Posts about movies

John Carter of Mars

Anoche ví John Carter. Recuerdo vagamente haber leído el libro en que está basado, "Princess of Mars" cuando tenía unos 8 años y era socio de la Biblioteca Mariano Moreno, sujeto a una dieta estricta de Hardy Boys, Bomba el chico de la selva, y Burroughs.

Me sorprende mucho que haya sido el fracaso económico que fue. Es divertida, está bien hecha, es un poco antigua en el sentido de que cuenta una historia de manera directa, sin vueltas. Hay que darle un premio especial al director porque ¡Las escenas de acción se entienden! Siempre sabés quién está haciendo qué cosa, y la relación espacial de la gente en las escenas tiene sentido.

Claro, la historia pasa rápido, hay montones de personajes secundarios que no se desarrollan porque no alcanza el tiempo, y es una pena que probablemente nunca veamos la segunda parte.

Spiderman 3 on IMAX

That's the way those movies are meant to be seen.

On monday I had my first IMAX experience (the first IMAX in Argentina opened not long ago).

The rumble in my guts in the first big action scene... having to move the head to follow the action on the last one... really an intense cinematic experience.

I liked the second movie better, and everyone seemed a bit tired of their roles, but a fun movie.

If you are going to do popcorn, you better do great popcorn, and that's what Raimi does.

Welcome fellow crank lovers!

Curious internet fact:

Since I posted my "review" of Crank I have had no less than 5 visitors daily from google, searching for variations on "haitian shit plant shit".

In fact, the review is almost the top result for that. Somehow I don't expect this to atract any sponsors, though ;-)

A day at the movies (March 21, 2007)

I have this agreement with Rosario: we will go to the movies together. But not, under any circunstances, to see something like Crank.

So, on wednesdays (cheap tickets, yipee!) if I am downtown, I will go see that kind of things.

Two weeks ago, it was Rocky Balboa. Yesterday it was Crank.

Crank

This is a special movie. It may seem on the surface to be an ordinary brainless action/violence/sex spectacle, the kind many take for granted nowadays. However, there are some things noone thinks about when watching it.

When I was a kid, this movie's cinematography would have been impossible. It shows how action films made 20 (maybe 10) years ago look cheap today, because technical advance has been massive.

The script may be dumb, and medically incomprehensible (like the alternative uses of ephedrine and epinephrine for the same thing. They are not.), but you know what? It's an excuse to have a guy that can't stop. The movie is about a bad guy that can't stop, not about "Haitian hardcore shit. Made of plant shit, man!". Come on, is radioactive spider bite any better? Or brain cloud in Joe versus the Volcano any better? (Ok, bad example there).

No one complains that Spidey makes no sense. Or that Kong is too large. And that's OK. Then why is the idea of a guy that needs constant adrenaline stupid?

I think that this movie is seen as stupid speaks more about how many things we have already seen. This is not even the first movie about a poisoned character guaranteed to die looking for revenge I saw (That would be D.O.A. which is actually a pretty decent movie).

Look at action movies like Die Hard. Is it any less stupid? Maybe (and maybe not). But it was there first.

And at least Crank doesn't take itself too seriously.

As a bonus, it contains the best spoken-portrait-that-looks-just-like-the-guy-scene ever.

BTW: it's really not a good movie.

Rocky Balboa

Warning: this below is a little personal, rambling, and probably not a movie review.

You can make a case for this actually being a good movie. It may not get all the way there, but it's a decent job, done by competent craftsmen. You have to consider the movie as part of a larger thing, the sports movie genre. In particular, the boxing movie.

Everyone has seen them ... Underdog ... Long Odds ... Training Montage ... Final Fight .. Last Round ... it's almost like the conventions lie besides conventional narrative, just a series of cliches waiting for you, coming at you like a river. You can hear the upper case initials like waves hammering at your temples.

But I have many soft spots. And one of them is for boxing, and it's for purely personal, subjective, undefensible reasons.

My dad had a stroke many years ago. He was always a dry man. Affection with him was not exactly a simple matter. We had very little in common.

But on late friday nights we would watch the fights. We would talk about them, he with the difficulty of not being used to talk to me, later that of the hemiplegic, me with the difficulty of talking to him.

After a while, I started living alone, but kept watching the fights, and when I visited him, we would do it together. Until Benn-McClellan, which cured me from any enjoyment of boxing I ever had.

But I can still appreciate exactly how hard boxing is. Any sport at a high level requires skills I don't have, and is hard. Now think about practicing a sport (Any sport. Figure skating, if you will!) while another guy, just as strong and quick as you is trying to beat the crap out of you. That's boxing. You are not going to convince me there is anything harder in sports (except maybe some other combat sport).

And Rocky Balboa is a tale about a guy whose heart is so broken he can only think about that skill he used to have, and he gets a miraculous chance at doing that again, and it's a goddamn fairy tale, and nothing else, but I know how the eyes of a guy who would die, who would kill for a chance at doing something he can't possibly do look like.

And that kills me. And this movie killed me. And I got shivers at the end. And I am a goofball.

How satanic messages work (with video)

Everyone knows about the hidden satanic messages in songs.

You take a song, you play it backwards, and in certain places, you will have the singer saying something evil, like "I like eating puppies with cinnamon".

I have always assumed that this happens because our brains try to recognize patterns in the sounds they get, and they are a bit too good in that job, but now I have proof.

Here's a video Rosario (my wife, hi dear!) sent me:

In it you can hear pieces of pop songs, in english (and latin), and subtitles of what they seem to say in spanish.

Now, unless you believe Avril Lavigne actually says "Leiva quiso venderme el Ford" (Leiva tried to sell me a Ford), and Marley sings about "Where is Julia", the "picking too much signal" theory seems true.

Specially, if you are told what you should hear, it works much better!

I had heard these songs a million times, and I had never thought they said that, but with the subtitles... some of them are pretty close :-)

The issue of why subliminal messages encoded backwards in songs make no sense in the first place is another topic.

The world cup and I

Today is the first day of the world cup. While I fully expect the verbe and savoir faire of Paulo Wanchope to whip those german animatronic figures into submission [1] I started thinking...

The first cup I remember is Argentina 1978. Which, of course, we won. Thanks maybe to a shady grain shipment to Peru, maybe because Cruyff refused to come to the country, maybe because we had the world's strongest guy playing [2], maybe because the host nation had won like 60% of the time so far, but we did win.

I saw Argentina-Hungary in a movie theater with the screen decorated as a huge TV one day after it was played. Since we lived under a bloody dictatorship, everyone had to standup while we saw the taped anthem-singing, and there was a sort of desperate mandatory patriotism. But anyway, I was 7, it was fun.

Then came Spain 82. I was in school during most matches, so I didn't actually see almost any of them. We had a rather nice team, with Maradona and Ramon Diaz, but we met Brazil, which had a marvelous team. Then the final was the average versus the depressing, and the depressing won. Italy won with goals by an actual, proven game-fixer. And somehow noone remembers that.

Mexico 86. The first cup where I saw every damn match. And of course, one of the most memorable cups ever, since, again, we won. And we had the best player in the cup by some margin.

Of course, not everything could be flawless, and a deeply mediocre english team feels that they would have won except for the "Hand of God" goal. Well, here's the thing. If the english had won, it would have been injustice of such a mind-bending size, armageddon would have happened right there, 21 years too early.

Not to mention that the bitter dudes simply can't enjoy being beaten by the second goal [3].

Sure, we had to play only England, Belgium and Boxcar Willy [4] but then again, we have been on the "Group of Death" for 8 years in a row.

When you play in a park or schoolground, if there is a player that's incredibly good (or everyone else is incredibly bad) we say "with that gay, it's stealing". Well, in 86, with that guy, it was freaking armed robbery.

Italy 90. I have high blood pressure. I blame Italy 90. We started by being the first champion ever to lose the opening match, against Cameroon, because we didn't play Caniggia until minute 70. In the following ten minutes, two Cameroon [5] players got redcarded. If he had played from the start, we would have won by default because Cameroon would have ended with 5 players on the field.

Maradona had his left ankle the size of a grapefruit, and the color of Merlot. He could barely walk.

Our goalie was injured in the most gruesome accident I ever saw in a football field. On the slow motion reply you can see his leg turn into a Z in a very wrong way.

Then we played Russia where Maradona committed a clear penalty and wasn't called [6]

We seemed to advance in every round by penalties, and were pretty much unable to score at all.

In the match against Brazil, we were so overmatched it was kinda funny. And then we had two chances. One went in, the other hit the crossbar. Brazil had about 400 shots on goal, and we had the luckiest guy on earth on goal, so...

We played Italy. We had one chance to score. It went in. They tied.

We won on penalties, thanks to the most incompetent penalty kicker I ever saw [7]. Serena, wherever you are, if you ever need a drink, I'll buy you one, round-footed-wonder!

The finals. We were without the only guy that could score in the team. Without our best defender. Our best player was so bandaged he couldn't use shinguards. Everyone was way too old. Batista was playing like Boris Karloff's Frankenstein. We had ran out of players, out of ideas, out of time.

And we lost. Because of a penalty. Which was not a penalty (see the replays, really).

There have only been two players ejected on a cup final ever. Guess who they were?

But you know what? The guys played like god damn lions. If you are great, then you are supposed to win. We were not great. We were not even average. That team was a lot of senior citizens, one fast guy, a crippled wonder and duct tape. And they got to the finals. It was as if a smart, poor fat guy with acne and bad breath picks up Nicole Kidman, but doesn't get to have sex with her. He is still to be admired.

Then came the real heartbreak. USA 94. That cup never happened. I refuse to think about it.

France 98... so so. We got to quarter finals, which was about right. We could have gone further, but Ortega is the dumbest player in the universe, and he decided to headbutt a dutch in front of the referee.

Japan-Korea 2002. We were favourites. We were the best thing since sliced bread. Our coach was a mad genius. A tortured soul. We had the last chance to play one of the most implacable scorers of all time. We had a dazzling midfield. A solid defense. We had beaten Brazil in Maracana a little earlier. We were kickass.

We had a hard group. It was tight. We lost a close match to England. We had to play Sweden and we had to win. But we didn't.

I was living in Buenos Aires and didn't have a TV, so I had to go to bars to see the matches. Argentina-Sweden was played at some ungodly hour, like 3AM, and I went downtown to see it.

Of course, we were one goal short. And we were out of the cup. I had never seen Argentina fail to exit the group stage. And I was at 5AM in the street, in mid-winter, feeling really, really, really bad. Which means that of the last three cups, two have been horrible, one half-decent.

Since Maradona retired, that's our harvest. This time... this time we had a decent team, coached by a nice guy. We have a proabable superstar, but he's too young and a little injured. We have a terrible goalie, an aging defense, a lot of above average forwards... I say semis, or quarters. If we get any further, it will be in the Italy way, not the Mexico way.

But dammit, I will be watching.

[1] Yeah right.
[2] You can see Kempes dragging no less than three rather large dutch people hanging from his shirt. And he didn't even slow down.
[3] I actually prefer Maradona's Belgium goal.
[4] Our side of the draw were all bums.
[5] Everyone remembers this Argentina team as thugs. Cameroon was about 10 times as rough, and noone remembers because they were the feel good story of the cup, with Milla being 56 years old or something. But if you attacked them, you ended barefooted, flipping in the air.
[6] God plays defense, too.
[7] Except Palermo, who missed three (3) penalties in the same match. Then again, he actually kicked two of them decently.

The Da Vinci Code is Broken.

I saw The Da Vinci Code saturday night. This has spoilers. So don't read it if that bothers you, ok?

I can now post and noone can complain about how I had not read the book. Although of course, I haven't. But this is about the movie.

First, I want to say that I must correct my previous comments, caused by reading a synopsis of the book in Dan Brown's site.

I must say (assuming the movie follows the book) that it doesn't paint Opus Dei as a clandestine sect at all (not even as specially interested in obtaining any secret). Only one specific couple of Opus Dei guys are. Which is fine and dandy for me. Secret societys can chase each other around the globe. Their problem.

Of course it also means the following ( again, if the book is like the movie ):

  • The comments defending the book's portrait of Opus Dei as a secret society as appropiate fiction are nonsense, because the book doesn't do that. You were defending the book of something that's not in the book.
  • The guy that wrote the synopsis in Dan Brown's official site has not read the book.

Having said that, onto more serious matters...

Ron Howard is incapable of filming a comprehensible action scene. Don't trust me? Watch the Smartcar chase.

Tom Hank's hair is scary. It's a weird bilateral combover. I used to do that. I don't anymore. I am right about stopping. Besides, it's way too distracting.

http://ralsina.me/static/calculin.jpg

Professor Langdon, I presume?

I enjoyed the movie as a popcorn flick with pretentions, but most of the plot follows no logic.

Sauniére triggers an alarm, in the Louvre, and is then shot in the stomach. Then he traipses around the museum, finds a marker visible only on UV light, does things to three paintings, hides a key behind a large, heavy painting, takes off his clothes, creates an anagram, writes it on the floor along with some numbers, draws a pentacle on his chest, arranges himself in a position reminiscent of the Vitrubian man, and then dies.

He not only does all that instead of calling an ambulance on his cell, but he does all that before museum security gets there. In the gallery that has the Da Vincis.

Not only is it unlikely, but it also is stupid. Had he died earlier, he could, for instance, have been found with the key in his hand, and no clue left for the "good guys".

It's amazing there is still any paintings in that museum, with such security.

And don't get me started on the biiiiig secret. It turns out the Priory of Sion protects a secret about Jesus.

If said secret was revealed, it would damage the catholic church.

Of course... the catholic church also knows the nature (and details) of the secret, which means the catholic hierarchs dedicate their lifes to a faith they know to be false. Which makes no sense, really.

And then it turns out that several historians also know the nature and details of the secret, and have published books about it (except, of course, they have no evidence).

LAST WARNING, HUGE SPOILER HERE

REALLY

There is, however, one detail only the Priory is supposed to know: the location of a corpse that could be used, via DNA analysis, to show that some person is a descendant of some specific other "historical figure".

Which is, of course, absolute nonsense.

Suppose I show you a corpse and tell you "this is the corpse of Joan of Arc". You carbon-14 date it, and do the usual forensic analysis, and all agrees. It's a woman, that died in a fire, at such age in so-and-so year.

Then I show you a DNA analysis that shows she is my great-great-granny.

Am I the scion of the Orleans Maiden?

Hell no! Because to accept that, you would have to accept that the corpse is hers!

You can only reasonably do that if there is a clear historical record of the whereabouts of the corpse until now, or else it's a rather simple forgery.

For example, nowadays we used DNA of known descendents of Columbus to decide which of his two alleged bodies is the real one. About a known historical figure, world-famous in his life. We are just not sure of where his corpse is. We have two of those.

Since the "witnesses" of the authenticity of this corpse are the ones that are bound to gain from the claims, it's suspect at best.

If you go back a certain number of generations, almost every corpse will be your granny.

I am pretty sure that a large percentage of modern europeans are related to almost any random 2000 year-old corpse.

And, in the specific case of the movie (or the book), even if you assume it is the corpse of who they say, so what? That shows she is the descendant of a certain woman, not of a specific man. Get it? You don't prove the big premise. Only the little, meaningless premise, that M.M. (not Marilyn Monroe) had a child. Who gives a damn?

The secret the Church is trying to keep secret, the secret the Priory is not trying to make public anyway... doesn't matter. It doesn't cause what the church fears, it doesn't cause what the Priory hopes, it does nothing.

So, really... much ado about very little. If I were the church, I would let them say whatever they want, and nothing would happen. Absolutely nothing.

Not to mention that the apocryphal Leonardian device, the cryptex... it's ... I have no words. If you missed it, the idea is that there is a papyrus inside it, and a vial of vinegar. If you try to open it without the key, the vinegar "dissolves the papyrus".

Do you know what papyrus is? It's made of the stems of a plant, and it looks a lot like paper.

It's cellulose. It doesn't dissolve in vinegar. It's like saying lettuce dissolves on vinegar.

You can make a paper that dissolves on vinegar, but papyrus is not paper.

It may make some sense if you said the ink used dissolves on vinegar, but it's not what they said. What they said is stupid.

So, it defies reason how so many people can enjoy a book based on a premise innocent of logic, about a conspiracy to protect nothing.

Skeletons of stories that won't ever be written.

Inspired by "From Dusk Till Dawn".

Story Nr. 1: Night of the predator

Genre: Supernatural Horror.

Notes: This story should be written in Lovecraftian prose, and try to provide a sense of foreboding, and imminent doom, while seeming completely obvious.

Francis was the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son. As such, his fate was preordained. On every full-mooned friday, he would experiment a horrid transformation.

He runs through the woods while remembering the strange admonitions from his father, who explained to him the bloodthirst of the werewolf, the horror of his actions, the curse upon his victims.

He feels a nagging sense of things being all wrong. A hunger for strange, unnamed things. An eagerness for forward motion. A predatorial wish.

Then, while in the woods, looking at the moon, he experiences a painful elongation of his body, a constriction of his limbs.

His skin changes quickly, his teeth grow too long and sharp for his mouth.

He flops around for a minute or two and dies.

The seventh son of a werewolf is a wereshark.

The rest of the story is a CSI-style police procedural about the origin of a shark corpse 500km away from the sea, the protagonists are park rangers.

Story Nr. 2: The man with the golden brain

Genre: bondian superspy.

Notes: This should include a lot of technojargon which makes no sense, and the prose should be quite bad. Think Ian Fleming.

Our superspyprotagonist is tasked with destroying the world-destroying weapon of a thirld world dictator with a surprisingly large moustache and a beret.

This dictator's headquarters are beneath a volcano, and his weapon would destroy the world by provoking catastrophes of a very complicated nature (to be determined. ideas: drive all farm animals into a killing frenzy, make all 7up bottles explode at random times, turn cocker spaniels into evil scientists).

Our hero enters the lair through some complicated path involving sewers and airducts.

He is captured by the evil tyrant, and tied to a table with a giant laser aimed at his groin.

While the tyrant prepares to kill him in this over-complicated manner, the hero says "before I die, can I ask you one thing?".

The tyrant replies by blowing hero's head with a colt 45 then says "Hell, no!" [1].

Unimpeded in his plans because all industrialized nations relied on a single guy working alone, he blackmails all the world into surrender.

The rest of the movie is a geopolitical thriller about:

  • The difficulty of ruling the world from an underdeveloped country, with emphasis on telecommunication issues.
  • The ecological situation stemming from the forced undevelopment of Western Europe and North America in order to reduce the stress on the environment.
  • The psichological stresses on the world population when they realize their lifes depend on the whim of the guy with the bigger gun.
  • The compassionate rule of the aforementioned tyrant and benevolent dicator for life, who proceeds to disarm all armies (including his own), and never actually uses his weapon.

Epilogue:

200 years later, the impossibility of remotely controlled explosive 7up bottles is terminantly proven.


[1] This is taken from the "Guie for the Perfect Tyrant".

Narnia

Saw Narnia the other day.

Liked it.

Of course, the whole story makes no sense, but hey, that's how it's supposed to be.

If you have not seen it, and have not read the book, and intend to ignore the plot, please stop here. Ok?

There is this large lion, Aslan.

He gives his own life to save that of a sniveling treacherous, silly kid who sells others for turkish delight (a candy Rosario tried in Istanbul, and tells me is pretty good, so there is some sense in him).

Ok, so the kid is actually just scared, and petty, and a kid, and he's not that bad.

On the other hand, the lion...

For the whole movie, the White Witch is built up as evil, and monstrous and a killer. But it turns out that the worse she does is freeze her victims. Unharmed.

She eventually kills someone in a battle (but so does Peter, our 14-year old "hero").

The frozen guys can be revived at will by Aslan. Who for some reason had not done so.

On the other hand, Aslan's big sacrifice? He knew all along that he would be unharmed. Even his mane regrows after a few hours.

At least he could have told the two poor girls who thought had seen him die. And skipped the whole heavy-hearted "oh, I am so sacrificing myself" walk through the woods.

Oh, you may say, but the war is fought so that the true rulers of Narnia will ascend to their thrones!

Well, how in hell are those four english kids the true rulers? They had never been there, they have no connection to anyone there!

Hell they are the only four bloody humans in the world!

It looks amazingly racist to me. Species-ist?

So, hundreds of Narnia inhabitants die (and I mean really die, not fake-die like that Aslan kitten) so some carpetbaggers get to lord as kings over the plebeian masses, instead of another high-born chick.

My suggestion to the hordes of gryphons, sphinxes, polar bears, fauns, centaurs and dwarves:

Kill them all, and start living a decent life, without supporting useless parasites.

Free Phillip!

PS: Yeah, I did like it ;-)