Category Archives: Movies

2014 Hugo Awards Nominees

Presented at:Loncon 3, London, United Kingdom, August 17, 2014

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
– Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK)
– Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)


Best Novella

– “Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
– “Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)
– “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
– The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)


Best Novelette

– “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
– “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
– “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
– “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
– “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Sofia Samatar*
Max Gladstone*
Wesley Chu
Ramez Naam*
Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Best Short Story

– “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
– “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
– “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
– “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)

Best Related Work

– “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
– Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
– Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It, Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
– Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
– Writing Excuses Season 8, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story

– “Time”, Randall Munroe (XKCD)
– Saga, Volume 2, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
– Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
– “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who”, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
– The Meathouse Man, adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

– Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
– Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
– Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
– Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

– Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
– Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
– Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
– An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
– The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
– Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)

Best Editor, Short Form

Ellen Datlow
John Joseph Adams
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams
Neil Clarke

Best Editor, Long Form

Ginjer Buchanan
Liz Gorinsky
Sheila Gilbert
Toni Weisskopf
Lee Harris

Best Semiprozine

– Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
– Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin
– Apex Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
– Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
– Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews

Best Fan Writer

Kameron Hurley
Abigail Nussbaum
Foz Meadows
Liz Bourke
Mark Oshiro

Best Fan Artist

Sarah Webb
Brad W. Foster
Mandie Manzano
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

Guardians of the Galaxy Rocks!

GGX

Despite our fervent interest in everything X-Men, the films are not doing so well. Marvel continues to nurture a franchise that has thus far been relatively ailing, and any attempts at rehabilitation have largely resulted in half-hearted successes.

Guardians of the Galaxy may be following a particular pattern – expensive, summer, tent-pole production is a blockbuster – but it also represents a slight turn. Just as Captain America provided us with a new, refreshing angle on the SHIELD operations, with narrative tackling the rot from within, and by proxy exploring relevant contemporary cultural themes, so does Guardians of the Galaxy offer a new effort at presenting us with a bit of entertainment.

To be fair to Disney and Marvel (Disney owns Marvel since 2009 btw), I also had a blast watching John Carter: Princess of Mars, but apparently Americans were washing their hair that night and were just not in the mood.

Guardians of the Galaxy is about Peter, a boy who experiences the trauma and sadness of witnessing the death of his mother in the hospital. Running out of the hospital with tears in his eyes, Peter is whisked away by what appears to be an old fashioned UFO, while clutching onto his beloved Walkman tape deck.

We get to see Peter 20 years later, dancing through the caverns of an alien landscape, amongst remnants of an ancient civilisation long gone.

He dances. And he is cool. And he is the most lovable man on earth, also known as Chris Pratt. Of MouseRat fame. Yes, the one from Parks and Recreation.

The film quickly descends into madness, cuteness, friendship, adventure, defeating villains and saving the universe. And the soundtrack is excellent.

Peter, aka “Starlord” is paired with Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana, only in green, and they are joined by Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, a genetically engineered racoon with a zesty personality, and wonderful Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a remarkable success. It is by definition a fun film. The kind of fun we all want to see, but for some reason, don’t get to, despite the high ticket prices.

https://youtu.be/1GncYQHBJIw

Oblivion: Failure to Connect

Oblivion-2013-Poster

Oblivion (2013) is beautiful, forgettable, and irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong, the story it is based on is somewhat elegant, however familiar it may be, but we’ll get to that later.

Tom Cruise has had a rough few years. Not that that stopped him from acting or making money.

Hence, Oblivion. Cruise has been intentionally starring in science fiction films because those films, as unimportant they may be to critics, tend to remain as legacy projects that reap long-term rewards.

In other words, though Cruise may be the most hated actor in Hollywood, Oblivion and the equally anticipated Edge of Tomorrow are the type of projects that will solidify his following amongst old and new audiences alike for decades to come. It is simply smart PR.

The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski, whose last film, Tron 2 I happened to have enjoyed a lot more than most did.

Oblivion is similarly set in what seems like distant future, a post-apocalyptic Earth abandoned by humanity.

The only remnant of humans is the maintenance crew composed of – wait for it – Jack, played by Tom Cruise, and Victoria, played by lovely Andrea Riseborough.

The two are a happy couple, living a serene life in a shiny dome set above it all, reporting back to headquarters and conducting
some minor maintenance to ensure that giant hovering sea-water “hydro-rig” conversion engines continue extracting as much water for the established human colonies somewhere far, far away.

“The survival of humanity depends on it,” explains Jack, introducing us to this Star Wars-inspired technology. Their maintenance is not so much about the giant hovering rigs, as much as it is about drone maintenance – the rigs are guarded by security drones.

The happy couple plans on leaving their sleek 70s haven as soon as the exploitation project is over to join the rest of their brethren.

Why is Earth so disheveled and useless? Well, mostly because it’s recovering from a massive alien attack on the planet. The war was won by us humans, but “remnants of the scavenger army continue to disrupt” their operation. Earth is a whore, abandoned by her children, unloved, and heavily irradiated.

Soon you learn that Jack has patterns of behavior that are a little out of ordinary. He plays baseball… of all sports in this world, that one continues to amaze even people who have never seen it. He is also kind to dogs, and he has a folding motorcycle.

The scavengers appear to increase their activity, as Jack monitors the periphery. They are dismantling drones, taking the power cells out, eventually creating a trap for Jack.

While he manages to escape the trap, stumbling on a literary volume in the process, the real conundrum awaits him after a ship crashes. Instead of alien combatants however, the survivor is a woman from his past. A woman he loves and will protect at all costs.

Nothing is what it seems, as layers of Jack’s reality start to unravel. Scavengers are not aliens, but humans, surviving underground. Irradiated zones are not really radiation zones, but perimeters guarded by other Jacks and Victorias. Aliens have actually not only devastated the Earth as we know it, but continue doing so, syphening off water as a precious resource.

The future of humanity is grim but not impossible to be saved by Jack.

Tom Cruise is commonly seen in roles of messianic protagonists, and this one is no different.

While most of the film is focused on Cruise, once Julia appears, played by Olga Kurylenko, things degrade a bit in the acting department. For one, there is no chemistry between the two, to such a degree that the romantic interlude between the two not only feels forced, but somewhat repellent.

kurylemko and cruise

The addition of Morgan Freeman as the leader of rag-tag humanity remnants is a welcome change of pace, but again, I am not certain as to whether attaching Freeman to this project adds value. In fact, I would have rather enjoyed learning more about humanity that remains, the conditions they endure, and their own stories of survival, than watching the clunky romance between Cruise and Kurylenko.

In terms of narrative and cinematography, Oblivion is very competent. The issue is that even though the story is intriguing, the lack of empathy for the characters, and poor organization between acts taking place, makes this into an unnecessarily sappy, awkward film.

Filmmakers need to be sometimes reminded what humanity is about. It is not about beautiful people, but about organics, dirt, emotion, strength. Those are the things I miss in contemporary cinematography, and Oblivion lacks them in spades.

This was an opportunity to contrast the lack of humanity found in concrete and glass, against that of rag tag survivors willing to sacrifice everything for things they care about. Instead, it is mostly a vehicle for Cruise to cement his path to immortality.

A film that succeeded in this department is Duncan Jones’ Moon with Sam Rockwell facing his own clone scenario but in a far more approachable, human way, sharing something powerful and poignant, and that something is absent in Oblivion.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUD_KyOujq8&w=560&h=315]

2013 Hugo Awards Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 2013 Hugo Awards were announced at four conventions, via UStream, CoverItLive coverage on the Hugo Awards web site, and via Twitter at LoneStarCon 3, the 2013 Worldcon, on March 30, 2013.

Here is the exciting list:


Best Novel

– Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)
– Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
– 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
– Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW)
– Blackout, Mira Grant (Orbit)

Best Novella

– The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
– After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
– “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)
– On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
– San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Mira Grant (Orbit)

Best Novelette

– “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
– “In Sea-Salt Tears”, Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
– “Fade To White”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
– “Rat-Catcher”, Seanan McGuire (A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)
– “The Boy Who Cast No Shadow”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (476 nominating ballots cast)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2011 or 2012, sponsored by Dell Magazines. (Not a Hugo Award, but administered along with the Hugo Awards.)

Mur Lafferty*
Stina Leicht*
Chuck Wendig*
Max Gladstone
Zen Cho*


Best Short Story

– “Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)
– “Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld, June 2012)
– “Mantis Wives”, Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)

Best Graphic Story

– Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
– Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
– Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
– Grandville Bête Noire, written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
– Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)


Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

– The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
– The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
– The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
– Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)
– The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

– Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)
– Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan”, Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
– Fringe, “Letters of Transit”, Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
– Doctor Who, “Asylum of the Daleks”, Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
– Doctor Who, “The Snowmen”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)

Best Editor, Short Form

Stanley Schmidt
Sheila Williams
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Jonathan Strahan

Best Editor, Long Form

Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Toni Weisskopf
Sheila Gilbert
Lou Anders
Liz Gorinsky

Best Professional Artist

John Picacio
Dan dos Santos
Julie Dillon
Chris McGrath
Vincent Chong

Best Semiprozine

– Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker
– Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams and Stefan Rudnicki
– Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Jed Hartman, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Abigail Nussbaum, Sonya Taaffe, Dave Nagdeman and Rebecca Cross
– Apex Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore and Michael Damian Thomas
– Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews

Best Fanzine

– SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester**
– The Drink Tank, edited by Chris Garcia and James Bacon
– Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Emma J. King, Helen J. Montgomery and Pete Young
– Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Elitist Book Reviews, edited by Steven Diamond

Best Fancast

– SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)**
– SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, and JP Frantz
– StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith
– The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
– Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)

Best Fan Writer

Tansy Rayner Roberts
Steven H Silver
Christopher J. Garcia
Mark Oshiro
James Bacon


Best Fan Artist

Galen Dara
Brad W. Foster
Spring Schoenhuth
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles

The Zero Theorem: Terry Gilliam Will Rock Our World

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rae7_O_6EtU&w=560&h=315]

The Problem With Argo


This year in cinematography produced some really interesting examples of storytelling. Of these, Argo, a Ben Affleck-directed feature film, received critical acclaim. While I enjoyed the film, I was also angered and disturbed by it, which presented me with a delicate problem – one that may shed some light onto just how polarized media has become.

To be fair, Argo is by no means a bad film, but it prompted me to think back to recent years, comparing it to films that indeed received a great deal of critical attention and recognition, yet ultimately exhibit what I consider, a relatively shallow perspective.

I am not sure where to start, but I do believe that it may have begun with M. Night Shyamalan.

Shyamalan’s shining debut in 1999 was The Sixth Sense, and while the filmmaker had his ups and downs since, he exhibited a rare and novel quality: he could produce a full length feature film based on a short story.

These were not epic stories with complex structures. Instead, they were 90 minute films that stripped the narrative to a new level of minimalism, often bearing a signature twist at the end, turning resolution into an a-ha moment, akin to that of television scripts, traditional mystery novels…or really, really short stories.

The art of turning a short story into a feature film is an enormously difficult task. Yet in recent years, we have seen a boom of these elegant silver screen vignettes.

What started with The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan continued on with features such as The Village. Then in the recent years there came The King’s Speech, The Young Victoria, and now, there is Argo, as other filmmakers picked up on the fact that narratives can be minimized, focused on a relatively brief event without having to burrow into our protagonist’s life.

I tried to like Argo. After all, it is based on a true story that involved a covert CIA operation kept out of headlines for decades to come. This story was the kind that you would read as an amusing paragraph crammed in a side-column of a weekend newspaper.

Argo is about a crisis – a group of stranded US diplomats in a midst of Iranian revolution – and to get them out of Iran, they must pretend to be members of a sci-fi film crew.

I tried to convey what happens in the film to people.

“They are pretending to be members of the crew, and then they are really stressed at the airport. The aiport scene, it is very stressful, full of tension.”

“And?”

“And then they get on the plane, and become instant celebrities at home. There is a note, you see, about how they even return to working for the foreign affairs department after the ordeal.”

Argo is undoubtedly shot, directed and cut beautifully.

Its’ cinematographer, Rodrigo Prieto, known for his work on Brokeback Mountain, has these marvelous angles and remarkable, luxurious, saturated colours, making this period piece a flawless one, reminiscent of Spielberg’s, or more accurately, Janusz Kaminski’s work on Munich.

The sets are marvelous. The costume design is great. The actors do a great job, and the increasing tension of this simplistic narrative is built masterfully.

But it is in the story that lies my discontent.

The characters are seen escaping the embassy out the back doors, while their colleagues are held at gun point.

Hiding out in the house of the Canadian ambassador, his wife, and a loyal housekeeper, they sit meekly around the table, surrounded by food and wine.

They are a little scared and a little stir-crazy, arguing amongst each other to keep their visibility to a minimum, even having to jump into an underground hiding room on at least one
occasion.

They are not captive for a period of months, you see. Their experience surely does not compare to that of Anne Frank either. Just a few tense days that anyone that lived through a war, or had been close to a conflict zone, would have had personally experienced.

In fact, even if you were ever in a midst of a good storm, you would have had to sit it out, enduring a similar case of confinement, but possibly a less luxurious one, sans catering, good company and beverages.

They are also not alone. Most of the embassy workers evading capture by authorities happened to be couples.

Some married, some just involved with one another, their agony may seem intense at first, but quickly you pick up on the fact that these individuals had mutual support, love and encouragement.

Their colleagues on the other hand, are a shadowy, parallel presence in the narrative that receives little illumination throughout. They are held in captivity, and we occasionally catch glimpses of their torturous ordeal in prison, as they are led to their faux executions, bags over their heads, no shoes, dragged through moist, dark and cold chambers, their bodies contorted in anticipation of a gruesome death.

They, we learn, would endure such torture in sub-human conditions for over 300 days.

In contrast, the protagonists are merely very stressed, and provide for this relatively entertaining anecdote that represents the movie.

And that goes to the crux of my discontent.

The protagonists are essentially a representation of the potential audience members, composed of either those who still remember watching the reports on the Iranian revolution, or better yet, those who believe that a stressful airport experience amounts to a worthwhile story that should be turned into an Oscar-nominated film.

Every day we read about world events that resonate because of their immense impact on human lives. Every moment, across the world, there are individuals who suffer enormous losses, of their own lives, or that of their loved ones.

These stories of survival against all odds are genuine, hard, real.

Today I glance across the news page and I see Indian women beaten on the streets, after protesting against a system that fails to protect and prosecute rape. I see in Ireland anti-abortion laws struck after a death of a woman who miscarried. In Syria today, there was an airstrike that killed dozens of people standing in a bread line, one reminiscent of a similar event during the Balkan wars in 1990s. At the same time, the famed Pope’s butler may or may not face a life in prison for releasing secrets and documents, while the reports reveal a skyrocketing number of Americans who face unemployment, hunger, homelessness… Wherever I look, I see real stories of people who survive more than that of a stressful airport experience.

One has to ask then: why? Why choose to depict this group of relatively empowered elites in a cushy, catered setting, who may have faced a potential danger, one ultimately narrowly avoided?
Why focus on their story instead of millions of other stories I consider far more worthy of telling?

After all, Argo was ultimately not a comedy. As for drama, this competent movie feels like a stinging disregard for issues that plague us, an irrelevant moment in time easily forgotten, undermining other, more important stories.

It exemplifies a failure, not necessarily of the filmmakers, but a larger, systemic one, that embraces these stories, while undermining far more touching, epic, humane ones that majority of humanity is wrestling with.

Argo essentially exemplifies an acceptable social narrative, one bereft of examination in terms of its’ socio-political or historical context. We never really learn the facts surrounding the revolution, or the political polarities that it surrounds. Instead we focus on an comforting, apolitical, ahistorical version of events, which allows us to simply ignore the rest.

And that is the problem with Argo.

Heart String Marionette is totally available NOW!

I watch a lot of movies and a large majority of them are pretty forgettable, contrived, and lacking any sort of inspiration or fire. But every now and then something comes along and reminds me of why I like movies. Today it is Heart String Marionette. A movie that was five years in the making and represents a collaboration between uberector M Dot Strange (from what I understand an uberector is like a director but stronger and with more powers) and music composer Endika. M Dot Strange is a wildly imaginative filmmaker who has previously released a feature length film on youtube for FREE (TRAILER and FULL MOVIE). Also he made the feature length movie by himself, animating every scene on his own whenever he wasn’t working a day job. The music for HSM is a journey in and of itself and the soundtrack comes with the movie if you buy it online HERE FOR ONLY 5 DOLLARS – THAT’S LESS THAN HALF AS MUCH AS PEOPLE PAYED TO SEE MIB 3 (AKA Will Smith to the Future, AKA Will Smith Tigger). If you spent 6 bucks on shwarma after watching The Avengers, then you can afford to pay for this totally original movie. Shwarma’s delicious, but if you skip it, do some situps and pushups, and support the makers of HSM then you’ll be leading a fuller life. But if you really still don’t want to pay for it then you can watch it for free on youtube in a few days when it gets posted there for free by the film’s makers. But these guys deserve the money. They made something with heart and they made a film that had something to say. This wasn’t just another mindless and overproduced tent pole movie, this was a lone ape in a digital jungle screaming out because he had something worth screaming about. When the web 2.0 era began people had all kinds of dreams of a democratic media where people told their own stories and didn’t have to answer to the controlling structures that always bound the media. Largely that hasn’t happened yet and those dreams are unfulfilled for the most part. But here is the freak mutant that rises up out of the chaos with a totally original statement that answers to no one and stands up for its own image of the world. These guys deserve 5 bucks from a scattered handful or humans more than a colossal mega-studio needs 12 bucks from every single person plugged into the all-consuming dream machine. Anyways I thought HSM was a pretty sweet movie and it was refreshing to see something like it and unlike anything else.

http://www.youwilldieinside.com/

Youtube roundup: Tonight I’m Frakking You and Minecraft Girlfriend

I bring you Minecraft Girlfriend. This is the story of one man’s descent into madness through Minecraft penis sculptures. I actually wrote the script for this one and it was produced by my friends at Megasteakman. I was really amazed with the ability of the actors and director to take such weird and goofy material and then maintain a sense of drama. This video was in part a response to the new Minecraft 1.0 release, although overshadowed by Skyrim and Skyward Sword (mostly Skyrim since even the new and amazing Zelda game barely made tremors in the Skyrim-dominated gamersphere). But again I’m blown away with the cinematic treatment given to a video about making giant penises in Minecraft. It looks and feels like a short film that would screen at a festival, but it’s about penises. It drips a love for cinema that is evident in everything from acting, cinematography, and the platoon references as the lead character watches his creations’ ultimate fate.

Tonight I’m Frakking you! A nerd-culture dance music video featuring actual celebrity TV and youtube talent! I feel videos like this add credibility to the microbudget video movement. It’s really cool when a bunch of hungry slumdogs pick up the camera and make a video to share with the internet for lulz and profit, but it’s also cool to see established actors and professionals joining the ranks of the internet viral videographers. What I found really brilliant was that this is the first instance I’ve seen in any media of the elusive Jedi Vulcan. The battle between Star Wars and Star Trek has been waged for an eternity. It strikes me as odd that people haven’t taken into consideration the possibilities created by combining both franchises. Imagine a force nerve pinch. Or a phaser saber, like a light saber but with an infinitely long blade and the ability to destabilize anything it touches. A mind trick combined with a mind meld is no longer a mere trick but a whole mind theater. What would happen if the Borg assimilated Sith into the collective? Phaser immunity and force lighting? That moment in the video where the cloaked hero at the dance party removes his hood set my mind free from the rigid structure of Star Wars v. Star Trek

Back to the Future 2 running shoes

It’s the future and now we finally have the appropriate footware. Nike is releasing a line of running shoes inspired by the futuristic running shoes that Marty McFly uses in Back to the Future part 2. It’s not quite the hoverboard we were all waiting for, but rumor has it that it has power laces – laces that tighten themselves – in addition to all the blinking lights.

Good to see that we’re finally living in the future and that all those problems of the past have been settled. Libyans? We’ll never have to hear about them anymore. Power crisis? Thing of the past what with the cold fusion using garbage fuel and all. I think Nike just trolls us every ten years or so by dropping some weird novelty shoe on us and then laughing as we buy it and as kids in the 3rd world labor away to make them. I couldn’t afford the Nike pump shoes back in the 90’s, but if I could have then I should have bought a pair and kept it behind glass as a historical example of the stuff people will buy. Whereas kids thought the pumps were cool for awhile (note that I have never seen any of them actually pump their shoes before exercise – actually using the pump ability would have just been ridiculous) I can’t imagine the Marty McFly shoes being popular amongst anyone but nostalgic 80’s hipsters. That being said the only logical explanation is that it’s all just a joke. I can appreciate Nike’s humor, but the joke comes with the stinging reminder of all the great fantasies that failed to materialize in our future of today. Well, I guess one of the 80’s era fantasies about the post-2000 age came true:

http://www.mojowijo.com/

My question about the teledildonics hardware and software is that if you stick the dildo into the fleshlight ring can you get them to stimulate each other such that the AI will have sex with itself? Will it become self-aware?

Superman: New Lois Lane will be Amy Adams

amy adams is lois lane

Snyder’s latest stab at Superman has some pretty interesting casting choices. Amy Adams has been announced as the latest incarnation of Lois Lane, Superman’s love interest, known as a woman with a fierce passion for journalism, the guy in the cape, and her own career.

If you take a peek at ComicVine, Lois Lane is a brunette with a hunch for a story, in many case, Pulitzer-prize winning stuff. She is also married to Clark Kent, who happens to be Superman. The married part is very much belonging to the comic world Superman universe, rather than the cinematographic one.

Last attempt at making the Superman franchise revival, resulted in a flop and a giant disappointment for the fans of the Christopher Reeves film version of the comic. The reason? Mainly lack of originality.

But attachment of Snyder, who is currently punching competition at the box offices with his Sucker Punch, seems promising. That is, of course, unless he avoids remaking the Superman films shot for shot, which was more or less the annoying bit about Singer’s Superman Returns.