Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category
Here is a thoughtful review of “God’s Not Dead” from the atheist perspective. Even from the reviews and the trailer, we can glean that Kevin Sorbo’s character grossly misrepresents the atheist position and fails to have an understanding of basic philosophy, especially about the quote from Nietzsche on which the film’s title is based.
So I had heard good things about the movie “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and was excited to see it if for nothing other than the visual experience. Now that I actually have seen it, I can say that astounding visuals — and some decent but certainly not stellar acting — were about all this movie gave us. I mean, a movie that wins seven Academy Awards is at least worth one viewing, right?
Barely. Where to start? The movie had no semblance of a story. The only reason we had to care about Sandra Bullock’s character was that she had a daughter back home, except that she doesn’t have a daughter back home anymore. Her kid got killed in a freak accident on the playground. That’s totally plausible, right? Bullock was playing a character named Ryan Stone, and when Clooney asked about her seemingly masculine first name, we learn that Ryan’s parents wanted a boy. So, not only does Stone have reason to despair over her daughter, she’s got reason to despair over her own life. Frankly, halfway through the movie I found myself not caring one whit whether she made it back to Earth or not. At one point before the final sequence, she even resigned herself to give up the ghost and seemed satisfied to wait and die to the sound of an Asian parent singing a lullaby to a baby over the crackle of the intercom. Hell, burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere sounds like about the most exciting thing that could have happened to her at that point, but I digress.
Not only do we have no reason to care for Bullock, her character is completely inept — you know, from a technical standpoint — which for those paying attention, some technical skills with space technology might have come in handy 3 kilometers above Earth. We learn from her conversations with Clooney that Stone failed all of her re-entry simulation tests before coming onto the mission, so she had no business whatsoever in space, with or without a crew. When she finally reached the International Space Station after Clooney and the other crew member died, seemingly safe for a little while, she failed to inspect the interior of the craft and missed the fact that a couple wires had a short. Because of this oversight and in the ensuing fire and explosion, she lost most of the station and was relegated to a small pod in an attempt to reach a Chinese space station, her last hope to make it home.
If all that weren’t bad enough, at the end of the movie, after finally reaching the Tiangong, without having a clue what she’s doing — this might be a bad time to start reading the instruction manual — she somehow manages to start the engine, detach her pod and inexplicably initiate re-entry into Earth by randomly pressing buttons through a rousing game of eenie meenie miney mo. I wish I was joking.
And this from a flick that won seven Academy Awards? I guess storytelling isn’t requisite in movies anymore.
Without the impressive visuals to save it, the rating would have been like -2.
I will most remember Philip Seymour Hoffman for “Doubt,” Capote,” and of course, “Scent of a Woman.” He was an actor who put the entirety of his soul into the characters he played, and that fact was palpable on screen.
This quote, from director Robert Falls, perhaps best summarizes his unique abilities:
The theater was very difficult for him. It cost him; there was an emotional cost to the work, having to do it for eight performances a week, and having to rehearse. In ‘Long Day’s Journey,’ a role about an addict who would be dead in a number of years, who was filled with self-loathing, certainly Phil had access to those emotions. But I’m not talking about a method actor. He just brought every fiber of his being to the stage. He was there — with his depth of feeling, depth of humanity — and no other actor I’ve ever worked with ever brought it like that, not at that level.
Immediately after the backlash surrounding Royal Rumble and raucous fans in Pittsburgh who were not happy — and that’s putting it mildly — that Daniel Bryan was excluded from the main event of the show, Randy Orton and Batista, in particularly, were said to have been equally enraged backstage as the WWE Universe largely rejected their matches and booed them six ways to Sunday. This fever more or less developed organically, as the live crowd went nuts when Danial Bryan opened the show, only to lose in a five-star match with Bray Wyatt. Fans then waited with bated anticipation for the better part of 2 1/2 hours for what they really wanted to see, which was Bryan not only getting into the 30-man battle royal, but winning the match to get a shot at the title at Wrestlemania, despite the fact that WWE did not advertise Bryan as a participant.
For what it’s worth, Batista, Orton and bookers backstage were apparently not anticipating the kind of reaction the show would receive, according to online reports. To compound the amount of vitriol WWE is still receiving from fans, CM Punk’s departure, whether he left because of sour grapes or to address real health and stress concerns, leaked online and now bookers are rethinking their approach leading into Wrestlemania because of these two main developments. Vince McMahon has apparently taken negotiation power away from Triple H and company officials regarding Punk and is doing it himself, which I find mildly humorous.
In any case, I can’t imagine why they would be so surprised by any of these outcomes. First take the John Cena and Randy Orton match at Royal Rumble. These have been WWE’s consistent cash cows for the past 10 years. I get that, and I think anyone who takes off the Bryan/Punk blinders will have to admit to this fact. But other simple truth is that fans are burned out on Cena and Orton, no matter how much they might be over with casual audience. Every few months after WWE has busily worked to repair Cena’s image by throwing him in front of the camera with troops or kids with cancer or some other sympathetic figure, and thus guilt-tripping fans into cheering him — After all, who would boo a guy who’s granting wishes to sick kids and supporting the troops? — most adults who aren’t female and especially Internet fans inevitably begin raining down boos on him, and company has to begin the laborious process all over again. So, how many times is the WWE going to fall back on the Orton/Cena program instead focusing on building up fresh talent?
The company will certainly milk Orton/Cena for all their worth, but discounting the fervor over Bryan, the Royal Rumble showed that fans, both in the arena and at home, have had enough of this tired feud and their listless, non-innovative and mediocre matches. We all know and understand that Cena and Orton are nearly ubiquitous and are going to be a significant part of every PPV for as long as they can go, but I don’t think anyone would raise much of a fuss if they were in more high-profile non-title feuds. Does WWE really think that people will only come to see Orton and Cena if they are in the title hunt? Cena and Orton have had 19 title WWE title reigns combined the last 10 years, while Punk and Bryan have had four runs since coming to the company. Bryan’s total days as WWE champ can be counted on two fingers. Granted, WWE threw fans a bone and allowed Punk to have the longest title reign in the modern era, but most of that time he was as a “cowardly heel” and wasn’t main-eventing PPVs (the final match) or winning cleanly.
I also can’t fathom why WWE somehow would have expected the story about CM Punk walking out of the company to remain a secret. We are coming off of one of the “big four” PPV’s of the year and leading in the WWE’s proverbial Super Bowl, with asinine sign-pointing aplenty, and fans would naturally have been wondering why Punk was not appearing on RAW or Smackdown each week.
I think it’s a positive that the writers are considering options for Wrestlemania with and without CM Punk in the mix, and whether or not he comes back, and this could — I stress could — be a sign that WWE is at least feigning interest in listening to the fans at this point. I hope they are keen enough to know that a stadium full of hardcore wrestling fans who traveled far and wide to see the show will be vocal about what they are seeing in the ring, and if Bryan (and Punk if he comes back) aren’t big parts of Wrestlemania, they might as well expect the rain of boos to commence. Lest anyone forget, if the fans gave up on the company tomorrow, there would be no Wrestlemania.
Read the first part of this series here.
For frequenters of this site, I am now going to start a series in which I talk about professional wrestling. Yes, as far fetched as it may sound, a person can be both a nonbeliever, be into philosophy and all that and still be a professional wrestling fan. Just ask CM Punk and one of my favorite YouTube users Steve Shives. In any case, if you are intrigued, by all means stick around. If this is not your thing, that’s OK too. I’m sure I’ll be ranting about religion again shortly.
In the mean time and to quote CM Punk, I’ve got a lot of things to get off my chest, especially after the apparent departure of the Second City Saint from WWE, the constant barrage of dinosaurs that get reintroduced each year during Wrestlemania season and the continued misuse of Daniel Bryan as the most over wrestler in the business at least since Stone Cold Steve Austin.
If you haven’t heard — If you’re a wrestling fan, who hasn’t by now? — CM Punk walked out of WWE this past Monday night after a prolonged period of being frustrated with the direction of the company, along with generally being banged up and probably overworked. The plan was for CM Punk to face Triple H at Wrestlemania to continue his long standing resistance to WWE leadership and The Authority. I, for one, liked that direction, at least as a way to give Punk a high-profile role on Wrestlemania because it harnessed some of the energy from the Summer of Punk when he was defiantly railing against Vince McMahon and the corporate suits back in Connecticut. Of course, CM Punk, in my view, deserves to be in one of the two big main events at Wrestlemania, but I was at least willing to get invested in a Triple H match if that’s the inevitable direction Vince and the Triple H, the shovel master himself, were going to go. CM Punk, after challenging “the streak” last year against The Undertaker, however, seems to have felt that wrestling Triple H was a downgrade for him, and I can’t say that I disagree.
Some of Punk’s decision, no doubt, had to do with the return of Batista, his subsequent win at Royal Rumble and the company’s plan to put the WWE World Heavyweight Title on him in the main event of Wrestlemania, even though he has been gone for four years and guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and even Dolph Ziggler have been busting their asses every night for years now, only to take a back seat to a part-timer.
WWE has continued this trend for several years now, most notably when The Rock returned and was instantly inserted into the main event picture after a long hiatus making B-reel movies and eventually won the WWE title belt from Punk. Unfortunately for Punk, Bryan, Ziggler, Roman Reigns or anyone else who is hoping for their breakout moment at Wrestlemania, guys like Batista, John Cena and Randy Orton are apparently still selling the most merchandise and popping the biggest ratings on RAW, so until that changes, don’t expect any kind of new direction because it’s all about the money for WWE, in spite of whatever the fans might want, and apparently in spite of a completely hijacked PPV. The message at this point: WWE just doesn’t care about what the fans want.
And that was never more evident this past week on Raw when Triple H mocked the whole arena as fans cheered for Daniel Bryan after the no-show during the Royal Rumble match. In fact, WWE officials almost seem to be displaying a kind of neurosis regarding fan support of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. In the segment on RAW this week, Triple H again mocked Daniel Bryan for being too small, and reports online indicate that WWE has been confiscating CM Punk signs at recent NXT tapings.
It’s almost childish the way Triple H and the gang have insisted on pushing the jacked up wrestlers like Brock Lesnar, Batista, Ryback, Cena and yes, Triple H himself, over smaller guys like Bryan, Punk and Ziggler who clearly have the fans in the palm of their hands, almost as if to say, “Get over on your own and you will get buried. We the WWE decide who will gets over.” This is just petty booking, and in the end, if WWE continues to go against the fans, I hope they are ready for their precious main event at Wrestlemania featuring the Randy Orton and Batista snooze fest to be crapped on just like Batista’s anti-climactic win at the Royal Rumble.
Read more about her here.
I tweeted about this earlier today, but if you missed it, Cracker Barrel initially said it was going to remove Duck Dynasty merchandise from its stores after Phil Robertson’s noxious comments on gays and black people, but only 48 hours later reneged on the decision claiming that it had learned the error of its ways by displeasing its customers.
Here is the entirety of the statement, which was posted on the Cracker Barrel’s Facebook page. It has more than 21,000 comments, most of which are drivel:
Dear Cracker Barrel Customer:
When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done.
You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong.
Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores.
And, we apologize for offending you.
We respect all individuals right to express their beliefs. We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different.
We sincerely hope you will continue to be part of our Cracker Barrel family.
The part about offending its customers by pulling the merchandise is particularly shameful. What about the millions of homosexuals Robertson offended when he more or less compared the human love and affection of consenting adults to bestiality? What about the millions of blacks Robertson offended with his idyllic and inaccurate portrait of the segregated South?
In short, Cracker Barrel seems more concerned with kowtowing to its bigoted customer base rather than fighting bigotry itself. Oh that’s right: Without the bigots, Cracker Barrel would be out of business.
I knew there was something tawdry and talentless about Miley Cyrus’s depraved romp across the VMA stage amid a gaggle of Disney-esque bears and tongue wagging.
Camille Pagila, with Time, has put it in precisely the correct language:
The Cyrus fiasco, however, is symptomatic of the still heavy influence of Madonna, who sprang to world fame in the 1980s with sophisticated videos that were suffused with a daring European art-film eroticism and that were arguably among the best artworks of the decade. Madonna’s provocations were smolderingly sexy because she had a good Catholic girl’s keen sense of transgression. Subversion requires limits to violate.
Young performers will probably never equal or surpass the genuine shocks delivered by the young Madonna, as when she sensually rolled around in a lacy wedding dress and thumped her chest with the mic while singing “Like a Virgin” at the first MTV awards show in 1984. Her influence was massive and profound, on a global scale.
But more important, Madonna, a trained modern dancer, was originally inspired by work of tremendous quality — above all, Marlene Dietrich’s glamorous movie roles as a bisexual blond dominatrix and Bob Fosse’s stunningly forceful strip-club choreography for the 1972 film Cabaret, set in decadent Weimar-era Berlin. Today’s aspiring singers, teethed on frenetically edited small-screen videos, rarely have direct contact with those superb precursors and are simply aping feeble imitations of Madonna at 10th remove.
What is it with these actors losing their minds? Longtime Scientology apologist Tom Cruise castigates the entire field of psychiatry, meanwhile advocating for a fringe program known as Study Tech, and most recently, he hires a new publicist presumably to downplay his involvement with the cult so he can sell more movie tickets to the unknowing public — I’ve already boycotted new movies from Cruise and another loon, Mel Gibson — meanwhile, Charlie Sheen is out hunting for mythological creatures. One doesn’t have to watch slapstick comedy to see lunacy in action.
This report from The Onion prepares us for the apocalypse:
Negligent Father Isn’t Building A Castle To Protect Family From Apocalypse