Lucien’s Special Comment: Intelligent Cinema

Okay, so, I am hearing from so many people that a person should just go to a film and just be entertained by the pretty colors.  Sally said to me that she thinks that I overthink a film.  Let me say without mercy that it is possible for cinema to be intelligent and be entertaining!

Christopher Nolan, a brilliant director, proved this point better than anybody else.  His remake of the Batman genre had done something that nobody ever really thought possible- making Batman an engaging and smart series of film.  Granted, it began that way when Tim Burton had had his brilliant mind attached to the series, but when it was taken away from him, it descended into stupidity.  The characters became dry and pathetically cliche, and the plot became so over-the-top that it wasn’t even worth looking at.  But when Nolan took the series into his hands, he applied a kind of brilliance that hasn’t been seen much.  It was truly The Dark Knight which has taken audiences for a loop.  The late Heath Ledger brought a character in a super-hero movie to life the way nobody thought possible.

Seriously, his Joker was possibly one of the greatest characters that I have ever seen.  He took the comic to heart, when he created a character who was evil beyond all understood bounds.  But the thing that made it the most creepy was the idea that such a character could exist in the world.  I truly believe there are characters just as evil, who want nothing more than for the entire world to burn to the ground.  It was a brilliant performance, and a fitting epitaph to Ledger, who truly was a great actor, and will be remembered for all time.

But you have films like Aeon Flux, which had Charlize Theron and Alice Krige, both of whom have won Academy Awards, in it.  I earnestly have no idea why this is the case.  This film was such an awful piece of shit that the earnest truth is that neither of these women, both of whom are good actresses, even great, should have been involved in this insult to a series that actually was pretty good.  The original show was pretty interesting, and pretty engaging.  The characters were interesting, and the plot was funny and creepy and interesting.  That was the original series, however.  The film was a piece of crap, just crap.

One diamond-in-the-rough in the world of intelligent cinema is Pixar Animation.  This group has really come into their own in the last couple of years when it comes to making films that are supposed to capture the attention of both the young and the old.  From the idea that the human race has grown complacent, and the love of two people so completely different in Wall-E, to the idea that even the tiniest person can be great and accomplish great things in Ratatouille.  In the last couple of years, Pixar has really come into its own as a studio that makes intelligent films for both the young and the old.

Then you have films like Avatar, and I realize that I’ve kind of blown the horn about why this is such a terrible movie way too much, but I am making a point here.  This film had so many opportunities to be something amazing.  Instead, it turned into a bullshit cliche that was beautiful to look at, but about as engaging to the mind as a ham-sandwich.  I actually did have a little hope for this movie because I have seen a lot of stuff by James Cameron that I actually liked.  His film, The Abyss was pretty trippy.  He also made the first Alien movie, which was creepy, engaging, and filled with twists and turns which always kept you guessing.

Also, I want to bring something that somebody brought to my attention to bear- the new Star Trek film was not about the pretty colors.  The two main characters in this film, Kirk and Spock, were actually very engaging.  They picked good people for this.  For the role of Spock, they picked somebody who got his acting career off the ground by playing one of the most twisted and engaging characters, named Sylar, on the show Heroes.  He was perfect for this role, and it was a break-out performance, showing that he could do many roles. 

One film that has given me boatloads of hope for the future of intelligent cinema was The Social Network.  This film was incredibly smart and incredibly witty.  It was funny, engaging, and at the end, you even felt for the main character (spoiler alert!), as he “friended” his ex-girlfriend and kept refreshing the page, waiting to see how she would respond.  And there wasn’t a single character in that film who was flat.  Even Justin Timberlake did very good acting, and I didn’t honestly believe that was possible!  But Jesse Eisenburg made that role come to life.  His monologue to the lawyer about how much of his attention the lawyer had was inspired!  Aaron Sorkin wrote the script for that film, and that’s the best thing that could have happened.  His brilliant mind is just what that film needed, and it profitted on it.

So, here I am, thinking about the future of cinema.  We have directors like Michael Bay, who can’t figure out that his movies suck, or whoever made that god-awful film Aeon Flux, and then we have people like Christopher Nolan, and Steven Spielberg, who can combine great effects with great stories and great characters.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  And when people start to think that it is all about the pretty colors, then we truly are lost as a country.  We have been so stupified that we just say, “ohhhh, pretty!”  That is a day that I never want to happen, for real!

Until next time, a quote,

“So, no, you don’t have my full attention!  You have the bare minimum of my attention!”  -Jesse Eisenburg, The Social Network

Peace out,

Maverick

Beyond Right-Wing, Straight-Up Evil

I read this article, and it showed me something.  It’s never been a big mystery in this country that the GOP is enslaved by corporate interests, and that they are only out for the richest 1%, but this article gave me a new perspective.  I have seen that not only is the GOP a bunch of capitalist goons, but they are straight-up evil. 

There is no better term to describe this.  That article, and others like it, have shown a side to this country that has not been seen much.  Or if it is seen, it is ignored.  How are these people the “upright, moral, for-the-people” crowd.  You have people like John McCain, who, even faced with the overwhelming evidence from within the military that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is wrong, still is against repealing it.  He is funded by religious organizations who think that these people are sinners.

You have people like John Shimkus, who is going to be the guy who is heading up the environmental and energy policy in this country who thinks that global warming is a myth, because only God can, “Destroy this Earth.”  I find this ideal both terrifying and pathetic.  This is the truth.  This is what these people are all about.  They are crazy!  They are stone cold fuck-nuts!

These people have been elected because they are supposed to support the people, supposed to be working for the best interests of the people.  Yet they have this idea that money can magically appear out of thin-air and tax-breaks for the rich will pay for themselves.  Before his big turnaround when he was running for president, Bush (Part I!) said that Reagan’s policy was, “Voodoo Economics.”

Another person who was either straight-up evil or straight-up stupid, Reagan.  What an idiot.  His idea has been tossed around by Republicans for years!  The idea, and perhaps the stupidest idea of all, is that the wealth in this country will, “trickle down.”  That is the biggest kenard of all time!  It is so pathetic, and there is so much evidence that disproves it, but do those in power listen, of course not!

This is what I’m talking about, the Republican Party is now a party which could give a shit about the common American.  They want to cut all the programs that do good for people.  Unemployment, who needs that?  Social Security, that’s socialism!  School lunch programs, that’s child-abuse!  Can you hear it?  Can you hear the loathing in the voices of these people?  Can you hear the raw hatred for the human race displayed by these “representatives.”  These people who are elected because the religious in this country are so desperate for their ideals to be held up that they don’t care about who does it.  Do you also hear the cracks of their corporate master’s whips at their backs?

This is the raw truth about this country- we are heading to the right, and not because the bulk of people are already there, but because the masses who are progressive, and I do believe that to be the bulk of them are, as do others, like Bill Maher, my favorite comedian.  The truth is that the Republican Party loves to do what’s “in the best interest of the American people,” but they secretly could give a shit about the American people.

I love when people defend Sarah Palin.  I live in Alaska, and as far as I’m concerned, Palin is a crook and a traitor to her principles, to her state, and to her country!  She quit a job that the people of this country elected her to do for money!  I have been told by people that that’s okay, that it is alright to want out.  No it isn’t!  It is absolutely not okay to give up your job for nothing more than a better paycheck!  And if you watch her new show, it is total bullshit!

But the fact that Republicans are evil people isn’t exactly a new concept.  This fact has been around for a long time.  This recession has shown the Republican Party’s true colors.  They are only out for #1, themselves, and they could give a shit about the people they are elected to serve.  When the bulk of people tell them that DADT should be repealed, who cares?  Gay marriage should be legal, so what?  Marijuana is not a “gateway drug” and is the safest drug of all, whatever.  The people don’t matter, it is only their principles that matter.  Being gay is a sin, yeah, just like a married Republican candidate writing an e-mail to his buddies that all his female underlings should be naked and have a leash, and come to some parties and have fun with his friends.

So, here’s the truth: lately, all I have seen is the the Republican strategy to be is cold and heartless and outright cruelty, with little thought to the effect on the American people.  As the housing bubble has regrown, the same thing that broke in this economy last time, and is growing, and as unemployment is going nowhere and the middles class is dying out, I am seeing that there is no concern on the Republican side of this.  It is merely about keeping the wealth flowing to the wealthy, and about the middle class not standing up to fight for their right to survive.

This country is weak, and so are the people.  I personally want to see open class warfare.  I want blood in the streets, I really do.  I want the CEOs to see that they don’t lord over us, we lord over them.  To date, we’ve given them no reason to think that we do have power over them, because nobody will fight for what they believe in.

Until next time, a quote,

“Republicans love the truth…they just hate facts.”  -Bill Maher

Peace out,

Maverick

Sex: Positive, a Sexual Revolution

I personally love this video.  It is a video that tells the truth.  Granted, it does it in a bit of an odd and humorous way, but it still tells the truth.  The truth is that we are a species that is losing both our minds, and our way.

Throughout history, and I will not be nice about this, religion has condemned the different sexual practices of our species.  I hate to break it to you, people, but ALL homophobia is a religious initiative.  All the hatred of people based on who they love is based on the biased and evil readings of biased and evil books that teach so much hatred, bigotry, sexism, and genocide.

The truth is that people are, in so many places, ashamed of sexuality.  It is a point of pain for some people.  The outbreak of suicide among LGBT youth stems from society’s hatred of them due to religious ideals that are both wrong, and cruel.  There are places like Texas where sodomy (that’s butt-sex, for those of you who didn’t know!) has been subject to legislation to make it illegal, and gay marriage had been a felony, and the Texan Republican party still wants it to be a felony.

Care to take a guess as to where the idea of taking it up the ass or in your mouth is bad came from?  If you guessed religion, you’re right!  Aren’t you smart?!  Yes, it is the societal concept that people should have to love the opposite sex and only do it in the vagina have made people whose only crime was not being part of that community feel like they are monsters!  What sweet and loving people they are.  Granted, there are some very liberal Christian groups, like the church I grew up in (back when I was religious, I am not anymore) a Lutheran church, that are pretty liberal about this stuff.  But the fact still stands that they worship a book that does say that homosexuality is wrong!

And it isn’t just the LGBT community that suffers from this.  My cousin had this idea of not even kissing his wife before marriage.  I personally think that was retarded, and I laughed my head off when I think about it.  What happens if they get married and he is the worst kisser ever?  Joke would be on him!  As it stands, he is still married, and has a kid.  Good for him.  I mean that, I’m glad that he is happy.  But the idea that sex before marriage is wrong is a diabolical and ugly scheme that has hurt so many youth.

Here’s the simple truth: kids can only be taught abstinence, but that doesn’t mean that they will remain abstinent!  And there is no reason that teenagers should be told not to have sex.  Sex is awesome!  It feels good, and if you really love the person, it makes the bond that much closer.  This is where the idea of casual sex goes wrong.  You cannot have sex with somebody and have it mean nothing unless you are a total sociopath.  It is such an emotional and physical experience that you are destined to bond with the person, if you do it with them more than once. 

All forms of sexuality are just fine.  Even some of the freaky fetishes, as long as they are not done unconsensually or result in serious harm, are just fine.  This is the problem with this country.  It is the reason that people like religion.  Religion gives you power.  The idea of controlling another person’s sexuality gives you power over the most basic drive that is part of the human condition.  We are one of the two (I think they discovered a third species, but I don’t know) species of animal that have sex for fun!  Ever see a dolphin orgy?  It is bizarre, and creepy, and kind of funny. 

Sex: Positive is pretty much a movement that takes the other movements of this kind, like the Free Love Movement, or The Ethical Slut Movement and mashes them all together.  It is good idea, and in a growing world of people who understand that there is no god, it is beginning to take root and it is beginning to be seen for what it is, a brilliant movement that will impact the world in a very positive way!  It will make life better, for everybody!  Why you ask?  BECAUSE FUCKING IS FUN!

I can’t imagine what kind of masochism a person can have by believing that they should deny who they are and just do what other tell them, regardless of how much it hurts them, emotionally.  I cannot begin to fathom that ideas that drive a person to do that.  We should be allowed, and not only allowed, but also encouraged, to be who we are.  Both as people, and our sexual preferences, we should be allowed to be who we want to be.  That should never be taken to task by anyone!

The Texans are dumbasses.  Religious people are dumbasses.  And this is the truth about religion, it is about control.  Give people hope, and you have control over them.  To keep that hope, they will do whatever you ask.  Subsequently, tell people that, to keep their hope, they must also not be who they are, and you have even greater control over them.  But we are at the brink of something new.  With science proving every day that there is no way that god can exist, people are realizing that if that’s wrong, maybe the ideals that make it so are wrong too!  This is a good thing, and it is reason that there needs to be people like thos involved in the Sex: Positive movement to help those who want to embrace who they are.

So, have you butt-sex, and have your oral sex!  Do whatever crazy fucking thing you want to do with your partner!  Love whoever your partner is, be it your gender, or the opposite one!  Let those religious idiots see that you are not afraid!  Go out in public holding hands, kiss in the street!  Love this person with all your heart because you only get one life, so far as I know, so don’t let it become the plaything of people with big books and a lot of hot-air.

Until next time, a quote,

“And in the bullshit department, a business-man can’t hold a candle to a clergyman! ”  -George Carlin

Peace out,

Maverick

The Atheist’s Christmas

I have been catching crap lately from my atheist friends because I still celebrate Christmas.  They all wonder why I do this?

“It is a religious holiday!” they say with tones that are so loud and so chest-thumping.  They think themselves so much more superior than I am because they don’t.  They scream with passioned fury about how they are going to stick it to the faith community by not embracing the fact that they seem required to celebrate this holiday.  But these people don’t see things the way that I do.  They don’t see what I am getting at when I reply that I don’t celebrate it for the religious or the commercial angle.  But what other angle is there?

The truth is that Christmas began as a pagan holiday, the celebration of the winter solstice.  It was a time when people were thankful to be alive, and to see the marvelous white world of ice and cold, because it is beautiful, in its own right.  Somewhere along the way, early Christians realized that this was a day for the taking.  Like most things that Christians took, it was by force, and to hell with those who they took it from (remind anyone of Glenn Beck’s rally?)  So, now they had this convenient day, and it was their’s now.

But when you take a step back, and look at things logically, it isn’t a religious holiday anymore.  It may be at heart, but America figured out a long time ago that anything can be economically exploited.  They realized that here was a day that was perfectly suited to being used to make money.  Take a look at some videos on Youtube, like this one, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Capitalism makes such lovely people, doesn’t it?

But there is a different reason for it all, the reason that I still choose, and will always choose, to celebrate this holiday.  There is a reason that stands above anything else for me, a reason that transcends people and religion, or the commercial opportunities and the gift-giving, which is becoming so expensive anymore.  There is a reason that is beyond that, and I love this reason.  My reason, is because it is a time to feel good.

Walk down the street in main-stream America during the holiday season, what do you see?  You see a large percentage of people just looking happy.  You see people being warm and fuzzy with one-another, and they all just seem to want the days to get better.  The only pity is that this kind of attitude doesn’t continue the whole year round.  Everybody wants to be nice to everybody (granted, there are exceptions, but let’s not go into an argument about how the holidays suck), and the world just seems to sigh a relief.  I earnestly wonder if it is the same everywhere.  I would love to spend a holiday season in somewhere like Japan or England or wherever and see if they have the same feeling of trying to just care about each other as much as they can.

This is why I celebrate, because there is a time in the year when people just want to be nice to people, when we are encouraged to feel good (don’t pay attention to politics).  It also a time when the world just seems a little brighter.  It has always been like this for me.  When I was a little kid, and I would go to the family gatherings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it was a great day.  The family would put aside their arguments for the idea that this is a day when the world is supposed to treat each other right.  It is a couple of days when none of the petty bullshit that people fight over, like religion, matters, because we have to look out for each other.

That is why I celebrate the holiday.  It exemplifies a belief that the human race shouldn’t be fighting, that we need to stick together, because we’re all we’ve got.  There is no god coming for us.  There are no spirits working with us.  We are all we have, and we are not looking good for lasting as a species.  I am really hoping that I’m wrong, but I don’t know.  I wish the kind of goodness that I celebrate would continue for the whole year, but that may just be a child’s dream.

I will keep celebrating, because it is just me hoping that the human race will finally grow up!

Until next time, a quote,

“We can’t take care of ourselves yet, and we want to save the planet?!”  -George Carlin

Peace out,

Maverick

The Importance of Fiction

As I sit here, eating Chinese food in my dorm room, I think of something that means so much to so many people- good fiction.  It is something that has been around since the beginning of time, and it is something that will be around long after.  It will be around long after my time is done, as well as any who are reading this.  It is something that is crucial to any society.  It is something that can do and mean so much.

Fiction is, by definition, a story which is not based in factually accurate.  While it can be influenced by a true story, it is not a true story.  Fiction can come in any form, from a novel to a film, or any other form in-between.  A story can ever been told in song.  For a long time, history was taught in this manner.  Before writing was invented, there was no way of passing down the history of a civilization except with song.  It has a long and illustrious history.

Your can learn a lot about a civilization, or a period in time itself, through fiction.  Take a long look at some of the pieces of fiction that have been written thoughout the years and it is easy to see.  Stories like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or stories like Fahrenheit 451, or the great tragedies like 1984 have shown a world that is wrought with peril and problem.  They talk about the world and the futures that could come from this world.  Some of the great stories that are about the world are also filled with hope.  They talk about the world as it could and should be.

But there is also a greater piece of knowledge that comes from fiction.  There is a greater ideal that fiction is able to do for the world.  Fiction is able to create worlds.  That may not make sense, but stay with me for a second.  Let’s face it, life is hard.  Life is not easy, for any of us.  It actually kind of sucks for a lot of the time.  The thing that fiction is able to bring to the world is that it allows people to escape their problems.  It allows people to go to another world for a little while and to forget about their troubles. 

You think that’s a juvenile concept, don’t you?  I think everybody needs to pretend every once in a while.  Even adults need an escape.  If they didn’t, why do you think that they drink?  Why would people need to bury themselves in things if they don’t need to escape the problems of life?  The simple fact is that we all need pretend.  We all need fantasy, no matter where the fantasies go.  We still need a way to forget about things that are horrbile in life.  Fiction gives us the ability to do that.

When you think about all the different kinds of fiction, it is easy to understand how people could get lost in it and get away from life’s difficulties.  The cool thing about the modern age is that there are so many kinds of fiction and so many ways for it to get around.  We have the internet, Netflix, Youtube, and a million other ways to enjoy a good story.  For some people, like me, it is the love of a good story that means so much to their world.  I am a self-termed “Chronic Story Seeker.”  I seek out a good story, no matter what form it takes. 

The big problem that I see, especially in cinema, is that there seems to be very little drive for new ideas.  Granted, it is completely impossible for a completely original idea anymore, but so many story and filmmakers are just content to barely polish an idea that has been overused.  The Fantasy genre is horribly guilty of this crime.  So many stories that I read anymore are not even good versions of old stories, they just sound the same as the others.  Then you have these really huge stories that are hopelessly guilty of this crime, like James Cameron’s film Avatar, which basically told the tale of Dance With Wolves in space.

But there is a lot of hope for the world of fiction.  There are some amazing stories, like my favorite series by Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials, which contains the books: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass.  It wasn’t an entirely original idea, but it was surely a very unique spin on the ideas that drove it.  They were a series of stories about two people who didn’t want to be heroes, they just wanted to help those they cared about, and the unfortunate circumstances that hurt them both so much.

But fiction has a greater purpose than anything else.  It binds the people of the world together.  The great books that have been written have shaped the human race.  Different genres bind different groups of people together in ways that most thought are impossible.  It is a common thread for people to share, the love of a kind of fiction.  And it isn’t just genres that bring people together, but it is also kinds of fiction.  Everything from the love of theater, to the love of video games, they bring the people of the world together in a different way than religion or common ancestry.  People still disagree over what kind of fiction is better, but I have yet to see people kill one-another over what type of fiction is better (religious books not included, eh?)

I love a good piece of fiction, and so should everyone else.  We all need our escapes, but they don’t have to hurt you.  They can bring the world together in a way that booze and pointless fucking will never be able to do.  It is a great thing that has made this world a better place, and always will.

Until next time, a quote,

“It is your story, only you can finish it.”  -Auron, Final Fantasy X

Peace out,

Maverick