Saturday, June 27, 2009

Camera Obscura: The Artistic Heights of 'Transformers'; Vampires In The Future; 'The Box'; Spielberg Wants 'Oldboy'

Danger, art, and mindless pubescent goofiness are all mingled together in the movie set to claim hundreds of millions in theater ticket sales this weekend. It's the sequel to the movie based on the cartoon created to sell toys in the 1980s, toys called Transformers.

This "new" movie gets the Review To End All Reviews at io9, titled "Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie":

Since the days of Un Chien Andalou and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, filmmakers have reached beyond meaning. But with this summer's biggest, loudest movie, Michael Bay takes us all the way inside Caligari's cabinet. And once you enter, you can never emerge again. I saw this movie two days ago, and I'm still living inside it. Things are exploding wherever I look, household appliances are trying to kill me, and bizarre racial stereotypes are shouting at me."

"Transformers: ROTF is so long, you'll need to wear adult diapers to it. But the movie's pure celebration of the primal urge, and unfiltered living, will make you rejoice in your adult diapers. You'll relieve yourself in your seat with a savage joy, your barbaric yawp blending in with the crowd's screams of excitement."

"So you have a movie that tries to reassure men that they can actually be masters of their reality — but then turns around and says that actually, reality is not real. There's no such thing as the "real world," and the only thing that's left for men to dominate is a nebulous domain of blurred shapes, which occasionally blurt nonsensical swear-words and slang from ethnic groups that have never existed. If you're drowning in an Olympic swimming pool full of hot chewing gum fondue, do you still care if Megan Fox likes you?"

I watched Michael Bay's first Transformer movie twice and was never able to make a moment's sense out of it. It was like watching a car speeding over 1,000 mph crash into a line of stalled traffic while huddled on the floor underneath the glove box.

Bay's movies aren't just bad - they are Exploding Temples of Awfulness.


Goofy and strange movies are not just the Rite of Summer, as January 2010 will bring out the odd vampires-in-the-future tale "Daybreakers" to theaters. Starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill, the movie is from the Spierig Brothers, twin brother directors who crafted a very odd but visually compelling zombie movie from Australia a few years ago called "Undead".

"Daybreakers" has a trailer now, complete with some emo music and heaps of explosions:


In other Weird Cinema news, Richard Kelly ('Donnie Darko') takes aim at audiences with the movie "The Box", based on a short story by the prolific Richard Matheson. The story was offered before onscreen as part of the Twilight Zone series re-boot in the 1980s. The preview explains the set-up for this thriller:


A very powerful and very odd tale of revenge hit movie audiences a few years ago and scored much praise, called "Oldboy", from director Chan-woo Park and based on a popular manga. The movie is a real stunner of visuals and twists of mystery. For the past few months, director Steven Spielberg has been trying to get the rights for an American remake with Will Smith in the lead.

But who really has the rights to the story? Spielberg says despite legal disputes, his plan is to create a new movie based on the manga, and not a remake of Park's Korean film. With Spielberg's clout, I'm sure he'll settle the legal issues to his advantage. But there are so many strong and powerful scenes in Park's film - like the long hallway battle scene with the hero wielding a hammer against a horde of guards - I think the story has already been told as well as it can be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Greeneville Neighborhood Battles KKK

Residents in Greeneville's Meadowlark subdivision are forming their own association to protect themselves and to decide how best to oppose the recent presence of white supremacists. Residents found a few dozen racist fliers on their lawns earlier this month, fliers which gave a Kingsport post office box as their headquarters.

However, Greeneville's Police Department says dumping hate mail onto the yards of residents is no crime:

The only actual crime that occurred in this situation would be possibly littering,“ Greeneville Capt. Terry Webb said.

Webb says investigators alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation due to the nature of the flyers, but says it would be difficult to prosecute the KKK since its members were practicing free speech.

“People might not agree with what they’re saying, but there was no threats of violence or anything along that line,“ Webb said.

However, for people like Edward Reed who received one of the flyers, that is a hard sell.

“It’s a crime to me,“ Reed said. “That’s like they don’t want me living the way I see I’m supposed to be living.“

More on this story from WJHL-TV and The Greeneville Sun.

Gov. Sanford's Very Bad Day

Does having an affair mean a politician is therefore a bad policy maker and political leader?

Since South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has made worldwide headlines for scooting out of town and state on a Father's Day weekend to meet up with his lover in Argentina, the public response to the question above seems to be a very loud YES!!

The story of Gov. Sanford merged quite easily yesterday with the news of an impending divorce of the reality show Jon and Kate Plus 8. But one question I have is -- who got the story to the press that Gov. Sanford was missing in action? Because I'm betting that person knew exactly where he was and what he was doing. And since I am just guessing, I am guessing his wife, a savvy campaigner for her husband in years past, is the one who got the story rolling.

But the question remains - does a politician's romantic life erase all his or her abilities as a political leader?

Some say he should be removed from office precisely because of his record while in office:

I don’t want him to resign because of the affair. I think he should get kicked out of office because he’s been a terrible governor for the state. Their unemployment rate is at its highest rate ever. He’s bankrupted the state. He’s been fighting the Obama administration over unemployment money that his constituents desperately need. So I think on the merits, he’s been a horrible governor."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's Next For Rep. John Litz?

Last week State Representative John Litz (D) of Morristown announced he would not seek re-election to the legislature in 2010 after serving out his fourth term. Rep. Litz has been making some headlines during the current legislative session and is credited with being an integral part of the surprise move to put Rep. Kent Williams in the Speaker's position over Rep. Mumpower.

Here in Morristown, one way Rep. Litz maintained his popularity and served the local community was by holding regular Town Hall meetings to gather input on a wide range of issues facing the legislature. Tom Humphrey has more info on Rep. Litz's legislative career.

And Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Turner says he's known of the change for some time and is already working to find a new candidate for the seat.

So what's next for Rep. Litz? Will Republicans field a candidate who can win the seat?

Here's what I've been hearing at various local rumor mills: Rep. Litz is considering a run for the County Mayor position in Hamblen County government. The current Mayor, David Purkey (R), is not seeking re-election but sources tell me he's considering a run for the State Representative seat instead.

There are certainly numerous changes taking place on the local scene as Democrats and Republicans work to re-organize at every level.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

President Obama - Is He The Kwisatz Haderach?

I'm positive that this weekend marked the first time ever a U.S. President was grilled with tough questions about the plot points of "Dune". After all, is President Obama really a nerdy guy? Only one man dared in Washington ask him about the Culture War of Our Time - Nerds vs. Jocks - and that man was John Hodgman.