Young People Fucking

No, I’m not going to comment on the title because I just don’t care. What I’m going to say, though, is the following:

I never wanted to get this close to gay porn. I’ll be scarred for life. 😦

So, how did I find this movie? The provocative title? Nope, that’s not it. Joe Mallozzi it is. Stargate writer – a show I like and a man whose blog I read daily – and so is Martin Gero, writer/director of ‘Young People Fucking’.

So, what’s the movie about? Well, on the outside it truly is about young people fucking. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily call all of them young (actually, none of them) the main (and only) plot is five couples having sex, being followed through the various stages of the act. Interesting, to be sure – and for once I’m not saying this because we get to see the actresses’ boobs (that isn’t even necessarily a plus figuring into this review – certainly not a minus but it’s just not that important).

Below that, though, lies a masterpiece. I have about three things that I’d criticise:

  1. The word “fuck” and its variations are used too often at the beginning (not that it bothers me – it doesn’t – but is just doesn’t seem right).
  2. The gay scenes! How dare you? It’s not that any homosexuals are involved (I wouldn’t care – I just probably wouldn’t watch (unless they were lesbians)) – but you’ll see what I’m talking about once you actually watch the movie for yourself…
  3. It’s only about 80 minutes.

Now, none of that is terribly bad – 3. could even be considered a strength. Let’s get to the good stuff, then.

First off, the actors. Now, I think I’ve said this before but I truly am not expert. Sure, I’ll notice if it’s really bad but normally I just won’t notice. Here – they’re all terrific. I noticed. That’s a very good sign.

It’s terribly funny. At times I found myself laughing out loud – that’s a very rare thing. Usually I might smile a little – not laugh out loud. I did. More than once! It’s terribly sweet. Not in an unnecessarily cheesy way. It’s just right! The story’s being told are wonderful. The exes – it’s obvious they’re still in love and still they can’t be together. The story works out just that way – it has to because it obviously working out between the two of them before.

Jude Law (no, not really) – another rather amusing storyline. You’ll have to see for yourself. Kinda borderline cheesy though (reminds me of Wedding Crashers, kinda). The perverts – entertaining and cute. Especially when she explains why she loves him and doesn’t care that everyone else thinks they shouldn’t be together. It’s especially ironic considering what happened previously to that scene. 😀

The married couple – those two are most in danger of being cheesy. I was worried for a moment there. Then I got scarred for life. You’ll see. I’m still weeping. 😦 (Yes, I know that deep down this is sexist – I don’t care)

Finally, my favourite storyline: the friends. It works out perfectly. Very romantic. And still, not too cheesy. Doesn’t tell us where this is going to go and that’s why it’s so strong.

So, let’s get to the bottom line: This reminds me of another favourite film of mine: Love Actually. Another brilliant movie about love. Awesome writing, awesome acting – what more could you ask for? And the only reason most people ever talked about it is the title. That’s worrying – we could’ve missed a real gem here.

5/5

Lions for Lambs

Got the DVD as a birthday present and finally decided to watch it today.

Let me say right off the bat: the reviews are right, this one sucks.

The movie follows three different storylines – a professor trying to convince a student that he should “do something” with his potential, an evil, evil Republican senator trying to sell a new strategy to a reporter and two soldiers in Afghanistan getting into a bad situation.

Those three stories, obviously, are linked together – and that’s where the trouble starts. The three storylines only exist so we can link the different characters together, there’s absolutely no point in having them all. There could be more, there could be just one – it plain doesn’t matter. The only thing remotely clever? They all happen within one hour or so.

Let’s start with the professor: his student is some frat boy and he missed class a couple times. How sad. This then results in a long tirade of “the world’s going to hell” and “people just don’t care anymore today” – yadda, yadda, yadda. Sure, most people occasionally feel that way (sometimes with decent quantities of alcohol involved) but then they get offer it and move the fuck on. It doesn’t exactly become clear what he expects his young, bright student to do – just “something”, I guess.

Also, this wonderful professor had two other boys with potential. They proposed reinstating the draft in class and then – and this is probably the only halfway decent scene in the film even though it’s terribly forced – respond to accusations of hypocrisy by putting their enlistment confirmations on the OHP (they always somehow have the exact right information on their slides to respond to any kind of criticism that comes up) – terribly leftist, fascist, statist – you name it, you can pretty much throw any kind of accusation their way, considering what they are proposing (and considering that this is a libertarian blog).

Those two boys, alas, are the soldiers that are getting killed – yes, they get killed (even though it could be considered semi-suicide). People get killed in wars, what a surprise. The only point to have them in the film, though, is to have them killed. Seriously, it’s that simplistic. They serve no other purpose – kinda like the professor not offering anything other than “do something!”. No background, no motivation – nothing, nada. No idea why they are where they are, why they need to die. All just a set-up to drive home the message that Bush really is evil.

Oh, I didn’t mention that yet, did I? Yeah, it’s a film against the neo-cons. Tom Cruise, finally, in the third storyline is an up-and-coming Republican senator who tries to sell his new strategy to Meryl Streep. The major problem? There is no strategy. It’s just bullshit. And while that gives the film makers a wonderful opportunity to illustrate how stupid the one-liners in defence of the war(s) really are, it just hurts the movie.

If there’d been some kind of plan, some kind of strategy that could reasonably have been expected to come from politicians rather than the military (because this new strategy is clearly a military decision) it could have worked. Use the surge, use some kind of major change – something that makes the movie work. Not some weak-ass bullshit like this.

So, in conclusion: there’s no proper message apart from “everything sucks” and “we all oughta do something about it”, there’s no asking useful questions, there’s no starting an interesting discussion. It’s just whining and bitching – and Michael Moore is just funnier when he does it.

Best thing about the movie is that it only lasted about 82 minutes. 😉

Burn Notice – Season 1 Review

There I am again, I haven’t done much writing in the last months, so this is my way of apologizing. It is just far to easy not to write and to do other things, than to sit down and and actually start writing.

Let’s start with the characters:

Michael Western: He’s a very cool, controlled and handsome guy (for the ones out there really interested in the looks of guys in tv-shows, this might be important – for your average heterosexual male, such as myself, not so much!). He can handle himself in a fight and is rather used to carrying a gun, never the less, he only fights when really necessary. He rather thinks of a nice plan, mostly involving building some kind of surveillance equipement or weapons out of stuff you can buy in your average supermarket, walmart, or hardware store. (He seems to especially like cell phones and uses at least 5 every episode. ;)) In short: He’s a MacGyver with a better haircut.
He also likes to dress up nicely, change his accent and persona and fool with some of these organized crime dudes.
And the best: He’s an ex-spy, he’s cynical, not very talkative, and has a lot of advice to offer any would-be spy watching the show. (He’s the narrator.)

Fiona: She’s the girl, trigger-happy, madly in love with Michael (and very determined) and hot.
It’s fun to have her, but it would not hurt if she had a little more depth. She basically just is the hot, trigger-happy ex-girlfriend of Michael’s. What makes me wonder sometimes, why she always walks around in these not very functional high-heels, plateau-shoes, or mini-skirts and -dresses, but who really cares.

Sam: An aged, easy-going ex-special forces guy, if I recall correctly. He’s Michaels ties to Miami, he knows people and can gather intelligence if necessary. He’s cool, funny and more importantly he’s Ash from “The Army of Darkness”. I don’t really know what to say about him, he doesn’t stand out that much, but he is really necessary. Without him the show would be too dry and serious. And I really like his character.

Michaels family: There’s his mum, which is, I have to agree with midmull there, a whiny old woman, but luckily doesn’t have that much apearances and then there is his brother, always having trouble with money and gambling. They both aren’t in the least as much fun as the main characters, but they never the leyy seem to be necessary, because Michael needs a weakness, and that’s what they are, because he has to worry about their safety and as opposed to Fiona and Sam, they can’t defend themselves that well.

The bad guys: It’s a little downside of the show: The bad guys are not that interesting, I mean they are bad and cool and all, and it’s enjoyable when Michael kicks their asses, but they all lack depth, but then again, the eposides are just around 43 minutes, it isn’t that important really.

The enemy: The evil force, the unknown enemy that issued the burn notice on Michael. This is a person (or collective) which is throughout the entire season present, but only represented by mostly neutral persons, FBI Agents, a CSS Agent, some assasins. The always seem out of reach, which in my opinion is a good thing, it’s not like the Goa’uld, Replicators, Wraith, Cylons, SD-6, The Covenant or any other enemy, which can just be located and destroyed. You don’t really know anyone to hate for Michael beeing burnt.

The setting: Miami works great for this show. Fiona can always walk around in her cute, short dresses, Sam can wear his Hawaiian shirts, the can drink cocktails all the time and it is perfectly natural the producers showing us hot girls walking on the beach every once in a while.

The style: What is there to say. Cool cars, weapons, hot women, Michael almost always wears a suit. Then there is the narrator which is pretty cool (I just can’t get enough of cynical comments), the little texts under each new person and the camera work, which I find supports the whol show very well and adds to a fantastic and comprehensive style.

The plot: The main plot is Michael trying to find out who burnt him and to get reinstated as a spy (independent contractor?) for the U.S. government. And there are the subplots, one each episode, which basically is, receiving a job and executing it. They’re all very nicely written and they work great, but I would have wanted the main plot to progress a little faster.

All in all its a fantastic show, and it’s refreshing to see that there still are some out there.

4/5

Rewatching Burn Notice: Fight or Flight

International conferences attract spies for the same reason hotel bars attract hookers: you can do business and drink for free.

Another awesome episode. Let’s start right off with the wonderful stuff that went on here:

Sam – finally he’s having the FBI boys act they HE wants them to. He’s found his proper role and he feels comfortable. This, obviously, also offers much more potential for him to actually be serious occasionally (very rarely, of course) – if he isn’t almost all of the time, he seems all that much more convincing when he actually is. He’s now his fun self, drinking, with a couple of irons in the fire (if you know what I mean) – that’s the Sam we want to see, that’s the same that makes this show a wonderful joyride, a very pleasurable experience.

Fiona and Michael – we’re moving in pretty big steps right now. She’s got a key and their relationship’s almost back to where it’s supposed to be. Also, none of those weaknesses we saw in the last episode. She’s her usual strong self, forcing Michael to give it his best, show his true colours. Yeah, that’s what we’re paying for.

The Mom – still pisses me off. This episode also (kinda) announced the coming of Michael’s brother, Nate. Don’t particularly much like him either and it just goes to show that his family is less fun than the rest of the people Michael hangs out with.

Finally, the story. So much cool stuff going on here, I don’t even know where to start. The fake surveillance tape – brilliant and seems pretty plausible. The fucking up of the car tyres – twice, no less! – great fun. Especially the second time.

Oleg seems like a nice guy. Well, not exactly a nice guy but a cool person to have on the show. Throw in some links to some kind of criminal organisation in his background and you’ve got a wonderful B-story over a couple episodes or a pretty great A-plot for an episode.

We get some major progress in terms of overall arc as well. Nice to see Michael finally getting somewhere – it’s not much but it is a start. Something to follow up on. And unlike that pipe bomb which lead to a pretty useless call, this contact turns out to actually be useful.

This kind of episode is great to rewatch, too. You notice stuff that you had no idea was there the first time round. Take the sparks he steals in school – didn’t notice the first time round but it’s an amusing detail.

Bottom line: just an awesome episode. Progress on the main arc, a main story that works as a stand-alone episode, major development in terms of characters. What more could you ask for?

5/5

Rewatching Burn Notice: Identity

Most fun I’ve had in Miami.

Agreed. It was a fun episode – hot chicks abound, Fiona loses the accent (even though it’s a bloody cute one!) and Michael gets one instead. A car gets blown up and the general story moves forward quite a bit even though not as much as it usually does.

Now, there’s not much to be said in terms of character development. It is, in fact, a rather weak episode in that area. Sure, the Michael-Mum relationship gets closer to where it’s supposed to be (but still not there yet) – unfortunately, she’s still just an annoying, whiny bitch. We already know that Michael’s a good guy at heart but seriously – he gets her back all her money and 500$’s too much to ask for?

The “I have some kind of illness” running gag doesn’t work (and I don’t really pay attention – IIRC they lose it somewhere, though). Fiona, OTOH, seems worse than she was in episode one. Totally not COOL, totally not RELAXED. Just like a teenager who’s madly in love with Michael (in the relevant scenes). It’s not what she’s supposed to do. When acting like this, she leaves Michael alone and there’s no partner to back him up.

Sam, finally, gets closer to where he’s supposed to be. The underpants joke is obviously cringeworthy and that’s why it works. He’s far closer to his joyful, overconfident self than he was in the Pilot.

Enough about character development though. Let’s talk about the narrative – and that’s what’s really in the foreground here. Michael’s a really cool guy and this episode drives home that point – in addition to showing that he really, really, really is capable of doing evil things, if necessary. Obviously, that old lady truly needs to check herself into some place that her kids approve of – buying into that whole scam business is just so 20th-century (I’d say even then there was no excuse for it).

Luckily though, it offers the opportunity of showing real cool stuff. I’ll just name a few of the things that really entertained me (and why they weren’t necessarily perfect):

  • Fiona and Sam getting caught – that scene really worked, their infighting didn’t
  • Michael figuring out that Paco didn’t drink – even though his retelling just a moment later kinda ruined the scene as it no longer seemed terribly witty
  • Michael shooting the police car’s tyres – plain fun
  • Michael ripping off blondie – it truly is the most fun we’ve had so far

As you can see from that list, it’s a Michael-centric episode. Not necessarily in terms of character development (which is why he doesn’t figure all that prominently above) but certainly in terms of showing the audience what he’s capable of, driving home the point of his vulnerability and the reach of his abilities. Plus, the beginning of the awesome team that Sam, Fiona and Michael form.

As you can see from the length of this post, it wasn’t a terribly deep episode. And I’m glad we’ll start moving ahead a little faster in future episodes – because just one tidbit of information at the end of each episode just isn’t going to cut it in the long run.

The bottom line: even though the review sounds quite negative, it’s a great episode again. Not as brilliant as the pilot but considering it’s the second episode (which usually appears to be quite a bit weaker) there’s nothing much to complain about. It’s fun watching stuff being blown up, it’s fun watching the good guys beating the bad guys at their own game. In short: I love it when a plan comes together. 😉

4/5

Rewatching Burn Notice: Pilot – Welcome to Miami

There’s nothing like helping a little guy kick some bully’s ass.

Truly, welcome to Miami! It’s been quite some time since I watched this for the first time, so I wasn’t exactly sure about the narrative anymore (I thought the “suspect” might actually be an evil guy for a while – shows you just how good this show is!). As’ll become quite clear over the next few days (8 more until season two starts), I love this show. I’ll cover some basics tonight and the episode at hand (the pilot, aptly called: “Pilot”). It even got an award, according to Wikipedia.

First off, once again, characters. Michael Westen is plain brilliant. He’s hot (at least from a technical POV I think he is – still not gay but he’s what I’d consider hot), he’s terribly witty and he’s plain funny. AND he’s got a good heart. Now, I’m obviously not a terribly big fan of altruism but that’s not what I think he’s doing. He isn’t acting altruistically and I could go into that in more depth (but won’t as this isn’t about Objectivism but rather about a brilliant show). The scenes where he tells us about how the spy business supposedly works – plain brilliant, not because they’re necessarily true (they probably aren’t) but because they make sense, to some degree seem like you could actually learn something AND are told in damn entertaining way.

Fiona – well, she’s hot. All T&A AND brains. It shows and the character is very well written. She’s obviously necessary as a counter-point to Michael’s very confident self – he needs someone like her to keep him down to earth, to make him approachable. Once again, their relationship is very strong and very fun to watch. Very enjoyable and she offers plenty of opportunity. This episode doesn’t yet go all that much into depth as far as her character’s concerned (but then we’re busy setting up Michael!) but that’ll be helped over the next few episodes.

Finally, for the ones I like, Sam. He’s funny, he’s all Miami. He adds that certain something that turns a good show into a great show. Again, not really that visible just yet but the stuff that’s necessary to unfold what’s a brilliant season is already set up here. Sure, he seems like a whiny bitch in that last scene where he’s caught by Michael betraying him – not being his self-depreciating, funny self – but it’s a forgivable offence.

Michael’s mum – well, she truly did start weak. It got better towards the end of the season (IIRC) but right now she’s just annoying. Very shallow character and doesn’t yet fully live up to her purpose (being annoying) because, well, she is annoying but “being annoying” isn’t enough. There needs to be more for a character to be any good.

Finally, on to the narrative. It’s nice to see that a good story actually gets told next to the brilliant setting up of characters. Sure, it’s not overly deep or anything but the A-plot is a nice one. Not too dangerous, nothing to big – just a cute boy and his poor father and Michael saves the day. Not really anything that’s on his level but hey, what’re you gonna do on your first day on the job?

Behind all that, though, is the setting up of the real “mythology”, the background. Who’s fucking with Michael, who’s burned him and, above all, why’d they do it? Michael already offers plenty of reasons: they could want to hire him, for example. This one keeps developping throughout the episodes without hurting the storytelling going on. You can easily watch the show only every other episode or so and still get what’s going on. But, obviously, you miss out on a lot. The FBI agents are entertaining (for now) but the big, bad guy in the shadow is much more interesting. It’ll be fun to watch that unravel (again) throughout the next few days.

Finally, let me just say a few things about the setting: the choice is damn brilliant. People said this was kinda like Miami Vice and had a bit of a “The A-Team”-vibe going on. Now, I only ever saw the new Miami Vice movie (and, oddly enough, really liked it) but “The A-Team” OTOH I really loved. Sure, this is a one-man-A-Team but it’s similar in certain areas. Build stuff and beat the big guy. I guess it’s similar to Miami Vice in some ways, too. The setting, the coolness – I don’t really know, those are just things that come to mind.

The hot girls in the background obviously help but they aren’t the main reason. The show can only work in a place like Miami – where the sun is pretty much always shining, life’s going a bit more slowly and everything can be taken a little more lightly.

The bottom line: I think this show will become a classic insofar as it hasn’t already become one. It’s entertaining, it’s exciting and the characters are just plain fun to watch (and the actors are pretty damn good, too!). I’m really looking forward to rewatching the rest of season one over the next few days. Just eight more days!

5/5

Leaked Pilots: Stargate Atlantis Season Five

One more tonight. Starting tomorrow, I’ll try to review one or two episodes of Burn Notice season one a day to be done in time for the season two premiere on July 10 (I think).

Right, on to Stargate Atlantis. Didn’t really pay any attention to Atlantis during season three and then caught up near the end – really like some of the episodes. Same goes for season 4. Only started watching after about the first 16 episodes had aired. Really liked what I saw, most of the time. Todd, obviously, is the great addition that the show needed. Carter worked out okay, Ronon was rather so-so (I thought Ford offered more potential as the viewers’ link to a world that we don’t understand – but they didn’t use him that way and I guess they had a reason (turkey sandwich jokes do get old after a while), Keller, again, okay. The Genii – let’s be honest – aren’t the best addition ever either and the Wraith had plenty of weaknesses. Michael – in my opinion – didn’t work out and the Replicators, well, they just weren’t that great either (even though the new ones might be fascinating).

So, finally, they found what they needed. Their Ba’al, their Apophis, their Anubis – you name it. Todd works. Todd isn’t one-dimensional, Todd isn’t just a good guy either. Todd’s exciting, Todd makes you look forward to the next episode that he’s gonna be in. Oh, and that wasn’t all – Larrin’s a great addition as well. Sure, that’s mostly my love for cute faces and T&A talking but Sheppard really can use a female counterpart that makes him work a little harder (and the sexual tension obviously doesn’t hurt). So, I was rather disappointed to see Michael come back for the season finale.

I’ll start with random observations:

  • McKay actually has quite the triceps. Considering how he’s supposed to be a semi-fat guy, that’s remarkable. Congrats, Mr Hewlett.
  • Either there’s a terrible, terrible, terrible logic mistake or I missed something: how the hell did the jumper leave the ship without the shields being lowered? That would obviously have ruined the whole “they won’t see this coming” approach but from what I can tell a) the shields need to be lowered for a jumper to leave the ship, b) the jumper left before the fighters did and c) the shield wasn’t lowered when it did. What am I missing?
  • Teyla totally sucks. She’s pussified. She doesn’t do any good anymore. The whole love anlge and her getting a baby didn’t really EVER work out but this episode made it abundantly clear: this isn’t going to work. No more tough Teyla.
  • Picardo’s character – yeah, I’m not gonna like it. It’s occasionally good for an episode but I don’t want to be annoyed every single episode. It’s funny once or twice but then it just pisses me off. Get back to proper business already. Sure, we could theoretically do that – but that wouldn’t work with the way the character’s been set up right up until now.

Now, the random observations have already said most of what I wanted to get out. It’s, overall, a rather weak start into the season. Not terribly weak and accetapbly enjoyable. I understand the necessities of the TV business (actually, I don’t but I understand why Carter had to leave) and there are some exciting things going on as well. Vega could be a great addition (obviously the T&A already won me over – for now!) and the rest of that all-female team that Joe Mallozzi is occasionally talking about on his blog could be great as well.  Michael still doesn’t really work – and in addition to all that, he appeared rather weak in this episode (what with having his ship blown up and looking like a whining bitch) and I guess I’m rather sad that he isn’t dead (didn’t really see how he survived (puddlejumper?) and I consider this to be Stargate’s one worst flaw: the total lack of any kind of clear decision (“they’re not really gone, as soon as we run out of ideas we wanna be able to bring them back!), no finality whatsoever).

I’m looking forward to the rest of the season though. It’ll be good to see Larrin and Todd back, the female team will be a great addition and hey, it’s still Stargate! More excited about Stargate Universe when looking at the situation as a whole but I guess that’s life – and maybe, just maybe, they’ll once again really surprise me and come back with a couple of awesome episodes (probably in the back half of the season? who knows). I have every confidence in the writers that they’ll succeed.

Bottom line: Meh, but an optimistic meh.

3/5