Sunday, May 10, 2009

Talkin' Rubiks Cube on the Prarie Roddenbury Waxen Likeness

Like about a thousand other Bloggers I went to the new Star Trek movie tonight.  Again, proof that I am just a geeky American.  I really enjoyed it.  I have heard that it was critically appreciated.  That means very little to me since so often the critics don't appreciate my experience of a "movie" movie.  Who pans My Left Foot?  I plan to attend the Transformers movie as well, which can't be anything but embarrassing.  However, I will skip the G.I. Joe movie.  Yikes, what a dumb idea.  How is it different than the Transformers movie?  I guess I can't answer that question.  It's dumb, ok?  I'm trying to imagine some of my more serious friends going to the Transformers movie.  A quiet stillness has settled over me, my mind is empty.  I now have a new technique for obtaining Zen mind.

Outside of all the obvious pleasures that a science fiction movie presents to an overgrown boy, the Star Trek movie offers up a new style that was the old one a long while back.   It's got its Captain Kirk was a boy rebel with cars moment; and Spock was a monastic, intellectual, contrarian moment, which were oddly satisfying given the time we've spent on our backsides with these two fellows.  The less said the better, 'cus there really isn't anything to say other than if you like Star Trek, and your 401 K can handle another ten bucks worth of abuse, I suggest you juice the economy.

There is something worth saying about the director J.J Arbrams.  I have seen a little of Lost, and I know it's ingenious.  I haven't seen more of it 'cus I don't spend money on DVD's of television shows or movies.  For some reason seeing a persons bookshelves crammed with such things (or hearing that they rewatch them all multiple times) vaguely depresses me.  Even though, for most people, they represent a net improvement in their time management.  What can I say, I am a simply cheap and trying to rationalize that away.  I don't know.  But JJ Abrams show, Fringe, I have seen quite a few episodes online of.  He is pretty skillful at the pedestrian fascination that conspiracy type themes elicit.  And while he falls into tiresome Jim Henson Creature Shop stuff once in awhile... what else you gonna do with your college educated make up people? 

It's worth noting that Lord of the Rings was different from Waterworld mainly by virtue of the source material, not so much the appearance of the sets.  People would kill me for saying that, but I like movies and feel confident I am right.  Waterworld was a terrible idea that gave you lots of time to notice that it's characters looked like they escaped from the set of Total Recall to work with the Oscar winning Robin Hood himself, before their lengthy appearance for the Matrix trilogy.  I like the original (my brother would probably say here that those are my four favorite words... typical of a guy (me, not my bro) who has nothing original to say.) Matrix, but the clothing in post apocalyptic movies is enough to make you buy a Cosmopolitan (as a dude, of course... or a liberated woman, of course, or not, of course... boy, I should stop now.)  And the second two Matrix movies only served to cause people to wonder if it was the popcorn that had been dosed, or the soda when they began watching those goofy movies.  Have no fear, it happens all the time.  Remember the second Jaws movie.  Duh-uh, Duh-uh.... oh, if you don't know what I am talking about you were probably born twenty years ago.  The first Jaws magic was it's constellation of desires... Speilberg was interested in a lot more than the stupid shark.  But he still got the shark right, with John Williams almost philosophical treatise on the difference between swimming with and swimming without sound.  Stringed instruments have always been red in tooth and claw, but who knew?  Boy that sounds like something from the New York Times.  Kind of makes me shudder.

Something subconscious is going on here with my discussion about Jaws, because a few years ago I saw it again and was astonished how slowly it built its characters, even the massively unlikable Roy Scheider, into characters who were more than worthy of our attention.  Richard Drieyfus is so likable in the movie that he makes you wonder why he made it his life ambition to become as unlikable as Roy by this date.  Oh well... once upon a time, by the end of a movie called Jaws, I liked them.  The scene that makes me think that I am experiencing subconcious voodoo is the one where Roy Scheider is sitting in his kitchen with his family and he does this silly little playful Dad thing with his kid.  It's hard to describe exactly how beautiful the scene is, because what makes it so effective is the almost pathologically distracted atmospherics of the man throughout the movie.  In the scene, Spielberg once again gifts future graduate students, in film, with the consistent theme of the Lost little boy, only this time in reverse.  Scheider's family in the film are at a distance from the husband and father, due to the husband and fathers impossible duty of protecting the larger community (and only incidentally in the first Jaws, them.  I'm not sophisticated enough to explain why in the sequels even Speilberg couldn't have made the shark against family thing work.  I guess it's a bit like a rapist being after the ENTIRE family.  People would start laughing, till grandma hits the guy over the head with a cast iron skillet).  So, the scene where Scheider is goofing with his son, at the kitchen table, just stands out like a mesa, off the surrounding topography of a so called horror movie. Spielberg tried the same thing in Jurassic Park, and sort of achieved a few signature moments, but nothing like that little wink, that admittedly Scheider had his character give us.  Like when a crazy person says, "I know I'm nuts," in a brief moment of sanity.  JJ Abrams included that scene in one of his TED talks which I have watched.  Kinda made my hair stand on end (my selfish thought was, I believed his point, before he made it!  Pretty much everyones response to a well made argument.  Oh well.)  His talk was incredibly awkward.  Made him seem like he didn't know why he did things he does.  But, his work stands in direct opposition.

The thing I liked about JJ Abrams Star Trek, other than the crucial subject matter (i.e. better than Waterworld), was the look of the film.  You could look at it two ways:  one would be flashes of light are constantly flaring and obscuring the picture.  The other way you might look at it is to say it looks a bit like Japanese anime, which like their food packaging, kicks American ass.  Nobody who has a niece, nephew, kid sister, or children (or overgrown children for friends) needs to be introduced to the pleasures that (whether you know them or not) some people find in the Japanese style of cartooning and/or filmmaking.  Whatever your dark suspicions about those big eyed girls and puerile guys in the Manga rack at the bookstore or the Anime rack at the Cinemat, you can't deny they are stylish.  So, Star Trek had a kind of light and possibly a bit of a color palette that seemed to draw on that rich, saturated, world.  Just something I thought of while watching it.  

It was nice to see Eric Bana, if that's how you spell his name, playing Captain Nero (or Nemo, I kept thinking for no rational reason. Yeah, I grew up with the book and films 20,000 Leagues, but how is that rational?  More like helplessly human than a rational connection.)  The best role I have seen Bana in was Troy.  His character, Hector, played well to his good natured looks.  He is a handsome, masculine looking guy, which his five o clock shadow as an alien in Star Trek ought to help you figure out (I would love a list of alien five o'clock shadows.)  So in this movie he doesn't have to worry about disappointing the heavy panting focus groups of would be female fans (or seeming castrated to the would be fanboy's looking frantically for their hero.)  Anyhow, I hope he gets other Mr. Dangerous roles in the future (he will, he is a solidly liked actor) because I felt sorry for a guy who played David Banner in Ang Lee's absolutely disgusting Incredible Hulk.  That movie made the TV David Banner I grew up with seem like a manly, tortured genius.  It was probably just the incredibly sad TV theme music.  Music that says, "I'm still on the road... nobody wants me and my fairly well behaved monster."  It's not like the Incredible Hulk was a serial killer. 

If you are of a certain age you might remember the theme music to the eightees' Dungeons and Dragons animated cartoon, on Saturday mornings.  Sometimes I would watch the show, just after or before Thundar the Barbarian, and be bored off my butt until that theme came on.  Just filled with the melancholy anyone would feel if a roller coaster sent you to a different dimension in which who followed a little, twinkling mischievous dwarf around a dangerous place without so much as one Best Western.  It really filled me with emotion, that song.

I don't remember the song to Rubik the Amazing Cube's television show.  One of its episodes made me cry however.  Someone must have improperly solved him.

I'm not embarrassed.  It is said that Bob Dylan had two passions that made him who he was:  Woody Guthrie, and (I think possibly more important, from a how to moralize perspective) Michael Landen's own proving grounds, Bonanza.  No joke.

Some guys just love to moralize.  But it's a learned behavior.  That's why B.F. Skinner was so surprised when people moralized about his Behavioralist methodology in his research. Morality is mere conditioning, right?  If he'd only had a little more time...

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