultimate Sinister Six"

            I have an idea for a video game.  You remember "Marvel Ultimate Alliance"?  Where every hero who has ever spent the night at Avengers Mansion or punched someone wearing funny underwear was a playable character.  You know, that game where you could solo-run as Deadpool and succeed in beating Galactus.  Well how about we do something like that again but instead we play as the bad guys, more specifically the Sinister Six.

            The Sinister Six is an ensemble cast of super villains that have the stated mission of killing Spiderman and taking over the world.  They are led by Doctor Octopus, with the occasional pinch hitter of Hobgoblin taking command.

They do have a rather broad recruiting roster though, so I guess the game could go a little nuts.
             See, playing as a small group of bad guys with a limited range of powers, but numerous alternate costumes, and most importantly a clear goal has advantages.  It means that you can design the combat more tightly and with less concern for balance.  In "Ultimate Alliance" you could have a team with Thor, Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, and Daredevil, and Daredevil would be able to keep pace.  That is retarded, I don't care how high Matt Murdock scored on his LSAT, or how much his super senses make up for him being blind, he is not a God, Cosmic herald of death, or the Sorcerer Supreme, it is weird.

            Nobody is going to think twice about whether or not Venom and Kraven the Hunter are all that dispirited in power, they have both fought against and beaten Spiderman, the difference is negligible.  So you can have boss fights that make sense against the Heroes for Hire, the Spider Friends, some X-Men, etc.

            But what is more, you can have them fight other bad guys, against the Hood, Doctor Doom, the Leader.  Have one of their missions be to steal stuff for Doctor Doom and then he stiffs them on the bill so they have to steal something from him to make it worth the effort.  It also gives you a solid cast that has a unique perspective on the Marvel Universe, what must it be like to constantly lose to a guy in a leotard who won't shut-up while he is fighting you?  Or to get thumped by the rival gang, the Wrecking Crew.  Or worse to have to argue with the Sinister Syndicate over who is most deserving of the name and why the other is hurting the brand identity.
Though maybe a dust up with Doom would be unwise.
             Are Doctor Octopus, Venom, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Hobgoblin, and Electro so unmarketable that this is undoable?  You can put Spidy on the cover, just have him in cross hairs and have the various weapons of the Six aimed at him.  Have it be an arcade beat'm up with the first level the group escaping from the Raft, Cube, Big House, or other super prison.  Have them fight guards and have the final boss be a repurposed Sentinel used to guard the place.  The rest of the game is them going from mission to mission beating other crooks, taking out heroes until they finally face off against Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, hell you could have them win, and just make the game an alternate reality in which the Six actually accomplish something.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Movie Reviews: Aliens of 2011

            In an effort to keep myself funny I am going to try to write a movie review a day for the next 30 days.  This will be exhausting but I have done it before, so when I fail this time I really won't have the excuse of going beyond my means.  For the sake of simplicity I will just review all of the movies that came out in 2011 that I saw.  (Really today I just fail at being funny... or in depth... or involved in the project).

            Today I will try to stack things up a bit, in fact I may just do that more and more because it's my blog and I will do what I please, not like I have readers to cater toward.  So what is my topic for today?  ALIENS!

            I saw three movies of 2011 that featured them prominently, "Paul", "Super 8", and "Attack the Block".  Each was above average in their own way and had pitfalls here and there that kept them from being truly great, but overall I would recommend watching all of them (though I would recommend that when you watch "Attack" you turn the subtitles on as they speak in heavy London East side slang with mush-mouth pronunciation).

            "Paul" is a road trip movie that glorifies nerd culture with a modern comedy power couple, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  It is in many ways "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" but with an Alien instead of a monkey.  It has a lot of references, a good red herring character switch, and strong acting from the core cast.  It only falls short in that it can be a bit vulgar for the sake of vulgar and that doesn't always mean funny.  I could say the word penis numerous times very loudly, but that isn't necessarily a joke in and of itself.  Really that isn't its worst problem, if I had to put a finger on the movie's issue it would be a slower pace, it takes its time more than I think it should and could get a faster move on.  Penis, penis, penis.

On an unrelated note is a picture from when I went to Turkey, those Stones in the distance are called Fairy Chimneys.
             "Super8" I imagine most have already seen, a mysterious creature is set loose on a town after a government train crashes, a group of kids catch it on film and in the midst of growing up and making movies they have an adventure with aliens.  I describe this movie as a not boring "E.T."  It has a cool distinctive look, cool mystery, great young actors, it is funny, well paced and heartfelt.  I like it more as I am writing about it now.  If I had a complaint it is that the movies resolution happens mostly out of the control of the main characters, they have their own story that is going on in tandem, but overall those kids do nothing to change the order of events.  It is a disaster movie, so I guess the disconnect between character actions and the resolution of the film is understandable.  I don't know.  Boobs.

On a separate note, this is a statue of a fertility goddess I took while in Turkey.
             "Attack the Block" has the most pant shittingly awesome monsters to appear in a movie in a while fighting a bunch of teenage thugs and a hot nurse, sounds like the set up to a joke.  And considering that Nick Frost is also in this movie playing a funny weed dealer it might in fact be the set up to one elaborate joke which ends with a badass chase scene and explosion.  My only complaint is the human antagonist who acts very weird, and the previously mentioned accents which I found nearly impenetrable, and this is coming from a guy who people mistake for being British and is known for talking nonsense of his own variety.  Boobs-boobs.
A haunted wedding dress in Kensington Palace, took it while I was in London.

            So if you like alien invasion movies (3), monster movies (2 and 3), funny movies (1 and kind of 3), or coming of age movies (2 and 3), then you should watch these.  Penis.

The City of "Batman" located in Turkey.

"Paul": 7/10
"Super 8": 8/10
"Attack": 7/10

Monday, February 20, 2012

Movie Review: "No Strings Attached"

            In an effort to keep myself funny I am going to try to write a movie review a day for the next 30 days.  This will be exhausting but I have done it before, so when I fail this time I really won't have the excuse of going beyond my means.  For the sake of simplicity I will just review all of the movies that came out in 2011 that I saw.

            Since it is hard to be funny with movies that are good, I will start things off with the worst movie I watched all the way through, "No Strings Attached".

See how they are laughing?  It is a lie.
             Contrary to what you, or most people who have met me might believe I am not a vindictive person, I don't wish ill on anyone, and I do not want anyone to fail, what I want is for people to do good works, succeed at doing those good works, and then have the fame, wealth, and clout to constitute making more good stuff.  This is why I look at "No Strings Attached" as only slightly better than being trapped in an elevator... and really I'm not entirely certain it is better.

I am fairly certain I could entertain myself more than this movie entertained me.
             This movie is slow, dumb, uneventful, spectacularly cast, and unfunny.  There are maybe four or five funny lines in this entire film, all but one of which I have forgotten, because the others depended entirely on the situation they are presented.

            How much money could they have possibly paid all of these people to appear in this movie?  To waste their time and talents on it?  I looked it up $25,000,000.  And considering how there are no space ships, aliens, anything remotely interesting to look at, or even a criminally large amount of hair gel, I must assume all of this money was spent getting Kevin Kline to come on to set and be the best thing about this movie; which as far as accomplishments go, is kind of like not choking while eating yogurt.

            What is weird is how this movie came out twice, a star actress from the "Black Swan" does a movie where she casually has sex with an attractive guy and then falls in love.  It's like when those two "Capote" movies came out within a year of each other, except "Strings" and "Friends with Benefits" came out 5 months apart.  This might be unfair criticism as I have not watched, nor will I ever watch "Friends", but doesn't this piss off anyone else?

Wait.  What?... What?
             What is more "Strings" is really mean spirited.  A lot of characters who are really just out for their own interests and have their own perspectives and needs are seen as douche bags or jerks, but aren't even given enough screen time to be real villains.  Like the rival love interest for Natalie Portman, there is one scene were he calls Ashton Kutcher a dildo with legs (essentially) and how Portman will eventually tire of Ashton in favor of a real relationship with him, in the epilogue he is seen having a gay fling, and that may just be the second instance he is in the movie at all, like this guys comeuppance was to find out he was gay, which is insulting to both gay people and the character's position (speaking as a guy, if you have a crush on a woman who is banging what appears to be a functional retard like Ashton appears to be, I can't really see an issue with telling him off).  It is cheap and dumb and everything goes nowhere, there is no philosophical question to this movie, it is just a tangled mess of anti-jokes.

You know what, I take that back, anti-jokes are funny in an ironic sense.
            Lastly, and this will be my most juvenile complaint, for a movie about fucking, there is a shockingly small amount of nudity.  This film is incredibly tame on that front, and if you switched over fuck, to hell or bitch this movie could have been a PG-13 (or not, it is a movie about a woman enjoying sex, that might default to an R rating because such thoughts corrupt the young).  This movie even lacks the sting of the occasional tit shot.  That is how timid it is, a movie about casual sex, doesn't show a titty.  LAME.

Considering how much she shows off in this it is pretty clear that Portman did not think "Strings" was worth her nudity, and I imagine the other actresses followed her lead.
 Final Rating: 1 out of 5 (yes, I have seen worse; yes, in 2011; but I turned them off before finishing them, I will do a two pack on those at some point)

Some other Reviewers:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Poem, "Gloomy Crossroads"

I had a dream

I held a tiny hooked hammer
Made of zinc jacketed in aluminum
With a loop of twine through the hole in its handle
I was at a gloomy crossroads
Deciding to go where the brightly dressed people were headed from
I noticed that people going the same way
Were all dressed in brown and gray

There was a swordsman with me
Who I had seen kill a man back along the path
It had surprised me then that he even had a sword
And he had been in high spirits about it
I asked him how he did it
He told me
With that end
And pointed