Monthly Archives: December 2009

More Movie Fun

One day left in the decade (not really, but let’s not be technical).Can I look back on the spirituality of the past decade…not if I don’t want to be depressed for a week (lets be honest the biggest thing to happen in religion in the last 10 years was 19 guys proving that Islam may not be qualified to be recognized as a legitimate sane religion and not as a suicide cult… #2 Muslim’s can’t take a joke about Mohammad, child rapist that he was, being in some cartoon, #3 Some Christian kills an abortion doctor and Christians the world over quickly denounce his evil…maybe some other religions should take the hint about this whole publically denouncing the evil acts of members of your religion instead of say, oh I don’t know, dancing in the streets over the death of 3000 people, #4 The cult of His Divine Holiness Obama, blessed be the brain that he thinks with so thatI do not have to…)…so religion is out.

Politics for the decade is equally depressing.See here.

So it’s back to movies.Besides I like talking about movies.I’d talk about books, but then nobody would read this blog.

Now, there was an objection that I had no criteria for my last picks for films of the year and that is not true.Here is my criteria for great movies (great art in general actually…and in case you’re wondering, yes this is a lecture I give in my English class).

1.Great art mixes High Tragedy and High Comedy.Basically, I should be crying, either from having my heart ripped out and stomped on or from laughing so hard I’m hyperventilating….preferably both in the same movie.

2.Great art has a deep understanding of the human psyche.All good drama is character drama, and good character drama comes from understanding how people actually act.If character don’t act realistically there can be no suspension of disbelief and thus nothing to do with point one.The best are reveals something about the human psyche that reveals truth about yourself.

3.Great movies must understand how to use language and a camera, and all the other aspects of a movie.Good acting.Good writing.Good directing.Goodmusic.(For instance the Celestine Prophecy has a beautiful message, but is very poorly done and thus will never qualify as a great movie).

4.Finally great movies must have a underlying hopeful, positive, and ethical philosophical base.

So here we go the Top 16 movies of the decade (with honorable mentions).

Honorable mentions: Juno, 50 first dates, Failure to Launch, Inglourious Basterds, National Treasure, Revolver, Hancock, P.S. I love you, Waitress, The Guardian, and Ocean’s 11.None of them are great, but they’re all fun and entertaining and can be watched over and over again.

#16 Thank You For Smoking

Witty and poignant.Calling every side on their BS and calling for personal responsibility among a cast of wonderfully insane characters.

#15 500 Days of Summer

We’ve all been here.We’ve all fallen in love and had our hearts broken

#13 Tie Lucky Number Slevin and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

God I wish people could actually maintain the sustained level of witty banter that exists in these movies.

#12 Kill Bill

Tarintino focuses a little too much on style over content, but there is still enough content about revenge, redemption, and identity to make it worthwhile.

#11 The Lord of the Rings

Do I have to explain why?

#10 The Incredibles

If Ayn Rand wrote cartoons…while Pixar is the only bright point in Disney these days, this is by far their best and deepest work.

#9 The Lake House

A beautiful and moving romance.Not to mention strange proof that if you actually give him a good script Keanu can act.

#8 The Hangover

The greatest comedy since Ferris took a day off.

#7 Gladiator

Clear morals, good dialogue,Makes me yearn for the epics of yesteryear.

#6 Serenity

Joss Whedon, the greatest artist of TV, hits the movies and finishes off his masterpiece of Firefly.

#5 Lady in the Water

What may be Shamalan’s last decent movie, and his best movie yet.

#4 The Fountain

Never has the path to Enlightenment been more moving.

#3 LoveActually

Not since Plato’s Symposium has there been this in depth a look at the nature of love.And Plato was never this sweet and endearing.

#2 Gran Torino

The culmination of an entire career.Every theme Eastwood has brought up in his previous films comes into clear focus in this beautifully done film.I haven’t seen it yet, but I can’t see Invictus surpassing this masterpiece.

#1 The Dark Knight

Beyond question nothing can surpass this beautiful work on what depths people can sink to and what height they can reach.

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Filed under Art, Lady in the Water, Movies, The Dark Knight, The Fountain, The Incredibles, The Lake House

Top Ten Movies of 2009…Or Top 9, it wasn’t a good year.

So I like to consider myself a film aficionado, and I got tired of reading all these 10 Ten Movie Lists for 2009 from people who don’t know a damn about movies (namely movie critics). So, while this may have relatively little to do with New Age Values or Politics here is my Top Ten Movies of 2009…

…Or Top 9…I sat down and looked over the movies that came out this year and realized…what a crappy year! I will admit I have not seen everything and thus a few movies could possibly round out the whole list (I hold out hope for Invictus, The Blind Side, Brothers, Up, and Up in the Air… but not a lot of hope.) So, the Top 9…

#9 Defiance. Why is Defiance #9….because technically Defiance came out in 2008. Otherwise it should be much higher, because a movie about Jews killing Nazis is always a feel good moment.

#8 Coraline. Entertaining, but marred by the unmistakable fact that the book was much, much better.

#7 State of Play. It was fun, kept me guessing, raised some interesting political questions without getting preachy. But really this movie should not be making a Top 10 list. Shame on you Hollywood for not putting out more good movies!

#6 Taken. Pretty much the same complaint as State of Play. This was fun. We all loved the unquestionable moral clarity of Liam Neeson doing whatever it takes (including going Jack Bauer on most of Paris) to get his daughter back….but I still should just be able to think of this as a fun and forgettable movie…not a top pick.

#Whip it. Who knew Drew Barrymore could write? Still I’m hoping this proves to the opening salvo to much better work to Barrymore’s future career and not the magnum opus of her stint as a writer.

#4 Watchmen. Dark. Thoughtful. Satirical. And one hell of a great soundtrack. I know I will probably be speaking anathema to the fans of the original graphic novel, but the movie did an excellent job of smoothing out many of Moore’s more psychotic philosophical stands, and provided an insightful look into the darker side of humanity.

#3 Inglourious Basterds. Again what’s not to love about Jews killing Nazis. Was it historically accurate? Not remotely. But it was fun. And it clarified an larger thematic issue of Tarentino’s films as a whole for me: the importance of names and what they mean…I’m now going to have to go back and rewatch all of Quentin’s works and see how this issue plays out.

#2 500 Days of Summer. Given that I think to one degree or another we have all lived this movie, I loved how they made what we have all experienced fresh, original, and in the end happy.

#1 The Hangover. It wasn’t deep or meanful, but goddamn was it funny. I have seen it 4 times and not a scene has become old or dull…and I don’t think it ever will.

Notable mentions: G.I. Joe, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Angels and Demons were all two hours of stupid fun… … … But I never need to see them again.

And the special distinction for WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR…and damn did I have options…Transformers and it’s horrific script….Avatar, with it’s evil belief that special effects can replace things like plot and characterization… but while it was close, I am going to give worst film of the year to Star Trek. The glaring plot holes, the fan-boy writing style, the complete inability to understand or respect your source material. It committed the sins of Avatar in thinking special effects could replace writing and acting. It committed the sins of Tranformers in thinking bad jokes replace human drama. And it added the absolute insult of destroying a cultural icon. Shatner may not be the greatest actor on Earth, but that little James Dean wannabe was not Kirk.

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Filed under Art, Movies

Why You’re Likely An Idiot If You Have An Opinion On Gay Marriage

Ever since November I have been subject to a string of my liberal friends bemoaning the fact that gay marriage bills didn’t pass or with news about new ones that are coming up. I have to hear numerous statement about how America is backwards and how this is a violation of civil rights…blah blah blah (I’m not trying to demean the argument…yet…I’m just trying to save space and we all know how this particular rant goes). On the flip side before November I had to listen to screeds from my conservative friends on how this was social engineering; how this was going too far, too fast; how this was forcing beliefs on people… blah blah blah. (I would like to point out here that if you knee-jerk associate the words “conservative” and “bigot” you are an idiot, most conservatives make rational arguments, or at least ones that sound rational on first glance).

Both sides have very legitimate points.

Both sides are stupid beyond words.

I’m going to attack the liberals first (this was a decision literally decided by coin toss, because I do hate both side on this argument). Is this a civil rights issue? Is it really? Power of attorney, hospital visitation, inheritance (with some glaring exception that I will admit) rights, joint property…that can all pretty much be obtained, even in places that don’t offer that under the civil partnerships. You might then claim that healthcare benefits aren’t usually guaranteed…and I’ll grant that, the legal requirement that demands employers give benefits to your spouse won’t be instituted unless your relationship is recognized as a marriage…but then again I argue forcing employers to give benefits to spouses is unethical, beyond the appropriate power of a government, and it hurts small businesses…. so the hell if I’m going to argue in favor of extending something I’m against. It would like arguing if one person has a malignant tumor then everyone should have one. Furthering economic suicide is usually not my thing.
So then the argument goes that you still deserve to be recognized as a married couple. Recognized by whom? You can have any piece of paper and the legal sanction you want and bigots are still going to be bigots. And you can lack a piece of paper and sane people will recognize your relationship as a marriage, legal or not. Maybe it’s the legal recognition you need. But let me say if you need a government’s recognition for any relationship you have with another human being—if you actually need the government’s permission to love a person (which is what this is asking for)—then you have some serious psychological issues. (I think applies more to the straight people who yell the loudest in favor of gay marriage, as opposed to many gay people I know who would rather just live their life and not give rat’s ass what the government thinks about them).
There are other arguments in favor of gay marriage, but I’ll save us some time. I think that they are primarily stupid too.
Social Conservatives (I differentiate here because I feel true conservatism just doesn’t care about an issue like this), your turn to be shown to be morons.
Honestly now, in a 100 years is gay marriage going to be legal everywhere? Yeah it is. Why fight the inevitable. Because gay marriage is an affront to marriage, the call goes…. to which I respond not any more than the divorce and adultery rates in this country among straight marriages. At this point one of two things happens either what I get here are some bizarre arguments about polygamy and bestiality—but really while I think gay marriage will eventually be accepted because in the end, (no one wants to deny two people who are love the right to be married because we can all understand that), I don’t think even a decent minority will ever be able to understand those other forms of relationships (and I use the word very loosely there) so I think we’re safe. … (and if a good portion of America could accept polygamy or bestiality then we will be having far more serious issues than who can marry whom). So most of the conservative arguments are pretty stupid (unless I heard someone make the economic healthcare argument, but I seem to be the only one who makes that, so conservatives are idiots too)…
…But I said one of two things happens. The other argument conservatives make is about social engineering. And this is a difficult point to dismiss because they’re not entirely wrong here. And let me explain what I mean. I don’t think most people would have a problem with homosexual marriage in a vacuum. But when you pile the rather tactless things called gay pride parades (the most insightful look at gay pride parades has ironically been done by The Onion), and teaching Kindergartner’s about homosexuality (because most of us don’t think it’s appropriate to teach children that young about anything even remotely related to sex), and the fact that pretty much 2/3’s of the people allowed on TV are crazy and do not represent the main stream beliefs of any group they claim to represent—including the people who advocate for gay rights, and a myriad of other programs and policies the movement for equality seems to come on a little strong. Human beings don’t like change, doesn’t matter if it’s logical or not, people resist change…they’ll begrudgingly go along if they see a rational reason for change, but when you give them a rational excuse not to (like the arguably radical insanity that the California Dept. of Education wants to add to elementary school education in teaching homosexuality) they’ll dig in their heels. Add into it claims that government is forcing churches to accept gay marriage…is it really that hard to understand why an average person would feel “Okay we need to slow down here.” And they dig in their heels and refuse to make any more changes. It’s a semi-rational response, it may not be completely right but it is understandable.
Moreover, after this happens then both sides decide to play a game of “Who can be the bigger idiot” because each side in this has all the maturity of a two year old… And they have to not so much get what they want, or even prove that they’re right, they just have to prove the other person wrong and force them to choke on being wrong…which of course leads to really rational behavior on both sides. Each trying to push the other further. The gay rights community pushes further, doing stupid things like denying funds to the funds to church run programs designed to help the less fortunate because the church in question doesn’t accept gay marriage (note this isn’t an argument that the government shouldn’t be giving money to churches or even in the welfare business at all its just that we won’t support those churches that will actually stand by their beliefs, and actually it comes off as trying to force churches to change their beliefs). This insanity leads to more insanity, which causes the conservatives to do stupid things like write stupid constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. We all know how this plays out.
And this little farce of name calling will go on until one side grows up and asks not so much of how to I make “them” lose, but asks how can we both win…
…And when you’re ready to grow up I already have the answer for you….

…. Wait for it…

…Civil Partnerships for everyone! We will strike the words marriage from every legal code in existence, in all 50 states, various territories, and all federal codes. Any two people can enter into a civil partnership because it will be little more than a basic legal contract. It will come with all the benefits of marriage but it will not be called marriage. Thus legally everyone is equal. Marriage will be a function of the church, and it’s up to your church to decide who it will marry and who it won’t. Now people can call their relationship a marriage if they want even if they haven’t had a church sanction it, because you have freedom of speech (how many people call themselves Christians without living up to a single tenet of the religion?) But no one is receiving a “sanctioned” religion outside of what churches approve…so no one should be saying marriage is being ruined…if anything it makes it only a religious act, which is what I thought it was supposed to be. Hell you could even get married without the legal paperwork…but in the end everyone has what they wanted. It’s a win/win.

But I predict both sides of this debate will continue to be idiots.


Filed under Gay Marriage, Gay Rights