Gosnell (2018) review, and comparison to the book

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Rated: 2.5 / 5

Criminals often attract their intellectual inferiors and manipulate them into abetting their crimes.  […]  As the murderous dictators of history have noticed, a good smattering of “revolutionary” politics helps motivate followers to do terrible things — all in the name of helping the less fortunate.

— Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer

Exclusive Excerpt: 'Gosnell' by Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney

So thanks to Twitter user Christian Toto (please tell me this guy lives in Kansas; actually, it would be better if he used to live in Kansas), who apparently noticed my Twitter account and also hopefully my website, he invited me to see an early screening of the film Gosnell (full title is Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, but I’m not going to type all that shit, not even for the title; especially when it could refer to the size of his belly rather than the number of babies he butchered [though he probably did butcher a bunch of fried Chinese chicken with his diet]).  And I gotta say, when I saw the trailer and a sneak-peek clip of the film prior to seeing the actual film, it just looked like a glorified Lifetime/Hallmark film in the same vane as Michael (that 90s movie with John Travolta).  So I wasn’t expecting too much, in spite of the controversy surrounding the film (which I’ll get into later).

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Untamed Heart (1993) review

Off-Topic Introduction

So the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to find something to write about.  There’s a few things I’ve been wanting to get to, but being a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy, I just couldn’t summon the willpower to get to them.  So first I’m thinking, “Hey, I’ve recently got through the original Star Trek series?  Why not review that and joke about how The Last Jedi pissed me off so much it made me into a Star Trek fan?”  But then I thought, “Oh Christ, it’s going to take me forever to point out which episodes I liked and why, which episodes sucked and why (and why some episodes from season 3 didn’t just plain suck, they sucked cock), let alone find some gifs that I want to use to highlight these moments.”  Then I thought about posting up an old drunk review I made a long while back on Friday the 13th.  Because it’s October.  I even got about halfway through finishing it, but then I thought, “It’s such a pain in the ass to find the gifs I want to use for this; I wish I still had the fucking thing (illegally) downloaded onto my computer from way back when so I could do it with ease; now I gotta track down gifs from other sites and youtube videos to help make my point; which is making me put in more effort than when I reviewed the damn thing; fuck it, I’d rather stop this, get drunk, and watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and then play Thief II and Quake.”  And then I started getting stressed out and worried that I’m not going to get through that book Gosnell in time to make a review about the movie I saw in an early access showing of it, which made me worry that I won’t get the review up by October 12 or 13 (I still don’t know if I’ll be able to do that), especially when I’m dealing with the death of my aunt and have to go drive out to the coast with my other family members to toss her ashes out to the sea during that time period.  At one brief point, I started just thinking, “Fuck all this and fuck the blog, if I don’t feel like doing it, I’m not going to do it.  I’ll just slack off for the next month or so and say to hell with all the viewers I’ll lose in the meantime.”

But then suddenly, one day, I manage to watch a film that finally lights a fire under my ass.  A movie I was driven (not by a vehicle or anything like that) to see thanks to some negative reviews I read about it.  So for those of you who follow this blog, sorry for keeping you waiting, and sorry for slacking off.

Untamed Heart movie posters at movie poster warehouse movieposter.com

Rated: 3 / 5

So I saw this had some negative reviews (to say the least) on letterboxd.com, and at first I didn’t want to think much of it; even though I don’t trust most reviews on that website anymore (for reasons I won’t get into, at least not for my review of this film). But after reading one review which mentions the guy catching the hockey puck, at that moment I knew I had to see this. Not exactly because I wanted to see that moment per-se, but because I realized this is one of those films from my childhood I caught a glimpse of (my mother was watching it at the time) that never really left my mind. And that, and the few minutes following it, are the only scenes I really remember from this movie (which basically spoils it for me, because that all takes place in the last 20 minutes, though they foreshadow the shit out of the ending, so it didn’t really matter). So it was the nostalgia that drove me to seeing this.

And, as I suspected, the negative reviews weren’t trustworthy for my experience, because I enjoyed this film. But it is worth addressing some of their points.

1.) The big one being that Christian Slater’s character Adam is a stalker, a creep, and the film makes an attempt to make him seem like a great guy in spite of this by having him rescue Marisa Tomei’s character Caroline from an attempted rape.

For example, off-screen, he snuck into her house in the middle of the night to put this Christmas tree in her room.  And he somehow did this without waking her up.  At this point, I’m less interested in him being a creeper and more interested in knowing how he acquired such mastery of stealth.

2.) That last note would be the other major strike many have against the film, using sexual assault and the rescue from it as a plot device to get their relationship started, and to make the creepy stalker boyfriend less creepy.

Regarding point #1, if that was all the information we were given regarding Adam’s actions and motivations, yeah it probably wouldn’t be much more excusable than that of Mr. Grey (but horny bitches still love the 50 Shades films, let alone the books, both of which are of lesser quality than this film, so…). However, that’s not the only information given. It’s clear that Adam is retarded, literally. He’s had mental and physical issues during his early years, which prevented him from having a normal life, and kept him as a social outcast for most of his life. He’s more of a child in an adult’s body. And on that note, let’s just say children have been known to do stuff like that, following around other girls/boys they have an attraction to. Their intentions aren’t devious, they’re innocent. It’s adults who view it as devious and creepy because they know that adults who do this generally tend to be creepers will ill-intent. They don’t even bother considering that ones intentions could be anything other than bad. Growing up and losing one’s innocence sucks.

So in a sense, you could see the polar opposite of Adam with those 2 guys who attempt to violate Caroline. Men who are the same age as Adam, more fully developed mentally, but far less innocent. Just because one grows up and learns of the bad things that can happen in the world doesn’t mean one should let go of that blissful feeling innocence and naivety can bring. It can reap heavy consequences for letting your guard down like that. But the rewards one can gain in spite of the risks (whether because they take a chance knowing the risks, or are unaware of them) is something magical, something this movie strives to show.

So while Adam does follow Caroline around unbeknownst to her, and sneaks into her house to watch her at night (this all happens off-screen), it’s because of a childlike fascination, curiosity, and adoration rather than for lust. Obviously most adults aren’t like this, but due to biological circumstances, Adam tends to be the exception to the rule. And that’s another thing some people reject, or at the very least ignore, when it comes to faulting Adam. They act like this movie is promoting the idea that it’s ok for men to follow women around without their knowledge because they enjoy that sort of thing. No. This movie is saying that in this case one should accept an exception. Because Adam isn’t like other people. And Caroline learns this the more she gets to know him.

That awkward first kiss.

Point #2, sexual assault as a plot device, the event that causes Adam and Caroline’s relationship to start after he rescues her from the perpetrators. Some take issue with the fact that the film uses such a device in this film, considering it tasteless. I say anything can be used as a plot device and make it work. It just depends on the context, if it ties into some theme/character/story that’s in the film and fits within it to keep it cohesive rather than just jutting out like a pimple on the nose. In this case, as pointed out above, one of the reasons is to offer contrast between innocence and sinful. Not to mention Caroline’s downward spiral with her luck in life (if you can call it luck), with her choice in boyfriends of the past, and eventually having one of her past acquaintances coming to do her harm. She wasn’t seeing much to be happy about in life, and experienced much that would eventually make her as much as a sourpuss as many around today. That is until Adam showed up and became a bigger part of her life, a sort of savior who shows her how wonderful life can be, what joys can be found by the naive.

And because of what those 2 perpetrator assholes represent, it was only inevitable they would come back to do harm to Adam later on, showcasing that sooner or later, innocence would be tested. Such childhood innocence is bound to die out one way or another, whether due to actual death at the hands of the sinful because of their naive innocence, or because they lose that innocence when they see how terrible the world (ie people) can be at times. So when this other form of physical assault happens, done for hatred rather than lust, it inevitably leads to the hospital where the foreshadowing comes in more heavily from then on out.

Indicated by the title Untamed Heart (as opposed to the originally proposed title “Baboon Heart”), Adam is one who won’t be tamed. And by tamed, that means the taming of his innocence, of his childhood ways. While that does keep him to be the angel Caroline comes to adore, it also means he is destined to die by the end of the film. Being naive, after all, does have its downsides.

So by the end of it, I didn’t take issue with either of those two points. Now that being said, this film isn’t perfect. There are some elements I do have issue with. The film didn’t have the talent necessary to make the last act work, where Caroline is expressing how much Adam has changed her life for the better because he made her aware of how wonderful life can be with love; true love; innocent love. The film couldn’t figure out a good way to express this, so it stumbles with the last few lines of dialogue. In fact, you could say the last act, the third act, is when the film is at its weakest. It doesn’t do anything to ruin the entire film, but it doesn’t do anything to bring it up another level. It doesn’t do enough to bring everything together in an impact way. And it goes a little too hard with the foreshadowing of Adam’s death, when it thinks it’s being smart and subtle about it. Like Adam, the screenwriters seem to have a hard time expressing themselves here.

Though to be fair, she did nail the emotional expressions in this scene.

But for what it does provide, it’s a nice charming little love story, showcasing a relationship built on a love only childhood innocence can provide. The highlight of this is when Adam and Caroline become romantically involved for the first time. It doesn’t go down the way you would think, but the way it does happen I found to be emotionally powerful and perfectly fitting for Adam’s character.

So yeah, don’t listen to the haters. Give this film a chance. It’s no “greatest romance movie of all time” or anything, not like Frankie and Johnny; but it’s good enough to be worth a watch.

The scene I remembered from my childhood.

 

PS: Oh yeah, and be wary of the DVD version.  It has apparently edited footage from the VHS version.  I’m not sure which version I ended up watching, but I intend to find out at some point.

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Destination Wedding (2018) review

Rated: 3.5 / 5

So I’ve been curious to see this movie after watching the trailer.  The trailer actually made me laugh, plus I was curious to see how Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves would work together again, considering how long it’s been since Bram Stoker’s (or Francis Ford Coppola’s) Dracula.  Unlike that time, Keanu doesn’t speak with an accent in this film, though I do wonder if it would’ve been more hilarious if he did.

Unfortunately the film wasn’t playing at any theater near where I lived.  Figures, considering it’s a small budget indy film (though that doesn’t mean the film suffers for it, it still looks great).  So I decided to put it off and wait and see if it will be on the rental shelf of my local library a few months from now.

That was, until I read a single-sentence review of the film.

destination wedding pics1

What’s this, a film that makes tranny jokes?  Well now I was more curious to see it than ever.  But being the smartass I am (more emphasis on the “ass” than the “smart” in this case), I decided to make a joke in the comments section of this review.  Bit difficult to resist, considering she took a John Wick assassination jab at Keanu’s character in this film.

Unfortunately, despite my inner warnings telling me I should take a snapshot just in case, my comment was deleted a couple days after being made, and after having several people remark on it.  From what I recall, the comment went something like this: “Nah, he’s off shooting trannies and pansexuals.”  I was tempted to add on to that, “You know, because the pansexuals raped his dog and the trannies shot it.”  You know, in an attempt to consider this a shared universe where John Wick and Destination Wedding can coexist.  But I didn’t want to go that far, so I just stuck with the first sentence.  Had to show some restraint after all.  As for the replies I got…

destination wedding pics2

So first of all, it probably would’ve been more appropriate if my name was Donny.

Second of all, they obviously didn’t see that I gave favorable reviews/ratings for Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and The Crying Game (though I do still need to see Bound and rewatch Boys Don’t Cry).

Third of all, now I realized how sensitive they all are.  Probably should’ve known better, considering the author of the review stated in the comments section that she walked out of the film after the film made its pansexual and transphobic joke.  But now I knew for sure just how uptight their assholes really are.  You probably couldn’t even stick a chopstick up there.  It’s no wonder their so pissy all the time, they probably can’t even get laid the way they want because there’s no one in existence with a dick small enough to penetrate that region of their anatomy.  And on top of that, they probably don’t even remember the last time they squeezed a turd out of their ass, considering they’re so uptight they’re incapable of doing so.  They’re so full of shit they spout out this pro-outrage culture bullshit while virtue signalling, which inevitably happens when you get so backed up the shit starts to seep into your brain.  They make themselves and everyone around them unhappy.  People who are this pissy and this full of shit need to sit on the toilet for at least 20 minutes, learn to relax, and remember what it was like, how blissful it is to have that turd just slide out of you.  They might actually be able to walk around more normally in society without feeling like someone’s jammed a broomstick up their ass.

In other words: STOP BEING SO UPTIGHT AND POLITICALLY CORRECT!!!  Learn to take a joke for Christ’s sake.  Oh wait, they may not believe in Christ.  Let me rephrase that: Learn to take a joke for fuck’s sake.  Hell, according to Zack and Miri Make a Porno, being less uptight so you can get fucked in the ass while congested actually helps.

Christ, I need a drink.

But I digress.  That whole incident made me want to see the film even more, which I eventually did, after seeing that it could be rented on the Playstation Store.  And it didn’t take long before I realized I was really going to enjoy this movie.  Aside from the nice laughs provided early on, it had this dialogue exchange (for the record, the whole movie is basically just Keanu and Winona’s characters conversing with each other), starting with Keanu:

“What do you do anyway?”
“I prosecute companies and institutions for culturally insensitive actions or speech.”
“You’re the politically correct police.”
“Pfft, no.”
“You parse what people say and do and then accuse them of being racist or misogynist or otherwise horrible. You destroy lives and reputations for money.”
“Uh, no.”
“Is that what you dreamed of, a career in reverse fascism?”
“I can’t remember dreaming.”

It’s at this point that I’m starting to realize why it is the film didn’t get a mainstream release, outside of the fact that it’s an indy film, aside from the fact that it’s made differently than most rom-coms (with emphasis on the “com” in my opinion) by having the entire movie stay with these two protagonists who pretty much only converse with each other throughout the runtime.

Ah, but I know what you must be thinking.  “What was that transphobic pansphobic joke that was made earlier?”  I’m glad you asked.

“Why is the minister in a seersucker suit?”
“Because he’s not a minister. He’s Keith’s friend from college.”
“Levy, I think his name is.”
“Kaplan?”
“Kaplan, right. Is he wearing makeup?”
“Always. Usually the Nars Radiant Creamy.”
“If memory serves, he’s gay.”
“The correct term is ‘Effeminate American.’ And actually, he’s pansexual.”
“What does that mean?”
“He’s attracted to all genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations.”
“Come on.”
“I’m telling you.”
“How’d he get the gig?”
“He fucked the bride and the groom.”
“Which was like no big deal.”
“Vanilla.”
“I mean, because he would fuck, for example, a man who believes he’s a woman?”
“Absolutely.”
“Or a straight woman who believes she’s actually a gay man?”
“Not a day goes by.”
“What about hermaphrodites?”
“You’d have to think.”

So in other words, it’s a joke about pansexuals who take it to trannies and pannies in the fannies.

Yeah, I went there.  So what?

But in all honesty, I don’t see what the big deal is.  People make jokes all the time about how straight cisgendered men are pigs who always want to fuck the next straight hot female they see, yet you can’t joke about who or what trannies and pannies want to fuck because… they’re underprivileged or underrepresented or misrepresented or something?  Well what the fuck makes you think straight people who are steadfast in their sexual orientation and are confident that their gender matches their DNA and what they were born with aren’t being underrepresented or misrepresented either in numerous cases (nevermind that there are plenty of white people who are underprivileged; go see American Heart for an example).  Because that’s the hill they want to die on.  And I can’t help but laugh and treat it as a joke.  Because it is a joke.  That’s why stand-up comedians from pre-2005 were taking jabs at that sort of shit all the time.  And make no mistake, it’s ok to joke about everything and everyone.  Jokes are universal and gender-neutral, and I’m not talking about the watered-down kind.

Which brings me to the point of this movie.  Yes, with all that talk of trannies and pannies (I’m lazy and I prefer using less syllables and less letters, regardless of how blunt and anti-PC it is) and assholes and shit-talk I’ve been doing, there’s actually a way to come back full-circle and tie that in with this movie.  And for the record, that dialogue exchange quoted above is the only instance I could find of the film making a joke about sexual orientations.

The two protagonists are individuals who have built walls around themselves throughout a good portion of their life, whether due to their upbringing, a failed relationship, or a combination of both.  They resist any attempt at having a relationship with others to avoid feeling that pain again.  This resistance comes in the form of bickering, both to and about each other, and about everything and everyone around them.  They are pessimists to the extreme.  Anything that can be viewed in a positive light they always find a way to look at in a negative light.  From the petty things such as airplane food, massages, various locations hobbies and trivial things; to more significant things like relationships and an overall outlook on life (and the afterlife to a small extent).  It’s done primarily for comedic effect, but it can be taken in that serious manner as well, especially during the last act of the film.  The film does have it’s traditional 3-act structure similar to most rom-coms by having the couple starting out by hating each other, to finally having sex with each other and developing a friendly (at the least) relationship, to the (sort of) break-up and ending with the (potentially) getting back together at the end.  But it does this by having the characters talk to each other like the writers from The Social Network wrote the script for them (they didn’t, it was just one guy named Victor Levin, who also directed the film, who is mostly experienced with writing for television shows rather than full-length feature films; but the fast-paced dialogue reminded me a bit of that).  And they don’t beat around the bush during the third act, they straight up tackle the subject of long-term relationships head-on.  They are aware that it is highly unlikely that it would ever work out, they weigh the pros and cons (primarily focusing on the cons).  They don’t treat their chances any differently than the chances of the couple who’s wedding they attended (who they also bad-mouthed and said they would likely turn out miserable later on in life).  Because while opening oneself up to such a passionate relationship can feel great at the start and for a while, there’s a good chance you can be hurt and become miserable and bitter for a long while afterwards.  The protagonists know, because they’ve been through it once before.

In the end, they realize how much it sucks to be alone.  How could they not?  They’ve been reminded of what it’s like to have a significant other.  As protected against such emotional attack can be when you’ve closed yourself off and stay isolated, looking for any and every excuse to not get close to anyone else again by having such a pessimistic outlook on everyone and everything; you’re never truly happy by being alone.  So, to take a chance.  To take a chance by lowering your guard and to be optimistic for at least a moment, which may lead to more moments.  Chances are it could end badly, and thus lead to one becoming just as bitter and pessimistic and closed-off as before (if not more-so); but then there’s the off-chance that it won’t.  It is uncertain.  Such is life.

Recommended movie.

PS: Thank you lauren for giving me that push to shell out money to see this flick, and for providing me with enough content to pad this review out to a length that satisfies me.  Here’s to you; may you learn to be every which way and loose, and find happiness in your future.

PPS: For all those pansexuals who read this and didn’t like it, you thundercunts can piss off and go watch Rey getting fucked by a robot.

 

Lexx (1997-2002) series review

So having watched Babylon 5 and Farscape, I’m left wondering what else there is that is considered excellent among the best sci-fi shows ever made (ones that are live-action, have an actual ending, and isn’t Star Trek, because Star Trek is the default sci-fi show to fall back on in every situation).  I heard about this one, so figured I’d check it out.  After watching the first episode of the first season, I immediately purchased the whole series on eBay for roughly $20, a pricetag I thought was worth it just for the first episode alone.

Season 1

The first episode of this series is a masterpiece if I ever saw one.  Mind-bending, confusing, unique, different, dark, unpredictable.  It contains a lot of elements that I hope to find in the sci-fi genre.  You are dropped into the middle of a story with no background or information given; next thing you know the series jumps thousands of years into the future where we’re dropped into yet another setting with no information given.  A dystopia planet where all but the high classes are slaves in a harsh slave-labor-intensive environment where punishment is harsh and common.  Then a whole bunch of shit happens involving love slaves, undead assassins, talking brains, hellraiser-inspired shit, escape, and a ship capable of destroying planets with ease.  I mean, good lord, the first episode set the bar so high for this franchise I wondered if it would be matched or raised in later episodes.

Well, for season 1, which only consists of 4 episodes, each 90 minutes in length (originally a Showtime series with a movie per episode), episodes 2 and 3 are largely filler episodes that do little to progress the story, but to allow viewers to become more familiar with the main cast of anti-hero protagonists, and they are fun in their own way.  But episode 4 is when it starts to reach back to the heights of the first episode, adding up to a decent finale.  The crew of 3 (plus a robot head) on a planet destroying ship going up against the Shadow (or the Divine Shadow).  The fate of the universe is at stake.  A crew of anti-heroes who honestly could be considered villains if you read into it enough, going up against a being who is most likely more evil than them.

Themes related to Brazil (the movie, not the country), rebelling against authoritarian rule, potentially being just as bad/destructive as those you are trying to overthrow (leaving nothing but destruction in your wake, while at least something existed under their rule), becoming independent, and how even the most powerful can become too arrogant and make mistakes leading to their downfall.  Similar traits shared by all.

The first of the 4 seasons is a rock solid entry into the sci-fi genre.  I dare not spoil who the protagonists of the series are for those who haven’t watched it.  Just take my word for it, you have to see the first episode, if nothing else.  The first episode is easily a 4/5 for me, maybe even higher upon repeated viewings.  And if the franchise ended on that first season, and if it didn’t have a bit of a cliffhanger, I would say it’s one of the greatest sci-fi series ever made.

Especially because it has this sequence in it.  No warnings this time, I’m just providing the nudity straight up.

Season 2

But then comes the next season, season 2.  It starts out fine (even though it now resorts to be standard 40-50 minute runtime episodes), though you begin to realize that the captain of the Lexx is as big of a dunce as the first season implied.  He becomes very difficult to root for much of the time.  I’m pretty sure that’s the point, as the series wanted to do something different by having the main protagonists be those whom no one would want as a role model.  They fuck things up, sometimes try to do good, but ultimately cause destruction usually doing more harm than good.  It’s not a bad idea, but it needed a better script to make it work.  That, and a little more budget.  Seasons 2-4 don’t have the same quality as that of the first season when it comes to special effects and set design (though Season 4 does make the Lexx ship look its absolute best).  But that’s the least of their problems.  They opt for a more light-hearted goofy tone as opposed to a very dark and grim tone with some moments of humor thrown in here and there.  It’s tonal whiplash from the first to the second season.

Aside from the first few episodes of season 2 (which does come with a shocking moment I honestly didn’t see coming), the first half of the season is a bit of a drag.  Stand-alone episodes with only vague hints to an over-arching story, and many of them just aren’t that great in my opinion.  But once the latter half of season 2 comes, the episodes become less stand-alone and begin to progress the plot episode to episode.  And, to my amazement, it actually pulls off something that I normally despise, but makes it work.  There’s a stage-play musical episode that delves into the backstory of one of the protagonists.  As much as it sounds like this shouldn’t work and make it one of the worst episodes in the entire series, it’s quite the opposite.  The episode is fantastic, somewhat emotional in its own way, and does its job in getting the viewer pumped for the finale.  And the finale is actually quite good.  So despite the bullshit that is most of the first half of season 2, and the overall decrease in quality, it actually feels worth it in the end.  And it offers a more satisfying conclusion than that of the first season.

Themes of admitting one’s own faults, owning up to them and trying to turn things around, before you’re past the point of no return.  And being courageous in the face of destruction.

If the series ended there, it would still be good, though flawed.  A 3.5 / 5 rating.  But it doesn’t end there.

Season 3

Fuck this season in it’s dull monotonous boring as fuck asshole, with a sandpaper condom with cactus pricks glued onto it.  While the first couple episodes may be interesting, and the season has every episode progressing the plot with no stand-alone episodes, the pacing is motherfucking slow!  The crew gets continually stranded on the same 2 goddamn planets (while in the last couple seasons they usually visited a different planet each episode), where it becomes the same old shit over-and-over again.  I wanted this season to end by the time I got to episode 6.  But noooooooooo.  They just had to drag it on for 13 fucking episodes.  Here’s how each episode goes:

“We need to leave!”
“We can’t!”
“Why not!?”
“Because so-and-so.”
“Let’s go to the planet to deal with so-and-so.”

“We did it, let’s get off the planet.”
“We can’t!”
“Why not!?”
“Because so-and-so.”
“Let’s deal with so-and-so.”

“Ok, we’re back on the ship, let’s go!”
“We can’t!”
“Why not?”
“Because so-and-so.”
“Fuck you and fuck me and fuck everything and fuck this fucking season! GHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

This season should’ve been half as long as it is.  But it isn’t.  So it’s a slog to get through.  I’d honestly recommend just watching the first 3-4 episodes, then skip to the last 2.  You’ll be able to pick up enough information to get a general idea of what’s happened between that time.  You’re not missing much, trust me.

Themes of what one can look forward to in the afterlife, facing punishment for all the harm one has done, or facing reward for all the good one has done.  Yin yang with good and evil, though this aspect isn’t put forth anywhere near well enough.

This season drags the show rating down to a 2 / 5.  But there is one more season.

Season 4

Ok, yeah, it’s better than season 3.  And on-par with season 2.  But seasons 2-4 pale in comparison to season 1.  The main reason to watch this season is to get to a more definitive end for the series, even if it doesn’t tie up every loose end (I think this is intentional for some thematic reason regarding the fate of this other group of people who aren’t the main protagonists).  In this season, the Lexx gets to Earth, in the present day (though it’s sort of an alternate reality version of Earth; at least that’s my theory, otherwise it’s possible to drive rocket ships as easily as you can drive a car, sometimes with a joystick).  There are some tidbits dropped here and there that link back to the lore setup in season 1 (which isn’t really developed at all in seasons 2-3).  But these tidbits, in hindsight, aren’t satisfactory.  This season acts as satire for the U.S. and its stereotypes and capitalism and politics.  Some of the satire is great, some is so-so.  But I can’t say I ever got completely bored with it.  It does have some build-up to the finale, but season 2 had better build-up for its own finale compared to season 4.  On the other hand, season 4 has a greater amount of entertaining episodes compared to season 2.  Pros and cons, but at least neither are season 3.  When it does get to the final episode, it does end by giving the best character in the series the ending he deserves (without this one character, I would’ve stopped watching the show long ago).  So despite other protagonists still being around, who gives a shit?  Once this guy ended, the series ended, and that’s fine by me.

Aside from the ending, there is a stand-out episode I rank up there with the stage play episode from season 2.  The episode where these two guys are playing a chess game on some inter-dimensional plane.  And it shows the full chess game with every move, with nice commentary between the moves.  And the tension is high throughout, making you wonder if the protagonist is confident for a reason, or is being overconfident.

Themes of destruction and rebirth.  A society doomed to fall, but hopefully has accomplished enough to carry on from the ashes.  How love can cause one to do things terrible as well as things that are wonderful.  The things we do for companionship.

At this point, I’d give the series overall a 2.5 / 5, which pains me because there are some great moments to be had here and there.  It’s just that they get spread too far from each other after season 1, and are practically nowhere to be found in season 3.

Other Notes

The first season is the one and only season that takes the premise and the content seriously and doesn’t ever really get tongue-in-cheek with it.  That all changes for the worse with the other seasons, though they each still have some great moments in them (though season 3 only has a few, which isn’t enough to justify its 13 episode length, which is practically half the number of episodes in seasons 2 and 4).  Seasons 2 and onwards gets quite pervy at times.  I’d say the perviness goes a little too far in season 2 where every other episode is perverted in some manner.  They ease up on it with seasons 3 and 4.  Would’ve liked the show a lot more if the captain of the ship was a less annoying and more like-able character (though that might defeat the purpose, as the series wants anti-heroes as protagonists whom the viewers are supposed to get frustrated with at several points in times).

If there is any show that could use a reboot, it would be this one.  And honestly, the timing is just about perfect for it.  SJWs are prime candidates for satire, but the show can also get away with having a lamebrain wimp of a male protagonist who represents everything feminists and PC people despise to even things out.  Hell, I think the series could do with a stronger female protagonist (aside from season 1, she didn’t really do all that much other than be naively innocent in her view of the universe and with her view on getting laid, despite her strengths and what she is capable of, which never really amounted to anything significant).  The show can take shots at everyone, but should also take itself more seriously than the original version does (save for season 1).  There is still potential within this series that has remained untapped due to the lack of good creative writing.

So despite the 2.5 / 5 rating, I can give the first season a rock solid recommendation, season 2 a cautious recommendation, but the rest I would advise watching at your own risk.  The later seasons are good only for having a fitting end for one of the main leads (well, I guess a fitting end for 2 of the leads if you think about it).  And even then, you have to slog through a lot of bullshit to get to the good parts.

Missed opportunity.

 

PS: Oh, in case you were wondering, Babylon 5 and Farscape are leagues beyond this show.  I’d recommend those for anyone who wants to get into live action sci-fi series (and Star Trek TOS and TNG, of course, which should be assumed to be included to any list such as that by default).  From what I’ve researched, nothing else really comes as close as these when it comes to sci-fi shows to recommend, though Stargate SG1 and X-Files aren’t half-bad either.  As for Battlestar Galactica, the old series was never finished.  The Sci-Fi remake/reboot, however, turned into ass by the end, so I can’t in good conscience recommend that.

The show is too ambitious to get away with something so petty.

9|11 (2002) review, and a cry for united patriotism

Rated: 3.5 / 5

Introduction

This documentary I’ve been wanting to see for a while.  But I’ve been putting it off because, well, despite wanting to see it, I always find some excuse to watch/do something else instead.  But now we’re in September, the anniversary is approaching again, and now seems as good a time as any.  Not sure if I’ll be able to do any more of these types of reviews for 9/11 after this.  I mean, I’ve already reviewed The Path to 9/11 extensively, and that 2-part miniseries still banned by Disney is probably never going to be topped in terms of there being a great movie made on the subject.  I’ve reviewed World Trade Center and United 93, which are the only other 2 decent films on 9/11 (the latter being the best one next to Path to 9/11).  I’ve even reviewed Path to Paradise which covers the 1993 world trade center bombings which would eventually lead to the 9/11 incident.  I even reviewed Loose Change and unleashed my wrath on that piece of shit documentary.

To put it simply, I’ve just about run out of steam on this topic.  This might be the last one I’ll review for this incident (unless some other film gets released on the topic which grabs my attention, which I doubt will happen, taking into account a few factors that makes Hollywood want to whitewash history in ways that have nothing to do with white supremacy).  So, with all that said…

 

Review of 9/11

The film was made primarily by 2 French brothers who wanted to make a documentary about New York City firefighters (and remained more respectful towards American patriotism than fucking Damien Chazelle did with his movie).  The first 20 minutes, barring some foreshadowing during the first minute, is pretty much filmed with this in mind.  Just showing these New York City firefighters going about their daily business, and primarily following a new rookie who learns the ins and outs of it all.  Bonds are formed, it is shown how anything can happen that can take a firefighter’s life in an unexpected instant, and the foreign brothers are eventually accepted among the crew as a sort of family after a little over 2 months of filming (they started at around July 2001).

And then September 11 comes, and one of the brothers manages to capture the only known footage of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center.  Then everything changes.  The whole purpose of the documentary, the firefighter’s routine for that day, the lives of citizens in New York City, and all of America.  Everything changed.  From there one of the brothers follows the firefighters into the base level of the tower, where many firefighters in the city would setup operations and try to figure out how they were going to deal with this.  And as we should know, there was no contingency plan for something like this.  They weren’t sure what to do other than to evacuate as many as they could.  Plus since the impact of the plane knocked out tower communications, the firefighters could only rely on their radios, which got overloaded with communication between multiple houses/ladders/districts.

9-11 image

What is interesting is the restraint the film-maker shows while he’s shooting amidst the chaos.  There’s one moment where he enters the tower for the first time, and remarks narratively on how he didn’t turn the camera in a certain direction to avoid filming these two people who were on fire.  Because he didn’t believe anyone should have to see that.  So he kept himself restricted to just following the other firefighters into the main lobby.  Have to admit, most film-makers I’ve seen, they would’ve tried to capture that sight.  Under the context and circumstance, I actually found this restraint admirable.  On a similar note, the other thing not shown is the aftermath of people falling from the upper floors of the tower to their doom.  Some of the firefighters describe the site, of blood and dismembered legs and arms covering much of the ground around the tower, but no footage of such is shown.  Another act of restraint that is also appreciated.  With that said, you still here the screams of those off-camera and on fire.  You still hear the loud slams of jumpers hitting the concrete (unsettling to say the least).

While one brother is in the tower, the other is attempting to make his way to the tower, and he captures other significant moments, such as a brief instant of the 2nd plane hitting the 2nd tower (while the other brother capture the debris of that impact falling down outside the windows of the first tower), and showing footage of one of the plane engines on the sidewalk, several blocks away from the tower.  A plane engine that got ejected from impact, flew several blocks away, smashed into a road sign and then settled onto the sidewalk below.  Amazingly, from what I understand (and correct me if I’m wrong), but it doesn’t seem like anyone got injured from all the debris that flew away from the towers, excluding those few buildings that caved in next to the towers, including WTC 7.  Even amidst all this, somehow, some way, the film-maker managed to capture an irony.  Right behind this plane engine is a sign that says, “Do not litter.”  Have to admit, despite the gravity of the situation, it got a chuckle out of me.

9-11 image Eventually the first tower falls, and the one brother was still inside along with many other firefighters when it happened.  Miraculously, he manages to survive along with most of the other firefighters (but not all).  Not long after they manage to make their way out, the 2nd tower falls, and they run again from the debris, only to be forced to take cover behind vehicles as the debris and dust clouds overtake them.

Yes, the film does get quite gripping after those first 20 minutes.  The intensity eventually starts to relent when the survivors make their way back to the firestation, and regroup and re-coordinate their efforts.  Then the film has a long drawn out epilogue showcasing the lives that got lost.  And I get it, this is a sad moment of remembrance as we see the faces of those firefighters who lost their lives, but I can only stay sympathetic for so long before I get bored out of my mind with this and the musical eulogy.  It would’ve been better if all that played alongside the end-credits.  Then again, the end credits aren’t all that long, because this documentary was made by a very small team on an independent budget, almost like a college project or something.

Despite that, this remains one of the most gripping ground-zero films out there on the 9/11 incident next to 102 Minutes That Changed America.  That documentary comes just as highly recommended as this one, possibly even more-so.  It also shows footage from everyday citizens who took their cameras out to film the incident as it unfolded after the first plane hit.  While the 9/11 documentary shows it primarily from the perspective of the firefighters, 102 Minutes shows it from the perspective of everyday New Yorkers, from several perspectives of random people who each own their own video recorder.  Both documentaries act as the perfect companion piece to each other.

 

 

Epilogue

A part of me is tempted to bring up the other stuff when thinking outside the box.  The political/cultural implications, how things changed for the worse, or in some cases how some say it changed for the better.  The other part of me is telling myself not to go down that route, to just look back on these videos, these moments in time.  But to what end?  To remember?  And why remember?  What’s the point of remembering?  The same reason one would remember history, to learn from it.  I may regret it, I may hate myself later for it, but I’m giving in to the former temptation.  Because when I think back on events like this and how it caused things to change over the years, up to where we are today, I come back to remembering this one commercial that somehow managed to come to the forefront of my memories.

How this imagery used to be true for a while, until it wasn’t by no later than 2015 in many places.  Once a tragedy that caused Americans to unite together as patriots against an enemy that attacked them (though our retaliation became muddled amidst political and corporate interests, which many became aware of as the years went on), has now faded into the opposite spectrum.  Many now sympathize with the religion that is one of the root causes of violence worldwide today rather than be critical of it (at the very least one should be critical of the radicals to keep them in check so that this so-called religion of peace can be practiced as such).  Many now spit upon patriotism by kneeling and flag-burning, while being praised by mainstream media and various corporate entities for doing such.

And all this just makes me wonder what the hell happened?  How did it come to this?  Why is it that those who once decried extremist terrorists and united against them now attack each other while a portion ally themselves with terrorism in one form or another?  What would happen if some 9/11 event happened today amidst all this?  Would such a tragedy give us cause to unite again once more for a time, or would it somehow divide us further?  Back then one could fault the government for its inadequate security measures and not taking such things seriously enough.  But who would be blamed today if something like this happened again?  Sure, the government, or at least a branch of it, would be blamed.  But I fear we have somehow devolved into a state where citizens would be blaming each other as well.  And the worst part is that I wouldn’t think they would be entirely in the wrong either.  What kind of country with such division and such anti-patriotism would be worth defending by its own citizens?

So I ask what will it take to get us all together again (or at least most of us) before some other big tragedy strikes?  What will it take for everyone to see and act with reason?  Because I’m honestly not sure how that can be done without an age of violence that can cause us to move down one path or the other.  The question is whether that path will be the correct one that leads to a brighter future, or one that leads us to a dark age that generations must suffer through before things are made right again.  Or, dare I say, we go down a path that leads towards our ultimate destruction?

What I do know is that an entire nation shouldn’t be damned just because some aspects of it are corrupted.  Damn those aspects, not everything around it.  Being anti-patriotic and hating your own country is not the path to take.  Seeking self-destruction and taking all that you can down with you is not the path to take.  Being filled with such (self) loathing never leads to anything good.  Rather, love yourself and your country enough to want the best for it, to attempt to fix the imperfections within it, to make it a better country.  That includes listening to the advice of others and gaining elements of wisdom and knowledge to know better which actions to take.  Individualism is important, but so is some sense of unity, some sense of brotherhood, sisterhood, family, friendship, ethos.  Find a way to compromise, find a way to be tolerant (except towards those who will never be anything but intolerant), find a way to come together.

After all, it was that togetherness, that patriotism, that love for one another, that caused many to act selflessly saving the lives of others during 9/11.  There can be many instances found during that tragic day of other Americans helping other fellow Americans survive, amidst the chaos, amidst all that was going wrong.  And not just the police who protect (because despite what some may say, there are plenty of good cops who do protect), or the firemen who save, but also everyday Americans who are capable of protecting and saving in their own way.  It is another reason to never forget.

 

PS: Made this tribute a few days early of the anniversary mainly to encourage others to track down and watch a couple of these films.  Especially The Path to 9/11, if you can.

Mile 22 (2018) review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

So I’ve been curious to see this film after watching the trailer a while back.  I mean, an action film with Mark Whalberg, partnering once again with director Peter Berg, and putting Iko Kuwais of The Raid film in for good measure.  It’s something I had to see.  Unfortunately, it suffered from the one thing I hoped they wouldn’t fuck up that they did fuck up, capturing the martial arts segments.  They can’t go one full fucking second without doing a camera cut.  Didn’t they watch Mission Impossible Fallout?

There are only 3-4 martial arts scenes in this film, and it’s 2 too many.  The first martial arts segment, which you can catch a glimpse of in the trailer where he’s fighting while handcuffed to a hospital bed (or whatever you call that), it’s as good as the camerawork and long takes get, and it’s already subpar.  Iko Kuwais can fight.  I’ve seen him fucking fight, and any respectable action junkie should’ve seen him fucking fight by now.  But the director doesn’t know shit about choreographing well enough to make it look good.  Either that, or he thinks that fast cuts make a good fight scene.  That shit doesn’t even work with shootouts, and this film is just adequate with that as-is.  So the medical room fight is sub-par, but one can still understand what is going on, mostly.  Though that fight lasts way too fucking long (all of them do, honestly, save for the only other semi-decent bit during a car getaway where we see a glimpse of The Raid influence as he smashes a guy’s head through the car window and then rakes his neck along the bottom while glass is still sticking out, God that moment was great; hope they use it in The Raid 3 whenever that happens).  But it gets worse when there’s a fight in a cafe.  I couldn’t tell what the fuck was going on for 90% of that sequence, and that’s not an exaggeration.  I was hoping other people were being too hard on the film by saying there were too many quick cuts and undecipherable action sequences, but that whole bit proved them right.

I give up, I can’t redeem this.

The piss-poor editing prevents this film from being as good as it should’ve been, and the action sequences tend to go on for longer than they should.  When it involves a shootout, the film isn’t half bad.  The quick cuts take this film down a peg or two.

As for the story and characters, they’re decent enough.  It’s nothing all that exceptional, it’s a typical “unofficial government organization does illegal stuff to get desired results” fair.  Whalberg’s character is the most interesting and self-aware, though he is a major asshole.

A face expression that says, “Fuck your mother.”

And, entering into spoiler territory…

First off, Ronda Rousey gets killed, and fucked up before getting killed.  Well that made my happiness meter go up a tinge.  But in all honesty, she’s not half bad in this movie, and it did kind of suck to see her get killed off.  But on the other hand, it’s difficult not to make some joke along the lines of, “I haven’t seen her this fucked up since she lost her last UFC fight.”

Second, the story may be a bit on the bare-bones side, but it attempts to add a little meat to it with the narrative interruptions by Marky-Mark off and on, pretty much giving away that he would survive at the end of it all, and that the mission wouldn’t be a complete success.  He talks about how, “Governments suck, but so does everyone, so what can you do?”  And the film basically ends on a note of, with these secret op games that the U.S. and many other foreign governments play, they all win some, they all lose some.  We lost today, but we’ll come after you tomorrow and win.  With a theme like that, given recent news development of how virtually all undercover CIA agents got killed in China after a data breach/leak/hack between 2010 and 2012, would’ve been more relevant if this took place in China as opposed to Indochina (but they were close, they just needed to remove the first 4 letters).  But that was never going to happen, considering 2 Chinese production companies helped finance the making of this film.  That seems to be happening a lot with many Hollywood films these days.

Third, the film somewhat subtly puts in this theme of everyone is an asshole.  Or I should say, there are 3 types of people in this world, dicks, pussies, and assholes.  The film primarily deals with the dicks and assholes who constantly fuck/shit on the pussies in one form or another (though it’s politically incorrect to say pussy now, guess it’s more of the norm to call them front holes; still sounds vulgar to me).  It is stated primarily by Whalberg’s character, who has no problem acting like a blatant asshole, and states that the U.S. government, and all other governments, are dicks who fuck the pussies and assholes they call citizens.  But there is a little more depth to it than that (but only a little).  There are those who are assholes who try to disguise the fact that they are assholes by trying to act polite in a “holier than thou” manner.  This is evident with Whalberg’s female partner who is having domestic troubles abroad, with an upcoming divorce and possibly being unable to see her daughter again.  And her husband rubs this in her face as much as he can, trying to act like he’s above her in spite of what she does, and stating that her cursing just proves his point.  Then it almost becomes comical (I say almost because shit like this hits so close to reality it can’t even be called satire anymore) by forcing this woman onto an app that censors/blocks any messaging she does that involves any sort of cursing.  And while this woman is a bit of a bitch, she is constantly under pressure and put in so many stressful situations that it becomes impossible to act proper so often.  And the husband is no better, just being a typical politically correct dick.  And then of course there’s those Indochina officials who also act “holier than thou,” but it’s all a facade considering what they actually do, and what is going on while they’re negotiating diplomatically.  Whalberg’s character can see through all the pretense, through the facade, through the bullshit, and just calls everyone out on it while making no attempt to disguise his own assholishness.

Aaaaaaaand front hole punch!

So yeah, there are a couple layers to this film, and it had potential.  But those layers aren’t utilized well enough to make the film any better than a solid B film.  And the terribly shot martial arts sequences bring it down closer to C range territory.  All in all, the movie isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either.  Disappointing, because it could’ve been better.

 

A Prayer Before Dawn (2018) review

Rated: 3.5 / 5

The trailer looked promising for this limited release film (so limited it wasn’t playing in any of the theaters near me).  So I checked to see if Vudu was streaming it.  Sure enough, it was, so I made the $6.99 rental purchase.  It was worth it.

This is a film that, pardon the expression, pulls no punches.  It’s one of the grittiest films I’ve ever seen.  When the protagonist Billy gets arrested and sent to Thai prison, it all looks raw and real.  Partly because it is raw and real, because they shot this film on location, at the actual Thai prison where the events of this film took place.  Because this film is based on a true story.  It’s about this English guy from the UK who takes on Muay Thai Kickboxing in Thailand, but also has a drug problem, and has isolated himself from any family members abroad by using an alias name.  So when he gets arrested for drug possession and sent to prison, he’s on his own.  No money, no family to know where he is, nothing.  He has to cope with being in a place surrounded by people whose language he can barely understand (they speak Thai, there are subtitles, but the subtitles aren’t used most of the time, keeping the viewer as bewildered in this world as the Billy).  And on top of that, on his first night there, he witnesses a guy getting gang-raped (not much is left to the imagination).

Enough time is spent in the prison with the prisoners that not only Billy, but the viewer starts to get used to it all, in spite of the grimy conditions.  Cigarettes for currency, betting on fish fights (seriously, they bet on which fish will win when 2 fish fight each other to the death; the only cock fights in this prison are the ones competing for which ass they will penetrate).  And eventually, a bond kind of gets shared with everyone in there.  They are all doing their own hard time for different reasons (one of them admits to being a hitman who killed 2 people).

But the main thing that drove me to see this movie (and by drove, I mean reaching for my credit card to purchase it online, not using up gasoline in a vehicle and contributing to the exaggerated greenhouse gasses, so you Green Peace people should be thanking me) is the fights.  But this film is done in a similar vane as the earlier Creed movie.  There are only 3 major fights in this film, one at the beginning, middle, and end.  This film is primarily a drama, but it also aims to be a character study and inspirational film.  The film (and the novel from what I understand) is all about showing one man’s downward spiral due to drug addiction and severe anger issues (he’s no pushover wimp when he’s in prison, he goes apeshit some of the time, and it gets a bit disturbing when it happens).  His road to recovery is slow, and it’s subtle.  So subtle some may wonder if there was even an arc.  But there is one, as he realizes the toll his lifestyle takes on him both physically and mentally.  And the only way out for him is to get back into kickboxing, only doing it in prison, where apparently it’s a thing for one prison’s best kickboxer to compete against another prison’s best kickboxer for bragging rights, and because there’s some gambling involved.

The best fight scene in this film is easily the 2nd one.  This scene seems to be made for the sole purpose of topping that “single-take” fight scene in Creed.  It’s like they’re saying, “You think that scene is raw and gritty and takes a lot of talent to pull off to look legit?  Well wait until you see this!”  And no exaggerating here, that 2nd fight scene is one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life.  It goes on for a long time.  And by long time, I mean 4 full minutes.  I mean, it may not be a single take, but damn are there a lot of long takes.  This isn’t a quick-cut shakey-cam fight sequence, it’s like you’re watching an actual fight happening, nothing Hollywood-like or flashy, just realistic and gritty.  The hits seem real.  None of it looks telegraphed.  It belongs on a top 20 fight scenes of all time list.  It’s worth watching the film just for that sequence alone.  But the rest of the movie is pretty damn solid too.

By the end of the film, we see someone make a cameo appearance.  That someone is the guy who lived the events in this film and wrote the book the film is adapted from, Billy Moore.  It’s a great moment, the perfect place to have a cameo like that, giving the film the biggest impact possible.  The film becomes a bit inspiring at the end, and it feels earned considering how exhausting it can be getting through it all (but this is intentional, the exhaustion).  It’s a long 2 hour runtime, but it feels necessary just to make the world all seem real, to show the ins and outs of the prison, and the prison lifestyle, and what one can feel while they’re in the prison.

Highly recommended film.

 

PS: Oh yeah, and Billy gets in a relationship with a tranny.  Well, when in prison…