Saturday, July 13, 2019

Movie Reviews: Pet Sematary (2019)

Pet Sematary (2019)
directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer
This is a, well not quite remake, but second film adaptation of the Stephen King horror novel. As is typical with book to film adaptations in general and Stephen King books in particular the directors left a lot out of the film. That's unavoidable. In this case I thought that the film would been better if it had more back story to give context and  nuance to some of the characters' actions and motivations.  

In the book, it's important that the protagonist's father-in-law never really liked the protagonist or thought the protagonist worthy of marrying his daughter, perhaps in part because the protagonist isn't Jewish and isn't successful enough. It's important that the protagonist himself wonders if he's living up to the patriarchal imperative of providing and protecting for his wife and children. It's important that the wife still greatly resents her parents for making her a child caretaker for her now deceased sister, who had spinal meningitis. 

The film leaves a lot of those things out or only briefly sketches them before moving to something else. However King's source material is so strong that the viewer who hasn't read the book can still enjoy the film on its own merits. 

When King wrote the story a cursed Native American burial ground was already a horror cliche. Some writers can spin dross into gold. King is one of them. Some of this story grew out of King's own experiences living in a home located on a busy road and having to explain death to his daughter. This movie gender switched the bad guy, perhaps because an evil little girl is creepy while an evil toddler is too reminiscent of Chucky?


Dershowitz Kept His Drawers On

You may have heard that financier and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is in trouble again over his penchant for very young girls. Epstein is an (alleged) friend to many powerful men, something that may well have explained his previous easy deal on rape and pedophilia charges.  I think Epstein may have been a foreign asset or tool. We'll see. Anyhow, one of Epstein's lawyers was famed Harvard attorney Alan Dershowitz, who categorically denied that he was ever involved in any Epstein sanctioned crimes, despite witnesses saying he was there when underaged girls were around. There were also some sordid rape allegations aimed at Dershowitz.

Now strictly speaking everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law as far as I am concerned. However I do remember the times growing up when I was accused by one or both of my parents of eating half of the cookies from the cookie jar or some other silly crime. Often I would deny the accusations and say it must have been someone else. I would maintain this position until I learned that the person making the accusation had actually watched me eat cookies from the cookie jar. At that point it was usually best to throw myself on the mercy of the court, so to speak. But every now and then I would double down and say something like "Okay so I ate a few cookies I wasn't supposed to eat. But I didn't eat half of the cookies. That's ridiculous. Besides, the cookies weren't very good/shouldn't have been left out/(insert excuse designed to minimize my complicity here)"

Listening to the married Alan Dershowitz suddenly admit that yes he did get a massage at one of Epstein's parties but he kept his underwear on, doesn't like massages, and by the way the masseuse was old and not that good looking reminds me of that kid long ago who got caught with his hands in the cookie jar and had to think fast to explain why none of this is his fault.

Movie Reviews: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

The Postman Always Rings Twice
directed by Tay Garnett
This was the first English language adaptation of the book of the same name. Along with movies like The Big Sleep, The Big Heat and others this film was one of the best examples of what film noir should mean. It had a "hero" who is neither particularly smart nor heroic, rules that trap people no matter if they do right or wrong, and of course a femme fatale. 

Here the femme fatale was particularly compelling as the character was played by bombshell actress Lana Turner, sometimes known for obvious reasons as the Sweater Girl. In real life Turner was known to have a pretty healthy appetite for men and for not caring whether such men were married to other women. So unlike some movies where the love interest is miscast, in this film it was very easy to see why a man would find Turner worth killing for, worth dying for, and worth going to hell for. Amen. 

As with most movies of this era today's directors and actors might be able to learn that sometimes less is more. By today's standards there is nothing at all explicit. It's the implications and inferences that matter. We don't see certain things happen. We see the build up and aftermath. So our imagination can fill in the rest. And here, that technique is more powerful. This plot has been told many times before this film and influenced many stories after it. So there are some human emotions and stories that pop up again and again in life. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Democratic Debates

I haven't been all that impressed with any of the Democratic presidential contenders so far. Some were better spoken than others. Some like former vice-President Joe Biden seemed to have no clue why they were there. Senator Gillibrand's voice grates.

I liked Tulsi Gabbard's anti-war stances. Senator Harris was cynical and smart enough to attack Biden on his anti-busing position before later admitting that her present day stance wasn't all that different from Biden's. It's really early though.
In fact it's so early that it seems silly even to be talking about debates. As we saw in 2016 anything can happen. Just as I am finishing this post it looks like another candidate is already dropping outLightweight.

But there were a few things that came out of the recent first debates that I thought were worth people's notice. The Democrats as a whole seemed to be for decriminalizing illegal entry to the US and providing taxpayer paid health care for illegal immigrants. A few were also in support of eliminating private health care insurance in favor of a Medicare for All system. This will require higher taxes and not just on the rich, however that class is defined. 

I could be wrong but I do not think that there are tons of American voters who want to sacrifice their private health care coverage, enter an underpaid and understaffed public system, have the same coverage as someone who is not even supposed to be in this country, AND pay higher taxes on top of it all.


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Movie Reviews: Glass

Glass
directed by M. Night Shyamalan
This film was a sequel to Shyamalan's previous films Unbreakable and Split. It's not really necessary to have seen the previous films although it probably helps. As with most (all??) of Shyamalan's films there are a few surprises and twists which I obviously won't discuss.  

I will say that in this case I thought the twists were, if not transparent from the get go, were pretty much in line with what I thought they would be. And I didn't care for the twists. But as always YMMV. In some aspects you could even look at this movie as an investigation of what happens when the Nietzschean Superman runs into a younger and better looking Nurse Ratched.

David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a Philadelphia area vigilante. He's able (or so he believes) to know what bad acts someone has committed merely by touching them. Dunn also has far greater than normal strength and endurance.  It's been about two decades since Dunn discovered that he had these abilities, primarily thru the machinations of one Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) a genius comic book nerd and mass murderer who suffers from a rare disease that makes his bones extraordinarily fragile.