Thursday, February 22, 2018

Dunkirk and the Slow Death: A Movie About Nothing

Christopher Nolan proves once again how easily dazzled people are when something seems deep, because, I suppose, Dunkirk seems like a deep movie, all about the desperation of war and whatnot; but, really, Dunkirk is a movie about nothing. It is a movie that says nothing. It is a movie that does nothing. Well, nothing other than lazily follow the pseudo-protagonist around as he spends the movie running away.

In fact, nearly the whole movie is about running away. It's a movie about running away that is capped off by Winston Churchill's famous we-will-fight-them-everywhere speech.

I know. That's so deep. Except that it's not.

It also contains a bunch of purposeless non-linear elements. And don't get me wrong; I have nothing against non-linear story telling... as long as it serves the purpose of the story, but this felt more like it was there because people expect it of Nolan. You know, it's his signature thing so he has to include it even if it doesn't belong in this movie. So what we get is incongruous shots of a mid-day dog fight cut with scenes of a ship sinking in the middle of the night.

Oh! But maybe that's deep!
No, not really. It's just sloppy, bad story telling.
And that doesn't even touch on how we cut back to the same dog fight toward the end of the movie but seen from a different character's perspective.
Basically, the whole movie is out of sequence. None of it serves the story. And some of it is actually conflicting.

But, you know, Nolan is so deep.

I'm not even going to talk about the acting. Generally speaking, the actors all seemed bored. I think Nolan wanted them to seem bored, so I suppose that's good acting, but it makes a movie that comes in at only about one hour and forty-five minutes feel like you were watching it for three. But, maybe, my problem was that I didn't watch it in the theater. I wasn't fully immersed in the bigness of it.
Except that it's really a small movie.

Look, let's use the potty meter to measure this movie. In a good movie, you don't want to have to get up and go to the bathroom because you're worried you might miss something but, in this movie, you could have gone to take a nice long dump and come back to find that you missed... nothing at all. Maybe some more guys died, because people keep dying all around the pseudo-protagonist, but it's almost certain you wouldn't have missed any important dialogue because there's really not any. Hmm, now I'm wondering how long the movie would be if you kept only the bits with dialogue. 20 minutes?

The biggest issue with the movie is that it is very unclear about who the enemy is. Or any context about what's going on at all. Sure, maybe Nolan just assumes that everyone should know enough about World War II to supply that for themselves, and maybe everyone should, but it's abundantly clear that a vast amount of people don't know anything about World War II and have no context for what's going on. Shithead Nolan couldn't even identify the Nazis as the enemy in the opening text. No, he just says, "They're surrounded by the enemy."

What the actual fuck, Nolan? You can't do better than that? What enemy? Aliens? Goblins? Ravaging hordes of barbarians? No, it was Nazis, and you should have been clear about that.

But, then, it's painfully obvious that this was your go-to for trying to win a best picture Oscar after losing with Interstellar, an artsy movie about WWII. But this movie shouldn't have been nominated at all. It's just a hollow piece of chocolate that is ultimately disappointing because it has no substance. Bad chocolate, at that.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Racism, Not Just Hate Flavored

We do a lot of food exploration at my house. I mean, we experiment with cooking a lot in our house. For many reasons.
Like, the Indian restaurant we really loved closed, and we don't think any of the others in the area really come close.
Or my wife doesn't like pizza from restaurants, so we need to figure out our own pizza at home.
Or, gee, enchiladas are really hit-or-miss, maybe I should figure out how to make them so that we don't have the problem of bad enchiladas (which is what I did during January, and, now, we can't go buy better enchiladas than what I make at home).

Sometimes, when we're doing these food projects, we discover that there really is no one way to make something. That's true of everything, actually, but it's more true of somethings than others. I mean, pizza, despite the different toppings and thickness of the crust, is still basically pizza. It's bread and sauce and cheese at its heart; everything else is just window dressing.

But tagine... Tagine is not like that at all.

A couple of years ago, we decided to explore Moroccan food, and we started with tagine, because that seemed to be a pretty standard Moroccan dish. With Indian food, you start with curry; with Moroccan, you start with tagine. What I learned very quickly is that there is no one thing that is tagine. It was kind of mind boggling.

I mean, sure pizzas can be very different from one another but, if you see a pizza, you're going to know it's a pizza. Going through recipes for tagine, though, if I hadn't known I was looking at tagine recipes, I might not have been able to tell that two different dishes were both the same thing.

Except for the chicken. Tagine tends to have chicken.

And that's kind of how racism is. It doesn't all look the same, sometimes to the extent that you can't tell that what you're looking at is racism. Even in yourself.

We tend to think of racism as hate or, at least, an extreme dislike of a certain set of people, like, "I hate black people," or, "I hate Muslims," or, well, I'm sure you can figure it out. This is the burning crosses in people's yards or the dragging them from their homes and lynching them or the crowding them into ovens and gassing them kind of racism. But it's also the kind of hate that prompts torch-wielding mobs (even tiki torches) to march through towns and college campuses proclaiming how great they are. It's all very obvious and in your face, and, generally, we, culturally speaking, are quick to condemn it.

But racism is frequently more subtle than that and extends to the people who say things like, "I don't have any problem with black people, but..." We're so used to dealing with racism from the standpoint of hatred that we forget that it can include people who don't hold any particular dislike for another group of people but who just feel that their group of people is intrinsically better than some other group of people.

In fact, they may even like that other group of people and feel... fondness... for them. It's like this:
Some people really love kids. Little kids. They think they're great and want to play with them and do things with them and take them exploring and teach them and all of those kinds of things. They want to assist them in becoming adults because, right now, kids aren't as good as adults. But, maybe, one day, they will be. You know, assuming someone takes them in hand and guides their paths and helps them to become all they can be.

Sometimes, that's what racism looks like. "These other people aren't as good as us, but we can take them under our wing and teach them all about our ways and our religion and, maybe, one day, they can become all that they can be. But, until then, they need to be know their places as the inferior, the loved inferior but still inferior, and learn how to be better. The kind of racism of Robert E. Lee when he said god gave the Africans to the white man so that the white man could help them learn to become better people. [Yes, I'm paraphrasing.]

I think we often forget that racism can extend into being benevolent overlords. It's all for their own good, you know.

It's important to remember this stuff when people like Trump (#fakepresident) and Sessions claim to not be racist. I believe that it's possible that they don't feel racist because they don't feel whatever level of hate it is they believe is necessary to be a racist, but racism is not just hate flavored. It has a lot of flavors and a lot of ingredients. Sometimes, you can have two kinds of racism standing side by side and only recognize one of them, the one full of hate, and forget all about the one full of only white supremacy (and Anglo-American heritage).

Racism isn't about how you or anyone feels, not just about that, anyway. It's also about how you act, what you do and what you say. If you say racist things and do racist things, it doesn't matter how you feel. At that point, it's all about ducks: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

In other words, just because you're not a hate-flavored racist, if you're promoting white supremacy in any form, you're being racist. Which is why, in the end, if you are a Trump (#fakepresident) or Trump (#fakepresident) administration apologist, you're a racist.

I don't care how you feel.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Rebels: "A Princess on Lothal" (Ep. 2.12)

-- In our position, you take what you can get, Kid.

Fuuuuuccck! When the Empire deploys AT-ATs, they just drop them! They DROP them! That explains the legs on them, I suppose.

My son couldn't buy it, though. Me, I was willing to give them that one. It was when Kanan -- see picture above, which is really cool -- went running at the AT-AT with a lightsaber THEN cut right through its legs (yes, two of them!) as if they were butter that they lost me. I mean, they had just dropped the AT-AT from a spaceship and the legs had supported the drop! But Kanan can just slice through them as he runs by? I don't think so. Go back to Phantom Menace and how long it took Qui-Gon to cut through one of those doors on the Trade Federation ship. Oh, wait! He wasn't able to do it in time. AT-AT legs have to be at least that tough.


This episode features a certain princess, and it's a pretty decent episode. You know, except for the bit mentioned above and that Leia seems to be unable to connect with people. Hmm... Actually, I suppose that's just Leia, so it makes sense when Kanan tells her that she should talk to Ezra because she understands what it's like to be young and have a lot of responsibility that she kind of just fails at that.

This is Leia before she's a senator. At least, that's what I'm assuming because her father is the senator from Alderaan. It's interesting to see her from this perspective, but it's more interesting to see the Empire's view of Alderaan. It gives a little insight on why Tarkin becomes so willing to blow it up.

"Wait, why does she get to give orders? I don't get to give orders."