Withdrawal, Work and Film

After being deprived of pool for over two weeks, I was certain that I would soon lose my mind. The silly people at Dave and Buster are to blame. We went there two or three times, and each time we were not able to get a table because of silly private parties. Who has a private party at 14:00 on a Saturday anyway? Unfortunately, Dave and Buster is the only place that I know of near my place in Pittsburgh that has decent pool tables. Finally, on Thursday night, we were able to shoot one game of pool. I didn’t play too well, and there was a group of drunk adolescents nearby who were being slightly obnoxious. But like I always say, “bad pool is better than no pool”.

In other news, I start working at Northern Trust on Monday. I am excited. My responsibilities are to include managing user accounts at the help desk, documenting code, supervising code migration and upgrading version control software.

Movie Reviews (I guess I should put these on the reviews page, but at the moment, I don’t have too much to say about these films — that said, the rest of this post will be reviews, so if you could care less about my opnions of films, stop reading now): James Bond: Die Another Day, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Frida, Star Trek: Nemesis, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Italian for Beginners. I usually refrain from stating my true opinions on films that enjoy such mass appeal and dare I say, cult followings such as the James Bond, Lord of the Rings and Star Trek movies, so I will try to be honest and tactful at the same time. Sorry in advance to anyone who likes films that I do not.

Being such a big fan of Star Trek since the Next Generation series — my friend was recently amused when I told her that I actually own a Starfleet uniform, a personal communicator (that beeps), a tricorder and a type II personal phaser (that’s phaser as in PHAsed Energer Rectification not phasor for all you physics geeks — I do not appreciate it too much when people poke holes in the cinematic qualities of the Star Trek movies — or the Star Wars movies for that matter. That said, I Nemesis proved to be little more than an attempt to emulate the eye candy that wooed audiences of the latest Star Wars film. I predicted this when I saw the first trailer in June 2002. I was disappointed after I saw that trailer and more disappointed when I learned that ALL of the cool special effects scenes to make the trailer. I remember when episodes of The Next Generation of Deep Space Nine or Voyager would actually address deep social issues at the heart of modern civilisation using as a metaphor the adventures of 24th century explorers. At the same time special effects used were part of the storyline, instead of using a storyline that revolves around special effects. Granted, some episodes were better than others in this regard, but overall, I really felt that I learned something from watching Star Trek and at the very least, I was thoroughly entertained. All I expect from a Star Trek film is that it stay consistent with the Star Trek universe and Nemesis failed miserably in this regard. I could site numerous incidents, but right out at the beginning the crew of the prestigious Enterprise breaks Starfleet’s ever-important prime directive. Conclusion: Nemesis does attempt to address contemporary issues in society, but it does not do a very good job, partially through incompetence and partially due to the film making industry’s need to win over the audience for higher profits (this will be a recurring theme throughout this post — yes, this is a long post).

I went to see James Bond: Die Another Day for the same reason everyone else went to see it. I wanted to see Pierce Brosnan play a character who has cool gadgets, pilots fast vehicles, wins over beautiful women and prevails against evil forces that threaten modern democracy. I wasn’t expecting much from the film, however, I was still quite disappointed. While the movie delivered exquisite fight scenes and car chases as promised, some of the special effects scenes seemed to fall short, such as the blatantly blue-screened surfing scene. However, I do not think that alone was what really disappointed me. Someone recently mentioned, that he did not like the James Bond that Pierce Brosnan portrays because he is easily tricked by women and often finds himself stymied. I considered the idea that the filmakers were trying to make James Bond into the protagonist of a postmodern film noir, but it is too difficult to take such a movie seriously enough that I had to dismiss the notion. I still do not know what it is about the newer Bond movies that I just don’t like as much as the older ones. For example, I thought first two Bond movies with Brosnan were much better than the last two. I feel that I must find out why, because I refuse to let go of my ability to enjoy movies for their surface value. Conclusion: Great action flic, see this if you are a Bond fan.

Now before all of you Lord of the Rings lovers attack me ensemble, let me first say that I enjoyed The Two Towers. In fact I think the two LOTR films so far are very good for what they are. What follows is just a general comment on the two. I have been told that one cannot truly appreciate the films without first reading the novels. However, after two attempts at reading the Hobbit, I had failed to become engrossed in the storyline and was generally uninterested. Rather than force myself to read them, I simply decided that these particular books were not for me (I might actually read them someday as I used to be quite a fan of fantasy fiction). Here’s the part where I say all the things that I didn’t like about the films. First off, the filmmakers obviously aimed at being true to the book. It’s a noble intention, but it rarely makes for quality films. Literature and film are two very different mediums and one cannot simply make the novel into a film without making some changes. If the movies followed the books exactly, they would both be much longer. Modulo comments on ADD in modern society, a film only has to be as long as necessary. There is less room for rambling narrative that is often welcome in literature. Because of this, I was left puzzled by several events in The Two Towers that were not clarified until I was given extensive explanations by people who had read the book. The film, in its quest to be all inclusive, had managed to appease people looking for consistency with the books, but had many details that were unnecessary. However, I have been told that The Two Towers did a better job of portraying Smeagul than the novels. Lastly, as in all Hollywood movies, the filmmakers were required to add certain elements to ensure wide reception, the prime example being the love story between Arwyn and Aragorn which I have been told was not present in the novels. Even if they had been, I’m sure Tolkien would not have written, “and as Aragorn gazed upon Arwyn’s luscious lips, she embraced him and her breasts were clearly visible through the shear fabric of her blouse.” This has nothing to do with anytying, but I found it funny that one of the hobbits had a Canadien accent. Conclusion: This is a great fantasy film for all ages. My biggest complaint is that the film did not have a structured storyline with a defined ending, but I attribute this to the fact that it was adapted from a novel that was similarly lacking. You’ll probably appreciate this more if you enjoyed the books, but even if you did not, it could sitll be entertaining. I know there are still some films I mentioned that I have not yet reviewed, but I have spent way more time on this entry than I had intended. I will finish this another day.

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