Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sascha Baron Cohen

So this is comedy?

Lets be real for a minute here. All the talk of Borat being a satirical social commentary for our times is mostly bullshit. Cohen's "comedy" is mostly self rightous and juvenile, but worse than that its predictable.

Cohen style comedy is four simple steps.

1. Adopt a funny accent and haircut.

2. Find the most unsuspecting person in the area and cajole or confuse them into saying something stupid.

3. Be offessive and/or Anti-semtic (which he gets away with because he's jewish)

4. Appear half naked.

Making stupid people look idiots isn't comedy. Wrestling a fat hairy naked guy while wearing a thong hasn't been funny since I was 12, and repeating the same routines with a different hairstyle and accent does not a movie make. Try a little harder.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Green Street Hooligans

Green Street Hooligans is the stupidest movie I've ever seen in my life.

It's not stupid in that Adam Sandler/Matthew McConaughey way, where it comes dumbed-down for an audience the filmmakers don't expect much of. This movie was clearly made by and for intelligent people. And it's awful.

This is a movie about gangs. Gangs are a fairly indefensible concept in general, but I can at least understand lost, stupid kids getting involved in this sort of thing. The characters in this movie are adults who choose to spend their free time getting drunk and beating up fans of opposing SOCCER teams. And we're supposed to root for them?

Oh wait. I guess we are. They have "honor." They got each other's backs (not that they really do. The gangs in this film, even the hero ones, are full of mercurial, unpleasant people.) It's common knowledge that any person you meet who makes a big to-do about honor is really talking about a touchy sense of personal umbrage. You've violated my precious little bubble of whatever, so I have an excuse to hurt you. It's schoolyard bully mentality and it shouldn't be celebrated.

The movie never calls the attitudes and the actions of the characters in question. We never get characters who stop and think "Maybe this is pointless and stupid." Instead we have a bunch of nimrods talking about honor and brotherhood and standing your ground, like they're fighting the Battle of Fucking Flanders. The battle scenes, especially the final one, are filmed in that bullshit slow-motion Celtic yodeling soundtrack style that makes everything look grand and noble and heroic. It's not. It's a bunch of fat middle aged bastards who drink too much and pick fights with each other over football. You can see this sort of thing being born from the ugly gray boredom of lower class England, but that doesn't actually give it any value.

Who am I supposed to have sympathy for? The "charismatic" lead of the gang who takes poor, impotent Elijah Wood under his wing? The villain, who watched his twelve year old son beaten to death in a fight with the Green Street Elite, even though he was dumb enough to bring a child to a gang fight? The reformed and remorseful former gang leader, who never actually paid any price for the part he had in the aforementioned child's death. No, the only worthwhile character in the film is Claire Forlani's character, the wife who refuses to tolerate her husband's hooligan behavior. In any rational world she's absolutely right, but in the weirdly misogynistic world of Green Street Hooligans, women are there to pop out babies that the tough guy characters can feel conflicted over before going off to do their "duty" by their mates.

This movie feels like it was made by people who didn't get the point of Fight Club. It's fairly clear by the end of the movie that both Fight Club and Project Mayhem aren't good things, that the characters are swirling in a vortex of self-destructive impotent rage. Instead, filmmaker Lexi Alexander saw the fights and the male camaraderie bullshit and thought "Whoa! I totally grok that! Let's make Fight Club with football hooligans!"

Reading a little bit about German-born director/writer Lexi Alexander, I discovered that she is a former world karate champion. She's a fighter. I'm doing a bit of extrapolation here, but I've known plenty of fighters in my time. Their first love is to the fight, and they'll celebrate the joy of physical conflict over actually examining the reasons why people choose to hurt/maim/kill each other. One of the most interesting things I took away was a point in the special features where Lexi Alexander refers to the fans as having a degree of fanaticism. I thought that hit the nail dead on the head, only these people maim and kill each other over a game.

Guys, it's just fucking football. Stop acting like a bunch of drunken assholes. The rest of the world, the intelligent world, is laughing at you. And we're laughing at the idiots in Green Street Hooligans.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grand Theft Auto

Let's get something out of the way here: the Grand Theft Auto games aren't that good.

Sure, they were the "first" to do the sandbox, open-world thing, which is a great fit for modern systems. Now, instead of automatically loading the next level, now you can travel half-way across the fucking MAP to get to the next fetch quest/escort mission.

It was also the first popular series to deal with the vicious and morally ambiguous world of the aspiring gangsta. For a few brief shining hours, nerdy little Shively Nasalwart can slip into the skin of Thuggly von Terrormonger and wreck all sorts of havoc on a world full of bullies and chicks who won't go out with him.

(and please don't tell me that there's deep levels of satire in the game. There are, but 99 percent of the audience doesn't give a fuck about this. They just wanna play make-believe gangsta. Don't argue with me on this. I used to sell these games for a living.)

All this is well and good, but the game is basically unplayable.

Let's go to the earlier iterations of the game. Remember GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City? Remember how there would always be a mission that you'd keep failing at because of dodgy camera controls or your character's inability to actually target the person shooting at you? Remember that? Hmmm? Shoddy. I say shoddy.

The old games were the ultimate triumph of style over substance. They were frustrating and tedious, and if the subject matter wasn't the sort of thing that appealed to idiots and angry adolescents the game's flaws would not have been tolerated.

Now we've been graced by GTA 4. And it also sucks.

I will grant that the gameplay has been significantly improved. Now I can actually shoot the people I want to shoot. And I can hire taxis to drive me from point A to point B. But in Rockstar's attempt to make an immersive world, they wound up making a dreary, bland little game. Every five minutes we get another phone call from some idiot NPC wanting to go play darts or see some horrible show or do some other pointless diversion. And if you don't do it, they're gonna stop giving you their perks.

Also, will someone please explain to me why, after all the technological advances we've had over the years, do the characters still all look like marionettes? Why do they all have the same body, same movement, same wooden-dummy limbless motions?

And let's not forget the bad writing. The games can never seem to decide if it's trying to be funny in an obnoxious Adam Sandler kinda way or if it's trying to tell serious tales of crime and retribution.

So, yeah, crime stories have been done better. So has open-world gaming. People will keep buying these and they'll keep getting inflated review scores. The emperor is still butt-nekkid, though. And kinda boring.

So, yeah, that's my rant. Now to cleanse your palate, here's a video of a cute girl playing GTA 4. Look at her! She can't do it and she's offended. And she makes cute sounds! How adorable! Girls are so useless.

disclaimer: GTA: San Andreas was pretty good. The targeting system was pretty good and the story was interesting and engaging. Well, until you got recruited by the CIA to do dumb missions.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Robot Chicken

Dear stupid, stupid fucking bastards.

You know what comedy is? Comedy is when shit is actually amusing. Y'know, point out the absurdities of our existence, play on words, chuck a pie, bring a smile to our faces.

This is what you give us:

Watch more Robot Chicken videos on AOL Video

Let me explain something to you assholes: the stuff you're doing isn't actually all that funny. It's shocking. It's horrible. And when people encounter stuff like that, their natural response is to laugh NERVOUSLY. It's not actually a response to a funny subject. You're making people uncomfortable and mistaking it as genuine humor?

Once in a while is fine. Hell, it's actually amusing. But no, you can't be satisfied with that, can you? You have to keep drawing water from that corrupted well over and over and over again.

Look, the people of my generation are Pavlovian gods. You show us stuff from our stupid pop culture collective memory and we'll lay at your feet. You could have used this shared bond to say genuinely clever things. You had a great thing going. And you pissed it away.

You stupid, stupid bastards.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

I think I just came a little.

No, seriously. This thing could punch through the space-time of stupid out into the other side of awesome.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Things I learned from Battlestar Galactica.

There's a lot to hate about the Battlestar Galactica finale.There is the fact that a show that is supposed to be Science Fiction somehow sees spiritualism and ludditism as the answer. I mean, are we supposed to accept that this whole thing, the never ending cycle of Cylon/Human warfare, the almost complete destruction of two civilizations is somehow God's plan to build a better human? Am I supposed to believe that 40,000 people would voluntarily agree to give up all their technology and all the good things that come with it (modern medicine, decent shelter, abundant food supply, indoor plumbing) to go back to starving from year to year, fighting their environment for their continued survival and infant mortality rates in the 50% range? All for this vague idea of breaking the cycle? That's a fantasy that could only be concocted by someone living in L.A. 

But worse than all the "breaking the cycle" crap and angels mumbo jumbo is the idea BSG promotes that somehow anything is okay if you do it for Love. Let me illustrate exactly what I'm talking about here.

Athena murders two people over the course of the series, but she does it because of her daughter so she gets a free pass.

Tyrol helps Boomer escape unknowingly making himself an accessory to Hera's kidnapping. He gets a pass because he did it out of Love. 

Tyrol murders Tory causing the extinction of one civilization and the death of who knows how many of his own people in the process. He gets a pass because he did it because of his beloved Callie (who he hated by his own admission and who's illigetimate child he doesn't think twice about dumping on somebody else when he finds out the kid isn't his).

Roslin, who once tried to shoot Starbuck in the face because she thought she might be a Cylon, decides not to let Baltar die (or even stand trial) for his part in the death of billions, because an "angel" tells her to Love her fellow man.

Anders blows Gaeta's leg off. Does it for his wife so its cool.

Col Tigh Knocks up a prisoner. It's cool. He loves her.

Baltar helps engineer the destruction of humanity, follows it up with four years of self serving lies, deception, manipulation and treachery. But he loves Caprica Six so it's cool.

What does everyone else get? What about the people who did what they thought was right or did stupid things just because people do stupid things?

Boomer. Executed.
Gaeta. Executed.
Jammer. Executed.
Racetrack & Skulls. Dead.
Kat. Dead
Crashdown. Executed (by Baltar no less.)

So in the BSG Universe love does conquer all. Just don't fuck up for any other reason or its a bullet in the head and a swim out of the airlock.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sy? Fy?

Sci-Fi changes its name. Next up a nipple piercing and two tone hair. Take that Mom and Dad! 

I did "Imagine Greater". All I got was Sasquatch Mountain

Can't say I didn't see this coming. Sci Fi pretty said it all it needed to say to Science Fiction fans when it passed on Season five of Farscape to instead fund the production of  Raptor Island and Manticore. Now that the last best hope of the Sci Fi Network is going off the air, it is of course the perfect time to let go and let the blue frozen body sink to the Ocean floor. Good riddance I say. The only thing I'll miss about Sci Fi is the Dadaist convention booth they have at San Diego Comic Con every year.

I do kind of feel bad for the people of Stargate Universe however. I can't imagine the fans of ECW Wrestling and the human rights violation that is Scare Tactics will be much interested in what they have to sell. 

Sci Fi if you ever decide to give up this empty trendy lifestyle and return to Sci Fi Fridays glory I'll be over at FOX's house playing with her toys.

Call me.