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Sunday, May 20, 2012

PAVING THE WAY





"A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness."








Afrikan proverb








REVIEW OF THE DICTATOR













About The Movie:


For forty
years, the North African Republic of Wadiya has been ruled by
Admiral General Hafez Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen),
a lecherous, anti-western and antisemitic despot
who surrounds himself with female bodyguards and
is working on developing nuclear weapons.
After the United Nations Security Council resolves
to intervene militarily, Aladeen travels to the UN Headquarters in New York City to
address the council. Shortly after arriving, he is kidnapped by a hit-man
Clayton (John C. Reilly) hired by his traitorous uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley).
Tamir then replaces Aladeen with a political decoy named
Efawadh, who he can manipulate into signing a document democratizing Wadiya
and opening the country's oil fields for business. Aladeen escapes, but his beard
has been shaved off by Clayton, making him practically unrecognizable. He
encounters activist Zoey (Anna Farris), who offers him a job at her alternative
lifestyle co-op. Aladeen refuses the offer and travels to New York's
"Little Wadiya", where he encounters Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas),
the former chief of Wadiya's nuclear weapons program, whom Aladeen thought he
had previously had executed.


Wanting his old job back, Nadal
promises to help reinstate Aladeen as dictator on condition that he make him
head of Wadiya's weapons program again. Aladeen then accepts Zoey's job offer,
as Zoey's employees have access to the hotel where the signing ceremony is to
take place. After acquiring a new beard taken from a corpse, Aladeen
infiltrates the hotel and incapacitates his double. At the signing ceremony, he
tears up Tamir's document in front of the UN delegation, and holds an
impassioned speech in favor of dictatorship, drawing unintended parallels to
current conditions in the USA. However, upon seeing Zoey in the room, he
declares his love for her and, knowing Zoey's strongly-held views, vows to
democratize his country, but not on totally capitalistic terms.


A year later, Wadiya holds its first
democratic elections, although they are rigged in favor of Aladeen. Afterwards,
he marries Zoey, but is shocked when she crushes a glass and reveals herself to be Jewish.


What Is Good About The Movie:






That which
does not kill us only makes us laugh.





That seems to be the governing principle in this outrageously
offensive, but ridiculously funny, effort from agent provocateur Sacha Baron
Cohen.





What Is Bad About The Movie:





I didn't find anything bad with the movie because I saw it for what 


it was (silly and off the wall).





Overall Grade:





B


REVIEW OF BATTLESHIP










About The Movie:


Battleship is a
special-effects-heavy movie invented to extend the brand of a commercial board
game — suitable for ages 7 and up! — in which two players move imaginary boats
around a simple grid. Under the
direction of Peter Berg — the talented, ever-maturing filmmaker behind Friday
Night Lights 
and The Kingdom — Battleship is a sound vessel
floating in Hollywood's oil-slick sea of Transformers sequels and
vampire riffs. 
The object of the original game is simple: Attack an opponent's ''fleet'' through a combination of mental strategy, deductive logic, and luck. The movie doesn't forget these low-tech roots. There's a nifty sequence in which sailors track incoming alien fighters using similar X-marks-the-spot skills. But before getting to the hardcore blow-'em-up portion of the humans-versus-aliens warfare entertainment, we are given time to invest in the relationship between Stone Hopper (True Blood's Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd) and his younger brother, Alex (Taylor Kitsch from TV's Friday Night Lights) — the former a courageous Navy officer of great character, the latter a corner-cutting showboater who is about to have his character entirely re-welded through the Navy challenges that await him. 


What Is Good About The Movie:



(Kitsch does an
admirable, controlled job of steering his character from screwup to leader.) We
understand that Alex loves a bombshell physical therapist named Sam (Brooklyn
Decker), and that Sam happens to be the daughter of crusty U.S. Pacific Fleet
commander Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson, barking but not biting). We see the
emotional-zeitgeist logic in the special interest that Sam has taken in the
physical rehabilitation of an Army veteran and amputee, authentically played by
real-life Army vet and amputee Gregory D. Gadson. We appreciate the pop culture
traffic jam that has musical glam girl Rihanna passing muster as a tough (yet
cool!) fellow sailor. And we know to keep an eye on the conflict that rumbles
at first between Alex and a Japanese officer (Tadanobu Asano) because
Japanese-American hurts and fears left over from the real Pearl Harbor will be
worked out before the movie is over for the benefit of boomers and assorted
granddads in the audience.


What Is Bad About The Movie:


NASA fires some radio messages
out into space. Some aliens attack Earth. We really don’t know what they want,
but what the fuck does it matter? The writers didn’t care; the director didn’t
care; the core audience for this movie won’t care. Why? Because…explosions. Explosions
and Brooklyn Decker’s tits. Battleship represents everything
that is wrong with Hollywood: It’s loud, it’s dumb, it’s obnoxious, and it’s
expensive. 


Taylor Kitsch plays a shiftless good-ole-boy all American fuck up
until Brooklyn Decker’s gigantic breasts walk into his bar one night. He finds
himself smitten. Thirty minutes later, he’s an officer in the U.S. Navy and
battling invading aliens in order to win daddy Liam Neeson’s approval in
perhaps the most valiant effort to get laid in the history of the world.


The casting of Rihanna, however, is not only an insult to all of
the legitimately talented and struggling African American actresses in
Hollywood who would sell their souls for a speaking role in a non-Tyler Perry
movie but an insult to every woman in the U.S. Navy as well. Hundreds of known
and unknown actresses in Hollywood could ably fill the role of a tough-as-nails
sailor. Rihanna isn’t one of them. If all that’s
standing between the survival of the human race and extinction at the hands of
a hostile alien species is Rihanna, just give me a loaded pistol so I can off
myself ahead of time.


Discerning cinema goers deserve better, too. If you
have to see a movie this weekend, do what everyone else is doing and see 
The
Avengers
 for the fourth or fifth time instead.


  Overall Grade:


C-

IN THE LIFE: REMAINING VIGILANT










IN THE LIFE DEBUTS REMAINING VIGILANT: A LOOK AT LOCAL BATTLES FOR LGBT EQUALITY AT THE STATE LEVEL





New York, May 1, 2012 –Tonight, public television stations nationwide will begin broadcasting Remaining Vigilant, an episode from the award-winning newsmagazine IN THE LIFE. The episode features two installments of In The States, an ongoing series covering local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists campaigning for equal rights and protections at the state level.





In The States: Iowa brings IN THE LIFE to the American heartland where, in an attempt to repeal marriage equality, social conservatives have used unprecedented tactics in a campaign with national implications. Iowa poses an important question to the rest of the country: Should voters decide whether gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry?





Also in this episode, IN THE LIFE heads to Ohio, a state with few legal protections for LGBT people. Ohio legislators not only banned same-sex marriage, but barred unmarried state employees from receiving benefits for domestic partners; it is legal to fire LGBT people in Ohio because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; and transgender Ohioans lack the most basic civil rights. In this look at the LGBT experience in a state where progress is slow, we meet locals with deep ties to their community committed to a long battle in the state that they love.





On May 1st, Remaining Vigilant begins airing on public television stations across the country and will be available for free video streaming from the In The Life Media website. To find out when it will air in your local area, or to stream it, go to ITLMedia.org.

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