Tuesday, June 30, 2009

JayRo Watches Movies: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the second largest 5 day opening ever, next to The Dark Knight. It's also receiving incredibly poor reviews, running a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.com This is seemingly a contradiction; why would somebody rush to pay money to see something that has been almost uniformly panned?

The answer is obvious when you see the movie. Transformers 2 is just as loud, hectic and visually stunning as the first. In some cases, the action becomes even more hectic to the point where you lose track of which robot is on which side. In short, Transformers 2 takes every stereotype associated with a "summer blockbuster" movie, aims to take them as far as they can be taken, and succeeds.

What it doesn't do is strive to have a deeper meaning. It does not go much below the surface. Other than John Turturro, there is nothing resembling a decent acting performance. The plot is superficial, there to move to the next action scene. And yet, the movie still works. Why? Because the movie doesn't try to be anything but what it was before - action that you can check your brain at the door and watch.

I think the issue with the critics is that they either would not accept the movie for what it was, or held it to the same standard as every other film they watch. While treating it like every other film is a fair way to operate, it will short change Transformers 2, thus the disconnect.

The best review would be the one that says "If you enjoyed the first one, you will enjoy the second one. If you did not enjoy the first one, you will not enjoy the second one." But sadly, that doesn't lead itself to star or point ratings that summarize nicely on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson

I don't really have too much to say about Michael Jackson's death; most every angle has been beaten to death. (Paul Wells has a great piece here which I highly recommend. Wells' love of music and his appreciation of history produces one of his typically great posts.) All I will add is that when Michael Jackson was on, there was nobody who could top him. Here's a performance of Billie Jean from 1992, when he was on the downside of his peak. Even with that, he still kills the performance:

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Iran - a quick hit

I have been a bit neglect in my following of the Iran Elections, um, fiasco, but I wanted to bring to your attention a couple of articles.

The first, from 2005, is Michael Ignatieff's article about his visit to Iran. It's a handy backgrounder for (a) how one of Canada's political leaders was thinking about Iran at the time and (b) how, in part, we got to this point.

The other is Paul Wells' blog post about where we are now in Iran, and where we are likely to go from here. It's a post that helps to bring everything together in a clear vision.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Giddiness, commence!


(hat tip: Habs InsideOut, who read La Presse so I don`t have to remember my French.)

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tim Sylvia vs Ray Mercer

Since you are going to hear about this every time the MMA vs. Boxing argument occurs, I present it to you - Tim Sylvia vs. Ray Mercer:

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Montreal Canadiens are curious about...stuff

So, Les Habitants sent me (via Ipsos) a survey to take. I'm assuming it's because I purchased tickets from them directly at one point.

The survey was pretty general, asking for demographic information before getting into the meat of the matter. Among the information they were interested in:

  • How many games did you watch on television this past year?

  • How do you get "general" information? How do you get Canadiens specific information? (3 choices for this; the choices were the major Montreal newspapers, major sports websites, Montreal television stations and Montreal radio stations.)

  • How much do you use the internet?

  • How many other events have you attened at the Bell Centre in the last year?

  • Have you ever bought tickets from scalpers? If so, how much did you pay as compared to the face value of the tickets? How satisfied were you with your scalper experience?

  • How many ounces of spirits do you drink in a week?

  • How many glasses of wine do you drink in a week?

The last three bulletpoints were the monst interesting. They seem to be interested in knowing how many people have gone to scalpers, and if there's anything to be worried about from them (instead of immediately assuming that scalpers/ticket agents are bad.) And they are curious about the finer drinking habits of their fans. There's no reference of beer at all, unless they are considering beer to be a part of spirits.

There's probably nothing major coming out of this, but it's interesting to see the questions asked.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

JayRo Watches Movies: The Hangover

The Hangover looks like this summer's big comedy spectacle, and it's well deserved. The Hangover is incredibly funny, with good intentions behind it. It does follow in the Apatow genre of being guy movies centred around 30-somethings acting stupid and then growing up, but this helps the film.

The movie centres around the bachelor party of Todd, or more specifically the day after. One problem - Todd is nowhere to be found. It's left to Alan, Stu and Phil to sift through the items they have collected to figure out what exactly happened the night before (they do not have any memory of the night before because they were drugged.) This leads them through a tour of Vegas which includes many casinos, strip clubs, emergency rooms, wedding chapels and Mike Tyson's home.

I've been surprised by the reviews though; a lot have taken to compare The Hangover to Very Bad Things (see Brian D. Johnson's review, for example.) While not only diminishing the comedic performances in the Hangover, it misses the mark completely in being a fair comparison. Beyond the obvious shallow comparisons (bachelor party in Vegas gone horribly awry), the films themselves could not be any further apart in both tone and themes.

Very Bad Things is a film about the breakdown of a moral code in the interest of self-preservation. It makes no pretenses about it's characters; it relies on you hating the characters so that when they get killed/harmed, you will laugh and feel good about it. The Hangover is as much about the bond of friendship as anything else. What drives the characters is that they are trying to find a missing friend. They are willing to do whatever is necessary to find and/or get their friend back. (You also get indications of the friendship through the Stu subplot.)

Very Bad Things is also a movie that could be slightly tweaked and be just as good in another genre (make one of the guys more sympathetic to turn them into the protagonist, then make the movie into a suspense/thriller where the guys are getting killed off one by one and you have a perfectly fine, if not predictable, film.) The Hangover does not work as anything but a comedy without significant changes.

Very Bad Things is based off of knowledge. You know what has happened, and you are watching to see what the consequences are of what happened. The Hangover relies on discovery. You know as much as the characters do throughout the movie, which is one of the main factors that makes the Hangover work. It makes you feel as though you are a part of this bachelor search party - a benefit of making you like the characters.

But ultimately, what makes the comparison between The Hangover and Very Bad Things fail is what was done in each movie. The Hangover is a bunch of pranks done by the lead characters - and even then these pranks are done while the characters are drunk. The drunkenness provides an out, so that you can believe that the characters would not be so careless with a baby (for example.) Very Bad Things has the main characters accidentally killing a hooker, and then proceeding to get more and more violent in order to protect themselves. The audience can't relate to this - hence the "black comedy" label.

Ultimately, The Hangover stands on it's own. It is a hilarious film that everybody should enjoy and relate to, regardless of sex or age. Go see it now.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Let it never be said that Halton is a boring political riding

First it was the Garth Turner fiasco of getting kicked out of Conservative caucas, and him becoming a Liberal MP. Now, Lisa Raitt pulls a Bernier and leaves classified documents at CTV's Ottawa Bureau. Maybe the Conservatives should just stay out of Halton for the next election; winning the riding seems to bring more headaches than anything else.

(Note: It isn't clear if Raitt herself left the documents, or if it was an aide. My guess is that some poor ministry staffer is going to lose their job over this.)

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