Sunday, August 12, 2018

Movie Notes : Downsizing (2017)

Downsizing (2017) stars Matt Damon, Hong Chau and Christoph Waltz.

Hong Chau's character of annoying. She had an annoying voice and accent that sounded like a un-pc stereotype. I think the intent was for her to sound like a stereotype and then as her character develops the audience would see her differently. Worse, her character development was based on exposition.

Christoph Waltz played Christoph Waltz.

Matt Damon's character was an annoying idiot.  More than once I wished someone would slap him. Or that the movie be shown in Slap-O-Vision where anytime Matt Damon is speaking a guy in a mascot outfit with a gigantic Matt Damon foam head would walk down the theater aisles allowing viewers to slap him.

Who hasn't wanted to slap Matt Damon? Introducing Matt Damon Slap-O-Vision
mock up of Slap-O-Vision giant foam head of Matt Damon

At one point it is announced that Matt Damon's character is going to Norway. Why I wondered. Did I miss something? Ah, because the writer said "Lo, so it has been written, so it shall be done" Upon occasion it was preachy in a quite unsubtle way.  I did like his character being a goofy idiot when it comes to celebrities. The intended direction of his character arc was obvious but not convincing.

Generally, I don't like Matt Damon.  I'm not sure exactly why as I liked the Jason Bourne movies and some others but in others I simply find him grating – I'd suggest he has a powerful anti-charisma.  In the Martian (2015), I kept hoping he would run out of air but despite that it was still a good movie. I laughed when he appeared in Thor Ragnarok (2017) opposite Sam Neil and Liam Hemsworth. I think my antipathy started when he was promoting Good Will Hunting (1997, awful) he went on Charlie Rose along with Robin Williams and it turned out Robin Williams was the sophisticated intellectual and Matt Damon was a window licking moron who clearly had no idea that he was a window licking moron.

Keeping that dislike in mind I can confidently say that Downsizing would have been awful even if it had been Matt Damon-less. It started out ok. The first half hour introduced the characters and the shrinking premise and not long after the special effects gimmick was introduced they basically ignored it. 

The movie is described as :
"Feeling that their lives are out of control, a husband and wife decide to be reduced to tiny size to make life more affordable and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Unfortunately, after he undergoes the procedure, his spouse backs out."
It sounds interesting. It wasn't. The interaction between normal sized and tiny sized were few and after about a third of the movie there were only a few oversized props to remind you what the movie was supposed to be about. Once he is shrunk his wife makes a one minute 45 second appearance (by a phone call!) and then completely disappears from the movie. It was almost as if a different movie that had nothing to do with shrinking had been grafted onto the final 2/3 of the movie.

I suspect they didn't know what to do with the premise so they opted to make it an "issue" movie so they'll get plenty of good imdb reviews because the issue resonates with those reviewers and not because of the quality of the movie.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Movie Notes : Father of the Year (2018)

Father of the Year (2018) : a mediocre movie where David Spade spends an entire movie doing an impersonation of Adam Sandler. That's about all worth saying about it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Phony Egalitarianism : Smirnoff Equalizer

Some phony egalitarians at Smirnoff created an app to adjust Spotify playlist to include 50-90% women.
"performed by men artists" do they mean to use a noun as an adjective or do they mean male artists?

by "100% of the top streamed tracks" they apparently are referring to a subset of the lists published by Spotify.
part of the Spotify list of top tracks of 2017 (with Katy Perry at #14 and Rihanna at #15)

part of the Spotify list of top artist of 2017 (with Taylor Swift at #10)
Clearly by "100%" they really meant "not 100%"

So listening to an unequal playlist is bad, but the "equalizer" slider ranges from 50/50 to 90% to 10% favoring women. It's because they care about "equality" but it isn't as important as posturing

Sunday, April 22, 2018

an idea about names

People with a surname that is a common as a first name  (like Mike Todd or Roger Howard or Henry James or Bruce Wayne) should give their kids a given name like traditional surnames :

Mike Todd becomes Smith Todd
Roger Howard becomes Kowalski Howard
Henry James becomes Yamamoto James
Bruce Wayne becomes Brown Wayne

(I'm not claiming it is a good idea just an idea)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Martin Sheen's plan

(a belated post due to procrastination)

Martin Sheen and his incredibly overdeveloped sense of self-importance.

Martin Sheen is the father of Charlie Sheen so we should all at least listen to him. 

At the time I remarked to an enthusiast of the video (I'll bold it because I think it is important) : in the long run it seems like a bad idea to transform the Electoral College from an institution that people expect will represent their vote into an oligarchy that picks the President of the United States based on lobbying by celebrities repeating things.

For the record, those involved in the video (according to this since I suspect some people will not  recognize all of them tho many will not care who they are)  : Martin Sheen, Debra Messing, James Cromwell, BD Wong, Noah Wyle, Freda Payne, Bob Odenkirk, J. Smith Cameron, Michael Urie, Moby, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, Richard Schiff, Christine Lahti, Steven Pasquale, Dominic Fumusa, Emily Tyra, Talia Balsam

Watch it and be amazed at the kind of argument that they think is convincing. If someone repeats phrases and says "I stand with you in support and solidarity with ...all citizens of the United States" and if they reference Alexander Hamilton and if they call you a hero and if they repeatedly say you'll have their respect then Martin Sheen would do anything you want!

In the end, there were a total of 7 faithless electors : 2 didn't vote for Trump and 5 didn't vote for Hillary.

transcript of the ad follows:

Monday, March 5, 2018

Emma Watson's misspelled tattoo

Emma Watson's tattoo of the word "Times" and a cartoon worm watching television

Apparently, Emma Watson (who I saw in the pile of mediocrity that was The Circle. She somehow managed more anticharisma than I would expect but I'm not sure why.) got herself a misspelled tattoo on her arm for the Oscars.

First of all the font, at a distance, makes it look like the second word is a cartoon worm watching television.

That tattoo is an embarrassing series of mistakes : punctuation, capitalization, spelling and spacing. I'd like to think most people would proofread and notice is said "Times up" instead of "Tie me Up!"

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War #3 : a contrast or a consensus?

(this is the third installment; the first group of propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War is here and the second, focusing on depictions of Franco, is here)

the Government's leash hand
Izquierda Republicana Junta Municipal Valencia
Obediencia ciega hasta ganar la guerra.
Orden Publico
Industrias de Guerra
El que trate de mermar dicha autoridad es un traidor y a estos hay que exterminarlos.

Left Republican Municipal Council Valencia.
Government. Obedience blind until winning the war.
Public Order
War Industries
The one who tries to reduce that authority is a traitor and these must be exterminated.


It is surprising how much the Republican side and the Nationalist side agree. The above poster calls for the extermination for those who are not blindly obedient to the government and the poster below agrees : communism leads to extermination

communism leads to extermination : for some it is a bug for some it is a feature
"Lo Que Hay... ...DetrĂ¡s del comunismo"
What there is ... ....behind Communism


(scene : interior of a Valencian poster design office)
Valencian #1 : "Let's portray the government as a giant who can guide people into working together."
Valencian #2 : "Well, we should also stress the consequences of not working together."
Valencian #1 : "Let's portray the government as a giant who is psychopathically violent at anything less than cooperation." 
Valencian #2 : "but what about disagreement or questioning or people making suggestions?"
Valencian #1 : "Okay....Let's make it a giant who is psychopathically violent at anything less than blind obedience."
Valencian #2 : "*sigh* Cold blooded murder is awesome! I want to marry that giant! But shouldn't we portray the purpose of the government?"
Valencian #1 :  "Good thinking! We'll portray the government as a giant who is psychopathically violent at anything less than blind obedience and he keeps people on leashes." 
Valencian #2 : "Who wouldn't admire a government like that"

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Censorship : Al Hirschfeld

from The Line King : The Al Hirschfeld Story (1996) Al Hirschfeld tells the story of cartoon censorship :
I remember doing a drawing of Harry Kurnitz play and it was a nude. The Times wouldn't run it unless I put a brasserie on her. So I put a brassiere on it and it ran in the Times with a brassiere and it ran in the Tribune without it. ... I think Life Magazine picked it up 

And they show an article titled "All the Nude That's Fit to Print" by George Spelvin  (George Spelvin is a traditional pseudonym used in programs in the American theater.) The play, Reclining Figure by Harry Kurnitz, is a satire of art collectors and dealers revolves around a counterfeit painting of a reclining nude. The Hirschfeld illustration was commissioned by the producers to accompany an ad of reviewer comments. The date on the clippings appears to be Monday Oct 11, 1954.

the original ad of risque cartoon nudity

The ad modified for the New York Times to add a bra and remove her navel. But still no hint of pants. A simple nude can be seen as classical or a study of the human form. A woman wearing a bra, suggesting a modern woman, but no pants I'd suggest that makes it more lewd.
As a bonus : the Renoir-esque painting from the play as found on AbeBooks :

The director of the the film, Susan Dryfoos, deserves credit for the title The Line King. That's great.  The DVD also included a bonus video of Hirschfeld drawing taken 6 years after the feature was released. Both were a pleasure to watch.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

evolution engineering?

from the video :
"Creating some blue pigment out of the blue should have required inventing new chemistry and there was no way to just add that recipe to their genes. It was much easier for evolution to change the shape of their bodies ever so slightly at the microscopic level and create blue using physics instead. They solved a biology problem with engineering. "
Didn't they solve a biology problem with biology? Was it even a problem? Engineering is the application of knowledge to the design of something. Engineering isn't the best word to describe a mutation that continues due to natural selection by the collective result of the unorganized actions of multitudes of the birds in questions and predators of those birds.
One of my pet peeves is people ascribing agency to evolution as if evolution has a master plan (while sitting on a cloud with a lightning bolt in hand). 

Pictured : Evolution sitting on his throne in the clouds with lightning bolts in one hand considering how to engineer blue for the bird's feathers.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

movie notes : Creation (2009)

The blurb :
Paul Bettany stars as Charles Darwin in this BBC biographical drama that captures the legendary scientist in a period of intense mourning -- and expansive intellectual discovery -- following the untimely death of his young daughter, Annie. As Darwin dares to question the existence of God, he pens his groundbreaking tome, On the Origin of Species -- much to the chagrin of his religious wife, Emma (Jennifer Connelly).

On one hand, the movie has Jennifer Connelly but on the other hand it has so much melodrama. Sure Jennifer Connelly is nice to look at but that isn't enough to carry a movie. Frankly I thought it was boring. There were a few good scenes but also a fair amount of pretension. It seems they spent a surprising amount of money on special effects.

There is a character connection between Darwin and his daughter Annie but the 3 other children are props. Darwin and Emma (Jennifer Connelly) are basically strangers sharing the screen. In one of the bonus features it is noted that Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly are actually married.  The science and the religious consequences were simple backgrounds for the personal drama. I think it was a terrible movie mostly because my expectations of what it would be were so far off from what was delivered.


There seems to be a specific genre of film where they take science and scientist and essentially ignore the science except for some jargon to set a scene and instead focus on a personal melodrama of the scientist.  I think this misses the point. The science should be the focus and the argument and discovery and the ramifications should be the drama. A partial list :

Creation (2009)
The Imitation Game (2014) with Keira Knightley & Benedict Cumberbatch
Man Who Knew Infinity (2016) with Dev Patel & Jeremy Irons

"Based on a true story" but often instead of the hard science parts that can be verified and discoveries charted the "based on a true story" veneer gets stuck on the human drama where almost all of the dialog is lost to history and a writer has to make it all up.