Archive for the ‘Movies’ category

Being There

May 23, 2014

Chauncey Gardner, I heard that name before for Hussein O. It was a pretty good movie. If Hollywood produced that kind of subtlety in the 21st century, things would be better, but they aren’t.

Groundhog’s Day Semi Review

February 3, 2014

I found this methodical synopsis and chronology check to be the most agreeable in terms of content. Though very spoilerish.

Then I wrote a comment about it.

Phil mostly saw women as an entertainment venue, like a party, and not as a life partner. Mostly he had no life apart from his pleasures and social status.

Once he got stuck in God’s sand glass, he pursued pleasure to the ends of the Earth, and found it meaningless. Thus individuals that did not get conquered by him easily, or at all, started to take on a more meaningful, existential, value. They were harder to get. Harder to get, meant more valuable and more rare, to the person that can have everything and anything, within the limits of his hourglass prison. The grass is always greener on the outside. Attraction is felt much better from a balanced dose of courtship and prioritization of greater goals.

Phil’s “efforts” amounted to no more than the PUArtist’s desire to get sex and babes, for personal and social status elevation. It was only when he achieved satoh or enlightenment, and gave up his worldly desires, that he began on the road to pursuing beauty as a goal in and of itself, not merely as a utility for man. The ice sculpture pointed out that the time was already there for him, mostly.

Phil was given a kind of immortality. Pleasure and ultimate domain over his territory (or prison) went through a cycle of acceptance and rejection. Then at a certain point, his spirit and soul was freed from his human constraints, thus achieving escape. Phil could no more let someone die in his domain than he would allow his employees to perform badly, because it reflected badly on him. But while in the beginning it was a sort of grand narcissistic campaign to elevate his own status in his own eye, eventually he truly came to care for those in his domain, his eternal prison. Even though he had attained or been given a special place amongst Creation itself, he had not the power to reverse time, reverse death, create life, or anything of the kind attributed to true Divine Power. So he sought the closest emulation, spiritual and physical perfection through effort and will. Phil obtained power, and in obtaining power he also obtained the weight of responsibility. Yet for all that, his power could not exceed the realm of the Divine, the absolute Equality of Death. When he was a weak plaything of his own desires, Phil could never look up at the Divine powers that were above him and truly respect the greater powers that be. Phil had never had such powers and believed that anyone who did, would be weak or evil or a gluttony for pleasure. That’s how he became when he acquired almost divine level immortality. Only when a person truly becomes strong, independent, and willful of mind, soul, and body, judging for himself, by himself, can he look up above at the cosmos and recognize the difference between the scales of power that differentiates the mortals and the immortals. Those that are limited by death and those who are not limited by death. Phil could only save a limited number of people, yet he knew the power to save life and transcend death existed, he was proof of it.

From someone who watches a lot of Japanese and Eastern cultural/historical/philosophy based material, it was an unexpected story and movie. The title was somewhat misleading too.

Someone previously told me that my reaction to movies is mostly because of what I bring to it, which is true. It doesn’t necessarily apply to anyone else. And when the masses often like to convince the “public” that a certain viewpoint is right, I also tend to react predictably.

Pacific Rim : Movie Review

January 23, 2014

When this movie started, it had an interesting definition of the word kaiju or sea monster. It’s a Japanese word. I started thinking of whether this movie was really going to be about Japanese themes or whether this is just some knock off cheap copy.

It turned out quite well. I think the turning point for me was when the first 20% of the movie backstory and intro/prologue were over, and I started hearing Japanese. At this moment in time, I read subtitles almost automatically due to configuring my brain through long habit in multi tasking and seeing things out of the peripheral vision areas. Good for martial arts as well when facing enemies. Because of the speed I read the subtitles at, I couldn’t tell whether I heard the Japanese and thought in Japanese and translated it to English, or whether reading the English subtitles allowed me to figure out what the Japanese is. The Japanese language definitely makes a stronger impact on me emotionally for the stronger emotions. English is very good for self discipline, suppression of emotions, and figuring out social body language. At least that’s the way I am configured.

This movie is essentially about giants battling it out between humanity’s annihilation and invaders from X. The human part comes in the form of the Image, the vision of bipedal motion, human pilots, and the Drift (a buddy system between two pilots). The buddy system is also used in US Marine Corps boot camp training, marriage between a man and a woman, as well as anime like Buddy Complex.

I was never bored. It didn’t feel like Hollywood special effects. I try to imagine it as a sort of live action Mecha series, and the image character doesn’t break. That’s a high level of compatibility with Japanese themes for them to be able to sustain the “image” so well.

Another kaiju themed series is Heroic Age. Watched that series like 4-6 times. Very enjoyable. Schlock’s Mercenary author was right though. For fans of Japanese meta creations and kaiju themed monster movies, this is a solid work. A lot of East meets West vibes going on in the movie.

P.S. I did notice at the end that they started talking about obvious stuff as a sort of narration. Obvious stuff which I already knew about because the movie showed it to me 2 seconds ago. If they want to use up movie time with that kind of stuff, they should discuss the “statistics” of the Jaeger weapons in full detail, instead of machine gun spitting it out in 4 seconds because they think the audience will be bored of technobabble. It’s actually very important to know the difference between why this Jaeger uses a plasma cannon vs that Jaeger using a hydraulic punch vs the other Jaeger that uses missiles. Code Geass did a very exciting job of explaining the different technical specifications of mechs and why they should matter to people who want to see human conflict.

Sucker Punch : Movie Review

January 19, 2014

I came to review Sucker Punch because I read that author’s review of the movie as well. Which reminded me that I don’t have a review up yet.

I saw this movie years ago but promptly forgot about it. Mostly because the themes seemed rather complex without a second viewing… and I don’t pay attention to Hollywood, MSM, popular culture reviews or the internet comments on movies. The second reason is probably the more important factor in why I forgot about it.

All in all, it’s a good movie. It combines several genre hybridizations and would be what I might call “an original American made live action anime”. Girls in miniskirts, check. Girls that fight, check. Girls that socialize together, check.

The general over arching plot has to do with the dark side of humanity in a setting of enforced imprisonment. The ending, if I recall correctly, left me with bitter regret that I lacked the power to help such individuals. For even if the movie has only fictional characters, I know and remember from my research on human history that such incidents are very common across the world. Only someone with Divine level power could hope to change the world to fix such issues.

A lot of Japanese anime concerns putting a modern boy into feudal settings where he has to fight. For expected reasons, that appeals to me. Since I often feel like I was born in the Wrong Era, given my personal skills and talents.

Prince of Persia The Sands of Time: Movie Review

January 19, 2014

This time we’re reviewing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. We in the sense of “waga”, which the female character/heroin often uses in Uminek no Koro ni . When the Seagulls Cry.

I played the PC game this was based off of, all 3 trilogies. Although I never finished the second one (it was based upon some kind of warrior fighting theme with heavy rock). The music made me crazy.

The original PC game followed a similar plot line as the movie. So I’m glad they took the time to write up a whole movie script based upon the concepts and plot devices, while not trying to steal stuff from a game’s plot. A game is designed to be interactive, so the plot isn’t really… active most of the time as a movie would need. In fact, if they had used the PC game as the central plot outline, they could have done the complete PC game trilogy in 2 hours of show time. Doable, but maybe too much stuff for a movie.


I would characterize this movie as a sort of romantic adventure set in ancient Persia, depicting royalty and a few themes like Kingship. But the acting is far inferior to what I might expect of the Japanese, anime or live action. I refer to facial gestures and emotional touching frame working. Scenes that I knew could be worked into emotional tear jerkers using the Japanese style, were done in a Hollywood fashion, producing flat emotional tones. You get what is going on and you get what you are supposed to feel, but I don’t feel it. Women may react to it but men… probably won’t.

The entire middle part wasn’t that interesting. They do include jumping puzzles in the intro, which were a nice homage to the jumping puzzle that is the entirety of the PC game. Well almost entirely, you get to use a dagger with your martial arts and acrobatic combos in the PC game as well, which was hard to control but beautiful when executed well.


All in all, this isn’t a bad adaptation of the pc game. But the pc game was still more fun to play for 2 hours of entertainment. It may be a good compromise for a couple that can’t decide between action and romantic comedy. Which, in itself, is saying something about current trends.

P.S. The movie’s plot would actually have worked better for Elika, the 2008 or so Prince of Persia PC game’s female companion. By companion I mean the Greek usage of the term as applied to martial warriors and bonds. That was… memorable.

Riddick: Movie Review

January 19, 2014

I found Pitch Black to be good but Chronicles of Riddick to be a little too science fiction in the “blaster stormtrooper” kind of fashion. It pulled the Riddick franchise away from the grimy, individualistc, human vs monster, theme. Riddick 2013 fixes that, for the most part. The intro did a good job of “resetting” things, although it’s not a plot reset like Star Trek.

I’ve been going through this person’s movie reviews. I found out later that he was also the same person I listened to on Brandon Sanderson’s podcasts on Writing Excuses.

I refuse to read Hollywood reviews by journalists. But people who I respect or think has something to offer intellectually or morally, I’ll take their movie reviews at face value. Stardust was recommended to me before by Laer and it worked out well. Frozen was recommended to me by Bookworm Room and that worked out. So maybe there’s some interesting Hollywood movies out there, but I won’t search through them personally.

Frozen: Movie Review

January 3, 2014

Frozen: Movie Review

Disney’s new animated film was recommended to me by Bookworm at her blog. So I checked it out, as I said I would.

Surprisingly the best part of the film was the first 30 minutes for me. I already forsaw the potential endings at around the middle of the film, so while the ending was still interesting and fun, it was not as fun as the first 30 minutes for me. The first 30 minutes covered the childhood friendship of two sisters who grew up together in the same home, as well as various losses and mistakes along the way.

This is a very interesting film on several levels. For people who like an emotional journey into the human heart, they might like this. If you like anime and the values of family and love in it, Frozen has similar executions of the ideals of humanity. My recommendation is positive, but from now on it’s going to be all spoilers and analysis.

One of the things I first noticed was that the sister became a hikikimori. Essentially a person that is obsessed with solo type activities like games and computer manipulation, while shut in a tiny box of a room that is closed off from the outside society due to fear of humans. It’s a sort of super anxiety disorder compounded with the allure and draw of Japanese role playing games and visual novels, which provide a safer alternative to exploring human emotions than the risk of actual real life entaglements and social destruction that may result. (American example might be Second Life, Facebook, a woman sending pictures of herself masturbating to the boy she likes, all examples of social relationships that may or may not be healthy) The elder princess fits that bill (hikikimori) to so exact a fine line that I wonder if they just copied this concept directly from Japanese culture and otaku anime. There are a lot of moments in this movie that made me feel something similar. It’s not a bad thing in my view, but it is kind of funny and predictable.

Because of the accident in which the younger sister was hit with an ice shard on the head (because the magic user slipped on ice and tried to aim the magick at the ground to construct a safe pillar but ended up hitting her sister and almost killing her), the older sister became afraid of human touch and human interaction. She believed, and this was reinforced by her parents attempt to help her control her powers, that this magickal curse could only be controlled if she hid it, if she stopped feeling emotions, both positive and negative. That is why she shut out the world, for she sought to change herself…. even if this meant changing the relationship she had with her sister by putting up a wall and keeping her closest companion out. The fact that the younger sister’s (imouto) memories were altered, helps the plot along. The magick there didn’t make much sense, so it was just a plot device. The troll removed the knowledge about the magick, but kept all the memories of fun and companionship. That’s why the younger sister doesn’t understand why her older sister has changed the relationship.

There’s another review of the movie I’d like to respond to. I’ll start bolding said review in sectioned parts.

Sisterhood could have been a theme, and the writers apparently think it was a theme judging by the ending, but the sisters don’t work together or do much of anything together for the whole film.-Eidolon

Technically, to be accurate, it is not sisterhood. It feels more like the Japanese concept of a childhood friend or osananamiji. Thus I “got it” by cross referencing the enormous bulk of Japanese conceptual and media work on childhood friends and why this relationship is special and critically valuable. The central concept behind a childhood friend is absolute loyalty and always being together. That means by the time of the accident, they were no longer childhood friends. In the introduction, when one girl wakes the other up, this mirrors the osananamiji framework that has the friend (usual female) wake her childhood friend up (often male), each and every morning. It’s a Japanese thing. In the American framework, being together is hanging out, having fun, going to parties, eating lunch together, etc. To the Japanese, the fact that you are waking your friend up in the morning is in itself a Ritual of friendship and proof of the closeness of childhood friends. I surmise that the playing together and building snowmen was the “activity” that represented the entire continuum of childhood activities these two girls engaged in together. It is the backstory, and thus the film isn’t about the backstory but the future and how this relationship is healed.

The powers therefore can’t possibly represent isolation, as “releasing” that by being further isolated doesn’t feel good. So basically, the powers represent nothing, they’re just powers.

I would tentatively agree that the powers are either a plot device or merely a tool. They serve as the plot function to trigger the True Love resolution.

What presented the isolation of a glacial heart is the mythology concerning the Wise Man on the Mountain and the Hermit/Enlightened one living in a cave by himself for decades researching human wisdom. Those who seek human knowledge and freedom ironically often have to get away from concentrations of humans, due to the way human society ostracizes and punishes the “nail that stands out”. This is represented and highlighted in the film as a fear of and hate of someone with these ice powers. But it could just as easily be a hunchback of Notre D or the beast (and the beauty) that people hated or feared.

The moment when the Queen self exiled herself to the heart of the tallest mountain, to remain in isolation, protecting herself from humanity and protecting her kingdom from herself, was a pretty fun moment for me to see. I’ve seen numerous humans break under the strain of social conditioning and social authority, when said humans couldn’t find the strength to perform or stand up to power. I’ve also seen numerous humans become monsters, as society ostracized them and called them monsters: a self fulfilling prophecy. The Queen’s transformation in heart, spirit, and body was very entertaining to see, because it represented to me the moment when a human, after experiencing a life time of human social poison, finds the confidence to believe in themselves and their own abilities/powers/judgment. Of course they used the conditioning trigger of a depression turning into a joy ride, but that’s something I’m aware of as I feel it.

The Queen’s escape into the glacial heart of the mountains also reminded me of Minecraft, where you would just set out in one direction and build your fortress/farm/castle in a location you desired, based upon the natural resources around you and your own work.

The guy who goes on the trip with them works with ice, but this turns out not to be thematic but just for convenience. I thought maybe he’d end up as a love interest for the sister with the ice powers, since he works with ice, but there’s no connection or any sort of repetition of any ideas that could possibly congeal into a theme.

I thought the dual couple phenomenon was a possibility as well. Since the prince back at town wasn’t acting in character for a backstabbing story line. I had already made a hypothesis as to this. Which is why when the sudden but inevitable betrayal came, I wasn’t really surprised. The younger sister was having too much face time with a male protector that she wasn’t going to be romantically involved with. In real life, that makes perfect sense, but this is a movie about True Love. If they were planning on having the ice breaker, sled rider save the Queen, there needed to be preparation for this in terms of scene and plot work. There was none. So the backstabbing prince hypothesis started gaining more and more credence in my head as the movie went on. The funny thing is, everything the Prince did and showed during the Princess’ voyage of saving the Queen, was sincere, honest, and worthy of an honorable lad. That was, perhaps, an unfair trick they pulled on the children. It causes them to think that all acts of bravery, valour, and honor can be rendered false. When that’s only true at a superficial, social level. Betrayers will always betray themselves, when they think no one is looking. The heart cannot be hidden if you look at a person’s reactions, body language, and decisions.

Btw, I took the ice breaker connection as being a plot continuity necessity due to the intro. I assumed this was the boy pictured in the introduction.

But when there’s no real external threat, it’s extra important to have an interesting internal conflict, which isn’t present here.

The most dangerous and feared threats are internal. In that sense, the Prince made an almost too perfect villain. It’s easy to demonize and de-humanize a monster, an Other, as a villain. But the people humans really fear are the monsters living next to them, the quislings, the changlings, the neighbors that are psychopaths and serial killers, because it forces them to look in the mirror to see the darkness that resides in their soul. This is perhaps not such a good idea to expose children to, but it is a high level “villain” character concept.

Concerning interesting internal conflict, I thought there were quite a substantial amount. I liked the Queen’s internal conflict between what she loves vs what society demands of her. The conflict between a male that supports and protects a woman, vs a male that offers a woman the security of civilization, social status, and wealth was also interesting. Of course they made that a false decision, when they made the Prince out to be a villain but it didn’t have to be that way. It could have just been a competition between the two, where the “best man” wins the love of the woman. That’s perhaps too non-Western and non-US culture based to work this current time though.

We learn that “love” gives her control of the ice. This is nonsensical. She doesn’t love anyone more or less at the end than she did at the beginning. Are they saying she shot her sister at the beginning because she didn’t love her enough?

The Queen actually has enormous control over her powers, since she can make her imagination come true merely by willing it. It’s not so much “control” as “thawing” ice that is a problem. The Queen has been taught from an early period, by her parents, to conceal and hide her powers and to not use them to protect those around her. This was reinforced and sustained even though there were probably better things they could have done over time. This wasn’t realized because the parents died and the siblings had to raise themselves. As a result, her inability to stop feeling and her inability to control her emotions because of not being able to feel and work through them, made her unable to use her powers for love. For one thing, the Queen probably saw her powers as a curse and a threat to the people. She did not see her powers as an act of love, she did not see her powers as a tool to be used to defend the people. Thus she did not use her powers with love and defense in mind. She had the bad experience of either accidentally using her powers to hurt people or losing control of her negative emotions and her powers automatically lashed out as a self defense response. I apply a framework of martial arts and self protection perspective to this aspect. It feels very familiar to me that someone very good at X, might feel threatened that they have this X ability that others lack.

2. When you release your anger, frustration, or other emotions, it may have devastating consequences for others. But as long as you feel a lot of love for those other people, the consequences will just melt away.

The consequences won’t melt away, but atonement and redemption becomes possible only through love. Love and feelings have a higher metaphysical existence than people are led to believe in, due to emphasis on human intelligence. The Left is not an expert on love, emotions, feelings, intuition, intelligence, or education. The Left corrupts whatever they touch and makes it seem nasty and filthy. That means there is a line separating intellect and the heart, but love as a concept itself holds a very high dimensional placement. Emotions and science can be combined at a high level. Just as Creationism can be combined with Evolution. Theories and hypothesis are fundamentally liquid and malleable. It’s up to humans to figure out which is what. In the end, the movie attempted to define love or true love. Whether that’s the right definition or not, I can’t say, but it is a objective definition. It’s at least a hypothesis that can be tested in science. Is (true) love the ability to put other people’s interests and needs, above your own?

With the villainous prince, they’re taking direct shots against movies like Sleeping Beauty, implying that having the hero there and the princess end up together is simplistic and stupid.

The hero was the guy doing the physical things. Which, of course, included the Prince. But the Prince was more of a Prince than a Hero at the end. Not even a Dark Hero would act like that.

No one learns anything and no one is called out for anything they did wrong.

Society thinks that an authoritarian model of calling people out, shaming them, and forcing them to obey will resolve things. That’s one way to look at it. Love, however, being between two independent individuals, is a counter acting force and very anti-authoritarian. The primary objection to romantic love in the Romeo and Juliet days were that the two involved weren’t adults, they weren’t financially independent, and thus could not make decisions for themselves let alone their family’s financial and political futures by marrying based upon love. However, there would have been no objection if that romantic love had rested upon financial, political, or military realities.

For most people, they need to be coerced or forced into doing the right thing. However, for individuals that have achieved enlightenment or independent free will, you can’t force them to do the right thing. It’s not even about whether it’s a good thing or not, they cannot be Forced to Obey. They’d rather die, actually.

“I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet in law ought any man use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death, if a man is willing to say or do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death.”-Socrates before the Athenian death panel

So the ultimate proof of individual free will is what that person chooses to die for, to live for, to kill for.

Authorities can be either good, evil, or neutral. Instead of relying on coercion or force, I’d prefer to rely on mutual cooperation and resolution of shared problems and interests.

Lastly, to conclude, I don’t agree with cursing cute girls. That’s just not something I like to see, nor is it something that I want to see. It’s a good thing that Disney didn’t try to manipulate me with negative emotions and human flaws, such as Battlestar Galactica or other “edge” and dark shows. Because if they did, they wouldn’t get through to me. I would shut them out by destroying their access privileges. I like the movie, not because I prefer a happy ending or because I like the characters. I like the movie because I approve of the methods they used to impact the audience, on an ethical level. American producers and creative artists have not yet become competent at the bitter sweet tragedy that the Japanese have become experts on. So I don’t expect them to do edge, dark, well or to be too “realistic” in their portrayals of human societies. I forgive them on this matter, since if they are very good at the positive portrayal, then there’s no shame in maintaining that skill set.

Can be found the full review I was replying to, as well as Bookworm’s review.


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