02.05.07

Seventeen Years

Posted in Movies & TV, History, Sociology at 2:52 pm by Administrator

I’m a definite in believer in the social cycle theory. This is a very old idea which suggests that throughout the course of a civilization’s history, many different aspects of its society follow a recognizable and repeating pattern. Unlike some, I don’t look at it as being trapped in a bleak loop of determinism, but rather being part of an giant upward spiral.

One the most fascinating parts of this idea is that it seems to occur on so many different levels and that seemingly unrelated trends sometimes correlate with each other in surprising ways. A somewhat extreme example would be Heinlein’s suggestion that there is a connection between the length of men’s beards and women’s skirts and the price of gold at any point in history. (Be careful, however, not to assume that correlation implies causation.)

On to my main point. I saw Children of Men recently. As “crappy future” movies go, it was fairly well done and I found no major faults in its internal logic (which kill a movie for me).

The basic premise of the movie is that at some point in the near future, women have mysteriously lost their ability to become pregnant. This, rather understandably, causes the world to descend into chaos. Great Britain, the setting of the movie, manages to retain some semblance of order only by instituting draconian security measures. (Think: a hippie’s nightmare extrapolation of the current War on Terror)

I’ve seen a lot of movies set in a bleak future, but this one called to mind two others in particular:

The first one was The Handmaid’s Tale.  The Handmaid’s Tale portrays a future United States in which, due to nuclear contamination, the majority of women have become infertile. The few women who can conceive are forced by the fundamentalist government to bare children for the rich and powerful. The similarity of this movie with Children of Men is readily apparent.

The second movie I was reminded of was Soylent Green. Soylent Green portrays a future in which the world has become grossly overpopulated and in which starvation and pollution are rampant. This movie was not obviously similar to Children of Men, but it had an overall flavor (har, har) as well as minor details that made it impossible not to make a comparison between the two.

I’m not saying there aren’t other movies that explore similar themes. I’m only saying that I’ve seen most of the dystopian future films and Children of Men specifically reminded me of these two. Therefore, I consider them to be part of a set.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Soylent Green was released in the US in 1973. The Handmaid’s Tale was released in 1990. Children of Men’s U.S. release was in 2007. Each film was released exactly seventeen years after the previous one in the “series”.

Weird.

Obviously three data points are not enough to draw broad conclusions. Still, it raises interesting questions about cycles in the movies industry. Is this particular cycle (if it is one) a response to perceived public fears? Why did someone think the public would be receptive to this type of movie now? What about in 1990 and 1973? It would be interesting to compare world events at those times with what is currently happening.

Or maybe, as Doc Brown said, it could all just be a huge coincidence.

05.25.06

DVDs and DaVinci

Posted in Movies & TV at 11:50 pm by Administrator

What do you think when you read the following headline?

Pirates promise improved version of DaVinci Code next month(link may be slashdotted)

I know what I thought: “Maybe some film pirates have reedited the DaVinci Code movie to make it less boring”. I was disappointed of course. The story is actually about the poor quality of pirated DaVinci Code DVDs being sold in shops and on street corners in Shanghai; not about the soporific nature of the movie itself. Too bad.

P.S. Try National Treasure for a less pretentious version of the same basic plot. It’s about the same mix or historical fact and fantasy. It’s more exciting too.

05.19.06

Machine Pistol on 24

Posted in Movies & TV, Guns & Weapons at 2:52 am by Administrator

24 Glock machine pistol shot #6

The past few episodes of 24 have been rather boring to the core with hardly any death, no torture, and no Kim Bauer uneventful. One of the few redeeming qualities of Monday’s episode was that one of the badguys was armed with a machine pistol. (Finally, something original this hour.) Being slightly fanatical about firearms in general and machine pistols in particular, I was determined to identify exactly which model the baddy used. I even took some screenshots to aid in my investigation. (Yes, I have too much free time.)

It’s apparent from the screenshots that the weapon is a Glock handgun with a stainless steel slide and an extended magazine. From here on it gets a little tricky. 

The left side of the pistol is not visible, so I can’t be sure it is not a Glock 18 (the factory full-auto version of the Glock 17). There does, however, appear to be a protrusion on the backplate of the slide - possibly a selector switch. If so, it would mean the pistol is a factory semiautomatic Glock variant that has been converted to full auto with a drop-in conversion device. The pistol is probably a nine millimeter, which means a Glock 17 or maybe a 19. It looks like a G17 to me but I can’t tell for sure from these pictures. A 17 would be slightly more controllable on full-auto so I’m guessing that’s what it is.

There you have it. It’s a converted Glock 17 with a stainless slide and an extended mag. Anyone else notice anything I missed?

24 Glock machine pistol shot #1 24 Glock machine pistol shot #2 24 Glock machine pistol shot #3

24 Glock machine pistol shot #4 24 Glock machine pistol shot #5 24 Machine Pistol shot #7

05.12.06

Non-Contradiction

Posted in Humor, Movies & TV, Clothing & Fashion at 2:17 pm by Administrator

Jack Bauer with his Manpurse 

I’m in the midst of the most profound sort of personal crisis.

It has long been my cherished belief that the so-called “messenger bag” has no place in a self-respecting heterosexual man’s wardrobe.

If that’s the case, then what the hell is Jack Bauer doing with one?!? I had previously been evading reality by telling myself (and others) that Bauer kept all his weapons and gear in a “duffel bag,” a “laptop bag,” or some other such delusion. However, I just read on Blog4Bauer that Bauer’s actual bag is being sold on Amazon.com and they call it [gasp] a “messenger bag.”

(Actually, they call it a “Heavyweight Classic Messenger and Travel Bag — Unisex.” The word they seem to be groping for is “manpurse.”)

How can this be? Jack Bauer is the quintessential symbol of manliness for the 2000s. Messenger bags are not manly. If he wears a manpurse then nothing is sacred. Will he start getting most of his intel by listening to gossip at the nail salon? Will his primary tool of torture be a hot curling iron? Where does it end?

Perhaps I’m overreacting. Maybe Bauer, being the pragmatic sort, realizes that the messenger bag is simply the best tool for the job and uses it despite its implications. Remember how he kept it hidden away until he absolutely needed it? The War on Terror requires sacrifice after all.

No. I’m simply deluding myself again. He chose that messenger bag. I’ve seen his work and I refuse to believe that Jack Bauer is some sort of closet metro, hipster, or emo. This can only mean one thing. I must have been wrong about messenger bags.

They do have a certain utility to them. They allow quicker access to their contents than backpacks. They allow for the concealment of larger items than pockets. They keep all necessary equipment in one place (”Damn! I have the plastique, but the detonators are in my other pants!”). They also have a long strap that can be used to strangle terrorists.

Does this mean that messenger bags are now manly? Maybe they are. Then again, maybe Bauer chose to wear one specifically so he would appear harmless.

I don’t think so though. Even when undercover, Jack Bauer never loses his “man on a mission” look. Therefore, I must conclude he considers the messenger bag to be part of his overall self-image. Remember: Image is everything.

Where does this leave me? Do I abandon my original notion and embrace the manpurse just because Bauer says it’s ok? Or do I hold out and stubbornly cling to my original notion of manliness?

Oh, screw it. Where’s my credit card…

Bauer's Messenger bag at Amazon.com

04.28.06

…weird title though.

Posted in Movies & TV at 9:37 am by Administrator

Gillian Anderson in Straightheads 

Gillian Anderson stars in the cheap British thriller Straightheads, which will apparently be released sometime in 2006.

“A dark twisted tale which rips two ordinary people from their comfort zone and propels them on a mission of revenge towards a shocking and controversial climax which guarantees Straightheads will be one of the most talked about movies of 2006.”

Somewhat optimistic, but it’s enough for me. This is the kind of movie that can actually be done well on a low budget. The odds are against that actually happening, but I’m keeping my hopes up.

UPDATE:

According to the director’s blog, the movie will be released in February 2007.

04.27.06

Bad Idea

Posted in Movies & TV, Philosophy at 8:44 pm by Administrator

I know this is on Drudge. I’m posting it anyway.

According to a Variety.com article, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been suggested for the lead role in the proposed Atlas Shrugged movie. I must admit, I’m sickened by the thought.

Don’t get me wrong, Pitt sort of looks like he could be John Galt. I’m less sure about Jolie as Dagney, but my main problem is that they both are way too recognizable as themselves. I also fear that with them on board, the focus of the production would be more on the stars than on the plot or characters. Remember Mr. and Mrs. Smith?

The article also mentioned the budget would be “north of 30 million.” Seriously, is it possible to make a good movie for under 50 million? How ’bout an epic collapse of civilization movie based on an 1100 page novel? A Sound of Thunder cost 80 million and it was laughable. I know that with exceptional writing and talented direction a cheap movie can be done well, but look what we have gotten recently.

Maybe this movie just isn’t meant to be made.

Thoughts? Casting suggestions anyone?

04.26.06

Sentinel dissapoints

Posted in Movies & TV at 12:44 pm by Administrator

Kiefer upside down 

Warning: Spoilers Follow.

I’ll admit, I had high expectations. This movie was marketed as 24 on the big screen. I was hoping for 24 with a dash of Absolute Power and Enemy of the State.

As it was, the most interesting part for me was the Da Vinci Code trailer beforehand (The real star of that movie is Tom Hanks’ hair).

Not feeling like writing a proper review, I’ll just list the reasons why I didn’t enjoy The Sentinel:

  • Two words: Eva Longoria  
  • Kiefer Sutherland acted less like Jack Bauer, and more like that grouchy marine he plays on A Few Good Men.
  • The plot was a poorly done rehash of In The Line of Fire and The Fugitive; but without any of the interesting characters or plot twists.
  • Michael Douglas’ character was just a sissy version of his Basic Instinct character. He couldn’t even beat a lie detector in this one.
  • The gunfights felt like Victorian era stage swordfights. By the way, Eva Longoria should take some lessons from Marcia Cross on how to hold a gun.
  • Most of the Secret Service agents were portrayed as inept morons. 
  • The only real tension in the movie revolves around Douglas being framed. Once he is exonerated, you don’t care whether the president gets whacked or not.
  • No torture.
  • No cool antagonist.
  • No noble sacrifice.
  • Sutherland utters nary a scream in the whole movie.
  • In other words: It was nothing like 24! Case closed.