sabotabby: (jetpack)
It seems vaguely horrific to be writing about anything other than politics right now, but someone requested awhile back that I do a master list of all of the movies and TV that I watched so that you don't have to. And to be fair, we all need distraction now and then—perhaps now more than ever.

(All links go to LJ; sorry DW people, but there are a lot of reviews and I don't have time to do this twice.)

Current (good) TV reviews: I review The Magicians, Preacher, and Luke Cage for terror_scifi. My reviews are all tagged with my name there, but if you're looking for specific shows:

The Magicians (currently posting!)
Luke Cage

Bad Movie Reviews: They are all tagged (along with the odd bad book and other things) under Cheatsheet of Freedom. If you're looking for specific things:

This Revolution (the one that started it all; a movie about anarchists that sounded really good and even starred Rosario Dawson, but spoiler, it is not very good)

Left Behind (Jesus takes all of the good Christians to Heaven, leaving Kirk Cameron to fight the Antichrist)

Atlas Shrugged Pt. 1
(John Galt takes all the good capitalists to Heaven, I mean capitalist paradise, leaving some actors you've never heard of to fight the socialists)
Atlas Shrugged Pt. 2 (second verse, same as the first)
Atlas Shrugged Pt. 3 (yes I watched the whole fucking thing, why do you ask?)

American Sniper
(smug jingoism with a fake plastic baby. I was super drunk the whole time.)

50 Shades of Grey
(bad softcore porn, but don't worry, I fixed it.)

The Fountainhead
(a rapey Ayn Rand movie about architecture)

Red Dawn
(communists invade middle America and are repelled by the high school football team. Note that I have somewhat revised my opinion of the film since I wrote this review, and now view it as a clever satire.)

Rambo III (the one where he joins the Taliban, who are the good guys.)

Battle In Seattle (it is about the Battle of Seattle and is exactly as good as you would expect a movie about the Battle of Seattle to be.)

X-Files Season 10 (okay, not a movie, and not a proper screenshot review, but it was really bad)

Good Movie and TV Reviews: I also sometimes review things I like that are kind of obscure, in the hopes that someone else will watch them and squee with me.

Enthiran (this is my favourite movie of all time and objectively the best movie ever made. It's a 3-hour-long Tamil musical about a killer robot and you should watch it at least 70 bazillion times)

Seventeen Moments of Spring (a Soviet-era miniseries about a Russian spy undercover in Germany during WWII)

Cambridge Spies (a BBC miniseries about the Cambridge Five, a bunch of upper class British kids who spied for the USSR for decades without getting caught)

Babylon 5 (some people found out that I had never seen the show and made me watch the whole thing, so I did. Spoiler: Vir is my favourite and Susan Ivanova is my other favourite)

So yeah enjoy.

sabotabby: (books!)
I have seen bad adaptations of good books, but never one as deeply embarrassing as Tim Burton's mutilation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The scene with the Clash of the Titans CGI skeletons versus knockoffs from Pan's Labyrinth—except invisible and covered in cotton candy—really cemented how much Burton has lost it. One of those movies that's so bad it's almost instructive.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
"WATCH MOAR WEIRD WESTERNS" is definitely a thing on my to-do list. Because there are entire genres of Westerns I didn't know about until recently.

Case in point, the Ostern, or Red Western. Yes, the Soviet Union and East Germany made Westerns in the 60 and 70s! No one told me that this was a thing, and so I am informing you that this is a thing. I have watched my first, and it was magnificent.

Die Söhne der großen Bärin, or Sons of the Great She-Bear (1966) is an East German film about the colonization of Lakota territory in 1874. And unlike any Western—or mainstream film—I have ever seen, it's told from the indigenous POV. Not in a weepy romanticized our-old-ways-are-dying, "let's shoehorn in a sympathetic white lead to be the POV character" kind of way, but like the lead character is a Lakota warrior out for revenge against the white bastards who killed his father. It's begging for a modern, gorier remake by Tarantino. I mean, one of the bad guys gets eaten by a fucking bear; it's great.

It's probably about the only movie in which I'll admit that redface was necessary, given the dearth of Native American actors living in East Germany and Czechoslovakia at the time, but the filmmakers did do their homework, and the author of the books the movie is based on, Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich, researched the Lakota extensively and lived with them. Everyone speaks proper German (the Czech actors who portray the Lakota are dubbed), which removes the pidgin English that American and Western European actors were forcing on their Native American characters at the time.

Oh, naturally, our hero Tokei-Ihto is a good Communist who wants to liberate his people from the white invaders so that they can have collective farms. But in a subtle way. Mainly, this is a straight-up anti-imperialist narrative in a way that can only come out of the Eastern Bloc, and a much more honest, visceral portrayal of the colonization of the Americas than most of what's come out of this continent.

Then we watched:

Walker (1987), an acid Western by Alex Cox. I've seen it before but not in a long time, and it pairs rather well with Sons of the Great She-Bear. It's about William Walker, an American mercenary who made himself President of Nicaragua for reasons. Manifest Destiny reasons. And if it seems too weird to be true, it's not that fictionalized, and if it seems like an allegory for the American aggression against Nicaragua in the 1980s, well, yeah, obviously.

Walker is heavily stylized, with prominent use of Zippo lighters, computers, magazines, and various other anachronisms, and the weirdness works to both draw parallels between the historical story and modern politics, and also just look awesome. It's a movie with no sympathetic characters—Walker quickly goes from anti-hero to raging lunatic dictator the second he's given a whiff of political power. Things blow up good. The soundtrack is by Joe Strummer, who also plays a bit part. It's biting, violent, splatterpunk satire that seems just as relevant in 2016 as it did in 1987.

I highly recommend both, and they pair quite wonderfully together.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
“It was like a sex scene in an Ayn Rand novel, huh?” — Angels in America, Tony Kushner

Erstwhile on Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?, society fell apart because of a lack of Minnesota wheat and an excess of socialism, and Dagny returned from the Crunchy Conservative Compound to save her railroad company.

Speeches, shagging, and apocalypse )

That’s it folks! I’m gonna go drink myself to death.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
Previously on Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?, Dagny crashed a plane into Galt’s Gulch and found out who John Galt was. The answer was mostly disappointing, and she went from being a semi-successful railroad tycoon to a chambermaid for a narcissistic sociopath.

Hey, did you know that Ayn Rand worked as a Hollywood screenwriter when she first arrived in America? You would think her books would work a little better as films as a result, but you’d be wrong.

Of gold standards, pirates, and Minnesota wheat )

Will the Minnesota wheat get to the northeast? Will Dagny choose Galt or Rearden? Will the voiceovers ever fucking stop? Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
I fucking did it. I watched the fucking movie. For science, and for you. Because unlike the characters in Atlas Shrugged Part 3: Who Is John Galt?, I believe that sacrifice and altruism are among the highest of virtues.

Actual picture of me.

Are you just tuning in or forgot what happened during the first two parts of the trilogy? That’s understandable; they’re totally forgettable and I wouldn’t blame your brain for blocking out that experience. Part I begins here and Part II begins here.

If the Atlas Shrugged movies were some kind of communistic indie art film, it might be justifiable for a producer to say of them, “fuck what the market demands or desires! I want to express myself and dance naked beneath the full moon painted with my own menstrual blood, capturing the entire experience on degraded Super8 film. Art!”

But these movies are all about how awesome capitalism is, and how there needs to be more capitalism because the present level of capitalism is insufficiently capitalistic and CEOs are just too goshdarned nice. And also about how you shouldn’t beg money from anyone, not even Kickstarter. As you’ll see, our fictional heroes in this film believe that no one has an intrinsic right to exist unless they are capable of generating shitloads of money independently. In the Randroid imagination then, is a movie that no one wants to see and that will make negative amounts of money still worth creating? With everything I know about libertarianism, I would suspect the answer is no.

Naturally, they made it anyway.

The filmmakers had a particularly interesting challenge here, which was whether they could make a movie even worse than the previous two. I am pleased to report that they were successful in this. It was absolutely the only success they had. I can safely say that Atlas Shrugged 3: Who Is John Galt is the worst of three incredibly terrible movies, and that is a significant accomplishment.


The Problem of Genre
I certainly have my biases when it comes to film, but I do try to review—and appreciate—films in the context of genre. I can still get into a movie that’s not my cup of tea if it’s a well-made example of its genre and those involved seem to be into the thing they’re doing. And I can appreciate competence in filmmaking, even when I disagree with the fundamental ideology or narrative.

So what kind of a film is Atlas Shrugged? The first problem with it is that it does not actually know what kind of film it is. It wants to be a political thriller, but it also kind of wants to be a science fiction movie, but by the third movie, it’s become actual fantasy. I’m going to be overly generous and classify it broadly as a work of political/philosophical fiction. I say “generous” because a) the politics in it are heavily reliant upon literal magic in order for them to make sense, which may be an interesting narrative twist, but not exactly useful prescriptively when it comes to running an IRL country, and b) Objectivism is less of a political philosophy and more:


Film and Ideology
There are few things that nearly all political, theological, and philosophical schools agree upon, but most would accept some concept of society and interdependence—not because of some mystical concept of “human nature,” but because we have evolved as social animals, and part of the process of civilization involves teaching cranky toddlers to share their toys. Objectivism is developmentally stuck in the toy-hoarding stage, and as we can see by flicking on the news for 30 seconds, toy-hoarding is fundamentally unsustainable.

But Atlas is hardly the first example of someone taking poorly thought out and/or evil philosophy and using the medium of film to promote it. Some of the most heavily influential works of cinema were created to spread horrible ideas. But the more horrible the idea, I think, the better the film needs to be in order to convince an audience that the ideas behind it are worth listening to.

Let’s say I had an awful political philosophy. Something along the lines of “my ethnic or national group is fundamentally superior, but for some reason threatened, by an oppressed ethnic group that is darker in complexion, and that latter group should be murdered en masse as a result.” If I phrase it like that, it’s going to sound really bad, right? So in order to get people to follow my shitty idea, I would need to get a filmmaker like D.W. Griffiths to glorify the Klan with Birth of a Nation, or Leni Riefenstahl to make the Nazis look awesome with Triumph of the Will, or Zack Snyder to drum up support for bombing the Middle East with The 300.

triumph of the will, marching

Are these films good? They’re toxic at the core, laughably melodramatic, and ideologically abhorrent. But they’re effective at stirring emotion, visually innovative, and engaging to watch, and they’re good at getting people to shut off their brains, which is a requirement for fascism. That’s why they’re worth studying, even if one is an anti-fascist who disagrees at every possible level with their underlying ideas. I think I would say that they might not be “good” movies, per se, but they’re successful movies.

So, okay, what if I want to promote the idea that the only thing wrong with capitalism is that if your boss goes on vacation for a month, society will fall apart? That’s obviously a stupid idea, and to get someone to buy into it, I would need to have found a brilliant director. I certainly wouldn’t choose Jim Manera. Letting this man near a camera is a worse idea than letting Roman Polanski film your pre-teen daughter’s pool party.

And don’t give me any talk about the low budget either. It had a budget of $5 million. That’s over 700 El Mariachis, and Rodriguez didn’t even have CGI to spice things up back then.

There are two good things to be said about this movie:

1) It is mercifully short. Much shorter than 50 Shades of Grey.
2) There’s very little actual movie in it. They didn’t have enough money to shoot the whole movie so they did a few scenes, slapped some voiceovers on shitty stock footage, and called it a day.

Otherwise, this is the worst atrocity in cinema history since Kazan narced to the HUAC committee, or would be if anyone actually watched this movie. But no one did. Except me. I watched it so you don’t have to.

Here we go again! )

Stay tuned next for a detailed discussion of the failconomics of Galt's Gulch and also the sound I make when, in a fit of desperation, I chew and swallow my own tongue!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
I have seen the third part of Atlas Shrugged: The Motion Picture Experience.



I know I say this a lot with the movies I watch for Cheatsheet of Freedom, but it is the Worst. Movie. Ever. Probably will take me a bit to write the review as I'm still reeling from how jaw-droppingly bad it is, but I wanted you to know.
sabotabby: (jetpack)
I genuinely liked it. As in into every second of it and applauded various creative decisions and almost, almost forgive J.J. Abrams for screwing up Star Trek.

I had zero expectations, as part of the generation that was betrayed by the prequels, and even though it had good reviews, I did not believe it would be good until:

spoilers )
Anyway really happy to be wrong.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (porn!dalek)
Previously on 50 Shades of Grey, they did more paperwork than sex, and both were quite boring. Also, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, fucked a dead pig’s head. That didn’t happen in 50 Shades of Grey but it happened in real life, and I thought you should know about it if you didn’t already.


Harder, faster, and with more paperwork! )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (porn!dalek)
Previously on 50 Shades of Grey, Ana met Christian. Christian is into kink and lots of paperwork and Ana is into being a virgin and reading Thomas Hardy. No one has a job. Ana has found out that Christian doesn’t do relationships and Christian has just found out that Ana has never even kissed a boy.

Enter the Red Room of Pain )

Will she sign it? Will there be appendices? Footnotes? Stay tuned next for the shocking twist at the end.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (porn!dalek)
Cliff Lawton: That's your thing, isn't it? Everything has to be in absolutes, everything has to be black and white. You know, "I love you -fuck off". There are lots of shades of grey, you know!
Jamie Macdonald: I know that, I'm looking at fifteen of them right now! — The Thick Of It: Spinners and Losers

I almost didn’t see this movie.

I knew it was going to be bad. I’ve seen enough giggling over excerpts from the book to know the source material was unsalvageable—unlike, say, Twilight, where the book is fucking terrible and the movie is an interesting attempt to make it less shit. (Note: It’s still shit. It’s just less shit, in interesting and instructive ways.)

Greater wits than I had already deconstructed both book and film before I got around to seeing it. What more, I thought, could I possibly add to the lulz?

Not to mention, I have a certain discomfort with mocking authors like SMeyer and E.L. James. Yes, they are shit. They are utter shit. But they are also feminine shit. A lot of dudely authors write things that are equally shit or even worse shit. I have yet to read a lifestyle piece about slobby armchair generals who read John Ringo and fantasize about gunning down Arabs and raping teenagers, but for some reason housewives with e-readers fapping to Edward Cullen are hilarious and fascinating to people who, unlike me, get paid to comment on pop culture. It’s a problematic double standard.


See, the thing is, this is fantasy. It’s not my fantasy. (My sexual fantasies are of superior quality and also much hotter.) But I respect that other people have their fantasies, including fantasies about acts and scenarios that they would not want to happen to them in real life. In real life, they know that things like stalking and gaslighting aren’t actually cool or fun, but that’s what makes it hot to their imaginations. So I try not to judge people for liking terrible porn as long as it’s not porn of actual people getting hurt in nonconsensual ways.

But then my co-worker was telling me about the movie, and how bad it was, and did some (having seen it now, accurate) impressions of facial expressions made by various actors in it, and I started laughing hysterically and then she dared me to watch it and, as has been established, I cannot resist a dare.

And I realized, watching it, that while there has been plenty of pixel spillage over whether or not 50 Shades of Grey is Bad For Women, there has been not nearly enough about how it’s Bad For Cinema and Storytelling In General and also Bad For Your Eyes To Have To Watch. It’s a visual and narrative abomination and everyone involved with this project should be relegated to the ninth level of filmmaking hell (the one where Leni Riefenstahl remakes Human Centipede with you as the last bit of centipede while D.W. Griffith rattles on about his theories on race relations). It’s ostensibly a movie about masochism, but nothing in it is as masochistic as having to actually sit through it. As I did. Twice. To bring you this review.

Like I said in my initial (stunned) reaction, it’s like Ayn Rand wrote a porno, only less loving and tender.

So to be clear, I don’t wanna kinkshame anyone here. If being stalked, harassed, tied up, and brutally beaten by soulless billionaires gets you hot, more power to you.


Your kink is okay.

But you have terrible taste in movies and that is not okay and you should feel ashamed about that.

Also, CONTENT WARNING: Contains lots of discussion of sex, consensual and otherwise, stalking and abusive behaviour, images that are only marginally SFW, and film theory.

On with the review.

I watched 50 Shades of Grey so you don't have to )

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (candle salad)
So guys, guys, I actually watched Fifty Shades of Grey because a co-worker dared me to.

It actually managed to be even worse than I was expecting, which was amazing because I expected it to be the worst thing ever. It's worse than that. It's like genital herpes in film form. It was like Ayn Rand wrote a porn only with less tenderness. I'd do a screenshot review, because I actually had some funny inner commentary while watching it, but I immediately deleted the file off my computer because I was afraid poor Mac the Knife would catch a virus from it. But I'm on vacation now so if you really want me to, I will.

The irony is that after I watched two hours (two hours!) of a Hollywood-frumpy zombie with an eating disorder bang a guy whose face looks like it's made out of semi-baked cookie dough while they both talked like robots, I forgot to tell my co-worker that I watched it. So it was all for nothing. Well, not really, because I can just tell her when we get back from break, but I'll have forgotten by then.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (joe hill)
Yikes what did LJ do? They changed it now it sucks.

Anyway, I had a few more adventures and took pictures with my decent camera instead of just my iPhone.

We have been wandering around Stockholm. Today we took the train to Gävle, known to normal people as "the place where they burn the Yule goat every year" and to Wobblies as "the place Joe Hill was born."

photos! )

Also! We went to see Jimmy's Hall, the new Ken Loach film. Highly recommended. It's basically like Footloose but with Irish communists instead of Kevin Bacon.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (tentacle porn)
Today in "I'm a massive fucking nerd," I'd given my graphic design students a project where they had to design a poster for a movie that doesn't exist. Many of them were having a hard time coming up with ideas. I am not having a hard time coming up with ideas. I have all the ideas. In an alternate timeline, I became a rich studio executive who can throw money at projects she finds hilarious rather than a put-upon schoolteacher. (I jest. I love my job. I get to do shit like this.)

Accordingly, instead of doing productive things with my time, I have made some movie posters that you may enjoy.

"Kraken" by China Miéville:

And a Bollywood version of "The Threepenny Opera," which is something only I and three other people will find amusing, but I find it amusing, dammit!

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (sleep of reason/goya/wouldprefernot2)
Is it already that time? By which I mean time for another Sandman movie rumour? This one actually sounds kind of official-ish.

I know that anyone but Terry Gilliam or possibly Guillermo del Toro is likely to screw this up, but somehow I can't bring myself to be bothered at the moment. Because Sandman movie!

Incidentally, I agree with the first comment—if they're going to do it as a movie and not as a miniseries, they should start with Seasons of Mist and not Preludes & Nocturnes.

It's been done elsewhere, but let's cast this thing. My choices:

Dream: Build a time machine and procure a young Robert Smith. I'm having a hard time picturing Joseph Gordon Levitt in the role, anyway. Cillian Murphy, maybe?

Death: Ksenia Solo, unless we can use the time machine to also retrieve a young Siouxsie Sioux.

Desire: Obviously Tilda Swinton. Or David Bowie. Or ideally and most accurately, alternating between Tilda Swinton dressed as David Bowie and David Bowie dressed as Tilda Swinton.

Destiny: I had a bunch of people in mind and then someone on one of the comment threads said Idris Elba, and yes. Definitely Idris Elba.

Delirium: I just finished watching Utopia, so Fiona O'Shaughnessy. Even more than the obvious choice of Tori Amos.

Despair: Someone mentioned Kathy Bates; she could work.

Destruction: I got nothing. Ideas?


Jul. 9th, 2013 11:01 am
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (quit your whoring now)
Remember when Orson Scott Card was going to overthrow the American government if gay marriage became legal?

Now he's pleading for tolerance. Um. OSC, you're on the board of an organization that has, as pretty much its sole mandate, intolerance.

A boycott is not censorship. No one owes OSC, or anyone else, a living as a writer. No one owes him a platform from which to spew his bigotry. Man, I hope this movie flops harder than a dying fish.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
You know what? I'm not going to be productive today anyway, so I'm just going to post the rest of this thing.

Previously on AS:S:

 photo Screenshot2013-06-24at21125PM.png

A train wreck. Literally. )
I'm feeling a bit ragey at the moment. Please send kittens. Lots of kittens. Bring ‘em in the comments. You know what to do. And someone get me a drink, stat. I’m going to drink it and then I’m going to drink all of the drinks that the actors didn’t drink in this movie. In fact, for every drink that they were holding but didn't drink, I'm going to drink two. So there.

Hey guys? Guys? I can't wait until the last movie, which will be 99.9% John Galt's radio address played over a montage of business people having meetings and looking purposeful.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
LJ's new interface is informing me that I have "social capital" and some kind of absurdly high activity ranking. As a good communist, I will redistribute this social capital—though I'm not sure what it is—according to my ability to each according to your needs.

Really, WTF is this shit?

Previously on AS:S: There was an energy crisis so the government passed a law to ban innovation and Rearden’s hard metal rod was a hotter commodity than Dagny’s railroad tunnel. Oh, and James got married to a lady he met at WalMart.

Of temperance, the labour theory of value, and...Vorlons? )
Shit’s getting real now! I promise that the final instalment has another explosion in it.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
Okay, you filthy commie pinkos, who's ready for a new Cheatsheet of Freedom?

Atlas Shrugged Part I (my review begins here), as you might have predicted, was a critical and commercial flop. It turns out that, well, there just wasn’t a market for a sloppily written, produced, and acted abortion of a movie based on a politically and philosophically vapid novel that also happens to be really dull. Producer John Aglialoro claimed that he wasn’t going to make Parts II and III unless Part I turned a profit, but upon being bitch-slapped hard by the Invisible Hand of the Free Market, went and made a second one anyway even though no one wanted to see it.

In an attempt to make Part II not quite as excretable as Part I (a low bar, to be sure, but a bar that everyone involved in this production manages to blunder into nevertheless) the entire cast has been changed. This does not improve the movie in any discernable way. In fact, the actors in both films are as wooden and robotic as a steampunk mecha, such that it took me awhile to realize that all of the generic white people in this movie were different generic white people from the last movie, not just some of them. They’re also, let’s face it, all too ugly for the capitalist übermenschen they’re supposed to be portraying. At least The Fountainhead has Gary Cooper. This has a bunch of bargain basement soap opera stars with smarmy faces.

The full title of the film is Atlas Shrugged, Part II: The Strike (which I’ll abbreviate to AS:S). Spoiler: There are no actual strikes in this movie. A strike is an organized withdrawal of labour by the working class. In this movie, a bunch of rich people go on vacation and then two trains collide in a tunnel. Not in a Freudian way. Possibly in a Freudian way. At any rate, that’s literally all that happens.

My alternate interpretation of the first movie still holds, which is that it’s actually about John Galt, serial killer, murdering the world’s capitalists and hiding the bodies somewhere no one will find them. My theory is not contradicted by anything in this movie either. Keeping it in mind is the only way to actually enjoy the film.

A warning: I don’t even have words for how bad this movie is. It’s worse than scat porn. It's worse than pubic lice. It’s worse than the Holocaust. It’s worse than Truck Nutz. It just pulls down its pants and takes a giant shit over the entire history of cinema. Don’t watch it. Trust me. Just don’t watch it. Like, I feel bad screencapping it for you because by doing so, I may have inadvertently exposed you to a fraction of the horror currently drumming its way inside my skull, as though I’d read you a few badly translated verses of the Necronomicon and now you can almost feel the slippery tentacles of madness tugging at your ankles.

Regardless, I watched AS:S so that you don’t have to. My application for fucking sainthood follows directly below the cut.

and so it begins )

Part 2 of the review is here, and it's full of people holding their champagne but not drinking it and all of the leads looking pained and having no fun. Also meetings.


sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

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