Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Scott's Posters

Hey folks! I promise there will be a film article this week. Right now though, I want to point out that friend of the site Scott Saslow is selling some of his very cool posters here ==> LINK. If you're at all interested, check it out. They are very well done and might look good hanging in your house!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Feminism of Ghosts of Mars

Every once in awhile, I catch myself watching John Carpenter's Ghost of Mars. This is likely Carpenter's dumbest film, and maybe his worst. It's at least in the running. In fact, the film was so bad that it burned Carpenter out and he would not make another feature length film for nine years. That's a tough call for a film staring Ice Cube, Pam Grier, and a young Jason Statham... (of course, Statham did do this too ==> Dancing Jason <==before he got famous). Anyways, what I want to talk about is the feminism of the film. I think it's enlightening.

Feminism is a tricky word because it means a lot of things and few of its adherents follow what they claim it means. On the surface, it means legal and practical equality, i.e. that men and women have the same rights, same opportunities and neither faces discrimination based on gender. But some take it further and want a gender free world. Good luck with that. Others, in particular most feminist dogmatics, see feminism as a sort of female superiority movement where women should be given special right and males are made second class citizens. Carpenter's Ghost of Mars weighs in more along these lines.

The story takes place on Mars in a world run by cartels who have imposed something called "The Matriarchy." It's essentially treated as a government run by women where women hold all the power and roles are sort of reversed. The thing is, this whole reversed roles thing ultimately proves meaningless to the plot except for a couple of small moments. Consider these:
(1) The lead officer, Pam Grier, talks about wishing she had more "dependable" women for her prisoner transfer squad than men.

(2) Grier makes a lesbian pass at the heroine, Natasha Henstridge, and Henstridge suggests this is the price of promotion.

(3) There is a woman in a jail cell who acts like a tough biker and talks about wanting a "piss break."

(4) Heroine Henstridge describes mining towns as places where there are "drugs to take and whore to f*ck."
That's about it. Other than that, the toughest character is either Ice Cube's Desolation Williams or Jason Statham's Sergeant Jericho. The women aren't stronger, faster or more physically able. They aren't brighter or more courageous either. Nor are they better people. They aren't even different people. So there's really no basis for this being a Matriarchy, except that Carpenter wanted this. But what is his point?

I rather struggle with understanding this. Carpenter is a feminist, so was his producer the late Debra Hill. You will see elements of that throughout his work. This film was the first time, however, that he openly made feminism "a thing," and look what he did with it. The government is corrupt. They lie. They abuse. They make secret deals. They discriminate openly. They are violent and stupid. Drug abuse is common. Sex abuse is common, as is prostitution and sexual harassment and being forced to sleep your way to the top. In other words, they are everything feminists claim men are at their worst.

If I didn't know better, I would think Carpenter was making a rather nasty criticism of feminism, but he wasn't. He was just trying to tell a tale of a standard dystopian world where some action film takes place. His use of feminism was just a facade on the plot.

You often see this with liberals. Their views simply don't work in the real world or in stories. So they tell a normal story and they just gloss it over by pretending that liberal ideas are involved. Indeed, time and again, liberals write stories about liberal heroes using conservative ideas to attack liberalism in action and they hide this ideological mashup by making the villain some demonized conservative, e.g. a corporation or religious person, or having the hero spout feminism or environmentalism that doesn't actually reflect the action.

That's what happened here. I suppose from Carpenter's perspective, he is presenting a group of rugged "frontier women" who have finally replaced evil, worthless men. And this is the story of our heroine, Henstridge, as she fights the evil ghosts. But that's not really what he's created. Indeed, while this is a feminist world dominated by women, Ice Cube and Statham are both more dominant than Henstridge. The world is still filled with the kind of corruption that makes this kind of dystopia work as well, even as we are told that women would not do this. These women are just as corrupt, just as over-sexed, just as stupid and just as incompetent. You could actually swap out males for females in this film, strike the word "matriarchy," and you would never have a clue that feminism was introduced into the film.

That's bad.

What I find so interesting is that if he wanted to envision a world run by women rather than men, i.e. a modern feminist dream world, why does this feel like "the ass end of the universe" as Statham puts it? Why is it just a rotten world where women merely replace the men as the rotten actors rather than a world that is changed to reflect supposed difference feminists think women would bring? What does this tell us about feminism? Frankly, I think it tells us that feminists don't really believe the crap they spew.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I watched some movies

by tryanmax

Andrew is right; the movies that have come out lately are largely blah. They’re not good enough to rave about, but they’re not bad enough to criticize. That said, I do have a few thoughts on some movies I’ve seen recently, just not enough to warrant an entire article on any one. Here we go:

The Butler (2013)

I liked this movie better when it was called Forest Gump. This is your typical nostalgia piece, rolling through the decades over the shoulder of a simple protagonist who had the smarts to go with the zeitgeist while everyone else was fighting it. Things to look for: cameos by big name actors doing pitiful impersonations of former presidents; Oprah reprises her role as Oprah.

Fant4stic Bore (2015)

This snooze fest handily steals the title of Worst Superhero Movie Ever from Catwoman. The Halle Berry vehicle merely squatted over the source material before kicking sand over it. Upping the ante, Fantastic Four forgoes even telling a story and has no characters in it. Oh sure, there are actors doing stuff and calling each other names that aren’t theirs, but who are these people? What do they want? What do they care about? Why does a black man have a black son but a white daughter? None of these things are addressed even as ugly John Cusack, the slut from House of Cards, the other Michael Jordan, and grownup Billy Elliot cross the streams and turn into X-Men—or something like that.
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Lest you think I just plan to rag on every movie, this one is really cute and I recommend it. There’s just not a lot to say as it is essentially a feature-length cartoon in the spirit of Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Tweety. I loved the score so much, I bought the soundtrack on my phone before I even left the theater. Buying soundtracks is not a typical move for me.

Ex Machina (2015) / Terminator Genisys (2015) / Transcendence (2014)

A.I. is bad and it will kill you.

Actually, I enjoyed the Terminator sequel for what it was. Actually, maybe this is a reboot. With the messed up continuity of the Terminator franchise, who can tell? An interesting tidbit: the producers of Genisys didn’t have rights to reuse footage from the 1984 film, so they copied some of the original scenes.

Mortdecai (2015)

Oh, look! It’s Capt. Jack Sparrow! Again… Seriously, the only thing more tired than Depp’s drunken sailor routine are his claims that somehow each of the characters is based on something different.
We’re the Millers (2013) vs. Vacation (2015)

While neither of these movies warrants a full review, they do deserve a quick comparison. Obviously, Vacation is the official successor to the Chevy Chase franchise, with Ed Helms playing a grownup Rusty Griswold trying to relive his childhood road trip to Wally World. It tries, vainly, to replicate gags from its parent, but it is held back by PC sensibilities, overt partisanship, crude bathroom humor, and zero chemistry between the cast. Worse, a joint cameo by Chase and Beverly D'Angelo only kills what little momentum the movie has.

Conversely, the Millers feel much more like spiritual successors to the Griswolds. Jason Sudeikis plays a low-level weed dealer who, to get out of a bind, agrees to smuggle a “smidge” of marijuana into the US from Mexico. As cover, he recruits a stripper (Jennifer Aniston) and a couple of teen delinquents to form a fake All-American family on an RV roadtrip. Everything about this film is better: it’s funnier, it’s fresher, it’s edgier, it’s not driving any agenda, and most importantly, there’s excellent chemistry among the actors.
Jurassic World (2015)

If you like nostalgia, dinosaurs, and Chris Pratt—and I know I do—you’re sure to like this movie, because it has those things. Is this the best Jurassic Park movie yet? Not on your life. But it is an enjoyable time waster. I really like the direction they went with the backstory: Jurassic Park has become a commercial success to the point where both park management and visitors have gotten blasé about giant carnivores and safety protocols. That’s not so good. They don’t go too deep in the weeds about it, though, which is fine. Because what we really want to see are big dinos and Chris Pratt.

Well, those are some movies I’ve seen lately. There were others, but they were so unremarkable that I didn’t. In other viewing, if you haven’t watched Netflix’s Stranger Things, you should. And what’s wrong with you? Haven’t you heard everybody raving about it!?

Have you seen any movies lately that did nothing more than bring you 110 minutes closer to death? Feel free to drop a one, two, or three sentence review of a movie you don’t recommend.
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