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silent running. [movies in space #5]

Well, they can’t all be winners. This review has spoilers, so if you ever plan on watching this one you should look away.

The story of a guy who works on a space station designed to house forest ecosystems since there are no longer any trees and such on earth. The call comes from earth that orders the destruction of all the tree space stations. So, our guy goes rogue to save his forest from being nuked.

This movie is pretty awful.

The acting was terrible, which wasn’t helped by terrible writing. The dialogue was so bad that it felt like it was improvised by people who had merely a passing knowledge of the english language. No one involved in making this movie seemed to have much desire to pay attention to peripheral things like science, logic, or realistic human motivations.

The movie did have one thing going for it. There was a scene early on with literally the fattest squirrel I have ever seen. It was massively fat. His belly dragged on the ground when he ran. I’m not kidding, this was a fat fucking squirrel.

Bruce Dern’s performance is apparently praised by some, but in my opinion it was terrible. His attempts at playing intense and passionate came across as insane, unstable, and sulky. He didn’t ever feel like a hero saving something worthwhile, he felt more like an ecoterrorist bent on doing whatever he needs to do to save the trees without really ever sharing a compelling reason as to why. You’d think it would have been fairly simple to come up with compelling reasons for trees to exist… you’d think wrong. The best arguments he ever makes, check that, the only reasons he ever gives are that melons taste good, and it’s really sad for little girls to grow up in a world where they will never hold a leaf. Also, the events of the film make it impossible for the forest on his space freighter to ever go back to reforest earth, thus the killing and such that he does are done just to save the forest based on principle and an inability to let go, as opposed to any actual future good. He kills three men, and later himself, so that the forest will exist out in deep space, with no way to track or find it at a later date.

It also bothers me that when they designed the robots, no one seemed interested in something even remotely plausible. If you look at the way they operate, they use as much energy as possible, don’t function based on even a layman’s understanding of how computers or mechanics work (even a 1971 computer), and a very loose grasp of physics would make it clear that they would never be capable of completing any of the jobs they do in the movie. Couldn’t they have just asked a robotic engineer or two what robots might look like in the future? As industrial design goes, they get a great big F. Seriously though, I’d challenge you to come up with less efficient robots, and I bet you’d be hard pressed.

They also never explain why these man made eco-systems would exist in space. The only reason we have is that the story wouldn’t have worked otherwise. Why not build them in the desert? On the ocean? Under the ocean? Anywhere cheaper than outer fucking space? Meh. Also, no reason is given as to why they suddenly decide to destroy the forests.

I could keep going on for a while about dumb shit in this movie, but I’ve made my point, so let that be enough.


solaris (1972). [movies in space #4]

Tarkovskiy’s 1972 film about a mission to a space station orbiting the fictional “planet” of Solaris. Weird stuff keeps happening on the space station, and scientist Kris Kelvin is sent there to decide whether or not the Solaris project would continue. Once there, the frayed minds of the other scientists aboard the station, as well as the presence of some unexpected guests, make the mission much more trying than he thought. Will he ever get back to earth?

It wasn’t difficult to tell that this was by the same director as Stalker. Lots of slow, sweeping shots; very deliberate pace where ideas are more important than story; unique take on film that most people would have trouble sitting through. I think a combination of Tarkovskiy’s skill as a director, combined with excellent acting, make the end product quite rewarding and enjoyable. I really do love the heady way Tarkovskiy liked to roam around in philosophy (and religion when he could get away with talking about God while pretending not to talk about God… he was making films in the USSR after all).

I liked Stalker more, but I’m not sure why yet. Maybe I never will know why, since Tarkovskiy made films you experience and live in as much as watch. He’s up there with Bergman and Kurosawa as guys who pushed the medium of film firmly into the realm of art.


here's to procrastination! [five things, 5.18.11]

There are several things I should probably be doing right now. Instead, I feel like writing a ‘five things’ post.



1. Parks and Recreation

I hated the first season of this show. There were funny moments, but I just couldn’t make myself like it. I wanted to like it, because I adore the cast, but it just wasn’t happening.

Season two on the other hand, I loved. It was everything I expected from season one. I started watching it yesterday because I hadn’t slept the night before and wasn’t capable of getting anything done. I finished the season this morning. Less than 24 hours, and I watched all of season two.

The video below has horrible graphics over the scenes, along with terrible voice over and editing. However, it is still an ode to my favorite character, so I posted it anyway.


2. The Antlers – Burst Apart

A ways back, my friend Luke put a link in his gchat status message telling everyone to buy Hospice by The Antlers. I’d never listened to The Antlers before, but at the time the album was only 3.99 on ‘Amazon mp3’ and Luke has good taste in music. What began was a love affair to rival Romeo and Juliet. The CD is an amazing concept album telling a story of the death of a loved one from cancer. If you don’t own it, go buy it right now here.

Anyway, they had a new album come out about a week ago. It’s called Burst Apart. It’s so different from Hospice. They go in a very different creative direction. Where it isn’t different is that the album is awesome. You can buy Burst Apart here.


3. Bridesmaids

Loved it. Hilarious and smart, but with its share of broad, low brow humor as well. I don’t think it would be possible for me to keep from falling in love with Kristen Wiig, the performance and character were great! This is not the girl version of The Hangover. It’s a story about growing into ourselves, as well as loving and being loved by our friends.

The performances were all hilarious, and Chris O’Dowd was as easy to fall in love with as Kristen Wiig.


4. “The Doctor’s Wife”: Neil Gaiman’s Episode of Doctor Who

Yeah, like there was any way I wasn’t going to mention this.

It was amazing. Easily slid in as one of my favorite episodes yet. Why can’t he just be a staff writer for a season or something?

The episode had everything I could want, and offered a wonderful twist on the history of how the Doctor came to steal the TARDIS. Woot!

I wish Emily was caught up so I could show it to her this week.


5. “A Fistful of Paintballs” and “For a Few Paintballs More”

Topping the original paintball episode in scope and fun was impossible. They did it anyway. With awesome homages to spaghetti westerns and Star Wars, these episodes were legiiiiiit!

The only down side, what the hell am I going to do without new episodes of Community for the next 4-6 months.

Have I ever mentioned how in love I am with Alison Brie?


the fifth element. [alien invasion/visitation movies #4. movies in space #3.]

I wasn’t sure if this one should be part of the Movies in Space list, since most of the second half takes place in space; or the Invasion/Visitation list, since the whole plot revolves around the approach of a purely evil alien force threatening earth. Best solution? Count it as both. It’s a win/win/win situation.

Not my first time seeing this, but this was the perfect excuse for watching it again. Luc Besson’s hyper-stylized sci-fi action romp is still crazy after all these years. Also, it’s still awesome. In my biased opinion, it’s just the right amounts of absurd, funny, and action-packed.

It’s got Bruce Willis kicking ass, Milla Jovovich before she started making terrible so called “zombie” movies, Chris Tucker in an early role, Ian Holm before he was Bilbo, and Gary Oldman. I love me some Gary Oldman.

Fun times.


fright night. [trailer park.]

I barely remember the first Fright Night, almost not at all. However, I do remember that it’s the first movie I watched when I started differentiating some scary movies from other scary movies. As a kid, all scary movies went into the same category as things I was too afraid to watch because it made it impossible for me to be in the dark without having a nervous breakdown. Watching Fright Night against my will at a babysitter’s house was when I finally saw a movie and thought… ‘wait a minute, this is as funny as it is scary, and there’s loads of adventure in it. This is kinda awesome.’ Big breakthrough. It created a fascination with vampires that lived a healthy life right up until Twilight came out, it’s been sick since then, but I have a feeling it will be back strong everntually.

Impressions about the trailer:

1. I’m sad there isn’t more David Tennant in it, he’s only in one scene of the trailer, and even that is so brief you can almost entirely miss it. No lines even! However, his being cast in the film is reason enough for me to go see it!

2. WTF? Is this one not going to be a comedy? Or is the total lack of laughs in the trailer just classic terrible advertising for a film, something which is happening more and more often lately.

3. To be honest, if I can get someone to go with me, I’ll go see this either way. Because… you know… David Tennant.


common sense? i guess not.

So, I won’t go off on a rant about Common and Fox News because it’s been well documented already. If you haven’t seen Jon Stewart’s take on it yet, watch that. It pretty much gets to the heart of the issue, and it’s hilarious. Same old Daily Show.

Instead of ranting, I’ve come up with an idea for retribution instead. In a perfect world, I’d be able to enforce this idea in order for Fox News to maintain their broadcast license.

Fox News is so terrified and ignorant of all things that aren’t really conservative white culture, so I think it’s time they met Tyler, the Creator. Back when I used to watch Mtv in high school, they would have times where a particular artist took over the station for an afternoon, or at least pretended to. Well, that’s what should happen to Fox News. Tyler, the Creator should get to direct for a full broadcast day. FN would have to use the same cast, the same personalities, and show the same programs as usual. The only difference is that Tyler, the Creator would direct every minute of it, interjecting whatever he wants whenever he wants.

I have a feeling it would go down in history as the most cathartic day of television ever produced.

It would be perfect, because if Fox News calls a guy ‘vile’ and ‘a thug’ who has lyrics like this:

Well, the devil is wrong and God is what’s right
I fight, with myself in the ring of doubt and fear
The rain ain’t gone, but i can still see clear
As a child, given religion with no answer to why
Just told believe in jesus cuz for me he did die
Curiosity killed the catechism
Understanding and wisdom became the rhythm that i played to
And became a slave to master self
A rich man is one with knowledge, happiness and his health
My mind had dealt with the books of zen, tao the lessons
Koran and the bible, to me they all vital

Then I can’t wait to see what they do with a guy with lyrics like:

I’ll crash that fucking airplane that that faggot nigga B.o.B is in
And stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus
And won’t stop until the cops come in


This is what the devil plays before he goes to sleep
Some food for thought some food for death, go ahead and fucking eat
My father’s dead, well I don’t know, we’ll never fucking meet
I cut my wrist and play piano cause I’m so depressed
Somebody call the pastor, this bastard is so possessed
This meeting just begun, nigga I’m Satan’s son