Friday, October 26, 2012


Okay, Ben Affleck, I think I need to apologize to you.  I've been hard on you in years past, and I now see that was mostly unearned.  You actually are a talented director and probably a better actor than I could ever be.  So, officially, Planet Blue considers you forgiven for "Daredevil".  Just as in years past "Gone Baby Gone" forgave you for "Jersey Girl" and "The Town" was ample amnesty for "Gilgi".  However... you still have some work to do to be forgiven for "Surviving Christmas", "Joseph: King of Dreams", "Armageddon", and you will need to make about three great movies alone just to make up for "Pearl Harbor".  And really, your soul is still being judged by Anubis, because you made a Terry Malice movie this year.  Poor Brad Pitt's heart is already doomed to be devoured by Ammit, will yours be next?  Either way, "Argo" is a great movie, and the Gods will remember your heroic work here.

"Argo" is a movie that I simply could not help but see.  Ben Affleck could not have picked a more relevant topic and a better time to release his movie, as his subject matter is a great backdrop to the foreign policy issues of the latest Presidential Debate.  Catch this:  its about the roots of America's animosity with Iran, with its central focus being an attack on our Embassy.  Not even "South Park" is this relevant with the headlines of the day half the time.  But barring the almost stellar fortunes of the filmmakers, its plot was manufactured to appeal to me.  The idea here is that Ben Affleck is a CIA agent using an audacious plan to rescue six state department workers out of Iran who escaped just before the US embassy was captured by the Islamists.  That audacious plan?  Smuggle them out of the country by creating a cover story that they're a film crew looking for shooting locations for a 70s SciFi B-movie a la "Battle Beyond the Stars", "Krull", or "The Black Hole".  Get that?  "Star Wars" rip-offs are saving America!  I love it*!

Since Ben Affleck has worked his way up to becoming the darling of Hollywood's sophisticated Oscar-voting elite, expect "Argo" to be a very serious retelling of the events.  Ben Affleck as a director has mostly focused upon heavy dramas stories mainly about tortured competent men (played by either himself or his little brother Casey) working their way through a morally ambiguous world.  "Argo" is easily his most crowd-pleasing movie to date, going out of its way to focus on the American aspects of a international spy operation and it makes no bones about portraying the new Iranian government as plain evil.  That may not be the most enlightened view of current events, but whatever, it makes for a fun movie, and that's what I wanted.  If you want a lecture on modern Iran, read the Times, I'm here for a movie.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Evil Dead Remake Trailer

Fuck.  This.

Fundamentally, I do not understand the concept of remakes.  As a matter of fact, neither does the rest of the film-watching public, because when most people hear about a remake of, oh... let's say - "Total Recall", their normal reaction is to shake their heads and mutter about how Hollywood is completely out of new ideas.  Well, tragically, no genre has been devastated worse by the remake craze than horror, which in an appropriately disgusting and disturbing display has devoured its own history and heritage to regurgitate nearly every classic horror film to be reused and mildly enjoyed by idiot teenagers who don't know what they're missing.  Trust me, we all might have loved the new "Dawn of the Dead", but it pales in comparison with the original.  But that's really the most positive of the spectrum, since the new "Dawn of the Dead" actually isn't that bad of a movie.  The rest of the time we get utterly awful crapfests like "Halloween", "Nightmare on Elm Street", "The Omen", and I could just go forever listing bad movies, couldn't I?

Again, I simply don't get it.  Why does the world need these things?  Who asked for this?  Ask most Evil Dead fans what kind of movie they want, and they'd mention the alternate ending to "Army of Darkness" where Ash gets sent to the future.  Nobody wanted a remake, except of course, for philistines who believe the original movie's special effects are quaint.  And to you people, I have this to say:  make your own goddamn horror movie, leave "Evil Dead" alone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obama-Romney Debate #3 Thoughts

I was tempted to rename this post "Obama-Obama Debate Thoughts" but I decided that would be just a tad too cheeky.  But seriously, this has to be one of the worst foreign policy debates I've ever seen, mostly for the reason that their was only one strategy available from both candidates:  Obama's.  Romney sure said a mouthful complaining about how Obama let Iran run rogue, how Syria has become a giant mess, and how Russia and China are challenging American supremacy around the globe.  However, when it came to actually explaining what he would do differently from Obama it turned out to be... well, nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Luckily for Romney he was able to stop parroting Obama and shifted a foreign-policy debate into yet another one about domestic issues, because there he actually seems to have a mind of his own.

Still, it sure was bizarre to see Obama's words coming out of Romney's mouth, especially when Romney spent about two minutes blatantly praising Obama's handling of the Afghan War.  I actually had some nerves about this debate, since Obama is not nearly as strong on foreign policy as the Democrats would believe, and if Romney actually had come with - I don't know - A PLAN OF HIS OWN, he might have been able to beat the President soundly tonight.  This has to be a truly sad moment for the Republican Party:  they're parroting the Democrats.  I'm something of a hawk, I accept this, and I was looking forward to some challenges to Obama's - at times wimpy - policy.  Like, Syria.  Mr. Romney, what exactly are going to do about Syria?  "Everything Obama just said he was doing but I'll somehow be more credible at it."  The best different Romney could offer was his plan to heavily rearm the military, based on absolutely nonsense figures about American military strength.  And then that argument got thoroughly destroyed by Barack Obama's retort about how we have aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines now instead of horses and bayonets.

All in all, this was by far the worst debate of the four.  In terms of the Presidential Race, I don't think it gave Obama the killing stroke he wanted, but Romney sure didn't end up looking like a President tonight.  But neither did Obama, oddly.  Quite a few of the questions were actively dodged, both sides gave extremely vague answers, and both candidates could not have looked more like politicians.  However, the difference here is that Obama has a foreign policy record, and built a narrative that Romney has no policy at all.  Well, Romney sure didn't do much to prove his integrity by jumping right behind his opponent's answers.  It, all in all, was probably the lowest point of the entire campaign, and frankly, I'm glad these debates are over.  Because once you've heard these guys repeat the same line of argument for the third or forth time, you start to feel very cynical about the entire thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


In continuing with my routine of reviewing obscure movies, here's "Branded".  Last month "Branded" appeared out of virtually nowhere, summoned as if from cinematic aether itself.  The writers, directors, editor, production company - they've all come either out of Russian television or have never worked in film before.  It came with an amazing trailer, that appeared to be a recreation of John Carpenter's "The Thing" mixed in with a little bit of "Inception"-style epic surrealist insanity.  We have Asian dudes with tentacles growing out of their heads, big disgusting tumor-like clown creatures growing out of buildings, and a Coca-Cola Spider.  The advertisements are alive and they're angry!

However, in most delectable irony, "Branded" itself is a result of the very worst kind of crass false advertising.  For a movie focused entirely about how evil advertising is - and I'll get to how stupid that idea is in a moment - it sure took advantage of using all five minutes of interesting visuals to sell a dull, turgid, and painfully stupid movie.  The ads talk about a "code" that controls our minds, there is no such thing in "Branded".  All those visuals of giant ad monsters fighting in Moscow's skies?  Well, they're all hallucinations.  In that poster the hero has an ax, ready to fight this twisted Dr. Seuss land of advertising icons on the rampage, nothing of the kind ever occurs.  You also see Max von Sydow in the trailers, and he's in the movie, but literally not for a second longer in the final product.  This is no movie of mindbending existential threats, its a movie about how evil fast food is... or something.

"Branded" is production made by Russians and American companies, which is actually something of an inspired step for a movie dealing with the excesses of raw capitalism.  Moscow once was the center of the Communist war against Capitalism, and now is the midsts of its own Westernizing experiment, so its a good place to stage a commentary on modern economics and globalization.  Unfortunately, the conclusion here is so single-minded and simplistic as to be laughably bad.  "They Live" was subversive social commentary on the controlling forces of Reagan's America to completely control our minds, using an alien conspiracy as the symbol.  It also was a really fun movie.  "Branded" instead is no fun at all, so right there it fails, but it also has a far dumber message:  advertising is bad.  WHAT?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Iron Sky

I really did have high hopes for "Iron Sky".  That is the primary reason why I'm wasting my time writing and your time reading with this review.  For most people, the words "Iron Sky" mean nothing, since its a Finnish/German independent movie that has received virtually no marketing amongst mainstream circles.  So then I have to explain that this is the "Nazis on the Moon movie".  And then half of the people reading will call it the dumbest thing they've ever heard and move on with their daily Internet adventure.  The remaining half will keep on reading out of morbid, ironic, or possibly totalitarian interests.  Then I have the terrible job to tell the world that "Iron Sky" isn't very good.

It all began well enough, with plenty of promise, especially considering the utterly insane but beautiful film concept.  Nazis on the Moon?  Plotting to invade the Earth?  In Flying Saucers?  With Udo Kier as the Space Furher??  I'm there!  I could write around five thousand words attempting to analyze why this is the greatest idea for a movie ever imagined, but ultimately all of that argumentation would pale in comparison to the raw energy generated by the phrase:  NAZIS ON THE MOON.  Discussion over.  Its the best idea I've heard for a movie since "Nazis at the Center of the Earth"*, which was an excellently silly but thoroughly solid B-movie.  It had exactly the perfect mix of cheesy effects, bad acting, but a level of earnest acceptance of its own insane premise.  Also the movie was nicely lean, got in and out, gave a few laughs, but for a super cheap Z-movie, it was everything you could have wanted.  However, "Iron Sky" leaves far more to be desired, sadly wasting its premise to instead make a profoundly unfunny comedy.

That's not to say that "Iron Sky" does not have its moments.  When the final battle does actually occur, its absolutely wonderful, a massive space battle between Earth and the Nazi hoard.  Unfortunately, this comes roughly an hour too late, when the first hour of the movie is spent making race jokes, setting up Sarah Palin as President of the United States, and bad satire on the Bush-era that's easily three years no longer relevant.  There is something of a charming air of endless absurdity to the entire affair, but unfortunately "Iron Sky" simply cannot defeat its Asylum Productions rival.  "Nazis at the Center of the Earth" had a Robo-Hitler and zombies, "Iron Sky" instead has... a Black guy being given White skin.  The goal here was to create a new cult film, to appeal to us cult B-movie fans, and instead "Iron Sky" simply does not succeed.  It wanted to be fun and silly and over-the-top, tried way too far to be entertaining, and so ended up shockingly boring.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Obama-Romney Debate #2 Thoughts

Well, that was a surprise.  I really had no idea that President Obama would play as well as he did last night.  As a matter of fact, I was personally moved by his speechmaking.  His "Hope and Change" political magic stopped working on me roughly ten minutes after his electrifying acceptance speech in November 2012, and I haven't really felt very excited in a positive away about political movements since.  Barack Obama more or less fell asleep with the rest of America during the first debate, but last night he came out to play, and play hard.  And somewhere between slamming Mitt Romney and laying out the numerous successes of his four years in office, Barack Obama finally truly sold me last night.  He took responsibility for the Libyan attacks, which really were his biggest weakness and thus deprived Romney of his greatest ammunition.  What Romney was left with was his refrain of "I'm a businessman, and I can make the numbers work... somehow."

Unfortunately Romney's pivot to the center ended last night, which greatly saddened me considering how well it was looking for that campaign.  Romney claimed two weeks ago that he would not lower tax rates for the wealthiest of Americans, and I either fundamentally understood what he meant by that, or he's flipped back, because taxes are going down for everybody again.  Immigration?  Romney came down hard, offering no amnesty or reforms, essentially leaving the twelve million illegal immigrants in this country as an underclass.  That alone probably cost Romney his election, since the Republican Party needs the Latino vote.  They aren't going to get it if they continue to act as thoroughly ant-immigrant.  What does Romney offer women?  A better economy (allegedly) and "binders full of women" to fill up his Massachusetts cabinet for cynical political correctness.  Well, Mitt Romney, we wanted you to be a more honest about yourself, and we definitely see exactly who you are:  a politician.  Obama is a politician, but he makes me feel warm inside, Romney doesn't.

But that warmness is emotion, and emotions should be the least important thing when it comes to running a country.  Politics runs on emotion, likeability is important to democracy, that's why the rules of an intellectual game like a debate seem to overshadow the actual substance of arguments.  Obama lost the first debate, but his arguments stalemated with Romney's, as both sides offered more than they can actually deliver in terms of actual job growth plans and fixing the deficit.  Tonight, however, a lot more was covered than the depressing hopeless promises of economics, and its on these fronts that Mitt Romney lost.  It was a fiery entertaining debate (even if the moderator did a truly godawful job*), probably the best show in terms of watchability that American politics has ever put together, and that was fine.  But I'm about substance here, and here they are:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vice Presidential Debate Thoughts

NOTE:  Sorry for lack of updates in a while, I just had to move out of my house, freetime is limited.  But now, with that past, our irregularly scheduled Planet Blue should be back on the air.  I started this post on Friday, and I haven't gotten it finished until just now.  And there are a few movie reviews floating around unfinished too.

I suppose I'm massively out of touch with the regular world of politics, but I honestly thought the Obama-Romney Debate was a draw.  Then to my shock, for the past week apparently we've been in the midsts of a full-fledged Democaplypse as the entire Obama campaign seems to be on the verge of collapsing - so say the pundits.  I can't say which was more difficult to watch, the Republicans gloating over their apparent crushing blow, or the Democrats endless justifications as to why they technically won and how debates don't matter anyway.  To face facts:  I'm a Democrat in everything but name now, and perhaps my last debate post was part of that, I guess.  My point is, I didn't feel defeated by the events of last Wednesday night.  I thought Obama understated his case, he let too many falsehoods go past, and he was under-aggressive.  But did that mean that Romney had the better arguments?  No, not at all, and that's what I care about.

Now the Vice Presidential Debate historically has been insignificant, as told to me personally by none less than Karl Rove*.  In the 80s, George Bush's running mate, Dan Quayle, got his ass caved in rather dramatically by the Democratic challenger.  But, do you know who that challenger was?  No, you don't, because it didn't matter because the Democrats lost that year.  The Vice President is a virtually ceremonial position and we all know it.  However, I have my doubts this year, since this year's VP debate really was not about the Vice Presidential Candidates, as much as the entire campaign.  Four years ago it was all about the nation collectively being massively disappointed to see that Sarah Palin actually could be coached into a coherent debate performance.  This year its mostly about Joe Biden stepping in to save the Democratic blueballs and launching a massive offensive against his opponent.  Did it work?  Perfectly, for the Democrats, the bleeding was stopped nicely.

As a show, Thursday's debate was considerably more entertaining than the previous one.  Biden laughed off his opponent repeatedly, facing the camera with a "can you believe this?" expression.  He interrupted Paul Ryan who could only hold stoic and try not to let his opponent's antics set him off.  I happen to really like Paul Ryan as a political figure despite of my opinions, so I'd say, if anything, the debate convinced me that I would not mind a Ryan Presidency.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Obama-Romney Debate #1 Thoughts

I haven't been talking much about politics lately since tragically, it appears the American political system has fallen into some kind of terrible fugue where neither side seems actually capable of solving our current problems.  The economy is terrible right now, and what's the most frightening about it is we don't know why.  I mean, yeah, a few years ago we had a system-wide collapse brought on by reckless behavior by apparently every sector of the economy, from the banks, to the stock market, to everybody who bought a house on ridiculous credit, but that was almost half a decade ago.  We haven't gotten out of that state, we've just revved our wheels in the mud, going nowhere.  And this isn't just a US problem, if you look around the world, it doesn't look like anybody is doing particularly well.  Europe has been exploding in slow motion for two years now, and we all know that shoe is going to drop one day, just how or when is the question.  Economists are saying that even China, supposedly that solid totalitarian rock of market growth, is in the midst of a huge bubble that will burst.  In short, and forgive my characteristic terseness when I say this:  we're fucked.  Big time fucked.  And can either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney come up with a plan that will save us from disaster?

Well, last night's debate was their big chance to show what they had to bring to the table.  The Republicans right now are flying in the air with gloating glee because Mitt Romney apparently looked more composed than the President, but I'm enough of a cynic to call this one a draw.  Yeah, Mitt Romney got a few good punches in - I especially thought coining the term "trickle-down government" was especially inspired*, but did he prove that he could save the day?  No.  Ultimately both sides charged at each other, asserting endlessly that their plans are better, but really not convincing me that they really knew what to do.  I was leaning Obama before this debate, because his plan of spend-spend-spend until the economic finally got back into shape actually has some kind of logic.  It doesn't seem to be working all that well, but its kept us at least stable for a few years.  The Republican plan, as I believed before the debate, was far too focused on saving and holding back, right when the economy can ill-afford anybody saving anything.

Right now our recession continues because there isn't enough demand from businesses to hire, so the people don't buy enough, and thus the business's don't get enough profit, and thus they cannot spend more, so they can't hire more people.  The cycle continues and eats itself, seemingly forever.  Romney promises to solve the debt problem by speeding up the economy, but can he do that?  America isn't a closed system anymore (and never was), even if consumers were spending more thanks to freed up taxes... it would mean little since the global economic system is sick.  And that's what's so terrifying, nationstates alone cannot determine their own destinies, so the esoteric flows of the market, something I don't understand - and suspect nobody really understands - is the ruler of the world.  How can a single leader, even of the global economic hegemon, hope to solve this problem?  So in the end, this entire debate feels like some kind of vast carnival sideshow when the real problem g

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Zero replies on this post, I guarantee you.

David Cronenberg is probably my favorite director of all time, mostly because he is absolutely and wonderfully insane.  Roughly half of his filmography is about people either destroying themselves, turning into monstrous arthropods, or being eaten alive by a twisted perception on reality.  Cronenberg's most popular film is easily "The Fly", the masterful horror movie where Jeff Goldblum grotesquely transforms himself into a fly and we as an audience get to watch every single disgusting moment of that metamorphosis.  Then there's just classic cult horror films like "Scanners" and "The Dead Zone", which are all excellent Cronenberg properties.

But really, "The Fly" is Cronenberg being grounded.  The hard stuff is movies like "Videodrome", where James Woods gets devoured both physically and mentally by exploitation torture movies.  Or "eXistenZ", where the characters get lost in a nightmare of virtually fantasy and guns made out of fish bones that fire teeth.  "Crash" features a group of characters getting aroused by car accidents and attempted suicides - also James Spader fucked a scar on the back of a woman's thigh.  And all of this pails in comparison to "Naked Lunch", which is a movie that refuses to make any sense and is an excellent storm of surrealism and SciFi insanity.  David Cronenberg is a dark wizard of madness who will take you places that no other filmmaker dare imagine, and then proceed to make his characters have sex with the raw entity of lunacy that he's conjured.

This is why reviewing "Cosmopolis" , Cronenberg's latest film, is so unfortunate for me.  I've been waiting awhile to tackle a Cronenberg product on this blog, and I was getting worried that Cronenberg had committed himself to relatively grounded dramas (but still disturbingly compelling movies) like "Eastern Promises" and "A Dangerous Method".  Those movies have their little deranged subtexts, but they're coherent and take place in the real universe.  "Cosmpolis", however, is completely out of its damn mind, it makes no sense on any level.  So you'd think I'd be really pleased and happy right now?  ...But no.  "Cosmpolis" sucks.  This is the worst David Cronenberg movie I've ever seen.