Monday, May 14, 2018

Leftism is Revolting - I would NEVER be a liberal today.

Honestly, I would never want to be a liberal today.  They are just gross.

I used to pride myself on understanding where people on the left were coming from.  While they would wring their hands and tear out their hair in anguish and bewilderment at conservatives, I would simply smile and placidly nod my head at their infantile proclamations.  Sure they're dumb, but entirely understandable.  Liberals just want what the rest of us want - peace and prosperity and a better world for our kids.  Right?

No, not really.  Not so much these days.  

Lately I have been bewildered myself as the left makes less and less sense.

Why attack every single person you disagree with as a racist?  It makes no logical sense to castigate and alienate your political opponents.  I am confused at this completely irrational impulse that many liberals have these days...  disagree with someone?  They are VERY LIKELY RACIST.

Senseless.  Rather than engage with ideas and critical thinking, simply go for the jugular with the most vile smear you can think of.  No thought or conviction required.

The President?  Not mine and he should be impeached immediately.

This is rather absurd and entirely unlikely and doesn't seem to be coming from anywhere logical.  Rather than engage with ideas and critical thinking, simply deny plain truth and clamor for the destruction of the presidency.  No thought or conviction required.

I want democrats to take back the house, senate and the presidency.  So I'm going to double down on my identity politics and make things exponentially worse and alienate anyone who might be on the fence - pushing them away and to the right.

This tactic of simply repeating everything that made democrats lose in 2016 is maybe the most nonsensical behavior of all.  Why would you re-emphasize everything that pissed off conservatives and yes even the moderates who voted for Obama twice before?  

Makes no sense.

I suppose I should be glad, lefties are all but assuring that they will lose again this November, the blue wave is now more of a trickle as polls across even the most liberal of sources are showing it less and less likely that the Dems will retake the house.

Trump keeps winning and winning, and the left keeps helping him by increasing and not decreasing the hyperbole and hyper-anger.

It's one thing to say that a particular politician or celebrity is racist for something they may have said years ago, that's the kind of character assassination the left has always been eager to implement - but it's quite another thing to now call 60 million people racist.  Even if this temper tantrum driven declaration were even partially true, why would liberals want to make it worse?   What logic is there in spitting in the eye of those you supposedly want to vote for your candidates?

Makes no sense and it makes me feel like I must be missing something, some bigger master plan to bring people together in the end.

But I know this isn't the case - all the left has left now is anger and hate, and it is boiling over and out of control because it's just making things worse for democrats and they simply don't seem to care.

Makes no sense at all.


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War - "Review"

I use the term "review" loosely.  I'm not a critic of these Marvel movies, I'm an unapologetic fan boy who read comic books voraciously from ages 5 through 15 and now I'm in heaven as all the stories and characters I loved as a child have now come to life on the big screen with big budgets and stellar production values.  Best of all, they make TONS of money; way more money than there are former comic book readers in the world - so that tells us that everyone, not just us nerds, is deeply in love with these movies.

So - Avengers: Infinity War, where to begin?

I think it's a fantastic movie and it's especially amazing that the filmmakers pulled it off.   They were tasked with delivering the first part of a climax that did two things -

1 - Delivered the goods with Thanos, the villain that the MCU has been hyping for nearly a decade.



2 - Included almost every superhero character that we've met during that decade.



It's amazing that AIW succeeds wildly in delivering these two goals and also manages to have a tight and compelling story with lots of emotional moments with the characters that we've all come to love.

Could someone go in to this film and know nothing about Marvel superheroes and still enjoy it?  Probably not.  Seeing this movie is a conditional experience.  It's important that you've seen and enjoyed at least 10 out of 18 of the Marvel movies if you want to have a good time.

It's pretty unusual for a movie to basically require that you've seen previous movies in order to enjoy it.  This is not uncommon in television at all.  No one in their right mind would sit down to season 7 of Game of Thrones without watching the prior 6 seasons, right?  I think it's okay that we have to do our due diligence with other MCU movies first before taking in the massive payoff that is AIW.

The 10 movies that I would say are 100% required viewing to appreciate AIW fully -

Iron Man
Captain America: The First Avenger
Marvel's Avengers
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America: Civil War
Doctor Strange
Spiderman Homecoming
Thor Ragnarok
Black Panther

And this is the bare minimum.  That is a lot of movies!

If you want to have the absolute BEST experience with AIW you should of course watch all 18 MCU movies, maybe pass on The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, I don't know.

So having made it clear that you're not going to get any critical analysis here - let me get into HEAVY SPOILERS and rank and break down all the stuff that I loved.


Top 5 Favorite Characters (& partnerships) -

5.  Doctor Strange - the good doctor is front and center in this epic as he should be, a very critical piece to the puzzle; perhaps THE most critical piece in ultimately beating the bad guy.  I loved how Dr. Strange interacted with Stark and also loved when he went full on mystical bad ass with the Shiva goddess multiple arm thing.



4.  Spider-Man (or non made up name, Peter Parker) - so many great moments with Marvel's most popular superhero.  Really dig that we basically carve out a slice from Homecoming on the school bus and then Spidey descends right into the Infinity War stuff.  Great humor up in space, utter heartbreak at the end.



3.  Rocket and Thor - A most unexpectedly delightful duo that delivers the biggest cheer of the film and also helps greatly in the humor department.




2.  Scarlett Witch and Vision -  These were my two favorite comic book Avengers, and I have to say that the big screen versions are even better.  Olsen finally dispenses with her uneven accent and I don't miss it.  Bettany is note perfect in his performance as the android that breaks our hearts in the end.




1.  Thanos - best Marvel villain ever period.   It's so great that we can not only understand where he is coming from, but we might even catch ourselves agreeing with him for brief moments before we understand the lengths he is willing to go to.  After all, who doesn't want peace and prosperity?  Thanos is such a VAST improvement over the comic book character, who just wants to bone death, it's not even funny.




Top 5 Favorite Action Set Pieces - (tough to choose, there are so many!)

5.  Hulk gets his ass kicked.  -  Perfect introduction to Thanos.  Hulk gets knocked the fuck out and it's amazing.



4.  Wanda saves Vis - outstanding and visceral sequence in Edinburgh Scotland.  Really enjoyed the location work (though who knows how much of it is real) and the concept of two very powerful Avengers caught off guard and then the female trying to save her man and get away after he is damaged.  Satisfying when Cap and his sidekicks show up, though it is a little strange that the three most human and least powerful Avengers have to rescue two of the most powerful.



3.  Tony handheld down the street and around the corner - The long unbroken shot when Stark leaves the Sanctorum and walks down Bleeker and comes across a massive donut in the sky, is about as technically impressive as it gets these days.  He's almost clobbered by a crashing car along the way, and when we see the big baddies, it's has a very 9/11 feel to it.  Spine tingling and powerful.  (The fight with Ebony Maw afterwards is great, but a bit shaky and tight for my tastes.  Now that I've seen it a few times, I can follow it much better.)



2.  Titan team up - Thanos is almost defeated on Titan by Stark and the gang and the action is superb. Especially dig all the various Dr. Strange portals opening up and closing on cue.  Boom!  Speaking of Quill, of course he has to blow it but oh well.



1.  Wakanda.  Well duh.  Reminded me a bit of the epic War and Peace battle in the Star Wars prequel Phantom Menace, but so so much better in so many ways.   Really dug, in no particular order, War Machine's pyrotechnics, Widow and the other ladies going after Proxima Midnight, Cap and T'Challa sprinting so fast they leave the others in the dust, and of course Thor and Rocket/Groot's epic arrival.



Top 5 Jokes -

5.  I am sure I am invisible.

4.  Are you making your voice deeper?  No.

3.  I'll do you one better, WHY Gamora.

2.  Kick names and take ass.

1.  I am Groot.  I am Steve Rogers.



Top 5 Favorite Emotional moments -


5.  Quill pulls the trigger - So awesome the moment when Gamora confesses her love for Peter.  Lump thoroughly lodged in the throat, eyes watering up.

4. Rocket loses Groot - devastating!  Tears a' rolling.



3. Thanos kills Gamora - Incredibly powerful, especially the way Thanos grabs Gamora's arm, in the same manner that all parents grab their toddlers in a supermarket when the toddler has a fit.  We all lose our tempers as parents, and there's that moment when you grab them and you're mad - you don't stop loving them for an instant, but you do what you have to do.  That was the vibe I got from the very deliberate choice of Thanos grabbing his daughter's arm and Gamora fighting back in the manner of a child.

2.  Peter fades away - utterly heartbreaking when Peter says he isn't ready to go.


1.  Vision convinces Wanda to end it. -  This is the one part in the movie that really, really, got me.  I cried probably half a dozen times throughout (I cry easily at movies) but Vision mouthing "It's alright..." TWICE and then of course mouthing "I love you..." right before he buys the farm is JUST SO SO GOOD.  LOVE the choice to make the words barely audible.


Top 5 Stand Up and Cheer Moments -

5.  Paging Captain Marvel - the moment when the logo pops up, WOW!



4.  Boom!  Quill's middle finger drop.

3.  Wakanda forever!

2.  The Hilarious and Deadly Bucky/Rocket Spin!

1.  Thor arrives with Rocket & Groot in Wakanda.  Perfect camera move + perfect music = #1 Stand Up and Cheer moment!



And so yes, I LOVED this movie.  As to where to rank it in my list in the below post, we will get to that, but first, some unfortunate but necessary business of pointing out five teeny tiny NERD nitpicks - the handful of things that I can't help but mention didn't quite add up 100%.  Because I am a NERD and it is in my NERD DNA.


5.  Cap, Black Widow and Falcon rescue Vision and the Scarlett Witch?  Really?  Yes, I know Vision was injured and Wanda was frantic because of it, but still - she all by herself could easily take out Cap, Tasha and Sam with very little effort.

4.  Ebony Maw can bend time and space, but just kick him out the window and HE DEAD.  I know this was a big fun moment for the audience, but it seems highly improbable.  Silly I know, nitpicking over the plausibility of the death of an entirely fictional character in an entirely fictional universe.

3.  Quill kills trillions by going apeshit.  Yes, it is very much in his character - and we are all only human, but this seems to be a bit much even for the hotshot known as Star Lord.

2.  Cut off a monsters arm with a portal - but don't try that with Thanos, because... er...  why not try it?

1.  When Itchy plays Scratchy's rib cage like a xylophone he CLEARLY strikes two different ribs and yet the ribs play the same tone.  What, are we supposed to believe Scratchy's ribs are a ''magic" xylophone?  I really hope someone gets fired over this gaffe.



And so to ranking - I've gone 'deep into the tank' on this one (that's a poker expression, meaning taking a long time to make a decision) and in the end Avengers Infinity War comes out at number 3, right ahead of Winter Soldier and just behind the original Avengers movie.

I really think this is perhaps the most spectacular superhero movie ever made, mainly because it has the best villain ever AND it manages to give every single superhero their due and there are almost 30 superheroes!  Crazy!   All the action is top notch, the humor is frequent and great, and we genuinely care about these characters very much.  They are endeared to us, so when they hurt we hurt.  When they die, we feel it, even knowing deep down that most will be back.

The only reason it's not number one is that the first Avengers is self contained - it's not just a part 1, and Guardians is a remarkable movie, period, not just a superhero movie.  It's one that I can recommend to anyone, not just fan boys and girls.


So there it is - I've seen the movie 3 times, I can't wait to see it again and again!

Warning: May not have actually happened.





Monday, April 30, 2018

All MCU Movies Ranked! EDIT: ALL OF THEM!

Keep in mind, I'm an unapologetic fanboy - I love all of these movies, the very worst of them I consider above average entertainment.  I prefer giving movies letter grades like we have in school - and the first three on this list would be a B - .

Also Keep in mind - there are some spoilers in the movie rankings below.

Without further ado, something I've wanted to do for ages - rank them all!


19.  The Incredible Hulk

This one suffers from a feeling of disconnect from the rest of the MCU,  mainly because of the woeful miscasting of Ed Norton who we never see again.  Mr. Norton is a phenomenal actor, he is NOT Bruce Banner in any way shape or form.  Rumor is that he took over on the set and basically directed and wrote it as filming went along - judging by the final product, I believe it.

The plot in this one is only slightly less muddled than the very problematic Ang Lee film "Hulk", but the pacing and the characters at least are much more sharply defined and clear.  It does sort of shit the bed at the end, though not nearly as spectacularly as Lee's version.

I'm sort of glad that this movie is not an origin story, but another part of me wishes they had done it correctly from the get go, an expertly done story of the beginning of the Hulk would have been something to see.




18.  Iron Man 2

This one is a mess and doesn't have but a handful of action set pieces, the last one being a dissapointing gobbledygook of a different Rodes flying around somewhat at random.  Weak sauce.

The good news - IM2 does bring us Scar Jo's Black Widow.  The bad news, and I know this seems like a nitpick, but I can't seem to get over it - she has ridiculously long and curly hair.  Black Widow would NEVER have such a ridiculous coif. "Hey you baddies, need something to grab?  I know I don't have a silly cape, I'm in a skin tight catsuit for stealth and quickness - but how about  you just grab on to this here 'do?  Go on, grab it!"

Absurd.

Mickey Rourke is criminally underused and a lousy villain who turns out to be not much of a threat at all.  Pointless.

All the same, held up against previous super hero movies pre-MCU, this one beats almost all of them still.




17.   Thor

Yes, I'm going to catch flack for this one; I rank it way lower than most Marvel movie lovers.  I'm sorry, Thor is just boring.  He was boring in the comics and he's boring here.

Some fun stuff on earth with the whole fish out of water thing, and Natalie Portman is fantastic, but the entire time we are in Asgard I just want to curl up and go to sleep.






Okay, these next few are a solid "B". From here on out I truly love them all.

16.  Thor: The Dark World

Like this one a lot more than the first Thor, and rank it much better than most MCU critics who typically put this one squarely at the bottom of the list.

Natalie Portman makes this movie for me - her scenes, with Thor and with her friend, are a hoot.

The Dark Elves are kind of 'meh' in a DCU sort of way - the Ether is a lame McGuffin, but it still works I guess and most of the rest of the movie is a lot of fun,  especially Loki who is as intriguing as ever.  Thank goodness we spend a good deal of time not in Asgard.




15.  Captain America: The First Avenger

My dear friend Allen will want to choke me out for ranking this one so low - but as I said, from this point on I love all of these films - and I truly do love this one.

My favorite stuff is Steve Rogers pre-super serum, Peggy Carter who is a magnificent choice for Cap's 'girl' and Cap in the USO shows.   Fantastic.

Less impressive to me is the convoluted Howling Commando sequences, the thoroughly unconvincing death of Bucky (doesn't help that I know the comics so well) and Red Skull who is as much of a mustache twirler as has ever been in the MCU.

I do love the ending - it's emotional and powerful.




14.  Iron Man 3

Lots of hate out there for this one in the internet nerd world - mostly because of the twist on the Mandarin character.  I for one think this is a brilliant choice and I love it!   There's also lots of other stuff to love here - Pepper Potts is great for once, love when she is in the suit (that whole sequence is awesome) and she makes a great damsel who is not too much in distress.

Love the idea of Stark having to pay for the sins of his past.  Love the kid and the sub-plot with him.  Thoroughly enjoy Tony attacking the compound sans Iron suit.   And of course the airplane sequence is spectacular.

Not so crazy about the final action sequence - it does have some fun moments, but it's also quite a bit confusing and frantic, and I simply don't buy that Tony is destroying all his suits and all his work.  It's silly and seems like lip service to Pepper, which as we find out, it totally is.




13.  Avengers: Age of Ultron

Crazy to me that this one ranks so low.  Nerds on the internet were disappointed, I really wasn't, it's just that from here on out the MCU movies are so SO GOOD, that this one has to go somewhere.  It is the last solid "B" on my list, after this, they are B+ and up.

I love the party scene before Ultron shows up - MCU character exploration at it's best,

I love Paul Bettany's Vision, in the brief screen time he gets, he is about as perfect as the character as I could ever have hoped.  The shot of him saving Wanda is just sublime.

The entire Sakovia sequence has some of the best action gags ever done in a Marvel movie.  Joss knows his geography when shooting action and it shows.  Just awesome awesome stuff.

The glaring exception is the death of Quicksilver.  I love the story choice, I hate the execution.  He gets shot, really?  Very sloppy and not believable.

Again, Tony is quitting.  Lame.  We all know he's not.  Not emotionally resonant at all.   That ending line from Steve Rogers though, or rather partial line, pretty dang cool.




The next 3 are B+ movies.


12.  Black Panther

Of all the rankings here, I know this one will be the most controversial.  People LOVE this movie.  One of the biggest reactions by the audience when I saw Infinity War on opening night was when we arrived in Wakanda.  I too absolutley love this movie, I just happen to love it a little less than the ones ranked above it.

One of the movie's biggest drawbacks for me is the lack of action - there are only two big sequences. Granted, they are both excellent, especially the first one in Korea.  Very very cool with Tchalla's virtual driving sister and the Kingsguard lady kicking ass with her Vibranium spear.  But I really wish we had more.  The middle of the film drags a bit.

The movie's greatest strength is for sure it's emotional power - seeing a prospering African country is very moving.  When the King is "killed" it is a heartbreaking sequence.  It all works.

I also especially love Michael B. Jordon, up until Infinity War he was easily the best MCU villain of all time.  He is outstanding in every way.

My favorite scene in the entire movie is when Killmonger visits his late father and it's in the old Oakland apartment.  Powerful stuff.

The final battle between T'Challa and Killmonger on the railway is okay, not fantastic.  Killmonger's death is done beautifully though.

As for the films politics, they are not why this falls lower on my list.  I truthfully didn't see what some of my conservative friends saw - if anything the movie preached mostly conservative values.  Personal responsibility first and foremost.  It was also a celebration of masculinity, the King was indeed just that, a very strong and bold leader.  It also presented women as strong, but in a different way.  When T'Challa decides it's time to give back, he's not giving anything away - he's setting up programs for people to work and earn a better life for themselves.  I enjoyed it all very much.

That said, I could've done with a bit more action and trimming of the dialogue.  There was a lot of talking in this one.   While T'Challa's death was staged very well and was very powerful, his return seemed clumsy and almost an afterthought.  The two women and the white dude wander into the snow tribe and whoops, there he is!  Okay.




11.  Guardians of the Galaxy 2

I love this movie - it is a spectacular character study, giving each member of the Guardians (and a new one) an emotional journey to undertake in which they all grow and change.  Very unexpected and very daring, but James Gunn pulls it off.

We know we are in for something different when the entire opening action sequence is thrown out of focus right away and put in the background while we watch little baby Groot dancing around happily.  Good stuff.

Love the Ravagers raiding the Milano in the woods.   Thoroughly enjoyed Yandu's revenge on his old crew, gruesome as it was.  Gamora and Nebula have the best scene when they finally break down and recognize that they are stuck with each other.  Really great.

Less impressive was Ego's story line, I mean I get it - it does work, but it also seems rather abrupt, Ego all the sudden mean and nasty.  Seems like he would've been more sly about hooking into Quill, but I give it a pass to a point because the final action sequence is so awesome.

Love baby Groot and Rocket teaching him how to set off the bomb timer - hate that it was spoiled in the trailer.

Love Yondu's Mary Poppin's line because it works on so many levels.  Yeah, Mary Poppins is pretty damn cool, she really is!  It's a self aware, fourth wall breaking moment that just makes the Disney / Marvel fan in me want to stand up and cheer!

Yondu's death is emotional and effecting, but not perfect.  I wish we had a longer flashback when Quill is reflecting on what matters before he does away with Ego; that for me is one of the most spine tingling moments, to see Peter with Yondu as a kid, to see him flying with Rocket, to see his mom - ugh!  I wanted more!




10.  Ant-Man

A tremendous caper movie that also happens to have eye popping special effects and a healthy dose of the best kind of humor.  Who knew that a thoroughly outstanding Ant-Man Movie of all things would be in our lives?  It is truly a great time to be a super hero fan!

Love Hope Van Dyne.  Love Scott's first round with the suit.  The visuals are simply awesome.

Love Michael Pena's overdubbed stories from the hood.  So damn funny.

Michael Douglas rocks.  Young Michael Douglas, HOW did they do that?  Awesome.

Best of all, the entire third act and ending are simply amazing.  The movie drags just a bit in the middle, but man does it finish strong.   This is something that all the MCU movies have in common from here on out, they all pretty much stick the landing - which we all know is one of the toughest things to do on the movie screen.




The next 5 are an A-.


9.  Iron Man

Probably will be ranked higher by most.  I loved this when it came out, it was my favorite super hero movie of all times by a lot - (Dark Knight and Raimi's Spider Man 2 were the closest but all others fell far behind) - and I'm super impressed that 9 other movies since are even better.

The first act is about as perfect as it gets though, Tony's struggle in the cave, culminating in his escape is a sequence I could watch over and over again.  Actually, I have.

Working on and perfecting the suit once he's back home is also great.  Lots of opportunities for what would become and MCU staple - humor done broad but plausible.

My favorite scene by far is when Tony goes back to the Middle East and dispatches the terrorists.  Just awesome.

Like this Brody a lot, a shame Terrance Howard was such a tool in real life.  He's great in the role.

Less appealing to me is Jeff Bridges villain, very predictable, and the third act alas is not as strong as the rest of the story.  Still, it is not a shitting of the bed by any means.

This one will always be a classic, because it was the one that was done first - and paved the way for all the awesomeness that was to follow.




8.  Doctor Strange

Damn is this a great movie or what!?  Cumberbatch is stellar - the story moves and benefits greatly from the casting as well. Love McAdams so much in her small but crucial role.  Tilda is dope.  The guy who plays Wong is great.  Mordo also is sufficiently menacing by the end.

This movie also has some of my favorite action sequences ever - the fight at Bleeker Street is both dynamic and super creative - and a hell of a lot of fun.  The culmination of that scene with McAdams in the hospital might be my favorite Marvel fight ever.  Just great great stuff.

The final battle is ingenious and hilarious at the same time.  "I've come to bargain!"  I love it!




7.  Spiderman Homecoming

So much to love here.  Tom Holland is note perfect - even though he's a Brit, I have to forgive him because he's so good.

It's the characters that make me love this movie so much.  Peter and his friends actually seem like almost real people.  Peter's relationship with Stark is also powerfully grounded.  When Tony is disappointed, we really feel it!

The action sequences are top notch - but my favorite scene by far in the film is one that takes place in a car with just a few lines of dialogue.  Magnificent acting and a perfectly delivered script.

Michael Keaton forever ends the MCU villain curse - he's simply outstanding as the very real and very human Vulture.




6.  Thor: Ragnarok

The best time I've had at the movies in a long long time.   Funny from the first frame to the last.  The MCU's first and hopefully not only full on comedy.   The director Tai Wakiti (sp?)  is some kind of mad genius because he manages to combine all of my favorite things - outrageous Sci-Fi, irreverent and self aware superhero characters, and a healthy dose of emotional resonance into a thoroughly enjoyable and totally trippy comic book come to life.

I want to be Korg!  He has the best outlook on life, like, ever.

"Hey man, we're going to go see this funny movie about Thor and stuff.  Wanna come?"

Oh yeah, and Thor is NOT boring!  He's now awesome!  He was showing signs of promise in Dark World, but Chris Hemsworth really busts it open here and now we have a Thor that we can love and appreciate as someone truly special.  I thought I would really miss Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, but honestly, I'm shocked that I don't!

I have been falling for 30 minutes!

The villain Hela is pretty good, but it's everyone and everything around her (Karl Urban for one) that makes this movie great.  I love the colors, the sets, the music.   And I LOVE this version of Hulk so so much!

Hulk like raging fire, Thor more like smoulder....




5.  Captain America Civil War

If you had told my 12 year old self back in the day that there would be 3 outstanding big budget full on Captain America feature films that captured hearts and minds all over the world - I probably would've laughed in your face.  Anyone remember the Captain America movie in the 1980's?  Google it sometime if you want to be depressed.

Civil War is outstanding from beginning to end, and almost like an Avengers 2.5 movie.  But it is in the end, the Cap's story.

Love the opening action sequence so so much.  Great to see the Avengers kicking ass (for the most part) as a team.

Of course the highlight is the middle third of this movie - the airport sequence is legendary.  A splash page comic book come to life before our eyes in a way we could never imagine.  Just amazing.

Love Cap's character arch - from Peggy's death (very moving), to his new girlfriend (touching) to his letting go of his old friends (heartbreaking).  I really do believe this is Captain America's movie in every way that matters.

The ending is stirring and emotionally draining - the very best of the MCU.





The top three are a solid A.

(A+ is reserved for like, 3 of my favorite movies of all times.  Not spilling those here.)



4.  Captain America Winter Soldier

This one has some of my favorite action sequences ever, they are shot and cut expertly with a mix of frenetic hand held and high shutter speed camerawork that never loses geography or purpose.  The opening salvo on the ship at sea, Nick Fury's SUV adventure, the freeway battle and the climax high in the sky - all absolutely outstanding.

I also just LOVE the semi-romance / friendship between Cap and Black Widow here.  The dialogue is not really that deep, but Chris Evans and Scar Jo really make it powerful somehow.  Just amazing acting chops, the both of them.

Love the scene with Peggy, brings all of the feels.

Robert Redford is probably the MCU's first very good villain.  (Didn't get great until Vulture I think).

So much to love throughout, this one will always be one of my favorites.  Again, I am just astonished that we have 3 top quality Captain America movies in the world for everyone to enjoy!




EDIT:  New NUMBER 3!!

3.  Avengers: Infinity War

Read the above post for all the reasons why this one ends up here!




2.  Marvel's The Avengers

Everything works so well - it's an incredibly satisfying culmination of phase 1 that brings us something we've never seen before on the big screen.  Multiple mighty heroes fighting side by side with incredible production values and visual effects.  The entire NY sequence still gives me the chills - I could watch that gladiator style dolly move around our heroes over and over again and never get tired of it.

Best of all, Joss Whedon brings his patented humor and whip-smart dialogue to the party, making this one fun for everyone, not just comic book lovers.  No wonder it is still near the top of the MCU list in box office success.

This is when my deep like of Black Widow turned into love - when Cap gives her that boost, oh man is that something else!  Chills EVERY TIME.

The hellicarrier stuff is also great - the movie never really missteps or gets bogged down.  So much to enjoy from start to finish.

And who is that purple dude at the end?




1.  Guardians of the Galaxy

I said it at the time, and I still pretty much believe it - this movie is this generation's Star Wars.  Yes, it's that good.

The Guardians of the Galaxy were an obscure comic book back in the day, and had a few incarnations that never really saw too much success.

James Gunn said he could make something great out of them and thank God Kevin Fiege believed him.

The result is a spectacular space opera with a huge amount of humor and an even bigger helping of heart.  The music helps the story soar, a story that is yet another super hero origin thing, but it really is something special.

All of the team members are broken in one way or another, and we get to journey with them as they learn to let go of their pain and grab onto each other as a family.  It's fun, it's frenetic, and best of all it's emotionally resonant.

When people ask me which MCU movie I would recommend for someone who doesn't care about comics - this one is by FAR the first on my list.  It has universal appeal and themes.  You don't need to be a nerd to love it.

Love the dance off and the climax of the movie SO MUCH!!!!





Well, there it is, how I see and rank the MCU.

Don't forget to read my review for the newly minted #3 on this list, Avengers Infinity War!







Tuesday, March 06, 2018

How bad does it have to get?

Right now the SF City Council is more concerned about bizarre elitist business regulations that artificially drive up unemployment and housing prices than they are about keeping communities safe - and now they are paying the price.  
Instead of letting the free market do it's thing, San Francisco has tried to manipulate the economy and housing to guarantee equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity - and the result is now housing no one can afford, jobs that are no longer available and streets that are no longer safe.  
The second part of this disastrous 'progressive' formula is that instead of putting cops first and giving them the tools to fight crime, San Francisco has put leftist activism first - and the result is areas of the city that give Cartagena and Caracas a run for their money in violence and mayhem.  
Again, indifference to unacceptable behavior is mistaken for compassion - a shift of blame from personal responsibility and accountability to some nebulous social construct is why our state is letting thousands and thousands of violent felons back out on to the street. It's such a sad thing that doesn't have to be.
I just wonder, how bad will it have to get before people have had enough? It got so bad in New York in the 1990's, the crime, the homelessness, the drug dealers and the murder rate - that New Yorkers found themselves electing a Republican out of desperation. Rudy Guilianni God knows wasn't perfect - but in under four years he had utterly transformed the city from a top 5 crime center - to a city that didn't even crack the top 30 in homicides. He quite literally saved the city.
He did this with a zero tolerance policy for vagrancy - the options were shelter, treatment or jail and they were mandatory. He did this with broken window enforcement from the cops - every violation , no matter how minor, was cited, arrested and/or prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Stop and frisk was a big part of this equation. Criminal recidivists were taken off the street for prolonged periods of time. Thousands upon thousands of minority lives no doubt were saved because of this.
Today, crime in New York remains low despite the disasterous reign of mayor DeBlasio, because the NYPD has a system in place that they have fought tooth and nail to maintain. Despite roll backs in stop and frisk policing and broken window enforcement, and a plummeting morale among the NYPD ranks, NYC is at this moment in time still a very safe major city.  The mentally ill are creeping back in and taking over, urination in the streets is no longer a crime - but all is not lost. Not yet.
I pray all the time that Californians will see the light and finally demand safe streets. Conventional wisdom says that this is a very difficult problem and that there are no easy solutions. I say that is nonsense.  
I live in Burbank, and the city council and cops simply don't put up with criminals or the mentally ill. Our parks are virtually free of derelicts because they are not allowed to be there. They are given options but they must pick one - shelter, treatment, jail or a ride out of town.  
If other cities would follow Burbank's lead we could eliminate that last option - it is, I will concede by far the least compassionate of the choices. Eventually, the best case scenario would also be to eliminate jail as a mandatory alternative to the a city park or playground. But as bad as jail is, I will always argue that it is infinitely more compassionate that allowing someone to live on the streets.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Same old song...

In the wake of yet another horrific shooting the leftist media is bombarding us with the same talking points and largely disingenuous pleas for 'sensible' gun control.  And by sensible they mean meaningless platitudes that serve little purpose other than to inflame passions and divide us.

Every time there is one of these mass shooting events the cries go up - "Finally, it's time to do something!"  And every time nothing happens.  Why is that?

When Obama first came into office the democrats held the majority in both houses - and not a single piece of gun control legislation was passed.  Obama did make a hair brained executive order attempt at using the social security administration to seize guns from the elderly who were using proxies to purchase firearms.  That radical right wing group the ACLU fought Obama on this maneuver, Trump last year repealed the order and now leftists are pushing the lie that Trump wants mentally ill people to have guns.

And still the screeching continues after the tragedy last Wednesday in Florida.  Rather than address the problem directly, gun control groups simply shout to the heavens "Gun control!" and then dare anyone to say anything negative about it.   If someone does dare to question the narrative, they are simply told that 'The vast majority of Americans support gun control!"  Well that is true, but the vast majority of Americans support spending cuts in our government and yet would never allow social security or medicare to be touched.  As with government spending, the nitty gritty of gun control is - what specifically can we do to tackle the problem of mass shooting events?

The left has no answer for this beyond "We need to be like Europe because they banned guns and now they don't shoot each other."   Newsflash, liberals, we are not Europe and never will be.  We have a unique perspective on firearms, in that we won our liberty with them and we now own more guns by far than any other country in the world.  There is a firearm for every man, woman and child in this country.  Half of these guns have been manufactured and acquired in the last 25 years.  During this time period crime has dropped in half.  Not to say there is a direct correlation, that would be unscientific - but this is just truth in numbers.  Numbers that plainly present the truth that our guns aren't going anywhere.

I would posit that there was no gun control legislation under Obama and there is no specific call to action to this day from the left because this is a deliberate choice.  If liberals come out with specifics, they will be subjected to scrutiny, most likely by the majority of Americans.  It is much easier, and feels much better, to launch cowardly personal attacks on gun owners and 2nd amendment supporters.

To actually get down to brass tax on certain types of gun control, such as making it much harder for the mentally ill to get their hands on guns, a proposal that the NRA is in favor of - is a daunting challenge for gun control enthusiasts because it would definitively shelve their emotionally driven lifelong dream of somehow magically taking guns out of the hands of private citizens.

And make no mistake, this is ultimately what most liberals want - the eventual confiscation of privately owned firearms.  Many of the more savvy gun control folks will deny this if asked, but it is the only logical conclusion if you actually listen to their arguments and wildly broad proposals to 'be more like Europe'.

As we all know, mass confiscations will never happen in the US.  And yet gun control proponents are content to let mass shootings go on so they can feed their fantasy of a gun-free utopia.   They don't want to forward the debate, because the inevitable outcome will be the surrender of the state to the will of the people.


*******

I had the chance on my private political Facebook page to engage with a good guy who is woefully uneducated in firearms and yet stubbornly insists he is just as qualified as me to weigh in on guns and the 2nd amendment.  I would say that this absolutely could be possible - that someone who has never touched a gun in their life could educate themselves to the point where they know more than I do about the subject - it is possible.  But in this case it just isn't true, he is very ignorant about guns and displayed this in plain fashion with a recent response to my thread on the Florida shooting.

"Certain guns (like the AR-15) shouldn't be available for legal purchase.  Period.  The average person doesn't need one and I don't care if they want one.  Too bad.  Get over it."

At first blush, if you are firearm ignorant this statement seems straightforward, but to someone who deals with guns in their life, it belies a tremendous ignorance.  I hammered out a response and then thought better, this is an inflammatory subject and I didn't need to inflame him any more.  But I really dug what I wrote, so Imma share it here.

Oh, there was also this gem that he wrote -

"I'm also not hearing "second amendment" it was written when modern weaponry was unimaginable..."

This is patently false, and I know this because I'm an avid studier of history and often specifically firearms and weaponry in history.   My rebuttal...


----

Appreciate the lengthy response _______, and your willingness to engage.

I disagree with you about the AR, if you are going to remove it from the market you are doing so based only on what it looks like - not it's lethality or effectiveness  in mass killing.

There are literally hundreds of rifles that are more powerful and fire just as rapidly and would be just as effective and maybe more effective to perpetrate a mass shooting.

Furthermore, over 90% of gun himicides in the US are committed by handguns - CDC stats show that in 2012 only 322 people were killed with rifles, the remaining 10,000 plus were killed with handguns.

So this is why I get frustrated with non-gun people, it's because of statements like 'the AR15 shouldn't be available for purchase, period."  This is on it's face absurd.  Why should it be removed when there are a ton of rifles that don't have a military look but do the same thing?  It's not logical, it's emotional and it's borne out of a lack of knowledge which comes from a lack of direct experience with firearms.

I also part ways with you on your views on the 2nd amendment.  Perhaps the most fallacious argument people use against it is that the founders could've never imagined modern weaponry.  This is simply not true - but people who don't use guns or have any interest in them wouldn't know this.

They wouldn't know that the Belton flintlock, which was invented for the revolutionary war, could fire 20 shots in under 5 seconds.  They wouldn't know about the Girandoni air rifle, another product of the revolutionary war that had a high capacity magazine.  This particular rapid fire firearm was famously delivered personally by Thomas Jefferson to Lewis and Clark for their expedition.

Then there's the Puckle gun, an early gatlin style gun that was actually made half a century before the revolutionary war and was seen in the field under the charge of both the colonists and the British at various times.

But perhaps the most well known rapid fire weapons of the 16th century (which had actually been invented 200 years prior) were the "Pepperbox" revolvers - mass produced by a variety of manufacturers.  Lethal pistols that were all capable of firing half a dozen or more rounds in the space of a few seconds.

So the idea that the founding fathers could never have imagined rapid fire weaponry is demonstrably false.  Furthermore, not only were they aware of these kinds of guns, many founding fathers were avid fans of military grade hardware being in the hands of private citizens.

One of the best examples of this enthusiasm is in the form of a letter of marque from president James Madison who authorized a merchant to equip his ship with cannons to fend off would be pirates.  This wasn't just a firearm in the hands of a private citizen, this was full on artillery!

To be fair, even without my historical knowledge, I've never bought into the argument that the 2nd amendment was crafted to carve out a narrow right to own a single shot musket just because on it's face this doesn't make sense.  The 1st amendment wasn't made to only protect quill and parchment or cumbersome printing press, it was made to be timeless and extend protection to all forms of speech, regardless of the technology delivering it.  Developing technology was all around the founding fathers over their lifetimes - and they were not only aware of it, many of them like Ben Franklin, were enthusiastic about it.

*****

No this didn't all come off the top of my head, all credit to Stephen Crowder's youtube channel, which is where I learned about all the rapid fire weapons of the 1700s.  But the reason I learned it is that I am involved with guns and take an active interest in everything about them.









Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Movies 2017

Time flies by fast these days!  So fast that I have even less time for movies than I have in the past - yet I still managed to drag my butt to the theater enough times to bring you this, my year end top ten movie list.

Remember; as most of you I'm sure already know - I'm not really a film guy.  Films, those pretentious and dialogue heavy things that unravel at a snail's pace and meander with fuzzy and often black & white or sepia toned shots, quite often obscured by sub-titles.

Nah.  I'm much more into movies.  Movies - big explosions, big bare breasts and bigger than life stories and adventures.  World building, heroes soaring and adrenaline pumping.  That's where I'm at.

Also, I'm not really a movie critic; that is, I seek out films that I know that I'm almost certain to like AND I go in WANTING to enjoy myself.  I would never spend money on a flick that potentially could be totally shitty.  So if you're looking for critical analysis, I'm sorry to disappoint you.

And as with the rest of this blog, there is very little editing here.  This is a first draft, basically untouched after I write it except for the occasional typo or redundant descriptive term that I switch out with a different word from the thesaurus.

As always, here first are the honorable mentions.  Movies that I loved or really really liked, but didn't quite crack the top 10.  Also included here are flicks that were trounced by the critics and/or underperformed at the box office - ones that I actually kind of dug despite their failings.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales
Okay, this one does have a few problems; but overall it's a lot more fun and well made than I  expected.  That's probably why I enjoyed it so much.  Disclaimer: I didn't pay money for this, well at least not directly.  I saw it on a Disney Cruise, and I must say, the scenes on the boats worked really well with the added realism of the actual boat we were on rocking to and fro.  Go in with low expectations and you'll have a lot of fun.

Get Out
I watched this one with a wary eye, fully prepared to be turned off by SJW nonsense, but I'd had enough conservative friends who had allayed my fears and told me this one was a blast.  I went with their recommendation, though still suspicious, and I'm glad I did.  This movie was pretty flipping' awesome.   A masterful thriller/horror that plays on our expectations.  Yes, there is a racialism component, but it's done so well and so fluidly.  This movie's obvious top priority is to entertain, not to preach, and it does so very very well.  Super fun, and scary in a good way - if you've got doubts, don't wait!  Get "Get Out!"

Dunkirk
Awesome war movie that is both very exciting and very moving.  Nolan is a master visualist, and what he lacks in character development and dialogue he more than makes up for in shot selection, composition, editing and sound design.  Like Tim Burton, Chris is less concerned with a tight story and snappy patter - he wants to work with big themes and broad strokes.  If you're a historical nut like me, you'll love this one even more, but it's not a requirement.

War for the Planet of the Apes
I went into this one with sky high expectations, so I couldn't help but feel a little bit let down.  I still enjoyed it very much and there's tons of great moments and visuals.  I do feel the story was a bit grim simply for grim's sake - and I wish the denouement had packed more punch.  This is my least favorite of the trilogy, but it's still a ride worth taking and a worthy chapter in the story.

John Wick: Chapter 2
If you loved the first one like I did - a hyper violent, highly allegorical fable of vengeance and redemption - you will love this one as well.  Dope ass action sequences, gory and severe, but rooted in a righteous framework that keeps us riveted and rooting for the good Mr. Wick.

Alien: Covenant
This one JUST misses my top 10.  I enjoyed but didn't love Prometheus, though I will say it has grown on me over the years and I find myself re-watching it often.  This one though, this one is awesome!  Great gore, great thrills and an awesome performance by Michael Fassbender.  I love the look of the film, I really like the lead protagonist, and I love what they did with James Franco.  Brilliant!

First They Killed My Father
A magnificent film (yes, a true film) directed by Angelina Jolie (who knew?) that tells the true and harrowing story of a Cambodian child and her family's destruction at the hands of the genocidal Khmer Rouge.  Beautifully shot, and unflinching, this one is a lock for a best foreign film Oscar nom.  Yes, it's entirely in Cambodian, and for once I don't mind the subtitles at all.  It makes it all that more real and desperate.  This is not as gruesome as Schindler's list, but at times it is every bit as upsetting; it's not really what I would call entertainment, but it is a must watch for young people and for those of us old enough to remember when these events unfolded.


Blade Runner: 2049
Almost forgot this one!  Yes it was too long, yes it was slow in parts - but I was pretty mesmerized through the whole thing.  A much more compelling movie than the original Blade Runner, which I watched before seeing this - and it really doesn't hold up that well, not that I was much in love with it in the first place,  I think it's easily the most overrated movie of my generation (but that's a whole other blog post).  Really enjoyed watching this on the big screen, there's a lot going on visually but also story wise.  Looking forward to watching this again.

 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Just saw this two days after Christmas. Lots of fun and a good amount of heart. The Rock as always is great. Kevin Hart plays himself but is still good. Jack Black actually stretches a bit, playing a teenage girl trapped in a fat middle aged man's body.  And the young woman who plays Nebula on Guardians of the Galaxy is smoking hot without her elaborate makeup and a good actor as well. Had a smile on my face the entire time through this one, a very good family film!



And now the top 10.  This year is a little bit different because there's a cluster of flicks in the middle that are pretty much interchangeable with each other in my ranking depending on what kind of mood I'm in at the moment.  I love all three of them so much, and they are all connected to each other.


10 -  Kong: Skull Island
Outstanding period piece that is a tightly wound adventure and also has a bit of horror thrown in for good measure.  The characters are fantastic, the scenery chewing Sam Jackson as a bad ass military man, the always watchable John Goodman as the doomed instigator, the fantastic Loki (aka Tom Hiddleston) as a dashing leading man, and the equally luminous and just as good looking Brie Larson as the damsel who is rarely in too much distress.   This is a really great monster movie at it's heart, and I just love movies like this that take us on a big adventure to a different world and slather on the excitement, wonder and awe.  Bravo!


9 - Justice League
I loved the Super Friends when I was a kid and I love superheroes today - so this one is a slam dunk.  Even if it was as problematic as Batman v. Superman, I still would've enjoyed it I'm sure.  But thankfully, this installment is a LOT better and a lot of fun as well.  Seeing Aquaman on the big screen (finally) teaming up with Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and the Flash - what's not to love?  Tons of humor, a good amount of heart, and great action sequences with characters that I care about.  Can't ask for much more.

My expectations were low because the critics were unkind, and the neck beards were also negative - but when I finally saw this with the wife and kid, I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Can't wait to buy it and watch it again and again.


8 - Baby Driver
Hot damn is this one good!  A brilliant and groundbreaking edit is what sets this one apart from other thriller/caper/pulpish movies.  Director Edgar Wright takes an approach that I've never seen done so well - he cuts his movie directly to the music.  While others have employed this technique obliquely, Cameron Crowe, or even overtly, James Gunn, Edgar goes all in with the approach.  The cuts are on the beat, the lyrics literally show up on screen, it is truly masterful.  Plus the acting is top notch (though it's tempered a bit now that we know Kevin Spacey is a creepazoid POS) and the story is engaging.  A great time at the movies in the very best traditions of Tarantino and Shane Black.


7 - The Lego Batman Movie
Yes, this one has all the fun and humor that made the Lego Movie so enjoyable, but what kicks it up a notch higher is it's absolute mastery of the character of Batman.  The director and writers absolutely did the work here, the R&D is exhaustive and even better, the examination of the character of Batman is easily the best that has ever shown up on any screen.  That's right, a fanciful and frenetic cartoon with computer generated plastic bricks, absolutely NAILS the character of Batman better than any incarnation before it that isn't in a comic book.  BY FAR.

The ace in the hole the movie has to accomplish this is that it is able to break the 4th wall and literally look back at all of these previous incarnations.  We see Snyder's Batman, Nolan's Batman, Burton's Batman, the hippy Batman from TV and even Batman from the serials of the 1940's on screen!  And then, with a simple device of Batman looking longingly at a portrait of him as a kid and his parents about to meet their fate outside of a movie theater - The Lego Batman movie hammers home the very essence of the Caped Crusader better than has ever been done.  It is truly amazing.

Yes it's silly, yes it's goofy, but even Nolan's 'The Dark Knight' doesn't drill down as well on the character as director Chris McKay does.  Fantastic!


Okay, here we are at the cluster that I mentioned above.  This movie, and the next two, are as far as I'm concerned, interchangeable in how I've ranked them.  I will go in chronological order - but rest assured I pretty much love all three of them equally.


6. - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
James Gunn has done it, he has made a sequel that is a worthy follow up to his original ground breaking and generation impacting cosmic space opera masterpiece.   GOTG 2 defies all expectations in that instead of being what most sequels are - bigger, louder and more expensive - he turns it on it's head.  This is a thoroughly character driven story with emotional resonance and satisfying arcs for every one of our heroes and a new one as well.  So much to love in this very dense and emotional movie that expertly navigates to and from each player, giving just the right amount of time to explore and observe all of them on multiple levels.  Love Nebula, love Ego, and especially love Mantis.  Good stuff!


5. - Spider Man: Homecoming
This one has all the trappings that great Marvel movies have.  A kick ass superhero that we love bolstered by equally impressive design and effects.  A story that moves and resonates.  And plenty of heart stopping moments, both in spectacle and in emotional impact.  But what elevates this one even more is -  1) It's Spider-Man, and Tom Holland plays Peter Parker and his alter ego note perfect, right out of the comics.  Yes, that Spider-Man, the one who is the biggest and most popular superhero in comics like, ever.  As great as Toby was, and as good as Andrew was, Tom is the best.  2) It's a John Hughes movie!  Simply awesome, and it totally fits.  3) The best scene in the entire movie, in a movie that is FULL of impressive action set-pieces, is a dialogue scene with two people inside a parked car.  Absolutely fantastic moment that will forever be one of my favorite scenes in a Marvel movie ever.


4. - Thor: Ragnarok
The first of it's kind in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - a straight ahead, 100% comedy.  There has been plenty of humor in the MCU over the years, some fanboys say too much, but this is the first flick where comedy truly takes the lead.  From the first gag (Thor spinning slowly and telling the big baddie to hold on until he comes around) we know we are in for something different, a thoroughly fun and frothy comedy on a cosmic level.  It's like someone looked at the Guardians movies and said, "They're pretty funny but I think we can crank it up to 11 on the humor scale".  And yet for all of the silliness and irreverence (the only superhero movie I can think of that's more subversive is Deadpool) there is still a good story and great characters at play here who get us invested in the outcome despite the never ending jokes and gags.


3. - Star Wars: The Last Jedi
There's a good chance this ranking will change, as of this writing I've only seen this movie once.  Hardly enough times to truly digest and appreciate what I saw.  But what I do know after only one viewing, is that this movie is three things that I love - different, engaging and masterfully executed.  The trailer said it perfectly - "This is not going to go how you think" and boy they weren't kidding.  I was enthralled from the first action sequence, and the movie never lost it's grip on me.  It certainly isn't a perfect film, but it's fresh and original and is very dense.  Can't wait to see it again.


2. - Logan
When I think about my top ten films of the year, the ones that inevitably go at or near the top of the list are the ones that made me feel the most.  Well Logan brought all of the feels and hard.  It is grim and bleak, and yet somehow still up-lifting.  Logan is dying, the X-Men are gone, and there are no Hollywood conventions to be found.  The movie defies expectations, keeps us guessing and gets us to care not only about Logan but the young one under his charge.  Great, and I mean GREAT, action sequences that are unconventional and brutal, but so well done.  A shocking development 2/3 of the way in that I'm still amazed went the way that it did - but somehow the movie still clings to hope in the end.  Absolutely magnificent movie making.  The very best that comic book cinema has to offer.

1. - Wonder Woman
Okay, maybe not THE very best.  While Wonder Woman doesn't have the grim gravitas or even the superb craftsmanship of Logan, it does have an ace in the hole - a true north superhero who is righteous and unwavering in her commitment to truth, justice and the American way.  Yes Zach Snyder, thanks to Patty Jenkins, you guys finally got it right.  There is no moral ambiguity with the mighty Amazon of Themiscyra. Diana Prince is 100% committed to what is right and is fully dedicated to battling evil.

The movie brilliantly plays on this aspect of her character - she naively believes that a God of war is responsible for the evil in men. When she vanquishes the villain and realizes that men are still shitty, it's a very satisfying moment for the audience and a monumental moment for Wonder Woman.  A beautifully laid out and executed story.

What lands the movie at the top of my list is the chills that I got from several scenes, but none more powerful than Wonder Woman's ascendance into no-man's land to fight the Hun.  I was absolutely enthralled by Diana's stubborn insistence to climb the ladder and fight the bad guys.  The dialogue, the editing, and most of all the music, all work together to create a very powerful sequence that culminates in many goosebumps and a few tears of joy as well from this mushy old man.

******

And then there's a ton of stuff I still want to see but haven't gotten around to -

I, Tonya
The Disaster Artist

Molly's Game
EDIT: Saw it, loved it!  Not a 'poker movie' per se, but a thoroughly enjoyable true life story of the inimitable Molly and her amazing game.

All the Money in the World
Darkest Hour
Downsizing
Three Billboards

Coco
EDIT:  Saw it, loved it!  I was a blubbering mess by the end.  No doubt it would've cracked my top ten had I seen it in 2017.

Murder on the Orient Express
The Greatest Showman


And then there's a couple that I'm going to do my best to avoid -

The Post - a preachy, screechy talkathon that holds up the media as heroes for spilling military secrets.  Pass.

The Shape of Water - looks about as subtle as a jackhammer in it's virtue signaling and messaging.  Another Guillermo mess most likely.



And finally, my usual short (and this year shorter than usual) list of disappointments.


Beauty & The Beast
Please don't mistake me, the movie is well made and the story is tight.  Emma Watson is a wonderful choice, and I understand her taking the role as it gives her two once in a lifetime chances to be a role model for girls - but I really dislike Disney's latest obsession with turning all of their animated classics into shot for shot live action remakes.  It's lazy and it's boring.  I've seen this before, it was an amazing animated feature film that was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.  This, very simply, is not.  It's close to a carbon copy of the original, and there is next to nothing original about it.  Meh.


Transformers: The Last Knight
Another hot and bloated mess from Michael Bay.  I've enjoyed Transformer movies in the past, but really, enough is enough.  This one, like the last one, just goes on forever and is relentlessly loud and bombastic.  Even Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins can't save this leviathan.  Time to give it up Mr. Bay!




And so that's it - thankfully, no other disappointments.  There were quite a few movies that I thought were just fine, not bad, not great - but I won't blather on about them here.   The ones above, even the disappointments, are the ones that had an impact on me, and so I'm glad I get to share my thoughts on them here with you.  If you're still here, thanks for reading!


















Friday, December 08, 2017

Looking Up

2017 has so far been a pretty great year, national tragedies like the one in Las Vegas notwithstanding. Last month it was made even greater when the one time greatest band on the planet (and still pretty great) released a new album.  Barenaked Ladies present - "Fake Nudes".  Ha ha.  Funny.  No, really.

It is a great record and it's replete with good stuff.  My second or third favorite track is this little ditty.



I just love that it's so optimistic and so happy and the lyrics express how grateful the band is for being rock stars.  Unusual in the rock n roll medium for sure, but oh so lovely.

Despite the clumsy attempt to diss our president in the record's title, the material is warm and inviting to everyone.  Even the most politically charged song on the record "Invisible Fence" (gee wonder what that's about?) is poppy and catchy enough to be forgiven, and the lyrics really express optimism and hope without getting too specific on any villain in particular.

There might have been a time awhile back when I would've been a bit put off by BNL's progressive infantilism, but those days are gone for me.  These days my white hot rage at the liberal lock step has cooled considerably, simply because the culture war has finally taken a turn for the better.

Americans are disgusted by the NFL, stadiums are empty and ratings are in the toilet.  Ham fisted attempts by the MSM to lionize the cowardly POS Kapernick have failed miserably.  GQ is now a laughing stock.

With the exception of the detestable Roy Moore and to a much lesser extent our president, the left finds itself in a morass of sexual corruption across the board in entertainment and more recently in the cesspool of Washington DC.

I'm not too excited that hyper-partisan hack Al Franken is out the door - he is basically Chuck Shumer's bitch and is being used as a tool to leverage pressure against Moore and Trump in the future.  I can only say, I hope it works with Moore and I know it will never work with 45.

Most likely to be discouraging is that the liberal wack job Governor of Minnesota is going to replace Stuart Smalley with someone even more extreme - and that person will be a lot tougher to vote out of office in four years.

I'm meandering a bit - but the main point of this post was to express how happy I am these days that conservative values and principles, especially fiscal, constitutional and patriotic principles, have firmly taken root in the mainstream consciousness.

I was reminded of just how embedded the liberal media used to be in this country when I watched Ken Burns fantastic documentary on the Vietnam War recently. The old school FDR progressivism was so drilled into our brains by the three networks - pretty much the only thing that was on television at the time - and the major newspapers which were still very relevant at the time.  So brainwashed was the country, including Republicans, that we jettisoned a president for crimes that were only misdemeanors and would be greatly exceeded in heinousness by Bill Clinton two decades later.  Bill the rapist would face his impeachment with a smirk and win re-election easily.

But today, we have so many more choices in how we get our information - so many choices that the conservative mindset has finally rightfully (see what I did there?) emerged front and center as not some fringe Barry Goldwater outlier, but as a legitimate point of view that also happens to be the correct one.

It's the former point - conservatism as a legitimate point of view - that I'm most gratified has finally come to pass in the mainstream American consciousness.  Oh the left isn't happy about it, they're fighting it so ferociously that they have jettisoned all traces of civility and thoughtfulness.  Everyone who defends the constitution is a racist, especially our President - and libs couldn't give two shits if they smear our founding fathers with that brush as well.

But the good news is, most grown-ups aren't buying it anymore.  At least most grown ups who don't live in the toilets that are our major coastal cities these days.   The mentally ill havens of San Francisco, LA, New York and a few others - and I mean the actual deranged junkies that now shit and piss where they want at will - are the last bastions of the dying school of thought that is progressivism.

The rust belt, fly over country, middle America, what ever you want to call the majority of God fearing patriots - I like calling us the not so silent majority,  isn't buying it anymore.  We've seen the emperor without his clothes now, plainly naked and desperate.

And now, with national attention focused on the day care centers known as Universities and the cry babies within - the conservative approach is firmly taking hold in the next generation.  And the left thankfully is speeding the process along.

With every flail and shriek, the left continues to dig it's own grave.  I know, we're racist, homophobic, ageist, sexist, genderist, whatever.   Guess what?  Good news - no one gives a fuck.

No one gives a mighty F if you discard one of your own (Franken) to delude yourself that you have a chance to pull a Nixon on Trump.  Not going to happen.

No one gives a mighty F that you routinely lie about the facts just so you can have your way.  Conservatives now have it dialed in - the Information Age has made it so simple for us.

Liberty > Equality

Freedom > Fairness

Opportunity > Guarantee

Rule of Law > Lawlessness

Facts > Feelings


See?  It's so mind-blowingly simple these days.  We have dozens of happy conservative warriors who kick ass on a daily basis - on the Youtubes and on the radio and even on a television news station that beats every other news station combined in the ratings.

The information is out there, and it is sinking in.   And for that I am so grateful.

Things truly are looking up.