Posted on November 1st, 2019
The commercialization of a people's traditions and culture is a practice which fascinates me. Partly because those traditions are usually sanitized for those who would never make even the slightest effort to understand their origins. But mostly because it creates this disgusting mingling of cultural identity blending with people who loathe those behind the culture. The same people who proudly hate immigrants are the same people who love eating a burrito while chugging $5 margaritas at a bar on Cinco de Mayo. The same people who laugh at the plight of our neighbors to the South trying to escape horrific violence are the same people who get sugar skull tattoos and decorate their homes for the Day of the Dead.
Which is "Dia de los Muertos."
Which is today.
Generally speaking the Day of the Dead is actually a three-day holiday. It begins on All Hallows Eve (October 31) when altars are built to invite the spirits of dead children to visit. On All Saints Day (November 1) spirits of dead adults are invited to visit...
Then it all culminates on All-Souls Day (November 2) when the spirits of relatives are honored by visiting their gravesites to light incense and decorate them with marigolds, skeletons, calavera de azucar (sugar-skulls), and all kinds of other decorations and offerings... including the departed's favorite foods and drinks or, in the case of children, their favorite toys...
I say "general speaking" because Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in many different ways... even between regions of a single country like Mexico where it is a national holiday. Here in the USA there are, of course, traditional celebrations in our Hispanic communities. Everywhere else, Mexican and Latin American bars and restaurants use it as a way to promote their businesses. And, naturally, there are those who just think that sugar-skulls look cool so they display them on their dashboard or on their mantle for exotically fun decorations.
And then there are the cultural-appropriation-for-profit endeavors which actually do try to honor the traditions on which the original culture was built so they can enlighten and educate. Take for example the 2017 Pixar film Coco which is a beautifully animated movie that uses Dia de los Muertos as inspiration for both its story and visuals (it's where the stills above come from). This is a jaw-dropping, gorgeous film with a heartwarming message that works very hard to honor rather than exploit the culture which is responsible for it...
This is not to say that there are not those who would believe that Coco is a prime example of exploitation of a people by a mega-corporation that is appropriating their culture for money... and that's a valid assessment. But there are also those who see the film as a celebration of their culture, and are happy that their traditions are being represented and given visibility so beautifully. This piece on the reaction of indigenous peoples of Oaxaca watching Coco (many of whom had never been to a theater before) is wonderful to see.
As somebody who is not native to Dia de los Muertos, has never had it be a part of their culture, and knew almost nothing about it aside from seeing sugar skull tattoos on Ink Master, I was grateful to Disney/Pixar for educating me about the Day of the Dead. It's thanks to Coco that I took the time to read up on the holiday by those whose culture is responsible for it. And after educating myself I was able to truly appreciate what a beautiful celebration it is. Not necessarily for the dead... but for the living who keep their spirit and memory alive.
If you haven't seen Coco yet, this weekend would be the perfect time to remedy that. And if you have? It's a great time to watch it again. I know I will be!
Posted on August 27th, 2019
I worked so hard for so long to make relationships work, but eventually came to realize that being in a relationship isn't for me. That was a tough realization to come to after spending my entire life convinced I couldn't be complete without somebody else in my life. But I've made my peace with it. Relationships make me happy in the short run, but being single has made me happier in the long run.
Except when grocery shopping.
After my dentist appointment today I went to Petco for kitty litter... to Burger King for an Impossible Whopper... and to Safeway for food.
The problem with shopping for food while single is that it's more expensive than shopping for food with a family (per person). As an example? I need hamburger buns to go with my veggie burgers. Unless I eat veggie burgers every day, I can eat maybe four buns before they go stale. They come in packages of eight. Which means I have to freeze four and they never taste as good after being frozen. Cost for eight buns? $3.49. Or on sale at two for $5. Some stores will let you buy one for $2.50, but most won't. So do I spend an extra $1.50 for a bunch of buns I'll just have to freeze? That's the question I face every time I go shopping. At least buns can be frozen if I decide to go that route... some things cannot.
Like buns for veggie burgers, cream cheese for bagels is another thing that drives me nuts. They are never on sale at the same time. Fortunately cream cheese usually has an expiry date for 6 months, so I can stock up and wait for bagel prices to drop.
But it's not all bad news.
Because of the way my blood sugar spikes, I need to limit carbs. That's tough for a vegetarian, but I do my best and try to plan around it. It's just making choices. Do I want to spread my carbs throughout the day so I can have bread and fruit? Or do I want to splurge on carbs at one meal and go low-carb the rest of the day? If I have pasta for an early dinner (must be eaten before 6 so I have time to burn it off before bed), that means I am having eggs for breakfast and cheese sticks with hummus and veggies for lunch. It's not science, but it works. My doctor is please with my A1C levels, and that's all I need to know.
And while I have gotten rid of a lot of sugar in my diet, I can still enjoy sweets a couple times a week. My favorite is cake, but if I were to make or buy a cake, it would perish long before I got around to eating even a fraction of it.
Fortunately, there are several companies making microwavable "desserts for one" and they're pretty great (also great are break-and-bake cookies, but I wrote about them last week).
And even more fortunately, Safeway had a bunch of them on sale and on closeout...
That's enough to last me for the rest of the year (there's 4 per box), and most of them were under $3.00! I prefer the Duncan Hines treats (in the red boxes) because they don't have icing. The Betty Crocker "Mug Treats" do have icing, but I always have to toss it out to save carbs.
No, they're not as fantastic as a real oven-baked cake or muffin, but not having to worry about food waste goes a long way for me.
And another thing that's pretty sweet? The upcoming Disney+ streaming service I've been writing about for weeks!
I don't know if this will help anybody out there, but... if you are planning on signing up for Disney+ and don't care about a bundle with ESPN and Hulu, there's a deal to be had by pre-ordering a membership NOW for when it begins in November.
Disney's official fan club is D23.com and basic membership is free. There are higher tiers with more benefits, but they are not necessary to get this offer. So if you are NOT a member, go sign up for a free membership. If you ARE a member, login and go to the My Account drop-down and choose "View My Account." There you will have the option to buy a 3-year Disney+ membership for $140. That's 33% off the "regular" price...
I know three years is a big commitment but, for me, it was a no-brainer. Considering there's exclusive Marvel Studios, Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and National Geographic content... all of which I love... I was all over it. Sure I don't have $140 to be spending just now, but the offer expires after the weekend and I wasn't going to miss it (that's less than $4 a month!). Hello credit card debt, it's been a long time!
Despite having a bill to pay off, it's nice knowing that I don't have to worry about paying for Disney+ until November of 2022!
Posted on August 23rd, 2019
Disney's annual D23 Expo has begun, and even more news has been released for Disney+, the new streaming service that's packed with all kinds of awesome projects (many of which I've already talked about here). Hilary Duff is coming back as Lizzie McGuire, but Miley Cyrus isn't coming back as Hannah Montana... at least not yet.
As for the other Disney+ news? Let's run that down, shall we?
CASSIAN & K-2SO
I actually really liked Rogue One. It felt the more "Star Wars" than we've seen in a while. Now the best part of the entire movie, Cassian and K-2SO, have their own show... which shoots next year. When coupled with the other excellent Star Wars projects in the pipe, Disney+ is essential viewing for fans.
The animated Star Wars efforts have been pretty fantastic. Between Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: Clone Wars, one could argue that the cartoons have done more to keep the spirit of Star Wars alive than any other media. Rebels ended with Season Four. Now Clone Wars is ending with Season Seven.
I have no idea if Disney will develop any new animated shows, but I certainly hope so.
Disney is leveraging their relationship with Kristen Bell from Frozen and Frozen 2 to build a new reality series...
Interesting idea, I guess? But not my cup of tea.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
The only real news here is that Emily VanCamp is returning to the MCU as Sharon Carter. And oh... some guy named Wyatt Russell is coming onboard to play John Walker, which everybody knows is U.S. Agent formerly Super-Patriot formerly Patriot from the comics.
LADY & THE TRAMP
Okay, how cool is it that Disney found rescue dogs to play the lead in their new Disney+ show?
Looks great. Of course I'll be giving it a try...
It's a "remarkably ambition show" is all the new we got. Alrighty then.
This is actually looking more Star Wars than the new trilogy of Star Wars sequel trilogy... and a hell of a lot more Star Wars than the shitty Star Wars prequel trilogy...
With Jon Favreau in charge, I would subscribe to Disney+ just to watch this show...
MONSTERS AT WORK
I find it a bit odd that there's only one Pixar property being developed for Disney+ (from what they've announced), but at least they picked the right property. The city of Monstropolis is ripe for interesting stories, and the fact that Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back as Mike and Sully is just icing on the cake (after Stitch, Sully is my most favorite Disney character). But the stars of the show will be entirely new characters with the voices of Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler, which could be interesting. They also announced Pixar's Forky Asks a Question, but it's more a collection of shorts than a series, apparently.
As I've said more than once, this is a no-brainer. I honestly thought it would be a new Netflix show before that development dissolved. Early versions of the character were essentially the Marvel Universe's version of Batman. Later versions of the character gave him multiple personalities and delved more into more mystical aspects of Marc Spector, giving him enhanced strength and other powers based on how full the moon is. Regardless of which way they take things, I am very much interested in seeing what Disney comes up with given that we are promised all the Marvel Disney+ shows will be an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
In yet another no-brainer, Disney+ is giving us a series featuring the comic book character of Kamala Khan, a shape-shifting super-powered Muslim teen. I love the comic book, and have high hopes that the live-action show will do her justice. I do worry about how well the more goofy aspects of her powers will be translated visually, but it certainly can't be any worse than the horrific job they did with Mr. Fantastic in the awful Fantastic Four movies.
Yeah, I love the idea of Kermit and The Muppets getting a new show, but I do worry about whether or not they will let The Muppets be The Muppets... or whether they'll do something stupid to try and "update" them when nothing like that is desired or required.
What looks like a mediocre Hallmark comedy film revolving around Santa's sister would be a complete throwaway if not for the fact that it stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader.
If nothing else, the leads will make it worth checking out.
Disney says an Obi-Wan Kenobe series has been in development for four years. Which means Disney+ has been in development for more than four years? Really? Well, whatever. All I need to know is that Ewan McGregor is coming back to play the part when it starts shooting next year. One of the few good things to come from the shitty prequels, a series revolving around McGregor's Obi-Wan is good news.
ONE DAY AT DISNEY
The behind-the-scenes at Disney's theme parks must be at least as interesting as the parks themselves. Probably even more so. No idea just how sanitized this three-issue-series will be (my guess: very), but at least we're getting something.
PHINEAS AND FERB THE MOVIE: CANDACE AGAINST THE UNIVERSE
While I loved Phones and Ferb when it debuted, it eventually got run into the ground over four seasons. My hope was that maybe they'd spin off Perry the Platypus or something interesting, but perhaps a new film will prove worthwhile if they try to break from the status quo in even a small way.
In the comics, She-Hulk became a much lighter, funnier character than her brooding, tragic, drama-prone cousin Bruce Banner. In the movies they've taken Hulk in a direction more like comic book She-Hulk, which begs the question... what does that leave for the Jennifer Walters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I guess we're going to be finding out now that she's getting her own series.
Oh Lord. The inspiration for this series is The Dick van Dyke Show? That sounds absurdly self-defeating, but who knows. They did add Kat Dennings as Darcy (from the Thor movies) and Randall Park (from Ant-Man and The Wasp) so I guess that's something. Except... is Disney+ really going to become a dumping ground for third-tier characters? I mean, sure, I like these characters and it will be nice to see the again... but the choices here are just so random. I guess we'll have to wait and hope.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JEFF GOLDBLUM
The only thing that could be better than Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum would be if Jeff Goldblum were playing The Grand Master (from Thor: Ragnarok) in a new series. So, yeah, Disney can just take my money now.
Posted on October 26th, 2018
This Friday blows.
I'm not even supposed to be here today.
But since I am here... I've decided to watch the movies I pre-ordered when I coud afford to be buying movies. The first was The Spy Who Dumped Me which I don't even remember buying. I don't even know why I would buy it. I do know why I would watch it, however. I would watch anything with Mila Kunis in it...
It was better than I thought it would be, but still a movie to rent, not a movie to buy. Even though it has some good jokes in it.
The other movie appearing in my iTunes? The Incredibles 2...
I saw this in theaters because I loved the first one so much. I still consider the original to be the best representation of The Fantastic 4 to ever hit the silver screen... and one of the best super-hero movies ever made. The sequel? I don't know if I would go that far, but it was still a highly entertaining film. And beautifully-designed.
Which is why I bought it. I wanted to be able to step through it frame by frame and just marvel at how amazing everything looks. Also... I love how they took one of my favorite games, Portal, and made it into a super-hero called Voyd. Up until now, we've only gotten to see Doctor Strange and Wong create "portals" in the movies.
And now I want to watch Avengers: Infinity War for the sixth time.
Or play some Portal.
Or maybe... just maybe... both!
Posted on September 26th, 2018
Posted on April 8th, 2018
Time for you to do that voodoo that you do so well... because a brand new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• KATY?!?! I don't watch American Idol, but I happened upon a commercial where I saw that Katy Perry is a judge now, so I had to check it out. Her new look is amazing...
Modern rock glam with a punk sensibility stirred into the mix? Yes please.
• Shiplap! Shiplap! Shiplap! And so the final Episode of Fixer Upper has come and gone. I didn't sob uncontrollably as expected. There are many home renovation shows I enjoy watching... but none of them... NOT ONE... can compare to the taste level of Joanna Gaines. In all these years, I can't think of a single thing on any of her projects where I've thought "Well that's horrible!" Sure there are some decisions she makes that aren't my favorite... but it's rare, and it's never so bad I would rip it out if it were in my home. Joanna's Behind the Design starts on the 11th, and there's 15 half-hour episodes to be had. After that? I guess it's game over...
My favorite of all the design shows, Fixer Upper will be missed.
• Pro! APPLE IS CONSULTING WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE USING THEIR SHIT? WELL THAT'S A WELCOME AND PLEASANT FUCKING SURPRISE! I've been absolutely furious that self-proclaimed "pro" Macs are anything but "professional." They're designed to be pretty rather than functional, and Apple keeps ripping out features that pros actually need. Though something tells me this is a case of "too little too late," as many professionals I know have moved to Windows. My mind reels over how Apple has abandoned a market they used to own. Makes me wonder how much longer they plan to make Macs at all.
• Solo! A new trailer was released for the Han Solo Star Wars prequel. It looks pretty great... but the plague of problems that have descended on the film has me wondering if this is just showing some of the best bits and the rest of the movie if going to be crap...
I guess we shall see. I am really hoping that the movie is great compared to the mixed bag we got last time. Though the special effects, settings, and battles were amazing, I wasn't really happy with the story for The Last Jedi, which had some of the stupidest bits since the prequels...
I mean... Space Leia? What in the hell were they thinking?
• Incredible! As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of the first Incredibles movie, I am anxiously awaiting the sequel. Seeing awesome marketing materials like this doesn't make me any more patient...
Hopefully they kept the design sensibility that made the first movie so stylishly iconic.
Posted on March 18th, 2018
Don't click that "Back Button" just yet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• To Infinity! And so... here we are. A little over a month until the beginning of the end. Ten years of build-up all comes down to Avengers: Infinity War in April and its sequel next year...
So much to unpack here, which is not surprising considering the final movie has a runtime is 2 hours 36 minutes.
• A Brief History of Time. Stephen Hawking is gone! So remarkable that he managed to live so long with a disease which he was told would kill him decades ago. And look what his brilliant mind accomplished while trapped in a body which betrayed him! That he was a character on The Simpsons is just icing on the cake. An amazing, amazing man...
Rest in peace, sir.
• LOLZ! Probably the funniest thing I've ever seen on Twitter...
And yet... this is utterly insane as well. How in the hell do you confuse Kumail Nanjiani, Kunal Nayyar, and Kal Penn? They look nothing alike! I guess some people just see skin color and don't look any further.
• Fourth World! Looks like DC is finally moving past Zack Snyder's laughably bad take on super-heroes. After Patty Jenkins hit gold with Wonder Woman, they're striking a deal with another celebrated woman to helm New Gods for the big screen. Congrats to Ava DuVernay! My first choice would be Taika Waititi since his love letter to Jack Kirby in Thor: Ragnarok was so perfect... but this is a great choice too...
It will be interesting to see if DuVernay goes full-on Kirby or heads in another direction entirely.
• Incredible! ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG... It's REAL!
Needless to say, I want want want want this game!
• Chain Gang! Since subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited, I've been going a bit crazy over music. Now that I have "tens of millions" of songs available anytime, anywhere, I'm asking Alexa to play esoteric stuff all day long that it would never have occurred to me to play before I subscribed. Something pops in my head? Play it Hear a song mentioned somewhere? Play it. Song pops up on a commercial? Play it. For the past two days I've been obsessed with Sam Cooke. He was mentioned on an episode of The West Wing, and I've been listening to everything available ever since. So many songs of his I recognize but never really knew where they came from.
Such an amazing talent. Which makes the bizarre circumstances of his death even more tragic.
Until next Sunday then...
Posted on April 30th, 2017
Time to celebrate another week down the toilet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• DC! I have made no secret of my love of all things coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe... and my deep loathing of all things coming out of the DC Cinematic Universe. This fan video puts the reason why in vivid relief...
100% accurate. DC has a habit of taking fun, exciting, uplifting hero stories and degrading them to joyless sequences of death and destruction that are a chore to watch. Why in the hell they don't put the team in charge of their TV shows in charge of their movies I will never know. At least they know how to make the characters fun to watch. Justice League, a movie I should be on pins and needles to see, is something I honestly don't give a shit about. Not when we've got Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther coming up. Not to mention Infinity War, which promises to blow the doors off of any super-hero film yet seen.
• Piper! I never got to see Finding Dory in theaters, but bought the Blue-Ray in 3D so I could watch it at home. Never had time to explore the "extras" on the disc, but today discovered it has a Pixar Short called Piper included...
That snippet is just the tip of the iceberg. Such a wonderfully adorable bit of animation! Well worth tracking down if you haven't seen it yet.
• Tarzan! The novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs are some of the most imaginative and entertaining reads I've ever experienced. That he started writing them in 1912 just goes to show how incredible a storyteller he was. Between John Carter of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes (and a slew of others), he has a wealth of material just begging to be adapted into movies.
And they have been.
Unfortunately, they've mostly sucked. John Carter was a total shit-fest that abandoned everything that made the character so compelling. And Tarzan? In the books he is an extremely intelligent character who speaks dozens of languages and is as accomplished in civilization as Lord Greystoke as he is in the jungle as Tarzan. But what do we get? Every time Tarzan comes to the screen, he's a grunting ignoramus that barely knows how to speak because he's written more as an animal than a man. For any Tarzan fan it's a massive disappointment, and I'd all but given up hope that we'd ever get an adaptation of The Lord of The Jungle that wasn't crap. Enter The Legend of Tarzan...
Now, this is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even a flawless adaptation of Tarzan. But holy crap... it's the closest thing I've yet seen, and I loved it. All that plus it has Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz in it! And gone are the days of Tarzan being a stupid savage! Hell, they even made an effort for Jane to be more than a damsel in perpetual distress! Sure the CGI, which actually started out quite good, ultimately degrades to a level that was below-par, but it didn't destroy how much I enjoyed watching the story unfold. So... ignore the critics. If you like Tarzan... the REAL Tarzan... this is a film that's definitely worth a look!
• TRADER JOE'S CONSUMER ALERT!
"Have you got any more Black Bean and Jack Cheese burritos? I took the last two."
"I think that's all we got. Have you tried the Super Burrito? It's the same except it's made with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Really good."
"Okay, I'll try it, thanks!"
And so tonight I decided to have a late lunch /slash/ early dinner and give it a try. I take a bite and it's not bad... light on the sweet potato and heavy on the quinoa... but it's got a nice spicy bite to it. And then... AND THEN... I take another bite and there's something crunchy/leafy/weird. Is that spinach, I wonder? I dig the wrapper out of the garbage and... IT'S NOT SPINACH... IT'S FUCKING KALE!
TRADER JOE'S TRICKED ME INTO EATING KALE AND NOW I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO DIE!!!
Needless to say, I am not in a good place right now, and I appreciate everybody's understanding as I attempt to mentally and physically recover from this tragedy. I will soon be setting up a GoFundMe page in an effort to help with the massive costs involved in getting me healthy again. WAAAAAHHH!!!! WHO PUTS KALE IN A BURRITO?!? WHY, LORD? WHYYYYYYY?!?.
• Let's Play! Alrighty then... time once again to play the "Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...
Oh yeah. Big fucking surprise... he's not only Tea Party and Ku Klux Klan supporter, but also a former Trump campaign chair! Because disgusting shit like this is only bad when Democrats are doing it, I guess? Republicans do this kind of heinous shit and "their base" elects them to the school board!
"Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...
Hmmm... let me guess...
• Bullshit! And lastly, an article that's well-worth a read, regardless of religious affiliation is here: America Isn’t Growing Hostile Towards Christians, It’s Growing Hostile Towards Religious Bullies. Because, look... so long as you can walk into a post office and buy a stamp with Jesus on it for Christmas... I've had just about enough of this bullshit notion that Christians are some kind of persecuted class and there's a war on Christian ideology. As somebody who is not a Christian and sees just how pervasive the religion is in dominating so many aspects of American culture, it's embarrassing that people are trying to keep this one alive. And yet FOX "News" is undoubtedly already warming up new ideas to make "The War on Christmas" become something out of nothing again. Because what plays better than victimization on TV?
Time to reload...
Posted on July 27th, 2013
Back in the Netherlands for one last day of vacation time.
The "Pixar 25 Years of Animation Expo" has been traveling around the world since it first began in New York back in 2005. With each new stop, it gets updated with material from their latest works, so now it's actually more like the "Pixar 34 Years of Animation Expo." And it's currently showing in Amsterdam, so off we went...
The expo is pretty great, mostly focusing on the artwork that goes into a Pixar production before it ever gets to a computer... but they've got a few exhibits dedicated to showing how the computer art is created as well. But the highlight of the show has to be a giant beautifully crafted zoetrope featuring the Toy Story characters. It's Pixar animation of an entirely different kind, and well worth checking out.
From there it was time to cash in some of my Reward Certificates at the Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam. I had been dying for a Coke to wake me up all day, but the Coke machine was broken, so I started going into withdrawals right there in the restaurant while waiting for my lunch.
After a Coke-free meal we stopped at Ben & Jerry's for ice cream, which is always a treat because they've got an awesome mural painted on the walls...
We were going to see the Greatest Illusion Show on Earth because, honestly, how could you not... but being lazy at Casa de DutchBitch sounded more appealing, so Hans Klok will have to wait for another time...
And there it is... the end of my week's vacation. Tomorrow it's back to Schiphol Airport and my flight home.
Posted on October 28th, 2012
Please make sure your seat is in the upright position and your tray table is stowed ... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• In-Flight. I am typing this as I leave the Netherlands on Delta flight 233... a ten hour flight to Seattle WITH NO INTERNET! So how in the heck am I supposed to come up with bullets for Bullet Sunday when all I have here is a bunch of movies to watch on my Delta-On-Demand Entertainment System?
• Game Change. This film is about John McCain's horrendous mistake in choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate based on some very, very bad advice. Is it completely factual? Probably not 100% so. But boy does it feel like could it be. The initial high that came when Sarah Palin completely killed it with her smashing debut on the national political stage had the McCain campaign ecstatic. Palin would be the savior of the ticket, and they couldn't believe their good fortune in having found her. Victory was within their grasp. But then things start to go terribly wrong. One-by-one the campaign staffers have to come to grips with the fact that Sarah Palin doesn't know much about anything. She is completely clueless on critical concepts like foreign policy. And it's the resulting downward spiral that makes the film so darn entertaining. Julianne Moore plays Palin almost too sympathetically as she gets remade from politician to actress, blindly repeating lines which have been prepared for her because she doesn't understand the issues enough to think for herself. And all the while her escalating popularity makes Palin increasingly dangerous, eventually dominating McCain and dooming the campaign to a Saturday Night Live punchline. If there's one thing I took away from Game Change, it's how terrifyingly close we came to having a vapid joke like Sarah Palin just a heartbeat away from the presidency. It's a scare that no horror movie can match.
• Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I was actually looking forward to the idea of a revisionist history where our 16th president was a ruthless vampire killer. It sounded fun. Alas, the movie was most definitely not fun, because everybody involved took the film way too seriously. This was a big mistake, because there's nothing to take the edge off the intense violence that permeates one blood-soaked scene after another. One would hope that the result would be a bitchin' action-horror film, but there's not a lot of horror to go with the action (which is actually pretty good). And so what we're left with is a crazy-ass concept for a film with very little substance. I was not impressed.
• The Iron Lady. I was told by more than a couple people that this film about the life of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was boring. But I decided to watch it anyway because the thought of Meryl Streep as Thatcher was literally too good to be true. And, indeed, it was her performance that held me riveted to my tiny seat-back screen. But that's about all that held me captive. The story was a big ol' mess. It vacillated between present to past with little regard for timing or coherence. One timeline had zero relation to the other, and it was this sloppy writing which sabotaged what could have been a fascinating straightforward biography. Still, Thatcher led a fascinating life which was kind of represented here, and Streep certainly made the film anything but boring to me... so I didn't hate it. Actually kind of enjoyed it, despite the missed opportunity it represented.
• Brave. The story of a princess who isn't content to settle down and get married sounds like a modern-day Disney Princess cliché that's the complete opposite of the original Disney Princess cliché. Fortunately, this is a Disney-PIXAR film, where clichés have a tendency to at least be interesting and beautiful to look at. Brave is both. I just wish it was paced a little better. There's a few too many moments that drag on a little long and are a bit morose to fit in with the overall tone of the film. That being said, it IS beautiful. Astoundingly so. There's not a single frame of this film that doesn't look amazing. And there are a lot of clever and funny moments that saved the movie for me.
• Battleship. Holy shit. It would be easy to say that making an alien-invasion movie out of a board game doomed this film to failure... but, if anything, it's this one thing that made it barely tolerable. The only moment... the only one... that I found even remotely entertaining was when the heroes were picking their targets on a big "Battleship grid." Everything else was so inanely stupid and ridiculous that not even the decent special effects reel could keep me from fast-forwarding through this utter turd of a movie.
• Moonrise Kingdom. I am such a huge Wes Anderson fan that I didn't want to experience his latest work on a tiny airplane seat-back screen. But when Battleship turned out to be such a stupid piece of crap, I needed something to watch. I ended up regretting it of course. Moonrise Kingdom is beautiful, wonderful, witty, smart, and filled with a warmth that few filmmakers can manage. I really should have waited to see it on the big screen (or at least my home theater). Which is not to say it's a film for everybody. Those who can't appreciate Wes Anderson's quirky vision may have tough time embracing the odd world he's created. Even so, there's an all-star cast that's performing at the top of their game in a coming-of-age love story that's charming enough to please everybody.
• After-Flight. Arriving at Seattle I was once again embarrassed and humiliated that Seatac International Airport is the way that so many people will first experience my home state. The airport just keeps getting worse and worse, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight as to how low things will go. I arrive at Customs only to find that the escalator is broken. This is no surprise. Most of the escalators are busted to shit most of the time. Stuff is always leaking, falling apart, torn up, or broken at Seatac. And, indeed, when I make my way to the C/D concourse and find yet another fucking busted escalator, I press the elevator call button and find that the button light is also not working (which made me think that the elevator was broke too). By the time I get to my gate at the C concourse, where there's no place to sit because Seatac has ripped out most of the seats to make way for shops, I've just fucking had it. Whomever is in charge of this shithole needs to realize that this is no way to run an airport. Flying now-a-days is already miserable enough without having to put up with this kind of shit at an airport.
And... my flight (which is overbooked and on weather watch warning) is maybe leaving in ten minutes. Here's hoping...