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  1.  (11171.1)
    @ twentythoughts I loved PACIFIC RIM. While watching it, my involvement got so intense that I frequently swore when the kaiju pulled out a new trick to take down the Jaegers.

    For those who want to catch something which is fun but in a grown-up way, they should check out the French documentary HOUSE OF RADIO when it gets an American release. A collection of vignettes provide a portrait of a prototypical "day" at Radio France, a French equivalent of NPR. The film shows the art of making radio programming happen, from crafting a 3-minute news brief to having a delicate ear for judging vocal performances in a drama. But some of the unique people who work at the station provide highlights as well. A couple of my favorites are the classical music host who's happily buried up to his eyes in stacks of classical music CDs and the personable operator who takes song requests for a call-in show.
  2.  (11171.2)
    GOD LOVES UGANDA is a documentary that explains just what inspired the Ugandan government to try enacting their draconian anti-LGBT law. The short version is that American right-wing evangelicals, particularly the International House of Prayer and Dr. Scott Lively, have seized on Uganda as a testing ground for enacting their ideas regarding social issues. Hearing Dr. Lively talk about ee-vill homosexual recruitment of children will make your gorge rise.

    The ordinary evangelical missionaries seen onscreen may seem well-meaning. But when you teach "Homosexuality is a sin" and "The wages of sin are death," somehow I don't see the conclusion being "So let's get together and sing Kumbaya."

    God Loves Uganda
  3.  (11171.3)
    Thor was sold out in 2D, so I watched it in post-converted 3D. It's weird when Sam Witwicky interviewing for a job in TF3 has better 3D than Thor battling dark elves, but whatever. There were a few tropes that have gotten unbelievably predictable. Maybe it's just my old age.

    The PLOT was not predictable, don't get me wrong. But so many things that happened feel formulaic in hindsight. For instance, it's a rule now that the BIG TRAGEDY that occurs midway through the film relies every protagonist having the foresight of Mr. Magoo in a sunstorm. The All-seeing Allfather doesn't see it coming, even though they know exactly what the elves want to do from the first five minutes of the film.

    Again, maybe I'm just getting old.

    Also, I'm getting really tired of the early fight scenes delivering better action than the final fight in films. Do they WANT you to rewatch the early fights so that you'll pay to watch the movie again? Thanks to YouTube, every fight scene will be shown for free in six months. Why not have rising action?

    Anyway, a very well-made film that doesn't drop the ball.
  4.  (11171.4)
    I'm finding the whole Big Superhero Movie genre really repetitive. I felt like I'd just seen pretty much this same movie a couple times in the last year or so. Frankly, they're starting to bore me.
  5.  (11171.5)
    Re: Thor 2: Oh, I dunno. Personally I loved the hell out of that final fight.

    Marvel movies are definitely following tropes, yeah, but... It's hard to explain, but they're comfortable tropes. They are cinematic comfort food, and they do it very well.

    If you're going to a Marvel movie to see the superhero genre redefined, I think maybe you're going for the wrong reason. True: The lead-up to the big tragedy in this one is actually the weakest point of the movie, and where it started to drag for me. That whole middle bit of the movie is badly paced. However, the way they handled the aftermath of said tragedy was actually surprisingly striking.

    So we're seeing Thor's mom's funeral, right? And I'm sitting there going "yeah, yeah, go through the paces and get done with it". And then they pan the camera back. It's a good "whoa" moment, and it makes for a good bit of motivation both for Odin's odd mix of vengefulness and hubris, and for Thor going against his wishes.


    Not to mention, y'know, classic three-act structure. Build-up, downfall, rising back up.

    That said, all this is just making me want a movie adaptation of WE3 more. Man, but that one played with tropes, ditching and embracing'em with equal enthusiasm.

  6.  (11171.6)
    Yes, the BIG TRAGEDY pays off in the later scenes. Fuck, the BIG TRAGEDY is the only reason the movie exists. It's a plot point that MUST happen, to prevent the film from being weak compared to other recent similar films. And thus, in order for the tragedy to be pulled off, the protagonists are required to momentarily stick their heads up their own ass.

    This isn't Hemsworth's worst sin. Anyone remember halfway through Snow White when he just wanders off in the middle of the night before that raid?
  7.  (11171.7)
    Went to see Gravity and I'll have to say WOW with a few caveats. What appealed to me there is that someone makes a high frontier film and makes it well enough. As a space nerd, that makes me happy. The claustrophobia, the feeling of danger and emptiness, the technology and the danger came across really well.

    The scienceā€¦ well, there were stumbles, but you had to be kind of deep in the game to notice most of them. One could poke holes in the science and tech 'till the cows come home, but I don't really see the point here because the facts were thereabouts enough and you sort of needed those leaps to make this a good story. There was only one moment where I went "erm whaaat?" that dectracted from the fun.

    So we have Bullock and Clooney hanging from the Soyuz parachute ropes - what exactly is the force pulling them out? ISS wasn't accelerating or rotating, was it?
    •  
      CommentAuthorteasmaid
    • CommentTimeNov 14th 2013
     (11171.8)
    I took myself to Gravity but had to leave about 30 minutes in. I got horrible motion sickness. I imagine I would have enjoyed it otherwise.
  8.  (11171.9)
    @teasmaid: Aw, dangit. I guess I'm waiting until it hits Blu-Ray, then, where I can hit pause if it gets too much. I had to give up on watching Cloverfield because of that.

    Watched Ender's Game last weekend, and it was good fun. Definitely a movie aimed at teenagers, and it embraces some tropes pretty eagerly, but it has just enough moral quandaries that it's interesting despite that. And it does hang together pretty well, too. There's a twist that you'll probably see coming once you start seeing the hints, but it still hits you emotionally.

    Too bad the ending's one giant oh-shit-we-ran-out-of-time-and-money plothole.

    Okay, so Ender is left alone with his sorta-but-not-really-girlfriend in his room, having just been slightly sedated and put to bed, after it's been sprung on him that the tests he thought he was going through was actually him eradicating a whole planet, AND killing his own army in the process.

    And in this super-monitored world, where the candidates for his particular position are closely monitored through their own eyes, where you have a clear, live feed of a massive space battle taking place goodness knows how many star systems away...

    ... The most important person in the world and his sorta-girlfriend 1) simply walks out of his room undetected, with no regard for any kind of stealth, 2) exits the base where they're keeping pretty much all of Earth's commanders without anyone noticing even though they're just walking out the front door, 3) walks about a kilometer away and into a huge structure, which is easily accessed, 4) finds an alien queen and her queen offspring right out in the open in a huge chamber, 5) gets this queen egg, which is about the size of a volleyball, back to the base without it being discovered, and 6) brings this egg aboard his own ship without being questioned.

    No. I do not buy it. This is the main human base in the middle of a war. Even if you did just win the war, there is at least a freaking camera watching the entrance. Also, they have goddamned 3D space cameras which are able to look through asteroid fields, and an alien was hanging out a click from this base without anybody noticing?


    There's other silly stuff in the movie, but I can swallow that as part of the tropes and the movie's internal logic. But the ending just smacks of utter laziness.

    On the whole, though? I enjoyed it.
  9.  (11171.10)
    re: Bullock and Clooney on the ropes

    The force involved was the inexorable weight of tragedy. They could have blamed it on upper-atmospheric drag affecting ISS (with its big solar panels) more than the astronauts (which wouldn't have been realistic, but within handwaving distance) but the screenwriters apparently didn't think of that or that line didn't make the final cut.
  10.  (11171.11)
    @twentythoughts

    That ending wasn't part of the story in its initial form (when it was just a short story.) The ending was one of several elements that were added when it became the first novel of a series of adult-oriented books. In fact, the adult Andrew doesn't act like "Ender" at all.
  11.  (11171.12)
    @Michael Wayne: I don't actually mind the CONCEPT of Ender doing what he does in the ending. It's just pulled off in such a halfassed manner.
  12.  (11171.13)
    Ah, I see. Well, I don't have the book in front of me right now, but I seem to recall the final events taking place on another planet, years (maybe centuries?) later, when the protagonist was much older.

    Which means the author/producer insisted on including the scene without violating the director's wish that "one actor play Ender" for the entire film, in one location... which made it stupid.
    •  
      CommentAuthorjohnjones
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2013 edited
     (11171.14)
    @ twentythought

    Just assume that
    everyone else in the base was drunk off their ass/having sex/celebrating the end of the war and security fell down multiple notches.
  13.  (11171.15)
    Also, just watched Wreck-It Ralph. Late to the party, yeah. But it really is one of Disney's best 3D efforts. Imaginative and fun as hell.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2013
     (11171.16)
    I went to the theater this afternoon, hoping to use a free pass to see Thor. Instead, I went to see Bad Granpa.

    Which was pretty funny. No redeeming cultural values, but funny and surprisingly well done. There were lots of "Borat" style setups, where the actors, in character, do deranged things in front of unsuspecting people. This worked really well, and I must say the folks involved were really good sports.

    If I hadn't gotten in for free, I might feel a bit silly, but for a fee movie, damn!

    Some of the raunchy stuff is going to have to get pixellated out when this shows up on Comedy Central next year.
    •  
      CommentAuthorjohnjones
    • CommentTimeNov 17th 2013 edited
     (11171.17)
    I loved Wreck-it Ralph as well. Some sick, horrible part of me wants to hear Sarah Silverman do Jesus Is Magic in her Vanellope voice.

    Meanwhile, one of the best kid's movies you've never seen is Rise of the Guardians. Alec Baldwin as Santa Claus as a baddass Imperial Russian warrior. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine as the Easter Bunny. Chris Pine as Jack Frost. Jude Law as an urbanely evil Boogeyman and Isla Fisher as the Tooth Fairy. Beautifully animated and creative move with incredibly well done voice acting that's actual acting and not single bullshit Shreck/Santa Clause pop-culture reference.
  14.  (11171.18)
    Rise of the Guardians was surprisingly solid. Dreamworks Animation has been generally improving ever since Kung Fu Panda (with the exception of further entries in the Shrek and Madagascar franchises). Though Guardians did overindulge in one thing that has quickly become over-tired in animated films: the army of 'cute' helpers. I liked the minions in Despicable Me as much as anyone, but they don't need to be in everything.
  15.  (11171.19)
    Just back from watching the movie "No". It's a movie about when they unseated the dictator Pinochet in Chile, seen from the perspective of the advertising guy who becomes part of the "Vote No" campaign.

    Really good movie. It nails the fear of living under a dictatorship without becoming too heavy-handed about it, and it has a good amount of humor in it without becoming overly goofy.

    It's also shot all grainy and out-of-focus, but that has a purpose: It makes sure that the filmed footage meshes well with the real taken-from-TV footage from back then.

    Definitely worth a watch, as long as you can stand subtitles (not a problem for me, being Norwegian).
  16.  (11171.20)
    @ twentythoughts Seconding your recommendation on NO. One of the fun bits of the movie is comparing what the anti-Pinochet forces originally came up with versus what the advertising guy does. The original No ads were utterly humorless and focused on reminding people of Pinochet's crimes. The advertising guy's ads were light on substance but like Obama's hope and change slogan let people project their desires for a better life onto the No campaign.