i saw it

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I don’t know why, but I sometimes feel inclined to spout out my opinions on movies to all two people who read dangblog.

Black Mirror

I had high hopes for this series due to the reviews, so it was big disappointment when I finally saw it. I watched many episodes because of an unfounded faith that it would get better. The acting was fine, the production and visuals were sometimes great – the stories were the problem.

One flaw that held for a majority of the shows was an attempt to stretch a 30 minute or even 15 minute idea into a excruciatingly long hour. After 15 minutes I got the point, but it kept going on, seemingly just to fill a time requirement.

Many of the shows filled this time with the following plot idea: start with a good or mildly bad situation and make it worse. If you think a particular future technology is bad at the beginning of the story, wait a few minutes and it will get even worse. By the end of the episode, it’s really, horribly, terribly bad and everyone loses. The end. Repeat this plan next episode.

I liked the one about the two lovers living a 1980s dream in a virtual reality. Personally I wish it would have addressed issues like, “Is a copy of you really you?” and “What happens if there’s a power outage?” But I was okay with it as is.

That’s it. Lots of other episodes had sparks of interest that just didn’t hold for an hour, were poorly handled, or just went for a predictable bad outcome.

Arrival

Better than average science fiction story. Go linguists! There are unexpected twists, and a fun unravelling-of-the-plot discussion to be had with friends afterward. You can’t ask for too much more from mainstream Hollywood products.

Sure there a things I could pick at. When the protagonists first approach the floating spaceship, the soundtracks lays on the weird dissonant sounds in a way that says, “You are supposed to feel like this is awesome and alien now, audience. Okay? Get it?”

There is other silly stuff, but overall it’s a win when the aliens aren’t people with plastic bumps glued to the forehead. Like “Sixth Sense,” “Inception,” and “Memento” there are twists that you may not be expecting.

Rogue One

This is a lightweight adventure film. Enjoyable, but nothing to get excited about. It may that because I was never a huge “Star Wars” fan that this didn’t provide a ton of thrills. One problem is that I never felt an emotional investment in the characters so it all seemed a little flat. We’ve got the required ingredients for the franchise – a Force-imbued character who disables opponents with a big stick, dozens of disposable storm troopers with armor that must be made of cheap plastic, for all the protection it provides (and the troopers still can’t shoot straight), and a wise-cracking robot.

The Expanse

Are you getting the idea that I’m a science fiction fan? Yup. I haven’t seen the second season, but the first one was good. There is relatively believable science, which is a nice change. No faster than light, no aliens, no ray guns. Gravity and momentum seem to work like the real world. The whole atmosphere and look of this show – set a few centuries hence in a colonized solar system — looks good and feels somewhat reasonable.

They have learned from other series like “Game of Thrones” that some gritty, realistic politics and believable human conflict make for better entertainment and believability in an otherwise fantastic environment. Hope that continues into season 2.

That’s all.

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the dvd collection

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Movies on DVD are quickly joining CDs in the physical media graveyard, yet there are a few that I’m compelled to own as a plastic disk. Not many. I finally cashed in a gift card and added two important titles:

Carnival of Souls (1962)
The Brain from Planet Arous (1957)

I add these to my proud collection that includes:

Blade Runner
Kwaidan
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Woodstock
Donnie Darko
The Bride of Frankenstein
The Wizard of Oz
Fellini’s Satyricon
Metropolis
The Lord of the Rings films (extended versions)
(Collection of all episodes of The Prisoner – lost but not forgotten.)
… a few others, like Drugstore Cowboy, Waiting for Guffman, and a bunch of Mystery Science Theater  3000 episodes …

What’s missing? I don’t know. Maybe Queen of Outer Space.

carnival_arous

two is company, three is a cult

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The 38th annual Seattle International Film Festival is here with more than 400 films and I’ve boldly purchased tickets for two. Well, I can’t afford to see them all, can I?

This week I see Take This Waltz, which is bound to have the Leonard Cohen song of the same name on the  soundtrack. That reminds me that Cohen is coming to town in November. I have to decide about that concert.

Then in a couple weeks I see The Source. It’s a cult film but not that kind of cult film. No, it’s a film about a cult. Do you love cults? I do. That’s why I’m also interested in The Sound of My Voice but I think it’s already come and gone.

From the LOLTHULHU site: