Archive for December, 2012

So, we’ve got some new speculative science fictional motion pictures coming out, involving Giant Things Crashing Into Or On Top Of Each Other, and they all released trailersImage this week.

That is goddamn insane, to ask me to have opinions about Superman AND The Lone Ranger in the span of a day. Be more considerate, Hollywood.

But what amused me the most about After Earth (which is bafflingly named, since the Will Smith informs his son that the harsh alien landscape they have crashed into is, in fact, Earth, so don’t piss on my head and tell me it’s raining, movie!) and Pacific Rim (probably the most relaxing name a film about giant robots fighting monsters can have) were the character names.

Will Smith’s character, you see, is named Cypher Raige.

A screenwriter who was possibly not M. Night Shyamalan sat down, wrote something like, “Ext. – Earth Not Earth?, Night: CYPHER RAIGE looks on at his clone son, forlornedly…” and saw NOTHING THAT MIGHT NEED EDITING.

So yes, I’ve just been laughing at that name in my head all week.

Then came Pacific Rim, and…well, here:  (more…)

SkyfallBefore we get into further discussion of Skyfall, I’d like to reiterate the fact that the last act is “Elderly Brits Will Have Your Stupid Faces And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It” and that is great. That is just the best. People always treat Helen Mirren like she’s the most bad-ass elderly Englishwoman ever produced, but I’d still rather run into her in a dark alley than Judy Dench.

Helen Mirren will murder you, yes. But Judy Dench will murder you as though it was just a damn inconvenience.

Anyway.

Skyfall’s plot and themes are about looking back on your past and seeing how you’ll be judged, and if you’re past your prime, and what is it that’s really motivating you these days. And that’s a solid place to set a Bond film – especially a Bond film released during the character’s 50th anniversary.

It’s actually pretty impressive when a Bond movie is About Something. Casino Royale’s narrative and thematic throughline is “What Makes James Bond?” and remains the best of the Craig films. Quantum of Solace is about nothing very much, until it’s not even a Bond movie, but The Revenge Of This Model Who Can’t Act Very Good, Featuring James Bond as “The Help”.*

So Skyfall, in aiming to be a Bond movie that’s about something, pretty much ignores that Quantum of Solace exists (so if you were hoping this would continue the story of the vaguely SPECTRE-esque Quantum Organization, you’re out of luck).

But it also kind of assumes that you don’t remember any details of Casino Royale, and also kinda-sorta pre-supposes that ALL the Bond movies exist in one vaguely-defined continuity, which brings me to The Astin Martin.  (more…)

James Bond is a character who can teach us many lessons about how to survive this cold, cruel, confusing world, and so I like to try and extract what lessons are available for my edification.  The following are a few notes that I picked up from Skyfall:

1. Bitches can’t shoot straight.

2.  Get those black ladies out of the field and behind a desk, pronto.

3. If MI-6 is fucking up, it’s probably because you just need to put a dude in charge.

4.  Preferably one who cut his teeth shooting Irishmen.

5.  If you go to a casino in Macau, and there is a giant komodo dragon slithering around in a pit, then someone is going to get eaten by that komodo dragon.  (This rule is called “Chekhov’s Komodo Dragon”.)

6.  If you see a naked lady in a shower, the best practice is to take off all your clothes and just get right in the shower with her, even if you have only talked to her for two minutes an hour ago and she doesn’t know you’re there and her boat is full of armed guards.  (This only works if you are James Bond, I guess.)

7.  James Bond is hell of ready to let suckers die before he kicks everyone’s ass.  This is called “professional courtesy,” you should learn it.

8.  Dame Judi Dench made grenades out of shotgun shells, glass, and nails, which she used to murder some mercenaries.  That means that Dame Judi Dench is ten thousand percent more rad than you or your mom.

9.  Albert Finney is impossible not to like.

10.  Times are tough for white people these days, what with all the computers and minorities, but as long as we’ve got our invincible murder-machine ready to cap suckers and maybe take a couple names if he remembers to (he probably won’t remember), we will be all right.

Now I will write about this article by Andrew O’Hehir over at Salon, which is a discussion of several movies (Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, and The Gatekeepers), because it is actually pretty appalling.  Let’s just set aside the headline (“Is Feminism Worth Defending with Torture”) as being race-baiting hokum (it carries the attendent implication that 1) the War on Terror is being prosecuted in order to improve the lives of women, and 2) all “enemy combatants” in that war must be misogynist because they are Muslim), and talk just about the torture bit that he brings up.  Here, I will quote the relevant material.

Does a society that produces female CIA agents (and reelects a black president) gain the right to commit atrocities in its own defense? Is torture justified if the torturer is a university-educated woman, and the tortured a bigoted Muslim fundamentalist?

I think those are excellent questions for us to ask ourselves, arguably defining questions of the age, and I think the longer you look at them the thornier they get. I certainly incline toward the predictable left-libertarian response that torture and other illegal and unconstitutional actions (like, say, the government assassination of United States citizens on secret evidence) are immoral and unjustifiable in almost every instance. But you’ll notice that I’ve left myself a little wiggle room, and if we’re honest we recognize that morality is always relative, and only available in shades of gray.

So.

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