Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gimme That Ol' Time Gothic

They say this is the worst time for movies because nothing's trying for an Oscar this month. "They" are provincial jackasses who wouldn't know cinema if it jumped up their own butt.

What I'm saying is The Woman in Black is a good movie. It's got solid acting, good pacing, and a genuinely fun story. I've said before how it seems only horror movies are bothering with these aspects anymore and it bears repeating. This is also a product of the legendary Hammer Films company (in association with about a dozen others) and those guys can turn the worst turd of a concept into solid gold.

It's a fairly standard Victorian horror story. London solicitor Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe, working furiously to rid himself of that Harry Potter stink) travels to one of those quaint English towns full of terse xenophobes because his firm needs someone to go through the thousands upon thousands of papers left by the local noblewoman who just kicked the bucket. Hilarity ensues.

"Mother, is that you?"

And by hilarity I mean a screaming ghost woman terrorizes Kipps and murders the shit out of the village children. That's a bit of a shocker at first - children are typically nigh invulnerable in modern movies, unless they're cancer patients whose death brings the sobbing yuppie couple together. Nope, this is just straight up infanticide and while it has a logical explanation in the context of the film, that would be spoiling the mystery.

Because the people who made this movie realized something the modern gore-porn flicks can't seem to understand - horror isn't about what you see but what you don't see. Mood, atmosphere, all that jazz. Radcliffe turns out to be very good at this sort of work. He needs to be since the camera spends several long stretches just recording his reactions to the creaking old manor he travels to.

The manor deserves special mention. I don't know if this place exists and if it does I never want to go there. It's an overgrown mess out in a bog so wide it looks like the surface of an alien planet. That bog also plays a big role in the plot, explaining the titular Woman's motivation for snuffing kids which again I can't get into. Suffice it to say there is a mystery at work and Radcliffe solves it in his slow, deliberate explorations. Mostly. You can bet there's still some nasty surprises waiting for him at the end...

Throw in a solid supporting performance by Ciarán Hinds as the only friendly villager - with a car! - and you've got a damn fine film. And for those of you who see it just because of Radcliffe's previous gig - I hate you and wish you dead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

From the Vault: Freeper Madness!

Originally published November 13th, 2008.

It must be fun to be a Freeper. Living every nerd's power fantasy of “My will be done!” They will that Bush is competent, Cheney isn't a pitiful dweeb, the Democrats are out to steal our civil liberties, Obama is a socialist (how I wish), McCain is a Commie, and every Tuesday it rains bananas.

The biggest positive from Obama's ascension, as far as I'm concerned, is watching the slow implosion of American conservatives. These cowardly swine have been running the country and culture like blind monkeys for decades and when reality finally tries to bitch slap some sense into 'em... they get nuttier!

"I can't find my marbles!"

The past week has seen a new meme emerge on the internet's foremost repository of jackassery: “The GOP isn't conservative enough! ZOMG!” Seriously, that's the excuse they're using as to why McCain lost...

"Folks it is time to realize that conservative and Republican are not the same thing. The republican party may at least give lip service to conservatives better than the dems but they are not are great white hope either." ~ rebel85

"I’m a lifelong Republican and I want to root for the home team. Problem is, I look out on the field of battle and I can’t tell which team is wearing the white uniform." ~St. Louis Conservative

Don't ya like how both these twerps are complaining the GOP aren't white enough? It's a nice Freudian slip-and-slide but the rest of their yammering also exemplifies how far they are from reality. I believe I pointed out nearly a year ago how this is bullshit. If I may repeat myself: “We don’t know this guy! He’s not really a Conservative! Or a Christian! Or a rich white man!”

And if childish denial doesn't turn your crank, how about ironic paranoia?

"Is Obama planning a Gestapo-like 'civilian national security force'? I read a quote from Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia which stated that Obama wants to set up a civilian national security force that was similar to the 'Gestapo' or the Nazi Brownshirts. What is the truth behind Obama's statements that he wants to create a 'civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded [as the military]'?'"~Sir Gawain

Oi ye gods! Why this is like Bush Jooner's Department of Homeland Security or his Total Information Awareness or his USA PATRIOT Act or his TIPs program! Only now it's bad 'cause a black guy is in charge! What twisted form shall this instrument of oppression take?

"We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded. We need to use technology to connect people to service. We'll expand USA Freedom Corps to create online networks where Americans can browse opportunities to volunteer." ~President Barrack Hussein Obama

...Well, he is a community organizer. Sir Gawain The Cheeto-Crusted is still scared, but he's scared of the little chinaman who delivers his eggrolls.

The folks inside drinking the kool-aid never figured out what the rest of us godless liberals know about the Grand Old Party Scam. They think it's about traditional values, get rich quick schemes, repressed homosexuality, all that good stuff. It's really all about feudalism - aristocrats and serfs. “Folks” like Bush and Romney and McCain and Browncrack are plenty rich so they don't care what you do, as long as you die for their oil. They've got their base – that would be the Freepers – convinced this is a good thing, what God intended.

 Kinda puts the last few years in perspective, don't it?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Screw Weed: A Counterpoint

If you hang out at progressive news sites, sooner or later you're going to see an article from the marijuana lobby. It's usually an emotionally driven piece loaded with half truths by a card-carrying pot evangelist. If you were pro-pot when you got up in the morning, you already agreed with the whole thing and if you didn't give a shit you more than likely didn't even click on the stupid thing.

I bring it up here because the potheads are an albatross. They discredit any surrounding progressives with their hysteria - and yes, it is hysteria. While studies on the health effects of marijuana use have had mixed results, they all lean towards what any doctor worth his stethoscope could tell you in an instant - burning something and inhaling the fumes is not good for you. So yeah, special brownies are okay but they also won't cure cancer. That's an honest to god claim made by some of these people, that weed is a cancer cure. It stems from one study showing marijuana use shrank some tumors - and ignores other studies showing it grew some different tumors.

Cancer free at last!

I'm sure I've said this before but science has no moral lesson. It's just a tool for determining what is and what is is weed is not healthy. But more importantly, it just doesn't matter. The best legalization argument is also the simplest - "I want to get stoned." And considering how much misery has been caused by rich idiots gambling the whole economy into the toilet, getting stoned is a quite reasonable desire these days.

But I get the sneaking suspicion that that's not what's going on here. I don't mean some rasta conspiracy, I mean people have latched on to the legalization issue not because of any genuine concern for personal liberty but because middle class white kids smoke weed when they're establishing the other aspects of their identity.

"Vote Ron Paul!"

Identity politics. That's what it always comes down to in America. That's how White Obama can be leading in the GOP primary and everyone acting like there's a world of difference between the two. I'll grant some incremental policy differences but both these clowns are for propping up the same failed system. A system whose failure is causing all that misery I just mentioned.

Now see, that there's a serious problem. Something we should all address before fussing over how best to deaden our minds. And that's why I fraking hate the weed evangelists - "The economy is in shambles, the housing market is in freefall, thousands have been wrongfully foreclosed upon, 90,000 American soldiers are sitting in Afghanistan to prop up a corrupt regime of gangsters, millions of Americans even with insurance still can't get adequate healthcare... but weed is more important!"

And that's why progressives lose in November.

Today's post is brought to you by delicious amphetamines!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ghosts of Goldwater

Mitt's a' surgin', Newt's a' glurgin', and Ron Paul's little fans are doin' their usual Aspergen' as the great Indecision 2012 Pre-Game comes to it's godforsaken conclusion.

This time, Florida was the designated kingmaker. We've been through this all before, how the tired old sods in X State are going to deliver the final verdict on who has the most electable hairdo. It's bullshit - boring bullshit, the worst of all. I'll wager no matter how well Romney does, the fight will still last right up until the convention with delegates sneering at each other. There will be a hearty mix of cheers and boos when the poor Mormon-bot accepts the nomination.

And then he'll lose to Obama. Not because he's the good guy here. What, you still thought the world had a nice clean moral lesson for you? You think Stalin beat Hitler because he was nice!?

So this is still an elaborate sideshow - like I've been saying - because all the other news is uglier.

But that's not to say there aren't some things to learn from the elephant rodeo. Not morals obviously but some very nasty facts about the collective American consciousness. Like how reactionary it is.

I've already singled out Ron Paul as a grumpy old fart scared of the modern world but the reason such a charlatan has taken off is that he speaks to some deep ugly sentiments. See, Americans are a very scared people. It's how we got eight years of Bush, not in spite of his disregard for civil liberties and diplomatic nuance but because Americans by and large prefer getting strip searched at the airport if it makes them feel a little more secure.

And yes, I'm familiar with the Ben Franklin quote. I won't debate it because nobody cares anymore or has for some time.

Even in the 21st Century, conservatism in America is still just a frightened reaction to the social changes of the 60s. Barry Goldwater lead the charge back then, also wrapped in the Libertarian banner, and the Grand Old Party has yet to abandon his tactics. They're generally more coy about it now, using "welfare" to mean "brown people" though Newt's been a hoot about saying it quite openly - and acting perplexed why the coloreds don't understand he's totally on their side!

"Why are you people so uppity?"

Here, see if you can put the name to the quote -

"It's time to stop the spread of government dependency and fight it like the poison it is."

"Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven't had capitalism."

"I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom."

"If you're not brave, you're not going to be free."

"I'm the most underdog underdog there is. "

Goldwater or Gingrich? Yesterday or yesteryear? I could tell ya, but that would spoil the fun. Hell, it could all be Goldwater - you could show up at the primary just quoting his silly little book and be hailed the new frontrunner, bold new ideas and all.

It sells at the rallies and debates because the crowd they're addressing, conservatives and Tea Partiers, are by and large the losers of the 60s. People who hid themselves away from the changes, refused sex and drugs, and are still bitter that the damn longhairs got all the good tail.  Especially with that last one. Conservatives are just enamored with playing the victim because in their mind they always are.

I have to laugh whenever I see empirical research into common conservative talking points - food stamp demographics, the fictional bell curve - because all of those are grounded in facts and logic. That's not what modern conservatism is about, it's an emotional response of the scared stupid. And it hasn't changed in fifty years.

"Tax cuts and BRRAAAIIINNSS!"