Monthly Archives: December 2014

Above the Law (1988) [1988 Week]

(spoilers ahead!)

Above the Law is a straightforward vigilante movie, which is why I picked it. I mean, it’s called Above the Law! (or Nico, but that isn’t as catchy). I haven’t seen that many Steven Seagal movies in my life because most of them are obviously bad, but this is his first and it’s not that bad really, simply seen as an action movie. It’s not too cynical, the plot is not completely absurd and even the acting is fine. It’s not a great movie but it entertains in its own way.

You can read the full post here.

It’s 1988 Out There! [1988 Week]

It’s 1988 week! Another theme week has arrived and the random number generator brought us back to the 80s. Yes, third theme week and second time in the same decade. Well, we know something about the 80s already then, about their darkness, violence, detachment and so on. Is 1988 different than 1980 because it moves towards the 90s? I’m not sure yet, but we will see. Like last time, I’m trying to do an overview of the year to get us grounded and to put everything else into context. As in every theme week, I’m excited!

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(originally posted on December 1)

This 40s Movie: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Yankee Doodle Dandy is from 1942. When I was watching it for The Incomparables podcast, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know some 30s and 40s movies (and I’m anxiously waiting for my randomizer to assign a theme week from that period to me), but I’ve never analyzed them the way I do here. The oldest movie yet was Lawrence of Arabia from 1962 and twenty years is a lot. Anyway, the movie is a biopic about George M. Cohan, who I only realized after the movie, was a real person. It’s somewhat entertaining, without the songs, if you can enjoy the old-fashioned humor and acting. I found it more watchable than 1776, for example, the other movie discussed in that podcast, that I wasn’t able to even finish. It’s enjoyable enough to keep you interested, despite all the things you can expect from a 40s movie. There is not much authenticity to anything as everyone is a “character” and talks as if they’re in the musical of a movie (or the other way around). Some of the direction is noticeable, but nothing jumps at you and the filmmaking is mostly conventional.

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Music Box: Gang of Four’s “Entertainment!”

After Marie Antoinette I couldn’t help but wonder, why I haven’t written anything about Gang of Four’s Entertainment! before. This is one of my most influential albums that is so bold in deconstructing our society and goes beyond the “everything sucks” ideology of many punk albums. This is post-punk, of course, and while there are other political albums in music’s history, at least for me nothing achieves what this album achieves. It’s angry without being loud, it’s intelligent and challenges the listener because it doesn’t provide easy answers. It’s simply brilliant, lyrically and musically. If I ever need inspiration for change, for doing something, I put this one on and get going.

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Borat (2006)

(no spoilers for this unspoilable movie)

Borat is … oh man, where to start? I know I’m supposed to like this movie. Critics loved it. Audiences loved it. Its screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. For a while people were constantly talking about it and I felt strange not having seen it. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just never got around to it (because every other movie in existence also calls for my attention), so now, eight years later, I finally watched it and, what do you know, I didn’t like it. Strangely, I expected to like it so this was a surprise to me. I have some issues with the movie but it boils down to one thing: I didn’t find the movie funny.  I saw what it was trying to do but I sat through all of it with an earnest face, not even registering a smile. It’s not that I didn’t understand it or that it was too offensive or something, I just couldn’t laugh about it. It was boring to me, especially the “story” parts. The interactions were somewhat interesting, but that was about it. I couldn’t even say it’s a bad movie, but it’s definitely not a movie for me. And I think its ideas don’t translate well to a movie, this is just made for TV.

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Why We Should Care More Than Obama

In his reaction to the Grand Jury decision not to put Darren Wilson on trial, Barack Obama again showed pretty well why politics won’t help us change anything unless they are forced. Politicians don’t care, that’s not their job, and Obama is no different in that than anyone before and probably after him.

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Interstellar (2014)

(no real spoilers until I tell you so)

Interstellar is certainly something like an event, a movie that is highly entertaining and engaging, but somewhat hollow at its core. The movie wants a lot but ultimately fails to reach its own ambitions. The production values are excellent, the images are stunning, the music is epic, the visual and sound effects are flawless. The editing shows some of the movie’s problems, because it uses hard cuts for effects but overuses them, showing that the movie really wants to be special. This also goes for the parallel montages that are interesting but ultimately don’t lead to much. You find the same problem in many of the movie’s aspects, especially the last twenty minutes, where the movie really tries to be clever but simply isn’t. It’s more show than tell, unfortunately. The acting is very good but some dialogue doesn’t do the talent of the actors justice. My impressions are still fresh, but I’m not sure where the movie lands in my perception. I loved it’s ideas about time and there’s one very emotional scene that I found really effective. It’s worth watching it, I think, but it’s one of those movies that seems more problematic in its ideas the longer I think about it.

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Catwoman (2004)

Catwoman is stunning in its badness. I had low expectations, but I didn’t expect just how bad it really was. The movie defies anything you expect from a comic book adaptation or a superhero movie or a movie with a female protagonist. It does everything wrong, looks cheap and amateurish, has a terrible script, some of the worst CGI, an annoying soundtrack and bad (over)acting. This is really, really bad, though enjoyable in its failure because you can’t stop being amazed that they this or that way.

You can read the full post here.

Inventing the Child – Unschooling and Normal Families

I was asked to write not only about all those bad children’s books, but also to provide some good examples. What’s the point of criticizing all the books your children want to read, if there is no alternative? Sure, I’d still say that you can read the problematic books anyway, but point out the problems to your kid, but it is better of course to just have a good book that follows your own ideology. So, that is what I’m doing today. Be aware, there are many more examples, but in my recent attempt to write shorter articles (just in case that’s a reason people are turned off from reading them), I’ll just focus on some and come back to all of this again in the future.

You can read the full post here.