Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Like Tears In Rain

 

(The title here is a hook to see who knows the reference.)  

For those that don't, it is the line from a film.  Rutger Hauer's last words in the movie "Blade Runner".  Its a moving scene, very dystopian and sad.  

Anyway, to the point.  This film, Blade Runner, has several scenes where a test is performed on individuals.  It is an interesting test, involving a series of questions.  The answers can only be made by someone who has experienced an emotion.  Its a psychological test called 'Voit-Comp'. 

If you haven't already guessed, this is a test to determine if the subject being tested is human or an android.  Robots don't have memories of Christmas morning at the age of three.  

As I scroll through my social media feed I keep seeing these questions pop up.....and wonder...if I can't answer this, am I really human? 



Thursday, September 30, 2021

Are We Not Men?

I have concerns about the system.  The American System.  The system I am speaking of contains the various facets of our psyche that become culture, civilization and bonding which make up a progressive group of individuals.  Here in the United States we have been such a group of individuals in fits and starts for over 200 years.  

In the beginning, there was the thought of finding a 'better way' of governance based on lessons learned from the ancients. It was a good system for its day, with malleability built in to modify its codes and laws as time passed.  Pretty unheard of thinking in the 1700s.  

However, back in the day, not everyone was considered equal.  It was mostly a white guys club.  We never addressed that failing in the human experience and it has festered for the past 200 years.  Like I stated, we move forward in fits and starts, with a few wars thrown in for good measure.  

But we are still here, and we are still kicking.....but e-gad, we don't learn very quickly. 

My concern is that there is a breakdown in the ability of a significant amount of the population to reason through logic, but instead define their concepts of right and wrong based on unfounded beliefs.   They simply believe in what they want to believe.  The concepts of data, history and science are irrelevant.  

There was a 1970s rock band that coined a term for this; "DEVO" (de-evolution).  Great band by the way, they really stand up against the test of time.  

So why are we DEVO?

I have often theorized that if you really wanted to win the 'game' and didn't give a damn about the 'rules' you would find a way to cheat.  You want a conspiracy theory?  Here is one: A subversive state back in the 1950s found a way to put undetectable amounts of chemicals in our water supply that over DECADES make the populace more simplistic and stupid.  In the end (the long game) that would be a pretty easy enemy to knock off.  

This type of behavior spiders out in many forms, regarding education, politics, economics, foreign affairs, medicine.....pretty much your whole life.  If there is no universal truth or law for these forms within a society, there will be decay.  It isn't what a large section of the populace is doing / or not doing.  It is how they are doing it, through denial, anger and spite. 

I have often requested that my acquaintances who have conservative views to explain to me the 'better' plan that their leaders want to implement if given the opportunity to govern.  Without fail, these are the responses that I receive. 

 


Clearly, I don't see a plan for solving any issues here.  I see an attitude of defiance as though hoards are descending on their homes and they see themselves as John Wayne at the Alamo.  

This attitude / tactic as been seen numerous times throughout history, usually with disastrous results.   So maybe it cyclical, every 200 years we sort of go off our rockers for a generation?  

Maybe it is those chemical trails and cloud seeding?  ............. maybe just the culling of the herd. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Media Review: Wandering the Media Library

Edna Ferber's "Show Boat" [TCM]


Not to be confused with the remake staring Ava Gardner, this is the original based on the book by Edna Ferber.  A simplistic tale of love and redemption set inside a traveling song and dance show on a Mississippi river boat.  What is most striking is the music, more tunes than that remake, and the portrayal of the antebellum south.  By todays standards this is a very racist film and pretty politically incorrect.  The happy negros that toil for the white folks is pretty hard to watch.  The standouts are Paul Robson and Hattie McDaniel.  Paul being the only cast member to reprise his role in the remake. 


"I Walked 
With A Zombie" [TCM]


I wanted to see this film for two reasons.  The film was directed by Jacques Tourneur and the film was produced by Val Lewton.  Mr. Lewton was known for this bizarre and understated thrillers in the 1940s.  Think 'Twilight Zone' before Rod Serling.  Mr. Tourneur was the cinematographer on one of my all time favorites, "Out of the Past'.  So this should have been a good film.  It was really just odd.  Beautifully shot, but with little plot and it seemed to go nowhere.  Worth the watch just to see the creepy scenery and visuals. 


Passage to Marseille [TCM]



This was an eye-opener.  This is a propaganda film shot during WWII.  It is almost a sequel to the film 'Casablanca', with much of the same cast members.  Apparently, the idea in the mid 40s was to show sympathy and empathy for those nations that had been ravaged by the Axis powers.  In this case, as in Casablanca', it is the French and their struggle against the Nazis.   A fun film to watch but overly sappy on the political message. 


Crusades [VHS]


This is a four tape VHS set that I have been making my way through.  At first, it is a bit tongue and cheek showing how the Christians of central Europe really botched the idea of liberating the Holy Land and all the terrible blunders that they made.  However, in the latter part of the series, it shows the dynamics of how the Muslim and Christian world settled on each other and came to respect the status quo.  It is a must watch for anyone that has in interest in Middle East politics and history.  I learned quite a few things about Muslim history and reasons for the schism with the west. 



The Boondock Saints [BluRay]


Wow, this was interesting.  I really can't recommend this film from an entertainment standpoint, but as educational offering , it has some merit.  I had heard of this film before and know that it has a slight cult following (as can be attested to by the numerous sequels that have gone straight to video).  A VERY violent film with lots of gunfire.  However, it is beautifully shot, almost as though it was a ballet.  The storyline is interesting, with William DeFoe's gay detective deconstructing crime scenes after the fact and then the actual crime is seen in real time.  It is a fascinating juxta positioning of story line and style.  Interesting to watch, but always ending in a bloodbath.  Interesting premise, but the film falls flat at the end with no real conclusion. 


Viva Zapata! [Laserdisc]


Another interesting find.  The credits for this read like a whos who of Hollywood in the 1960s.  Elia Kazan directs, John Steinbeck writes it, Alex North does the music and Marlan Brando stars.  Unfortunately what you get is something akin to 'On The Waterfront' with sombreros.  Brando as an Hispanic is a stretch and the story is slow to get moving.  The ending, while predictable, draws you in because of the examples of political corruption and how it affects even the most dedicated freedom fighter.  





Monday, April 19, 2021

Meanwhile, In The Media Room...

Media Review: 

 

The pandemic and the rearranging of my media room has brought forth a large segment of my media out of the dusty shadows and into the viewing room. Here is a summary of my viewing habits (outside of Hulu and Netflix) over the winters pandemic. 

 

Hell Freezes Over (The Eagle Live) [Laserdisc] This is a great documentary that includes extensive interviews with the band members and many of their well-known songs. Professional musicians and the music is very good. Done before a captive live audience, it was pretty satisfying if this was the soundtrack to your youth in the 1970s.


Richard Thompson (Across a Crowded Room) [Laserdisc] I had never heard of this artist until I popped the Laserdisc in the player. This is one of the Pioneer music discs that were created to promote the format. He is very good. What I came away with was a small live performance that straddles the line between ‘Little Feat’ and ‘Stevie Ray Vaughn’. It was much better than I thought it would be. 

Rickie Lee Jones Live at the Wiltern Theatre [Laserdisc] If you don’t know Ricki, she was popular back in the 70s and 80s. She comes off as more of a younger ingĂ©nue Joni Mitchell. She is cute and talented, with a blues-y type of laid back style that suits the intimate venue in which it was filmed.


Thelma and Louise [Laserdisc] Watched this because Sue and had never seen it. It had been a long time since I last saw it and this viewing was pretty sweet, since the Laserdisc has AC3 surround sound and the music was much better than I recalled. A classic film with a very young Brad Pitt. 

 


The Crusades [VHS] This is a thrift store find that is a series of four videotapes. A documentary about the Christian Crusades as told by Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame). It is tongue and cheek with interesting special effects and story lines. Overall though, it shows the lunacy of governments and movements that are based on religion. If you use a deity as authority, then you can’t be held accountable for your atrocities. 


Band of Brothers [VHS] I have several copies of this, one on DVD and this one on VHS. If you haven’t seen it before, this is possibly the best dramatic reconstruction of the Great War in Europe ever put on film. There are many fine points that are easily missed during the first viewing, so it is worth a second look, its that good. The series touches on many important life lessons, not just from combat, but also from the interactions of various people with various personalities under stressful situations. 

 


The Magnificent Ambersons [Turner Classic Movies] If you study film, you understand how important Orson Wells “Citizen Kane’ was to the world of cinema. This is Wells' second film after Citizen Kane which I had never seen it. The film was done with most of the same cast as Citizen Kane.  However, I found the film disappointing. It has the same tone and camera work as Kane, but the story line is muddled and makes little sense. The acting also appears a bit stiff. It has Wells handwriting all over it, but I was more confused at the end than in the beginning. 


Chaplin Serials [VHS] Everything in media sprang from Silent Cinema. You want to see the earliest Tik-Tok? Just watch Charlie Chaplin. This is really dated material, produced by Mack Sennett, with the first appearance of the Keystone Cops. It is simplistic and while supposedly comedies, there are also a lot of social issues thrown in that were prominent at the time. 

 


Carnival of Souls [Turner Classic Movies] A low budget horror film that is more fun to watch because of the scenery and cinematography. Shot in and around Salt Lake City and the Seattle area, it is filmed in black & white and is haunting because of the odd camera work and the creepy organ music soundtrack.   Low budget film making at its best.