Thursday, April 29, 2004

Ah Hell, I Oughta Go Back To Quicktime

I just watched the movie Go, which I picked up at CompUSA for a whopping $6.99, a value I simply couldn't pass up. It was just sitting there as a nice little impulse-buy on the way to the checkout counter, next to a copy of Last Action Hero, to which I said, "Wow, Last Action Hero for $6.99!" and the checkout guy said, "Yeah, pretty good, huh?" and I said, "No, it's still overpriced by about seven bucks." But Go was a ton of fun (particularly the William Fichtner, Scott Wolf and Jay Mohn section), which is just another case in which I have to say my ex-girlfriend was right. Damn her.

Last I hear, Air America is off the air in Chicago after a bit of a billing problem, in that Air America has what appears to be no money, which is something I don't understand, seeing how Rush Limbaugh has no problem with money; or, if he did, he's probably saving a lot right now by not buying all those drugs. Oh, sorry, prescription drugs, as though that were to make it all okay. No, seriously, I don't understand why it is that O'Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh don't have a problem finding a frequency with which to weasel their ways into my car or house, but when it comes to Chuck D and Al Franken, I have to sit and listen to them on the internet at school. And that's assuming they're pulling enough commercial revenue to keep that going for any extended period of time. Pisses me off.

Playmakers is on ESPN2 right now, marking one of the few occasions that I'll actually watch a sports network. And, if you've never seen the show, it's a drama about a fake football team in a fake NFL, which only ran for one season because the real NFL had a problem with football teams being portrayed as anything less than picture-perfect. And, of course, they're justified, because football teams might actually be like that. The NBA, on the other hand... Anyway, this show's like a male soap-opera with a better script than professional wrestling.

So my project got done, but it's a piece of crap at twenty minutes and change. The rough-cut clocked in at a shade over thirty-two minutes, and that's after cutting a couple of movies out. I ended up having to cut the sections involving Aliens, First Blood and one other movie I don't recall, in addition to cutting back on sections from all but one movie. And I really liked the First Blood scene, too, because it's really hysterical the way I cut it.

I think that for my next project I'm going to rip Tango & Cash in it's entirety and try to make a good movie out of it. Sure, I might have to re-dub some scenes, and probably reduce the total length to about forty-five minutes, but that'll only be slightly more challenging than the 'Pearl Harbor in two minutes' thing that I was toying with earlier. The only downside to all of this is the fact that working with high-quality Xvid AVI's really sucks for Premiere 6 to parse in real-time on my computer, and I'm pretty sure there's no way to do it with something like Motion-JPEG for cutting together the timeline and then just rendering the full-quality Xvid AVI files. Pity the new version of Premiere recommends a 3.04 GHz Pentium 4, which I just don't have.

Which means my next stop is a nice Macintosh running Final Cut Express. Actually, that's after I get a job. And, no, Mister Bush, instituting a military draft to support your silly war does not qualify as job creation.

AIM: therbmcc71

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Not the Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson Movie

So right now I'm at school, listening to Air America, which is currently running the O'Franken Factor. Arianna Huffington is on, and she doesn't sound quite as crazy as she did during the California recall, but... yeah, she's still a little nuts. I decided to start listening to Air America because I brought my headphones with me to school today so I can watch a DVD or two that I bought yesterday for that damn history project I detailed in the below post. Looking at the Air America site, I love the fact that Chuck D has his own show on Saturdays. I really have to get the radio fixed in my truck.

Ninety more dollars on DVD's yesterday, and now I'm done with it, thankfully. I'm not going to buy Courage Under Fire for a section of the report so insignificant as the Gulf War, when I figure showing about thirty seconds out of Three Kings ought to about do it. So I bought (deep breath) M*A*S*H, Guns of Navarone, Pork Chop Hill, Full Metal Jacket and three movies that were made during World War II that thankfully only cost $5.99. And I also bought First Blood on the excuse that it's representative of the way that some Vietnam veterans were treated... and it's easily the best of the Rambo films. Now that I think about it, though, I think that I'll have to include Rambo as an example of how the 1980's demonized the Vietnam war itself, but had absolutely no problem sending Stallone back into The 'Nam to rescue POW's and generally kick some ass.

I also got one of those cool new Google Gmail accounts. Unfortunately, this means that it's only a matter of time before it starts getting spam-bombed like every other email account I've ever had, which I'm not about to contribute to that by putting my email account up on the site.

I've been thinking lately about the concept of whether or not it's possible to be a professional activist for various causes, and everyone tells me that it is. Unfortunately, all of the causes that are worth fighting for need volunteers because they don't have nearly as much money as the causes that are worth fighting against. Seriously, when's the last time you watched a movie like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington or The American President and asked yourself, "Why don't people like this ever run for office? There have got to be people like this in this world, where are they?" Because they're not in Washington, and they're probably not in our state capitals.

Anyway. That's enough proselytizing. I'm going to listen to another couple of minutes of the O'Franken factor and then watch one of the World War II movies I bought; probably The Immortal Battalion, starring David Niven and the recently late Peter Ustinov. ... Recently late. How do you make it a point that a guy recently died? And why didn't I refer to David Niven as 'the late David Niven'? God, I have to get a life outside of movies and school, because when the two converge, it's getting really bad.

And one of these days I'll have to adjust my page template to include Liz's site, lest she remind me again, and then there's Complex Superior, and then there's Control-Alt-Delete, which is nearly as funny as Penny Arcade, but lacking in PA's incredibly brilliant usage of the word Fuck. There's more links, but I just can't think of them right now.

AIM: therbmcc71

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Post In Brief

I actually have a post in my truck, but the post needs work and it's late right now, so I'm not going to go out and get it. That, and it's fucking cold outside right now. So, anyway, I haven't been able to update lately, because I'm reading various books for class and writing papers on such. I'll go into more detail on that after I get that post out.

But I went out tonight and bought a couple of war-movies on DVD, because I have to do a twenty-minute presentation for my History class, my topic for which is the changing face of war films over the last sixty-five or seventy years, and how the Hollywood interpretation of war has changed dramatically with society, thus explaining why it is that war films that were produced during World War II seem so terribly hokey by today's standards. Granted, there were various censors to deal with, but even the stories were very different.

So, I have to look at some of the old movies from the era, including any archival stuff I can find from the public domain (notably Frank Capra's films, which refer to the Japanese in various racial epithets I'm not going to go into here). Finding a copy of "Bugs Nips the Nips" would be huge, though, because there's just something about Bugs Bunny spouting those various racial epithets, of which 'Nips' happens to be one. And then we move through the 50's, and every decade until the present, trying to point out changes in the interpretation of war.

My favorite era probably has to be Vietnam and everything that's come since. After all, during the Vietnam War, John Wayne made a movie called The Green Berets, which was a fantastically jingoistic film that supported the war wholeheartedly. If you look at the time it was made, public support for the war really hadn't started to degrade yet, since there weren't so many casualties that the national evening news had to start scrolling the names up the screen. But the film had its detractors, and it wasn't really until Apocalypse Now, Coming Home and The Deer Hunter came out that we finally started to get into the heads of people who went to Vietnam. Apocalypse Now functions kind of like a fever dream, but it's a fucking epic, so we excuse it for not sticking to formula.

And I can't forget to mention M*A*S*H (the movie, mind you), which took place during the Korean War, but we all know it wasn't about the Korean War. It was about Vietnam, but there was no way a studio would make the movie if they were openly mocking an ongoing war. Pity we don't have producers in Hollywood today who are willing to play with subject matter like that.

And then came the Eighties. Platoon, Casualties of War, Full Metal Jacket, Born on the Fourth of July... All of these films take place during Vietnam, sure, but they're also picking up on the tone set forth by the movies I mentioned from the Seventies, and they're not afraid to ask, "What the fuck were we doing there?"

And then the late Nineties pitted Saving Private Ryan up against The Thin Red Line. Both are absolutely brilliant films, although Spielberg's film was a commercially appealing and massively-accessible hunt for Matt Damon, while Terrence Malick's film was a monologue-laden introspective meditation on war itself. Upon the third or so viewing, I stopped hating The Thin Red Line (since I generally loathe internal monologues, particularly extensive ones), and decided to agree with the late Gene Siskel that it is one of the best war films ever made, provided you're willing to think outside the box and get away from the typical "war movie" formula of "rescue Matt Damon" or "blow up that bridge" or something silly like that.

And in the last few years, we've had Pearl Harbor, for which I have a great metaphor, but it escapes me at the moment. And then September 11 happened, and various polls came out that said Americans had become more introspective. Hollywood sure as fucking hell didn't show it, other than to bump Collateral Damage back a couple of months, pull the Spider-Man trailer, change the bad guys in The Sum of All Fears into more politically-correct Neo-Nazis... but there was no movement in film to answer the public's apparent need for thought.

In the one great master-stroke of taking advantage of the rampant "we don't give a shit who's responsible, just bomb some people who don't look like us!" jingoism (there's that word again) that had taken over our country after September 11, the release date for Behind Enemy Lines was moved up by several months, and made quite a bit of cash for its studio. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the only result of September 11 and its ensuing wars on American filmmaking.

On the flipside, take a look at Japanese cinema: It's still influenced by World War II, and particularly the fact that it had two nuclear weapons dropped on it. From Godzilla to Grave of the Fireflies, it's a huge influence on their filmmaking that continues to this day, while American cinema hasn't managed to produce anything of note since September 11.

So, that's about the gist of it, although I'm not sure if I'll bother with the Japanese connection at the end. And I'm going to have to split the presentation (which is just going to be one big cut-together video) into distinguishable parts. So far, I have two potential candidates, which I'll now share with you, and then it's time to sit down for over three hours with Colonel Kurtz and Captain Willard:

Part One: "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" - From The Great Dictator to The Green Berets
Part Two: "The Horror... The Horror..." - From Apocalypse Now to the Present

Oh, by the way, the movies I got today: Apocalypse Now Redux, Saving Private Ryan, and Forrest Gump. What? It's got Vietnam in it. If it's so important to you just comment on it. I need the attention.

AIM: therbmcc71

Monday, April 05, 2004

I Have Taken Up Religion and Joined the Republicans

As for my reason for not updating in so long, it's basically because I'm poor, and I don't have any money with which to go out and see movies, buy DVD's, buy music, et cetera; and I'm so terribly sick of most of the media that I do have that it's a chore to watch some of these movies, no matter how much I normally might like them. So, in the meantime, I've been spending a lot of time over at my friend's house, playing games like Worms 3D, Steel Battalion (which is nice, but certainly isn't worth two-hundred bucks), Anarchy Online, True Crime... a bunch of stuff.

And then I thought to myself, Easter is coming up. In the event that this might be the year for Armageddon to finally happen, I decided that it's about time that I got myself square with the Lord. Yes, I'm talking about the Boss On The Cross. The Late, Great J.C., if you will. And so it took a great deal of time for me to go through all of the churches in the area, to find the median between easy path to redemption and which church might just give me a key to the Poor Box.

Catholicism was definitely out. While I'd really like to be a priest for the simple reason that I could make a fortune taking confession from the people who live around here, writing it up and selling it to Penthouse Forum. "You did what, my child? How many times?" Dear Penthouse Forum, I never thought this would happen to me, but... Anyway, I couldn't be a priest because that would entail being devout, which isn't quite the easy road to redemption that I'm looking for.

I also couldn't be Catholic because I was born without any sense of guilt. So, that apparently also meant I couldn't be Jewish. I was actually told to get my schlinkus out of the Temple after I brought up the new South Park episode. So, that -and the restraining order that followed- means I can't be Jewish.

Presbyterian, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Quakers, Shakers, Amish, you name it, I tried it over the last couple of weeks. None of them were working for me. And then... *cue the holy 'Aahhhhhh....' sound with the golden light coming down from the heavens* I discovered the Landover Baptist Church. This is easily the best church of all time. And it's Baptist, which I initially thought was shocking until I recalled another Baptist church, and it was all clear to me...

I had to join the Landover Baptist Church.

And, as for me becoming a Republican, well, that's just par for the course when you're a Baptist. After all, Baptism is generally equated with the Baptismal bath --or whatever they might call it, since I took a Baptismal shower instead-- and Democrats are generally equated with Cleetus and Gomer, the two "'Squeal Like A Pig' Mountain Boys" from Deliverance, which says anything but bathing like a normal human being.

Furthermore, I was just won over by the President's Official Website. And I support his educational agenda which entails privatizing school cafeterias and disposing of this crazy notion of teaching evolution in schools. I'm already ... holy shit...

Okay, this has all been a really big fucking joke, and I'm not really a Republican, and I'm not really Baptists and those two pages are actually funny as hell. But they're satire, like The Onion and such. I just found this site while I was looking for an agenda of the President's to support, and I looked up the word 'fallout' on the Department of Homeland Security website... This might be the funniest thing I have ever seen, and it's hosted by our government:

Federal Emergency Management Agency ... For Kids! I especially love the page that tells kids what to do in the event of a "dirty bomb," which --when I was growing up-- slang for one of my cousins dropping a load in his diaper. Anyway, check out those three sites, and I'll think of something to talk about pretty soon.

AIM: therbmcc71