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Truly, one of the worst, most racist and badly acted films I have ever watched.
I could not have believed quite how bad Interstellar is. It is truly dreadful. After six months travelling, with just 12 minutes to go to entering the wormhole, the token Blackman speaks to the hero (who has his suntan intact): Massa, Massa, what is going on? The hero then takes a piece of paper and explains to the poor, ignorant black man how space warps in a wormhole. If he didn't know this, WTF was he doing on the trip? Their understanding of relativity is at the level I'd expect from my goldfish. They give plenty of time to grotesque emotional watching of film clips from Earth - for some reason in B&W. The hero goes through, as Dorothy Parker said, all the emotions from A to B. They claim it is a post colonial world, but the space suits all have the US flag on them. The spaceship controls are circia 1960. Poor Michael Cain, is he so short of money that he has to be pare of this shite? To be fair, it is, unconsciously funny from time to time because it is so utterly clueless. Avoid this film if you possibly can.
Poor acting, but not a bad plot
The acting is really bad - if that puts you off, then avoid this. It's not quite as bad as the plank of wood known as Thomas Cruise, but it's getting on that way. This is probably partly the fault of the director as well.
The sets are OK. They're full of Yank flags,which is a bit off-putting. The notion that it is supposed to be an exercise to save humanity is shown to be a xenophobic attempt to save Yankland alone. Still, given it's from Hollywood, you can't really expect the propaganda to be missing.
Forgetting all the above, the idea of looking at how a small, isolated community with a unifying mission fares after five decades of being stuck with each other in a small space is a good one. The various problems the occupants have because of the situation are nicely thought out, in the main.
It suffers rather from its simplistic militarist structure. Surely anybody actually wanting a useful mission to the stars would try to make it as representative of the good parts of humanity as possible, populating it with the dregs, a shipload of soldiers, would be about the worst thing you could do.
But that's really the best thing about the film. Unconsciously, it's a mini-parable for why the USA is the mess that it is. All the assumptions highlight the problems. The flags, the xenophobia, the unpleasant class-structure, the individualistic greed and the fascination with weapons all deliver a thought-provoking experience. Even the bad acting and direction contribute to the anthropological value.
American Sniper (2014)
The most disgusting and morally degrading film of 2014
Glorifying a cowardly murderer in order to encourage impressionable children to join the world's biggest terrorist cell is quite disgusting.
The film portrays the religion of patriotism, the only religion to still revel in human sacrifice, as if it is acceptable.
Patriotism is the refuge of the cowardly, the stupid and the evil. This killer is in all three categories.
It's unfortunate that American children don't realise that the rest of the world pities their plight as brainwashed, brain-dead victims of the world's rogue state.
Why couldn't they make a good film about the only known American hero, the amazingly courageous Chelsea Manning? Now that might help cure some of the huge damage that the US terror has done to the reputation of America.
Mary Queen of Scots (2013)
Surprising and engaging
I really was impressed. It's a good film - I can only assume that the poor ratings are a result of people watching it expecting a Mel Gibson blood-fest with blue, kilted battles every few minutes. If that's what you want, then this certainly isn't for you.
It's interestingly atmospheric - and it draws you in to the complexity cleverly. I really warmed to Mary, despite not being that keen on queens generally.
You can see the problem, one queen is bad enough, certainly otiose to requirements - but two must have been a, literally, bloody nuisance.
She was, to be polite, mixed-up and confused, but, if you're brought up as a pet, you can't really be expected to turn into a sane and well-rounded human being. Despite that she did well.
I can't understand why sub-title technology appears stuck in the 1950s. Surely it isn't beyond the wit of man to avoid white writing on white backgrounds. Not that there's all that much French, it's mainly in English, but it's annoying to have the intrusion of subtitles, but be unable to read some of them.
You have to feel for people, living in such violent times with so many people hating them that they have to live in castles, obviously very uncomfortable, draughty, gloomy places.
I'd recommend it. It's certainly my cup of tea.
The Trials of Cate McCall (2013)
A propaganda film for the alcoholics anonymous cult
There's no sign that the funding came from the Alcoholics Anonymous cult, but the film is entirely focused on pushing the POV of the cult.
The acting is pretty bad, and the plot trite and obvious from the start - there are plot inconsistencies all over the place, but it's a bit tedious to point them out. Essentially, the plot is not properly thought-through. That's because it's not really necessary, the whole idea is to show somebody going against the AA cult, then being redeemed by it.
Propaganda films like this should really say who has funded them and reveal the fact that they are propaganda - it is dishonest not to.
The real reason it's a bad film is just exactly that, it's polemic, it's propaganda, it's not engaging with the audience because it's too busy preaching.
We only watched this because I didn't see the IMDb score - never ever rely on what iTunes says about something - come to IMDb and check what real people have said.
American Interior (2014)
Very Welsh, very human.
Undoubtedly a peculiar film. Certainly a very Welsh film.
It'd be easy to make the mistake of stopping watching it in the first twenty minutes - the editing could have been a lot tighter.
I'm pleased to have watched it - I learned of things I didn't even know I didn't know. It's a funny film, but also a sad one. Ultimately, I think, a film about sacredness. The importance of understanding what is important; the tragedy of the loss of the diversity of language and thought... along with losing the sense of the unity of our shared experience... the value of hospitality for strangers because their strangeness only masks their similarity to us.
It's best to find out what is precious before it's gone and failing ultimately is no reflection on the value of the path trodden to get there.
Part of the reason it was so good was that, despite being about mythology, it was real, despite being full of pretending, it was not pretentious... Taking itself so lightly, having no axes to grind or claims to great insight, made it's serious insights very moving.
Cold Souls (2009)
Only watch if you've no sense of humour
Well, the reviews made this sound fun.
Apparently there is supposed to be humour in this film and some reviews suggest that it is even supposed to be clever.
It's a long, grinding bore. If there is anything funny about it, then it must be for people who tell jokes to appear funny and have a sense of 'humor' - nothing to do with humour.
It might help, I suppose, if you've some sort of notion that 'souls' could be real - I was expecting that it would be exposed as a silly medical/hey-wow/rip-off scam to make people think that they'd got souls. Apparently, though, this silly idea was supposed to be taken seriously.
Avoid. This is compared to the 'Being John Malkovich' film - it is equally deliberate, trivial and boring - but somewhat less annoying.
On Death Row (2012)
Disturbing, shocking, but brilliant
Capital Punishment is such a primitive and savage activity, it's a wonder any practitioner or supporter is considered house-trained.
To say that I'd been 'looking forward' to Werner Hertzog's film would give the wrong impression. I can say that I'd been anticipating watching it with interest for several months and it, so far, has been excellent, if disturbing.
The cruel and unusual torture involved in Death Row is made very clear in the first episode. It's, to me, evident, that, even if the man being interviewed had committed the murders, and done them in cold blood, rather than when out of his mind, the 17 years of torture he has been forced to suffer has more than covered any punishment he deserved.
Jeremy Bentham observed that punishment should always be in proportion to the suffering that the crime caused, it is hugely unjust, and wicked to punish with many times over the amount of pain and suffering caused. It is criminally uncivilised that the authorities have been unable to see this and have persisted in treating this man in such an ghastly, horrific and savage manner, for such an interminably long time.
Of course, Herzog is not naïve. He's chosen a very unusual inmate to make the case. Not only is the inmate articulate, sensitive, mainly rational, and intelligent (though not always sensible, as is made clear!), but he's white (most people executed in the US are black), and was convicted as an adult - and there's some doubt (supported by the Supreme Court) of his guilt. I supposed Herzog looked for a similarly white, articulate, possibly guiltless, murderess, but was unable to find one. I think that this is all quite fair - if people are such moral imbeciles as to think such torture and execution acceptable, then any means of persuasion is legitimate (even if, ultimately, unlikely to succeed). After all, it is wrong to execute anybody, not just wrong to murder, judicially, people like us... Alhough one wonders a bit about mass-murderers of the Mao, Pol Pot, Tony Blair, George Bush, Stalin variety - the question of punishment for causing such massive pain, suffering, mutilation and death is more difficult in the cases of such extreme monsters, it is still true that it would be wrong to torture and execute them - after all, stringing Mussolini from a lamppost hasn't done anything to deter murderous fascists since then..
The film also makes a good case for the profound depth of the depravity of executioners. Is it possible to imagine any human activity more depraved than operating a human slaughter- house? Particularly one attached to torture chambers that mete out incessant, cruel treatment, over decades, against human beings. Even soldiers have the merit of arguing that their victims can, sometimes, fight back. At least DIY home murderers can argue that they seldom, even prolific serial killers, manage to kill 200+ people a year, and that they do it for passion, or serious money - not just 'extra pay'.
Epicurus would have approved
This week's Black Mirror is, again, brilliant. Epicurus would have approved of the mirror it holds to modern corruption.
Perfectly portrayed parody, portraying the pustulating, pestilential, purgatory of perpetual, pervasive, plebvision puerility - pandering, pathetically, to perverse passions - producing pure pornography *.
A dystopian present all too real to some already. The only real objection that I have to my iPad is that it makes it more difficult to turn off the advertisements - no doubt, as 15 Million Merits so marvelously makes clear, the intention is to make them compulsory.
If the writers of Black Mirror aren't on my exact wavelength, they're certainly absolutely in phase with my prejudices.
['pornography' is, originally, defined by the authors, not the subject matter]
Black Mirror: The National Anthem (2011)
Brilliantly observed comedy, up there with the best!
I'm really looking forward to the next of this series. It's brilliantly observed and very, very funny. It has, of course, a good many important points to make - it shows the instinctive dishonesty of the civil servants, the force for good that the internet is in making such dishonesty more difficult. It has echoes of 'Yes, Minister', but it is funnier.
The question that is evident, but not tackled explicitly is why the life of a country pet, pampered and useless is considered a more serious matter than the life of the over 100,000 civilians, real living people, not kept pets, killed by the war in Iraq. Why not just let the silly bint die?
I hope that future episodes explore this sort of thing - and deal with some important plot points. Apart from being illegal, bestiality is unkind to the beast. What about the feelings of animals? Even more fundamentally, how would somebody not used to it manage the requisite arousal? Doesn't that suggest something of a secret yearning in the Prime Minister? Had he, perhaps, known ( in the biblical sense ) the pig before? No attempt was made to introduce him to the animal to make friends before the act, it was simply rape. I'd be interested, too, to know what became of the animal afterwards - you'd have thought that it's bacon might fetch a premium - 'as touched by the PM'.
I haven't laughed so much for a very long time - it was pure tonic for the soul.