What I'm Watching: Deadwind

It's that season again: Grim Scandinavian crime dramas with troubled detectives!

Deadwind has it all: A widowed detective returning to work too soon, a rookie partner, a dead woman half-buried in a beach, a real-estate company with shady dealings and a Lex Luthor-looking playboy/fixer. Finland is shot in moody lighting, always night, morning, evening (I think they said it's October? So no sunlight anyway). I love the sets, too, sterile white/black perfect surfaces, inside scruffy weatherbeaten houses. Nobody could live that neat, but it's perfect for mood.

Plot seems to move fast but this is a 12-ep season, with another being written, so expecting a lot more complexity.

★★★★★ so far

What I'm Watching: Disenchantment

The new Matt Groening cartoon, at long last! Surely after 4000 years of the Simpsons, and a few seasons of Futurama over the 30-some years it was on and off and on and off, has taught him how to craft a tightly-wound, kickass cartoon!

Imagine the Dark Ages. Imagine plague, filth, terrible rulership by inbred aristocrats, superstition, religious lunatics praying to gods who aren't there, conquest by savage barbarians… Oh, what fun. Well, it could be. If anyone wrote "jokes" for this.

There's a princess Bean, who apparently you're supposed to sympathize with, but she's loathsome, the kind of shitty inbred mass-murdering spoiled aristocrat you'd hate in real life. An Elf named Elfo, because why even bother trying to make a joke (they did name an elf who left Elfland "Leavo", which was almost funny… Then beat it into the ground with "Returno"). And a shadow demon "Luci"… ugh… which everyone agrees is her cat. Nobody has a personality, just a one-beat repetitive routine. Bean wants to get drunk. Elfo is a goody-goody who wants to date the princess, but of course never will. Luci says "evil" things like "get drunk". It's like a world made of the NPCs from a CRPG. They walk in circles saying one of a few recorded lines.

The plots are tedious and unoriginal, even by the standards of extruded cartoon product like Simpsons. There's an occasional fight, which would at least change this from boring to some kind of adventure show? But they're short, slow-paced, lot of talking in between the occasional axe swing.

In comparison, watch an episode of Berserk, and you'll see great art, giant swords cleaving people apart, a fairy sidekick who's not awful, in a world far darker than this but far funnier, too. I'm fairly eager to see Castlevania S2 on Oct 26. I'm still watching thru the Godzilla anime, which is dumb as hell but amuses me at least half the time.

With anything Groening touches, of course, we need to talk about sexism and racism, see the Problem With Apu. In this case, the boring fantasy kingdom shows male honkies in charge, a few black (or blue & froglike) people off to the side. Women other than Bean are entirely subservient, medieval European gender roles followed 100% up through S1E5. The black vizier is of course evil and perverted; like, how could you expect otherwise from Matt?

I'm disenchanted with Disenchantment. It might be the dullest thing I have ever seen. I would ask Netflix for my money back, but, you know, watching other stuff.

★☆☆☆☆

What I'm Watching: Extinction

What I'm Watching: Extinction

Extraordinarily dull first 20 minutes of a working stiff having bad dreams of war against space invaders. Then a pretty solid chase/urban combat arc. Then the plot flips, which I did not see coming, a rare pleasure.

Go watch this on Netflix and come back so we can talk about it.

SPOILERS: Please see the movie first. So copy this text and view it in advanced rot13 encryption

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But the reveal and resolution is great, this is a perfectly fine actual-science fiction movie.

★★★★½

The Wolf

These are amazing. The most overwrought, insane, semi-plausible haxxoring through shitty wireless printers. Great production values, reasonably well scripted. I'm always inclined to favor Slater's side in a movie, especially as a prankster/villain. ★★★★½ and I'm excited to watch more of these ads.

Their previous "The Fixer" series with Mike from Breaking Bad was awful, he can't even pronounce half the technology.

Obviously, no sane person would run a wireless printer and expect it to be safe. Also no sane person would run an immune-deficiency Windows box, HP or not, and expect it to be safe. Get a Mac, or install FreeBSD, OpenBSD, or OpenIndiana in lieu of Solaris, or if you really hate yourself, Linux (inevitable comment: "well, actually, it's GNU/Linux ahem may I show you my fedora collection"). At one time HP-UX was good, but that was a long time ago.

Liberation in Art but not in Your Stupid Life: 2112, Real Genius, TRON, and Ready Player One

In which art is not blamed for the problems of the world:

2112

A man in a controlled, music-less dystopia finds a guitar, learns to play, and feels joy. The priests of Syrinx who rule the system in the name of "average" (a la Harrison Bergeron) crush him. The ancients of rock who created the guitar return and liberate the system with a prog rock concert.

Our world could use this beauty
Just think what we might do
Listen to my music
And hear what it can do
There's something here that's as strong as life
I know that it will reach you

Don't annoy us further!
Oh, we have our work to do
Just think about the average
What use have they for you?
Another toy that helped destroy
The elder race of man
Forget about your silly whim
It doesn't fit the plan!

TRON

A game designer dude lives in exile above his arcade, robbed by evil AI & corporate suit. His ex and her dork boyfriend let him into the building, and he goes into the computer world, which the evil AI & corporate suit rule as well. The ancient soul of the machine gives the dork's program access and lets it play Breakout against the AI, and the game designer sacrifices himself, liberating the inner world, deleting the evil AI & firing the corporate suit, restoring the game designer to power in the real world.

Greetings, programs!

Real Genius

A too-young, too-uptight student works for an evil professor, but makes friends with other weirdo students and loosens up. The evil professor and the military trick the weirdos and make a death ray from their work. The ancient student in the closet emerges and the weirdos hack the death ray and turn the evil professor's house into popcorn.

All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

Ready Player One

A boy in a crapsack world, literally in a trailer home on top of trailer homes, finds solace in ancient movies and games from a book by an ancient nerd. The corporation which rules the world and the virtual world crushes him and his friends. The ancient nerd's program runs, and gives the boy power and he liberates the virtual world and the real one.

After a long silence she asked, "So what happens now?"

Just Stories

These stories, they're just stories of their time.

2112 didn't end the "Moral Majority" or censors. The PMRC of Syrinx was founded 6 years later to destroy rock 'n roll and rap; the PMRC is gone but Tipper Gore still lives and hates, and music is still censored; remember Fuck You, by CeeLo Green? You probably only heard the censored radio version "Forget You".

TRON didn't end centralized computing, AI, or thieving corporate assholes. Today EA has ruined large gaming, and Google & Amazon make AIs that will probably kill us all.

Real Genius didn't end all CIA/military weapons. Today the babykillers have unmanned drones that can fly anywhere and assassinate anyone (and any bystanders/witnesses).

Ready Player One didn't make the real Internet a "safe space". Facebook, Twitter, or Google can still track you, filter what you see, and give Nazis access to harass you.

This is not a failing of art, it exists for fun or catharsis, and to give you coping strategies. It is not a magic spell to fix everything.

So, you can do something inspired by art; make art yourself; or, if you are completely useless, just whine unreasonably about art and be held in contempt.

'80s Movie Bundles on iTunes

Just saw iTunes has a bunch of $19.99 bundles. Not all the films are my thing, but the rest fill out a library well, might be worth the few extra bucks over just the "good" movies.

Last one with Angel Heart, Ran, and Manhunter (the good Red Dragon movie) at the artsy end, and fucking Kickboxer and Earth Girls are Easy at the trash end, whiplash. First Blood is not what the uneducated think of as "Rambo", it's a shithead-sheriff vs. PTSD Vietnam vet story.

  • Iconic Films of the '80s
    • Naked Gun
    • Airplane!
    • Footloose
    • Urban Cowboy
    • Clue
    • Pretty in Pink
    • Some Kind of Wonderful
    • Terms of Endearment
    • Crocodile Dundee
    • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Best of the '80s
    • Big
    • Raising Arizona
    • Wall Street
    • Romancing the Stone
    • Big Trouble in Little China
    • 9 to 5
    • Commando
    • Working Girl
    • The Fly
    • The Man From Snowy River
  • Classic '80s Collection
    • Karate Kid
    • Steel Magnolias
    • Gandhi
    • Ghostbusters
    • The Natural
    • Stripes
    • Tootsie
    • The Blue Lagoon
    • Fright Night
    • School Daze
  • 10 Iconic Films of the '80s
    • Endless Love
    • Manhunter
    • Dirty Dancing
    • Earth Girls are Easy
    • Evil Dead 2
    • Drugstore Cowboy
    • Angel Heart
    • Kickboxer
    • Rambo: First Blood
    • Ran

'80s All Sunday Every Sunday Music

Oh look time has reversed itself and we are now back in the '80s! Forget about 2018, that's some dystopian Blade Runner bullshit, we'll all be long dead from nuclear war before that happens! Time to hit the mall to chat up hot chicks with big hair, and buy that new Van Halen album. Then later go see Real Genius and The Goonies, in theatre.

Sleep and dream is all I crave
I travel far across the Milky Way
'Til we meet again some other day
Where silence speaks as loud as words
And the Earth returns to what it was before

What I'm Watching: Pi

One of my favorite movies, mainly for that Clint Mansell, Orbital, Autechre, Gus Gus, etc. soundtrack. Really should just set up a CRT and VCR, find the videotape, and play it on loop like I did when I was younger (along with Hardware, The Crow, and the Tim Burton Batman movie; don't judge me, I judge myself).

"Life isn't just mathematics, Max."

Tromeo & Juliet

Written by James Gunn & Lloyd Kaufman. Narrated by Lemmy. More sex & violence than you really deserve, but Troma's there to give it to you.

Disney is shocked, SHOCKED I say, that James Gunn made dirty jokes; some Nazi motherfucker calls him out and Disney bends over for it? Fuck Disney right in the mousehole. Now the only theatre movies I have left are Deadpool.

What I'm Watching: Burn Before Reading

Burn Before Reading: Oddly a Cohen Bros movie I've never seen. And no great loss. Stupid people do stupid things, with no motivation, no interest, and no consequences as their crimes are covered up by bored CIA functionaries. I had genuinely maybe two laughs in the entire film, and neither are "comical" moments. ★★☆☆☆ if that.

Why was this film made? Were the Cohens contractually obliged to deliver something and so they mad-libbed or cut-up to make a script, and then somehow filmed it, without anyone noticing it wasn't really anything?