January 1st, 2013
Only wanted to wish whoever it pleases a happy new year, whatever that means and however shit won’t change anyway.
Only wanted to wish whoever it pleases a happy new year, whatever that means and however shit won’t change anyway.
I’ve been sort of absent lately, but there’s nothing going on other than going from home to work and then back home after the day is already over. Nothing worth talking about.
So, right, I watched this. (For free – I’m not crazy.) Utterly ridiculous – as most alien invasion movies are. For those that are not aware, it’s based on the 2-player board game of the same name. It’s important to note that this is one of the simplest board games ever. It consists of blindly “shooting” at your opponent’s navy by calling out positions on a grid. Keep this fact in mind for later.
Now, I’ll tell you straight away that the first 20 minutes can simply be skipped. This span of the movie is one of the more tedious attempts at character development ever. And hello, no one is watching an alien invasion movie based on one of the simplest board games ever for the characters. If they needed to pad for time, I would have liked some insight into the aliens’ motives. (I can hardly believe I am asking such a thing of this movie, but there it is.) Anyhow, skip the beginning, as you’ll easily figure out the two-dimensional characters’ simplistic motivations and relationships by watching the action parts of the movie.
After the blah-blah, the aliens land. One ship breaks up and smashes up a bit of China. The rest land near Hawaii and toss up a giant shield that not even Liam Neeson can get through, leaving only 3 human naval vessels (none of which are battleships) inside. Apparently the alien ship that crashed had all their communication equipment on it, so now they need to invade Hawaii to use some radio telescopes there to contact a (human) satellite to contact their home planet to tell them to send more ships to help invade earth. Yes, that’s right, humans have a modest-sized satellite that can contact other star systems, but aliens who can cross interstellar space don’t have the same technology on all their ships, only the one.
Moving on… oh, yeah, speaking of moving. The alien space ships – SPACE SHIPS – move by hopping in/on the water. I am not making this up. They look like Megatron trying to do the breast stroke. They never fly again, nor do they submerge again once they’ve surfaced near the beginning of the movie. They conveniently stay on the 2-dimensional surface of the ocean and fight the human naval ships pretty much like other, albeit spastic, human naval ships. Handy, eh?
Remember the point from the first paragraph I told you to keep in mind? Good. This is carried over into the film – aside from eyesight neither the human nor alien ships can detect one another. Now, clearly, we can expect that star-hopping aliens would be able to jam human radar and what not. However no explanation whatsoever is given as to why the aliens can’t track the human ships. Worse still, the humans cheat! The tricksy bastards use TSUNAMI DETECTION BUOYS to track the hopping alien ships. And with enough accuracy to shoot missiles at them and eventually hit them. I shit you not. (To be fair, it was a Japanese sailor who figured this out, so that’s probably why it worked. The only semi-intelligent characters in the movie are Caucasian females or Japanese males. Lucky for the aliens there wasn’t a female Japanese character or they would have been screwed right off the bat.)
So, now that the makers of this movie have crippled the aliens in ways only justifiable in the context of slavish devotion to a 70 year old game a 6 year old can play and that the humans are cheating, you have to start to wonder if perhaps the kids from “Super 8″ should get subbed in for the US Navy, since clearly there’s hardly a challenge in it for the military. But wait! The aliens have spiffy, flying, spinning, fiery, metal-chewing ball thingies that eat ships, helicopters and highways for lunch. Probably adolescent filmmakers too. So, with all the puny human ships now turned into scrap metal, what’s a bunch of socially dysfunctional heroes to do? You guessed it: grab a bunch of naval veterans, un-museum-ify the USS Missouri, and use this 70 year old battleship to fight the last alien STARship. And here you were worried there wasn’t going to be a battleship in this.
So, anyhow, now we have some serious action. The nine 20-inch guns of the Missouri pound the crap out of an alien vessel made out of trans-uranic elements no earthling (Japanese or otherwise) can identify. Also, the loser captain of the museum ship and the Japanese guy shoot out the windows of the alien ship using large rifles. They do this because the aliens, as it turns out, are invading a planet that is so bright they’re functionally blind on it without sun glasses. Seriously, my 90 year old grandmother could beat these guys at this point. Still, the heavily damaged last alien ship manages to spit out 3 of the spiffy, flying, spinning, fiery, metal-chewing ball thingies just as the Missouri shoots its last round off at the radio telescopes on Hawaii (to prevent the ETs from phoning home). Fortunately, the last alien ship was damaged enough that the giant shield is down and Liam Neeson is able to save the Missouri and our heroes with some of his aircraft carrier’s fighter jets. It’s worth pointing out that Liam knows his jets are so bad-ass that rather than launching all of them to help fend off an ALIEN INVASION, he only sends a few. It’s like he knew the movie was almost over or something and was trying to save jet fuel.
So, anyhow, what’s good about this movie? Nice action sequences. Good effects. Thus, I would say you should only see this movie under the following circumstances: 1) you don’t have to pay for it, 2) you can easily skip the first 20 minutes or so, and 3) you can ignore the idiocies enough to enjoy big metal human sea ships and big metal hopping alien sea ships knocking the crap out of each other.
Finally, after watching the three original Swedish films, I’m getting better acquainted with Lisbeth Salander again by reading the Millenium trilogy. I’m currently in the middle of the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire. I rated The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. It could be a few pages shorter and give us less detail about the Vanger family, since many facts were not relevant – neither to characterize the people nor to the crime mistery. Also, I’m no puritan, but at some point during the book it’s already clear enough to the reader that Blomkvist is a ladies man, so there’s no need to waste pages describing his love affairs. But overall the most negative aspect of this book (and the trilogy, so far) is the endless ammount of product placement. At one point it got so annoying that I almost dropped the book. “She took her PowerBook/ his brand new IKEA couch brand x, chairs brand y, cars brand z, etc” – that is REALLY annoying, and I’m no writer, but as an advice to any aspiring writer I’d say don’t do product placement in your book. It may even be a bestseller, but it will piss the hell out of your readers. Despite all that it’s an awesome book, highly recommended.
President Lula has finally sanctioned “Projeto Ficha Limpa”, it’s been published in the Brazilian Official Daily paper today: that means it’s now a law, citizens condemned by the Justice are not allowed candidacy for anything public/political.
For further info about “Projeto Ficha Limpa (Project Clean Record)” check my previous posts:
Mother’s Day is probably my favorite commemorative date. It’s a honest and realistic reason to celebrate.
Motherhood is a universal motive for a holiday: most countries celebrate it at the same day; everyone has a mother, regardless of ethnicity, religion, social status. Naturally, it is, as well, a commercial date, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that: everyone here must agree about the importance of our mothers in our lives, and presenting them with cuddling mementos is the least we can do.
Same thing for Father’s Day. Instead of traditional religious holidays, I think Father’s and Mother’s Day are the holidays that actually show how much we care about our family values.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!
*All images under the public domain, from Flickr Commons, by The George Eastman House, The Library of Congress & State Library of NSW.
Brazilian Congress has conveniently postponed the voting and implementation of “Projeto Ficha Limpa” – or, in english, “Project Clean Record”. It’s a new law that bans politicians with a criminal record from a new candidacy. The governist base and allies are the only ones to blame for the *shameless* filibuster (PT & PMDB). Meanwhile, PSDB, PPS, PV, PSOL e PHS are working pro-bill. The law is largely supported by brazilian people. Nearly 2 million people had already undersigned it before it got to congress. There is an ongoing effort from the governist base to change the text in order to create a legal loophole that would allow politicians with a dirty record to participate in the elections.
Follow “Projeto Ficha Limpa” on Twitter: @FICHALIMPA
-Here are a few Brazilian Twitter politicians worth following: @alvarodias_ @silva_marina @deputadamanuela @lucianagenro @Serys @BetoAlbuquerque @deputadofederal @gabeiracombr @mercadante
I’m all out of topics to talk lately.
I was thinking about the fact that I liked “Shutter Island” so much – since my childhood I’ve been keen on desert island stories. Perhaps I have a bias on judging stories that have an island as main background. If not, then I’m just being cliche and following the general unconscious concept that desert islands are the most fertile land to grow fiction and everyone loves the fruit it ultimately bears.
It all started back in 3rd grade with a school task.
We had our teacher read us a text. It was a mini story, the length of one short paragraph. It was intended to be an introduction for a story that we should afterwards develop, headed to wherever our minds were willing. The catch: such story should be “written” in colors in the drawing pad’s blank canvas, instead of the familiar notebook straight lines and it’s best pal, the pen. It was a story about a man in a desert island. I can’t quite remember all the elements given in the preamble that our work was supposed to be based on. Anyhow, there it was: the island. And we were supposed to draw the story, not write it. Do it in a way that it spoke more than any words. That took my class half an afternoon. I remember everyone was focused and excited about it. After that day, whenever my class was given any art related task, a big part of us kids invariably ended up picturing islands, or something sea related, yet with an island as a part of the landscape. Until one day our teacher, very much intrigued, couldn’t help asking us out: “What’s the issue you all have with islands!? It’s an obsession that you will only draw islands! What’s that all about?” – she then laughed, in a sympathetic way, a little bit to us, a little bit to herself. Perhaps it was a rhetoric question . Perhaps she had the same obsession back in her time. Perhaps she understood us. Perhaps she loved islands when she was a 3rd grader too! And perhaps, in secrecy, she still loved desert islands (scadal!).
Around that same period I had read “Robinson Crusoe” . I was fascinated by it. I re-read it quite a few times. My classmates were not exactly bookworms back then. I used to comment, in awe, about Robinson Crusoe’s adventures, to what the others reacted as if I was an alien from outer space. Three of them actually happened to read Crusoe’s adventures, and with me they shared their awe, – just to make me feel less an alien and more like a normal kid. After all, it was a book that took place in a desert island (big and loud exclamation here) – how could anyone possibly *NOT* want to read it? I got over that, in time. I realized I was too cool, and the other kids just too uncool for not reading, and - more specifically – for not reading a story that happened on a *desert island* (another big exclamation mark here).
All that happened in 1988.
In 1988 brazilian television was re-running a 1985 soap opera that partly (and mostly) took place on a desert island. Not surprisingly, I was a fan of such soap opera (yeah, so what? but don’t worry… I won’t ramble on soap operas – at least not yet).
A little later I read The Swiss Family Robinson, and then The Lord of the Flies, which added a darker shade to the desert island picture, only to make it more attractive. Yet to increase my island overdose, Family Robinson had a TV series adaptation as well. In a roll I read 20.000 Leagues under the Sea and The Mysterious Island and finally, The Island of Doctor Moreau. In spite of the absence of an island as a main background “20.000 Leagues…” was responsible for a 10 fold increase in my love for desert island stories – fact of peculiar interest, I must say, as later it partly lead me to understand the reason behind my uncanny passion for island stories.
(Intermission – in case you had enough of my verbose childhood memories, this is the time where you can go grab a coffee, while I try to remember if I left any important memories out. Anyway, it’s almost over, I promisse.)
Personal bias or not, I guess desert island stories trully fascinate people – because it represents all that is new and unknown (this is where “20.000 leagues…” played a role); new possibilities: good things, yet to be conquered, lying there waiting, untamed, untouched; new beginings full of adventure, thrilling and defying.
“If you could take only one thing to a desert Island, what would it be?” That’s a common question. Whatever one answers, it would certainly be something pleasant. Something important. No one would take as their only company or resource something that they hated or to them was trivial. The island is a metaphor for how we deal with what really matters in our lifes – most importantly, do we know what really matters? It’s a metaphor for new begginings, a dream come true to all the “what if…” we insist to place before all of our past acts.
Until today (that is, in my supposed adulthood), islands continue to be a common subject of interest and fascination. Those same books and stories from my childhood continue to amaze people nowadays (in spite of Harry Potter and awful vampire books). Moreover, other stories came up. Hollywood and television are full of examples: Lost, Castaway, The Island, Harper’s Island, Fantasy Island (a redundant name in my opinion), Shutter Island, and so on.
Now to finish all this, just for you not to think I’m an island freak who spent her childhood and most of her life obsessing over the same subject: I used to read other books, too (awe!). One of my favorite books was called “The Yellow Handbag”, a 1981 book by brazilian writer Lygia Bojunga, and it was quite girly (phew! ), and the main character was a kid with the greatest internal musings that I have ever seen. But that belongs in another blog post.
P.S.: Forgot to mention “La Invencion de Morel“, short story by Adolfo Bioy Casares; and The story of Sinbad the Voyager, from Arabian Nights
Saturday I watched “Shutter Island” with my friends @tilatil and @carlagene. I went out for the company, not the movie per se, thus had I no clue about the plot whatsoever – no reviews, no synopsis, no nothing. I knew it had the word “island” somewhere in it’s title and Leonardo DiCaprio played the leading character – instant bad dejà vu here, since the only DiCaprio+island movie that I had ever seen was trully bad.
Before the movie, a promotional short-film/advert for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was exhibited (such edition of the World Cup will take place in Brazil). The short movie location: Israel. The characters: Palestinian arabs and Israeli jewish, adults and kids. One of the kids is playing soccer in the alley, when the ball decides to go for a ride, take a detour and land just in the middle of a group of palestinian arabs. After one moment of silence and tension, arab and israeli kid look at each other, realizing that, underneath the habitual attire, both are wearing the yellow brazilian soccer uniform shirt. The kids then smile at eachother, and go play soccer together. A message at the end said “Brazil’s soccer brings people together all over the world.”
Hippieness apart, I really liked that ad. Anyway, back to the movie.
So, there was I, expecting nothing beyond the joyous company of my friends. That was only until the opening credits rolled in – by then I already loved the film. A ferry boat coming out of the mist just to land by the docks. Year 1954. Suspenseful soundtrack. Had it been anything of trully awful that came out of that intro, I’d still keep for “Shutter Island” a tiny room in my heart – because I love films that take place in past decades, specially the 40′s to 60′s; because I love stories that involve ships and boats and sailing, in spite of being scared to death (yet not less fascinated) of the ocean, this worldwide mass of water that surrounds me and could swallow me far into it’s deepness to never bring me back to surface again. </ramble>
The good surprise is what followed was a fairly elaborate and interesting plot. Leonardo DiCaprio did a great job – and I immediately sympathized with his character’s seasickness. I was impressed by the subtlety and skillfullness of his acting: he slowly, smoothly – almost imperceptively – goes from ‘dutiful-sane-Marshall-with-dramatic-past’ to being a ‘stone-cold-psych-ward-crazy-dude’. I know he’s familiar with playing crazy men, but none of them had made that transition so smoothly. It’s not a repetition of his role in The Aviator. Mark Ruffalo’s was noteworthy as well. No comments needed on Ben Kingsley.
The film brings up a few topics: the dark side of psychiatry and it’s legitimacy and ethics, being that criminals deemed mentally ill were sentenced to Shutter Island, guinea pigs to a bunch of old arrogant psychiatrists’ experimentations. Martin Scorsese succeeds in making psychiatrists look bad. Doctors apart, anyone who ever entered a psychiatric hospital knows reality is not too far behind fiction. Actually it happens to be quite loyal to many and many hospices out there. Trully sad, filthy and decadent.
I have to confess I figured out what the ‘plot twist’ was 45 mins into the movie, which made my friends very angry, because I made a comment (assuming they’d figured it out too, naturally), so I kind of spoiled it… anyway, I guess I’m not to be taken as the rule here: I have seen way too many films of this kind, enough to guess the plot twist very early in the story. Reckon everyone else’s reaction, I wouldn’t say it’s a predictable plot. Can’t remember any plothole for the momment.
Similar films: Memento, Identity, A Beautiful Mind, The Machinist, Secret Window, The Others, Hide and Seek.