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Thread: What movie did you see today?

  1. #2011
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I caught the totalitarian aspect of the book, but I just took it in stride. I wasn't sure if Heinlein was advocating for that sort of government, or whether he was saying "yeah, this could happen," but when I read scifi I'm usually of the frame of mind "alright, this is the world the story is playing out in, lets see what happens." When I saw the film, the best aspects of the book were left out, with a whole lot of immature/ over the top obnoxiousness in its place. I was looking for something totally different, so didn't really give it the satirical benefit of the doubt. I just thought the film-makers were super dumbing-down the material/ being lazy. So I hated it.
    I don't think I could claim it was a great movie. The fact that so many people missed the point and the movie was unenjoyable if you did is proof that it's not a great movie. I think the ending where a narrator suddenly appears was supposed to be the final reveal for anyone who hadn't caught on yet that the whole movie was just propaganda from the future, but even that was ambiguous since it's just as easy to interpret it as an homage to the WWII era films it had been mimicking.

    And it takes WAY too many shots to kill a bug. Give the guys some better firepower FFS. These guys can travel from star to star but they don't have explosive rounds to use against giant bugs with thick carapaces? Come on, man!
    Their tactics were also absurdly bad. The irresponsibly inadequate military was by design.

  2. #2012
    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    I don't think I could claim it was a great movie. The fact that so many people missed the point and the movie was unenjoyable if you did is proof that it's not a great movie. I think the ending where a narrator suddenly appears was supposed to be the final reveal for anyone who hadn't caught on yet that the whole movie was just propaganda from the future, but even that was ambiguous since it's just as easy to interpret it as an homage to the WWII era films it had been mimicking.
    My big problem with the movie wasn't that it was somewhere between mediocre and awful if you 'missed the point'. It's that, as a work of satire, it wasn't very good. There are great satires out there - ones that, in the process of making a point about the world, actually tell a good story at the same time. Depending on your definition of satire it could include movies like The Truman Show, Te'alat Blaumilch, Team America (albeit heavy-handed)... hell, The Princess Bride and Shrek are damned good satire compared to Starship Troopers (I even liked Iron Sky more than this film, even though that was a deeply flawed film itself). If Terry Pratchett wrote a screenplay that satirized Starship Troopers, it would have blown away this relatively weak effort by Verhoeven et al.

    I still love Starship Troopers (the novel) not because I think Heinlein was making some subtle point about militarization or because I ignore it. I love the novel because it's fun, it was transformative to military SF, and because his exposition is thought-provoking. It was also clearly written as a bit of a reflection on his time in the USN in the 30s, and if you read his over-fondness for the military in this context it makes a whole lot more sense. Heinlein always wrote provocatively about extrapolations of future social structures - his pseudo-anarchic future in Moon is a Harsh Mistress is hardly one I'd embrace, nor his dystopian I Will Fear No Evil or the decidedly problematic Stranger in a Strange Land. He dallies with pedophilia and incest in a number of his books.

    It's probably possible to somehow assemble of coherent worldview of Heinlein that encompasses all of the values that are highlighted in his novels, but it'd be damned hard. I think that his choice of social structures to explore certainly reveal something about him - in this case, his fondness for his time in the military - but then he explicitly exaggerates them to examine a society that is at once familiar to us and intensely alien. The cognitive dissonance that arises from it is what makes us think, and it's one of the best parts of reading speculative fiction. I don't think Heinlein was writing a satire in any way - I think he genuinely wanted to explore the ideas put forth in his novel - but I also don't think he intended it as a paean to militarism.

    Verhoeven is certainly welcome to reinterpret the novel any way he wishes - that is the prerogative of an artist, after all, and I think a warning about creeping militarization as a stepping stone to fascism is certainly a worthy artistic subject. But if he's going to do it, he should actually do it well. As it is, the movie is just painful to watch - it's a terrible movie in its own right, and the far from subtle message is just force-fed to the viewer.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  3. #2013
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    My big problem with the movie wasn't that it was somewhere between mediocre and awful if you 'missed the point'. It's that, as a work of satire, it wasn't very good. There are great satires out there - ones that, in the process of making a point about the world, actually tell a good story at the same time. Depending on your definition of satire it could include movies like The Truman Show, Te'alat Blaumilch, Team America (albeit heavy-handed)... hell, The Princess Bride and Shrek are damned good satire compared to Starship Troopers (I even liked Iron Sky more than this film, even though that was a deeply flawed film itself). If Terry Pratchett wrote a screenplay that satirized Starship Troopers, it would have blown away this relatively weak effort by Verhoeven et al.
    I'm not sure I even really consider it a satire. I know people call it that, but to me, satire has to have a more nuanced point than "fascism bad, rah". But I enjoyed the movie even if it didn't really have anything noteworthy to say. It was fun for me that they played all the absurdity completely straight. I just really like heavy-handed propaganda. Seriously, just one nicely stylized portrait of Trump ordering me to build that wall, and I'm buying a MAGA hat.

    I didn't enjoy the novel as much as most seem to, but that might have just been because I accidentally read John Steakly's Armor first, so Troopers wasn't as novel a novel for me.

    It's probably possible to somehow assemble of coherent worldview of Heinlein that encompasses all of the values that are highlighted in his novels, but it'd be damned hard.
    As I understand it, he had a pretty radical political shift partway through his career.

  4. #2014
    The point of the movie isn't "fascism is bad, rah!" but rather, "You, dear viewer, like fascism." Verhoeven and Neumeier wanted to highlight the fascist elements of modern US culture and the preferences of modern Americans. Obviously many people did not enjoy the movie, but the same people do frequently enjoy other stories that contain carefully packaged fascist or proto-fascist ideas or feature heroes that are just a few short steps away from being fascists themselves.
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  5. #2015
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    @ Wiggins:Really? Did you ever watch the shower scene and listen to what these perfect naked bodies say?
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  6. #2016
    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    I'm not sure I even really consider it a satire. I know people call it that, but to me, satire has to have a more nuanced point than "fascism bad, rah". But I enjoyed the movie even if it didn't really have anything noteworthy to say. It was fun for me that they played all the absurdity completely straight. I just really like heavy-handed propaganda. Seriously, just one nicely stylized portrait of Trump ordering me to build that wall, and I'm buying a MAGA hat.

    I didn't enjoy the novel as much as most seem to, but that might have just been because I accidentally read John Steakly's Armor first, so Troopers wasn't as novel a novel for me.
    I find it odd that people lump Armor, Starship Troopers, and The Forever War together. The only commonality between them is the use of powered armor; pretty much everything else is unrelated. Oh, I get that they might be responses to each other in some way, but everything from the style to the themes are just light years apart.

    But if you enjoyed the movie on its stylistic grounds, please be my guest. I guess I just didn't find that ridiculously overdone style to be particularly engaging. (Now, give me a neo-noir piece and I won't be able to resist it.)

    As I understand it, he had a pretty radical political shift partway through his career.
    You can clearly see an evolution of his thinking (I would hesitate to say 'politics') throughout his books. He also has a pretty different take on things whether his books were aimed at a younger or adult audience. But even in the same general era of his writing, there's a pretty big diversity of social structures he explores. I don't think he chooses them randomly, no, but I also think he's trying ideas on for size rather than representing his actual views on a subject. By far the most common thread throughout his books is how he portrays women - often hypersexualized, often passive objects of admiration, and often subject to male gallantry that borders on fetishism. But the other themes are far more varied.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  7. #2017
    Train to Busan. A subtitled Korean fast-zombie story about people trying to survive a zombie outbreak on a, you guessed it, train to Busan. The not very subtle theme is loyalty to family/ group cooperation vs selfishness. I'm not a big fan of fast zombies and these, particularly in the turn from dead to undead, are very reminiscent of World War Z (which I hated). The acting and direction were both good and some of the scenes were excellent, offering unique visuals, which is saying something these days. If you're a genre enthusiast, I recommend.

    EDIT: I finished the Starship Troopers re-watch and it's still a terrible film. As a whole it makes more sense as a satire, but it fails to execute. In fact, as satire it really comes off as a middle-finger to Heinlein, and by extension, to anyone that liked the book. So it's strangeness was incomprehensible to most viewers, and offensive to anyone who actually got it. Were they really surprised it failed at the box office? Minx, maybe you like it because you understand it as not so much a middle finger to Heinlein, but a middle-finger to Americans tip-toeing along the line of fascism? And in either case, the finger's not at you, and you can laugh along with the filmmakers?
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  8. #2018
    Dunno where to put this, but I finally got around to seeing Hamilton with the lady. It was pretty good.

    A few things struck me - first, this musical is very much an American myth. It's not rose-tinted like some of the hagiographies of Founding Fathers, but it does fit the general rubric of telling a distinctly American tale that glosses over inconvenient bits that don't really fit the narrative. This works a lot better in the revolutionary first half; the second half descends into typical politicking and it's hard to make a real villain (or be really compelling) when the stakes are less 'will the revolution succeed' and more to do with monetary and fiscal policy.

    I'm quite curious to see how non-American audiences receive this - on the one hand, it's telling an intensely familiar story, and one that the world likes to hear about America. On the other hand, it veers at times into self-indulgence. I'd have loved to see what a London audience would do with the (hilarious) skewering of an absolute caricature of George III.

    Secondly, the musical was delightfully anachronistic. The music, staging, language, actors - it unabashedly ignored historical convention, and I think that was one of its greatest strengths. Miranda isn't recounting history, he's telling a story to a contemporary audience with a very contemporary message. It worked, for the most part - even direct quotes from speeches and correspondence don't seem remotely dated, and are instead deeply familiar and relevant.

    My last thought was more of a general one - so much of the content in this piece (and other more serious historical analysis) relies on voluminous correspondence between the key players on history - correspondence that is remarkable in its frankness, depth, and language. Letter writing was a real art back then because it was the main method of communication, and it gives real insight into the characters that is remarkable. I feel like future histories will be far less rich in revealing the complexity of historical figures - emails are so fleeting and fast-paced so as to be nearly irrelevant, and most other communication takes place in a format with little to no permanence. Even more prosaic non-historical contexts are likely to suffer - I have read with delight the letters my grandfather and grandmother wrote each other during WWII, but I doubt the same opportunity would be available to my grandchildren. It's a real shame, IMO - we spend so little time working to put our thoughts into a coherent and thoughtful order, let alone expressing our truest hopes and desires to our loved ones and colleagues. I doubt the solution is to take up letter-writing again (or maybe it is?), but it really made me think.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  9. #2019
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    .... I have read with delight the letters my grandfather and grandmother wrote each other during WWII, but I doubt the same opportunity would be available to my grandchildren. It's a real shame, IMO - we spend so little time working to put our thoughts into a coherent and thoughtful order, let alone expressing our truest hopes and desires to our loved ones and colleagues. I doubt the solution is to take up letter-writing again (or maybe it is?), but it really made me think.
    Letter-writing may not be a solution but it's still a good and worthy thing! There's nothing quite like personal letters, written by hand and put on paper. They draw the reader in, just by touching paper and turning pages. And there's a fragrance, a scent of paper that can't be replicated by any digital thing.

    It's also the most intimate form of communication. It can't be cached or tracked or transferred to 'the cloud', or shared with just anyone. The hand-written letter remains special and unique.

  10. #2020
    Saw a bunch of films lately:

    Ready Player One - saw it on a plane recently. I read the book a few years back - it was okay, but read a bit like a nostalgic wish-fulfillment fantasy. The writing wasn't very good, the setting was a bit cliched, etc. I enjoyed the references a bit, though anyone with a decent background in 80s culture would have found some of the clues to be pretty obvious. The book was ok but definitely a 'read once' kind of thing.

    The movie was, well, busy. Lots of little references to cultural touchstones from the 80s (the licensing work they must have done to get everything sorted legally must have been a nightmare) and lots of CGI. I was even less impressed with the 'clues/mystery' side of things in the film version, and they overdid the evil antagonist just a tad. The love story was even more hackneyed than in the book, too. Overall? Visually cool but fundamentally a kids movie more targeted to a Divergent or Hunger Games crowd.

    Daybreakers - Ethan Hawke from a decade ago in a vampire film. I loved the basic premise - how would the world look if a good chunk of the population turned to vampires and they ended up running things? There are a lot of media that look at the 'hidden vampire society' kind of thing, and lots of fun stuff about vampires secretly controlling things (e.g. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter), but few have looked at how the world would function if being a vampire was normalized. I loved the 'feel' they captured and a lot of little details they considered in realizing the world.

    The movie itself was a competent but largely formulaic effort, though, which is a shame given the promise of the setting. Worth a watch if you want to kill a few hours but nothing special.

    Arrival - I was pretty excited about this movie when it came out and only now got a chance to see it. I haven't read the novella that formed the basis for the movie (but I definitely should), but I give kudos who whatever studio executive was willing to greenlight a movie that was essentially about linguistics. Amy Adams was fantastic; Renner and Whitaker were fine but nothing special. The music was really good and unique - it did a fantastic job of setting the mood and it deserves some serious plaudits. The story itself was solid, and I genuinely wasn't expecting the reveal (which is extremely unusual for me - they even telegraphed it at one point but I missed it) - there are obvious issues with causality and the like (not to mention a rather ridiculous extension of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) but I didn't care. Definite recommend.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  11. #2021
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    EDIT: I finished the Starship Troopers re-watch and it's still a terrible film. As a whole it makes more sense as a satire, but it fails to execute. In fact, as satire it really comes off as a middle-finger to Heinlein, and by extension, to anyone that liked the book. So it's strangeness was incomprehensible to most viewers, and offensive to anyone who actually got it. Were they really surprised it failed at the box office?
    The creators were clearly a little surprised it made it to the box office. They weren't really expecting to get away with it, but the studio's borderline farcical incompetence and greed played right into their hands.

    Minx, maybe you like it because you understand it as not so much a middle finger to Heinlein, but a middle-finger to Americans tip-toeing along the line of fascism? And in either case, the finger's not at you, and you can laugh along with the filmmakers?
    The answer to that is no, but your question touches on something kinda important. A lot (most?) of modern satire relies on precisely what you describe: the audience laughs along with the writer, at a common enemy or outgroup of some variety. They're just palling around, agreeing with each other and having a great time. It's very enjoyable, and it's crucial to eg. Pratchett's immense success (esp. among enlightened secular centrists with a superiority complex and an authoritarian bent). The Discworld novels are fantastic, exciting, well-written, funny as hell--but Pratchett and his readers clearly love each other, and all the books are just opportunities for everyone to have a pleasant time together (with a few exceptions). The same goes for other well-loved examples of satirical works--their mass appeal stems not only from quality of production but also from enabling a large audience to laugh along (or just agree) with each other and with the creator. I'm not saying this is a bad thing--I love Discworld, the Truman Show etc--but it is IMO just another form of tribal social activity. Even less friendly exercises, such as the bit in every comedy routine where the audience is made to laugh at something utterly abhorrent (eg. Louis CK's of course/but maybe) are ultimately about the performer and the audience going through something together and enjoying that comforting sense of togetherness. Everything is always okay, there's always a resolution, and that's what makes it all funny. Even in darker examples, eg. Catch 22, there's a sense of shared enjoyment, and a comforting resolution at the end of it all.

    Starship Troopers is certainly a middle finger pointed at an enemy, but it has a special place in my heart because I too am that enemy. The creators are attacking or just blowing a giant raspberry at their own presumptive audience, and I am very much a part of that audience. I love violent movies about war, retribution, vigilante justice etc. Some of my favourite stories are suffused with precisely the kind of dehumanizing fascist ideals that are shat on by the movie. There's a whole generation of people who were introduced to fantasy by Eddings's Belgariad novels, that are all basically about a bunch of sociopathic racists murdering people for glory (and I still love them). Several generations of scifi lovers have been trained to be fascinated by stories about questionable exercises in sophisticated social engineering. This movie says, this is all bullshit, you're all fucked up, fuck all y'all--and there's no resolution; you're just stuck with it. There's a place for that, just as there's a (much larger) place for subtle satire, composed on a typewriter by some chortling dude in a top hat for the amusement of his enlightened readership.


    That being said, whenever someone tries to give you persuasive, objective reasons for why they like something, you can be sure they're just trying to tell you a story about who/what they think they are... so take all of the above with a pinch of salt.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  12. #2022
    Short movies...





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  13. #2023
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    Robin Hood. Don't you make the same mistake.
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  14. #2024
    Dude. Even after seeing the trailers?
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  15. #2025
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    As a matter of principle I don't watch trailers. But I doubt the trailers could have warned me from the logical black hole that must have existed in the room where the script was typed in. It doesn't make any sense at all. The protagonist makes all the choices the honorable man he's supposed to be should under no circumstances make, then due to the machinations of his supremely wicked opponents chances to come out on the side of England. His muslim (black? ) sidekick on a quest for vengeance, equally senseless, on the other hand chooses to strategically harm his sultan.

    I mean, even if the whole movie hadn't been cringeworthy already for somebody who knows a little bit about the history of the middle ages, the whole thing was such a mess of bad story telling that nothing could save it. Then, because I was getting bored of the story I started to notice things like big ass 'church' windows of stained glass with zero christian symbols, streets surfaces that were so smooth that I could no longer believe the street I was looking had not been inside a giant soundstage. And then the wooden walkways, the 'mine' with its Lord of the Rings looks, the totally 19th century rivets that kept things together in the place...

    I mean.. really, don't ... I thank God this tripe wasn't longer than it was.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

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