Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Missile Defense and Abortion

Something worth fighting over, and a touch of hypocrisy.

Well, I'm hoping the NDP sticks to their guns on the missile defense issue. The newspapers reported Jack Layton as saying it was non-neogotiable, but Joel tells me that Layton backtracked over the radio this morning. Which is a shame.

The last thing this stupid species needs is more guns, and the last thing we need to do is militarize space. Guns in space! Brilliant idea!

Come on, Layton. You know it's wrong. Stick to your principles! This is partly why I voted for you!

It's futile, I know. The Cons are eager to provide us with new ways and reasons to kill each other, and if the NDP don't support the Liberals, they will.

But this is something worth fighthing for, and it's worth losing for, too. Like the Flaming Lips song says, "To lose I could accept, but to surrender I just wept and regretted this moment."

The second issue is abortion. I've always considered myself pro-life. It seems clear to me that abortion is murder, from conception on. This seems like a settled issue, and yet there are people who ignore what seems to be a fairly simple issue.

To speak radically for a moment, doesn't it follow from this that all governments that legalize abortion - especially those that subsidize it - are responsible for more murders than all the middle eastern dictatorships combined?

And yet we point fingers at them, even to the point of invading them occasionally?

It baffles me that some pro-lifers will support various wars, most recently the war in Iraq. The popular justification for the invasion was Hussein's abuses of his people.

Well... if abortion is murder, than haven't the governments of the west vastly outpaced Hussien?

And yet he's the bad guy?

Eh. Joel clarified this issue for me last night. He said it's because none of us really care.

And he's right. I don't give a flying fuck about abortion, whatever medical facts are in my head.

So I guess that makes me pro-choice. That's what I'm going to call myself from now on.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Reviews of Collatoral, Alien vs. Predator and The Exorcist

Well, I've seen three movies this weekend, and all three need to be commented on. This is all spoiler free.

The first was Collatoral, on Friday night. I was blown away. Jamie Foxx dominated this flick, and Cruise kept up nicely. The dialogue and story were great, and the violence was keen.

The stuff I was most surprised about was the photograhy and the soundtrack. Both kept me thinking about my favourite movie from last year, Lost in Translation. Director Michael Mann did his best to make Los Angelas look ethereal and beautiful, and he mostly succeded. LiT's Sophia Coppola did a better job, (of course) but maybe Tokyo is just a better looking city than LA?

I haven't seen a movie with a such an effective soundtrack since LiT, either. Maybe Eternal Sunshine. Again, LiT wins out, but I still might have to buy the Collatoral album. An awesome range of music, and it enhanced the mood everytime.

I'm thinking that Collatoral is the second best movie I've seen so far this year, rating just behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The second movie was Alien vs. Predator, a movie in which the director probably fired every single person on the set who exhibited an ounce of imagination.

remember during the production stage, how the directer kept bragging about the intense buildup in the first part of the movie. It wasn't a mindless action movie, he said - there was a plot. Build up! Character development before the fighting!

Bollocks, the movie was painfully boring and stupid, right up to the moment when a Predator goes hand to hand with an Alien.

And even then... it was kind of like watching a WWF match.

The people who made this movie had no imagination, no love for these alien creatures. The Predator just kind of stalked about, though he did get some good slicing and dicing in.

The portrayal of the Aliens continued to evolve in this movie, thankfully. Now, they scamper about like insects. It was strange to watch them move in groups - it was like watching ants, maybe.

Remember the animatronic Alien Queen from Aliens? Well, she's back, she's CGI, and she's an Olympic Track star.

The humans were stupid, just stupid. The buildup didn't generate worthwhile characters or suspense, it was just made for a useless first act that could have been filled with Predators going Samurai on a pack of Aliens.

There were really only two scenes that I was actually excited in, and both, the Predator was showing off excellent fighting ability. The rest was very workmanlike, with no imagination at all.

I've been waiting for this movie since I saw the Alien skull in the Predator ship in Predator 2... was the wait worth it?

Sure, I guess. Predators still fought Aliens, and... well, now I want to see Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. Bring it!

And the third movie, The Exorcist. Well, I keep reading about how scary it was... not terribly scary at all. Some shocking stuff, of course. The imfamous alternate use of a crucifix scene was strange to see. But scary? Eh. The skeptical priests investigating the possible possesion were all pretty cool, asking intelligent questions and generally being smart about it.

But scary? Eh. The Ring beats the pants off The Exorcist.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Kurt Vonnegut

I have fallen in love.

With a man.

But don't worry, I'm not gay.

At least, I don't think.

The object of my affections these days is Kurt Vonnegut. I've only had the fortune to read one of his novels, Breakfast of Champions. I've got a standard list of adjectives that I apply to works of art that I like, and this one fulfills them all. Funny, sad, wise, etc. Clicky the link, then read the book.

Otherwise, I've been thoroughly enjoying Vonnegut's essays written for the site In These Times. If you're looking for a standout example, check out Cold Turkey.

Notable excerpts.

But back to people, like Confucius and Jesus and my son the doctor, Mark, who’ve said how we could behave more humanely, and maybe make the world a less painful place. One of my favorites is Eugene Debs, from Terre Haute in my native state of Indiana. Get a load of this:

Eugene Debs, who died back in 1926, when I was only 4, ran 5 times as the Socialist Party candidate for president, winning 900,000 votes, 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912, if you can imagine such a ballot. He had this to say while campaigning:

As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.
As long as there is a criminal element, I’m of it.
As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?

How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. …

And so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

Read the rest of the essay. Make time for it.

And hey. If any Christians down in the US start a campaign to place the Beatitudes on government buildings, I'll support it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Village Review

There might be one or two very mild spoilers in this review of The Village. Very mild.

I'm having a hard time formulating an opinion about Sham... Shamalan... er, you know who I'm talking about. Night's new movie, The Village. My initial reaction was mostly positive, but I'm inclined to love everything the man does.

All I can say is this. The Sixth Sense left me deeply unsettled and Signs left me euphoric. Unbreakable took a little while to grow on me, but nowadays, my opinion of that movie is almost entirely positive.

So maybe The Village will need to grow on me. There's lots of good stuff that I remember - the romantic relationship that was sweet and entirely believable, and several rather scary scenes. The technical stuff was superb - great photography, etc.

Here's where the mild spoilers begin.

There's some bad stuff too, though. The dialogue could be termed atrocious, though many will forgive this for plot reasons. One character that is built up to be very sympathetic, and then essentially disappears from the movie. There is at least one plot point that is left dangling, for no apparent reason. And one character acts in a way that should be far beyond his capabilities, though perhaps there is a subtle plot explanation for this that I've missed.

So I'm not sure. I'll have to chew on it a bit more.