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The trailer for Dark Dungeons, the movie version of the (in)famous Chick tract, almost makes me want to watch it; it looks like it's going to be absolutely hilarious, an instant cult classic.

Mostly because it's set in this alternate universe where D&D role play is something all the cool and popular kids are into. XD
Oh, and Cthulhu is real. Almost forgot that one.

The Purge

Mar. 12th, 2014 07:27 pm
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I watched some movies last weekend, one of which was "The Purge".

For a low-budget thriller it had some pretty interesting social critique. It also raised some moral questions; your home is surrounded by a bloodthirsty armed mob who threaten to kill your entire family unless you turn over the homeless black stranger that sought refuge in your house. You have a wife and teenage son and daughter to protect. What do you do?

I don't mean to spoil the movie, but Read more... )The movie also wants us to ponder (I think) about the end and what we would have done with the would-be purgers.
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Some music I was listening to made me think about the movie Amadeus... For those who haven't seen it, the movie is a fictionalised account of the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, seen through the eyes of the protagonist anti-hero Antonio Salieri. In the movie, Salieri is the hard-working but merely competent composer, Mozart the inspired musical genius. Salieri's initial admiration for Mozart's genius turns to jealous hatred when arrogant brat Wolfie casually seduces and then discards the girl that Antonio had the hots for, but his hatred only turns murderous when he finds out how Mozart effortlessly "channels" music, a level of genius that Salieri, despite his best efforts, could never hope to match.

I was actually quite sympathetic to Salieri's feelings when I watched the movie. He went a little overboard by targetting Wolfie when his quarrel was really with God for unfair distribution of talent, but I could feel for his frustration at raw genius being valued over hard work.

One possible reading of the story could be that Salieri acts like he feels entitled to grace, or talent, success or whatever you want to call it. Just because he worked hard and followed the rules, he thinks he deserves what Wolfgang has without any of that effort. He seems understandably upset, because he's discovering that he's been sold a bunch of bullshit. Work hard and you'll be rewarded. Be good and bad things won't happen to you. The usual social hoax, presented to him as a divine promise.

"Salieri believes that through his hard work, his worship and chastity he has deserved God's grace. Accordingly, he takes it for granted that his wish to be the world's greatest composer will be fulfilled. When Mozart arrives on the scene, Salieri realises that his offering has been rejected and God's miraculous gift of composing eternal music bestowed upon his rival. He becomes aware that God's preference is arbitrary and does not depend on any business agreement. This sudden and bitter realisation has violent consequences: just like Cain decided to kill Abel after his gift had been rejected, Salieri now decides to destroy Mozart, the undeserving beneficiary of divine grace."
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I was not THAT enthusiastic about "Gladiator" either, so perhaps it was to be expected... I was prepared to be forgiving about historical inaccuracy. I really was. Some liberties are unavoidable to tell a good story in the scope of a two hour movie. I did say a good story. Which this wasn't. It also wasn't told very well. The pacing is such that most of the characters die before we find out whether we should care. The "villains" are completely one-dimensional - just like everyone else. The acting is so uninspired that the best effort goes to the guy wearing the featureless mask... The key decision of the story, the one that determines the succession to the kingdom of Jerusalem, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The action sequences are choppy and confusing, and when they are not they look ripped off from "Return of the King" - which is probably made worse by casting Orlando Bloom. And apparently they didn't pay Jerry Goldsmith enough to compose an original score, because we suddenly and very jarringly drop in the middle of the soundtrack for "The thirteenth warrior" when Orlando gives his inspirational speech...

The story, for those who haven't seen it yet: Qi-gong Jinn returns from the crusades to fetch his bastard son Legolas, who has just buried his wife. Legolas declines the invitation at first, but changes his mind after murdering the village priest. So he just has a chance to briefly meet dad and his men, before most of the latter get killed off in the dark forests of Germania. (after gladiator and now this, one wonders about Ridley's relationship with his dad) Legolas reaches Jerusalem, which in Scott's vision is actually America; diverse and tolerant, but threatenend from within by fundamentalists, and from without by Islam. Legolas wanders about while the rest of the cast get their 30 seconds of characterisation. There is the peaceful, but dying masked king, his sister who quickly seduces Legolas, although she is married to evil Templar 1. There is also evil Templar 2, a zealot who wants open war with the unbelievers. And there is Saladin and the other Arabs, who were apparently the lucky few allowed by the make-up department to use shampoo and combs. Legolas meets with his father's followers, somehow failing to recognize them even though they are wearing his fricking arms on their surcoat. He also teaches the benighted savages that they wouldn't have to live in the desert if they could just be bothered to dig a well. Nothing much else happens for a while except for Legolas briefly impersonating Faramir for a suicide charge, which somehow remains entirely without consequences. The dying king continues dying, and has the following plan to save the peace: evil Templar 1 must be killed, Legolas marries the happily widowed sister of the King and takes command. For unfathomable reasons, Legolas suddenly objects to killing Templar 1 (although he doesn't hold back on fucking Templar 1's wife). For equally unfathomable reasons, his objection is enough to shelve the murder plan permanently (as if there was no other potential candidate for the throne). So the dying king dies, evil Templar 1 becomes the new king, Templar 2 is unleashed and a war is started. For some unfathomable reason, there is an assasination attempt on Legolas by Hospitaler knights (or were we supposed tho confuse them with Templars?) Being both evil and stupid, the evil Templars march against Saladin without water and are utterly annihilated. This is the end of the evil Templars, leaving Legolas in command. Saladin arrives at Minas Tirith, and starts his shock and awe campaign, firing many rockets into the city, and after some token resistance, Legolas surrenders. He goes back to his hovel in France with the queen. On the way he runs into king Richard, who to my utter surprise was not played by Sean Connery.

So what did all that mean, exactly? Given that this is not a historical drama by any stretch of the meaning of "historical", I'm assuming this is saying something about current events. The multi-cultural, tolerant society falls into the hands of the evil fanatic Templars, because the people who could have prevented it wanted to be "nice"? Is this about the 2000 election in the US? But if Jerusalem represents America in the movie, what is the meaning of surrendering it to Islam? I don't get it. Was this even supposed to make sense? And the ending, what does it mean? Are they riding off on crusade again?

And who in their right minds would try to make a politically correct movie about a crusade? It kills whatever story there might have been. For all it's obvious faults and signs of age, I still vastly prefer the 1960 "El Cid" to this... thing. ("You let Moors live?!? Why?" "...I don't know.") Of course Sophia Loren beats what's-her-name's acting without contest as well...

The DVD commentary adds insult to injury by claiming that medieval swords weighed 20 to 30 pounds, among other similarly grotesque lies.

There was a time I thought it would be great to have a movie version of one of the great chronicles from the crusades, or even one of H.P. Shrader's modern retellings. Lately though I almost wish they would just leave the good stories alone.
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In a moment of morbid curiosity, I borrowed "the bible" on DVD (the '94 movie by John Huston).

Watching it was actually interesting - this is about Genesis, starting with creation and the fall up to Abraham almost but not quite murdering his son Isaac. What made it interesting (in a certain masochistic way), aside from the corny sci-fi horror movie musical score, is how seeing an attempt to enact these stories (with certain liberties taken, but fairly close to the text) really drives home how difficult it is to take any of this at all serious. And because you get the whole of Genesis in one movie, it just keeps piling up: Adam and Eve and the silliness with the apple, Cain and Abel and how God loves barbecued goat but hates vegetables, the first murder (going unpunished), Noah building a huge floating zoo so God can drown everyone else because they are evil (in the movie, being evil means wearing tattoos and making fun of people building a huge boat in the middle of the desert) which, if anything else, suggests that God has a really twisted sense of humour to go through an episode as farcical as Noah's ark; Nimrod building a tower and God confounding people's speech because he hates humanity getting along (and large public construction works), bringing us to Abraham and his marital problems against the backdrop of Sodom getting nuked because they were evil. Again, being evil means wearing tattoes and staying up late, unlike righteous men like Lot who give their daughters to be raped to appease a mob. (That flood really fixed nothing did it?) When Abe finally does get his son, he's ordered to sacrifice him (which ties in funnily with the evil human sacrifice that was implied earlier by the movie as being the reason for the flood). Here the movie actually gets an inspired moment of scriptural deviation, having Abe and Isaac walking through the ruins of Sodom (or Gomorrah?). Abe explains to his son that the city was destroyed because the people were evil, and Isaac looking at the charred skulls asks "were the children evil, too?" and Abe has no answer.

It's impossible to get any sort of suspense in a bible movie, but the scene where Isaac realises that *he* is the sacrifice and his father is ready to kill him because the voices in his head told him to is suitably horrifying.

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