Monthly Archives: June 2014

Power Reversal (II)

I tried my experiment again recently. Two different students tried to be teacher for a whole lesson. They are generally good students, they had a plan and motivation, so what could go wrong? Yes, everything! At the end of the lesson, they felt depressed, angry and frustrated. They did not understand what had happened. No one was listening to them. They lost control quickly. Their plan didn’t turn out as they thought.

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This 80s Movie: WarGames (1983)

Wargames - posterAfter my 70s movie didn’t give me anything I wanted to write about (Mean Streets), I got to an 80s movie. I find it much easier to talk about the 60s and 70s, for one thing because they seem more special to me, but also because I find it harder to grasp the 80s, to get a feel for them. Maybe also because I was born in 1980 and it’s harder to view a decade if you’ve actually been there. Distance certainly helps. Anyway, the 80s to me are somewhat the antithesis of the 60s and 70s, which were a time where real change was possible, while the 80s felt like taking two steps back. But instead of the conservatism of the 50s, the 80s were governed by extreme capitalism and a superficiality that is often mocked but still true. Even if it’s an overgeneralization (as it must be if you try to summarize 10 years in history in a few keywords), there’s a reason why MTV, hairstyles and silly pop music are representative for this era.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

pirates_of_the_caribbean_dead_mans_chest_ver2Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is not a great movie but has some entertaining bits. But it’s also very long and at stretches boring, especially since it rehashes so many elements of the first movie which gets tired fast, including Jack Sparrow. Which is surprising since his character basically carried the first movie. I was also frustrated with the depiction of the Keira Knightley character who is supposed to have grown tough but a for a long scene just acts like a pouty girl while the men are fighting.

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Did I Like This? (Banned in the U.S.A.)

What many don’t know about me is my hip-hop past. When you are very young, you don’t listen to music consciously until at one point you hear something that grabs you. For me, that was hip-hop, or rap as it was mostly called back then. I must have been around 10 or 11 when I got introduced to that kind of music and something spoke to me about it. I mainly started with Public Enemy, one of the most political bands of the last century, so I like to believe that this aspect made it appealing to me. But I was very young, so who knows. Anyway, although my musical tastes changed several times over the years, I always fondly remember hip-hop music and come back to it from time to time. I then also like to believe that the genre has changed for the worse and that (as the cliché goes) everything was better in the past (which normally isn’t true). But then again, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of my favourite albums of the last couple of years.

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12 Years a Slave (2013)

twelve_years_a_slave_poster(spoilers ahead, even if the movie only has few surprises, since the title tells you most of it, but I will discuss almost every scene of it)

12 Years a Slave is an extremely powerful movie. It doesn’t let you off the hook in showing you what slavery was like. And you have to keep in mind that the protagonist, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was probably better off than the average slave. He had some opportunities because of his education and he didn’t die as a slave. But despite that relatively narrow focus, the movie manages to give a realistic portrayal of slavery. I found the film very impressive, especially the way it was directed by Steve McQueen. I had seen Shame and was impressed by it too but I didn’t feel an emotional connection to it. 12 Years a Slave goes straight to the heart by its sheer force of filmmaking and I appreciate that a lot. Every aspect of the movie – the acting, the music, the script, the cinematography, the editing, the production and costume design, the sound design – is not just a showcase for talent but actually increases the emotional impact of the movie.

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Soccer Punch

So, about soccer. I’ve never been a big soccer fan. As I said before, I watched the World Cup of 1990 and I loved it. But I was 10 then and easier to impress. I watched most of the major cups every two years but that’s about it. I often don’t know most players’ names, I don’t read or watch any after-game evaluation or pre-game analysis and I don’t collect sticker albums. I find it entertaining to watch, mostly in the background while I’m working, not more or less than a good TV series.

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Miami Vice (2006)

Miami_Vice_Teaser_Poster(spoilers ahead!)

There is not that much to say about Miami Vice as a movie except that I found it pretty disappointing. I’m confused by the critical acclaim it got but then again, it seems like a movie that is more or less forgotten by now and that I understand. It’s a bit of a mess, a plot that’s hard to understand but in which also nothing really happens most of the time. The movie on the one hand appears so gritty and realistic but then on the other hand relies on big romantic love and sex scenes that totally feel out of place. I didn’t feel a lot for the characters either. I like both Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx but they were so damn serious all the time that I found it hard to care about them.

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