September 10, 2009

Half-Full v. Half-Empty Movies

As you've probably noticed by now, one of the main ruts in which my thinking runs is the old notion that a glass that's half-full is also half-empty and vice-versa. For example, one of the essays I worked hardest upon, a review of Arthur Jensen's monumental 1998 book The g Factor, was built around that theme.

Similarly, much of movie criticism consists of deciding whether to describe a film as half-full or half-empty. Obviously, a few movies, such as the Lord of the Rings films, simply work on all levels. And a great many others don't much work at all.

The hard ones fall in the middle.

For example, is Caddyshack a juvenile mess of a movie with awful special effects made by a bunch of Hollywood types on prolonged drug binges? Or is it a handful of great lines like "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice"? Is Idiocracy an underbaked dramatic effort or is it a bunch of indelible images and lines?

In theory, a fair-minded critic would give equal measure to both a film's full and empty elements, but that's really boring and increasingly unnecessary. There's not much point any more in the traditional review that laboriously lists the elements of the movie that the critic like and disliked and then sums up an overall rating. You can get a better overview of how good a film is by looking at the average scores on an aggregator site like Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB that give you the wisdom of crowds. (You just have to keep in mind the biases of the various crowds, whether underemployed ex-English majors on Rotten Tomatoes or bachelor fanboys on IMDB.)

Therefore, one of my usual approaches is to pick one perspective or the other and try to make a coherent argument why the film is half-full (while mentioning its flaws in passing) or why it's half-empty (while briefly admitting its virtues).

My general prejudice is to view over-achieving films made by underdogs through the glass-is-half-full lens and underachieving ones made by overdogs through the half-empty lens. Thus, recent Quentin Tarantino films tend to annoy me because Tarantino long ago demonstrated his enormous talent, and elaborate meta-explanations about why it's cool that he's wasting his powers making ingenious crud bore me. It's not that I'm not intellectually sophisticated enough to understand the rationalizations. I just don't care.

Still, there's an irreducibly arbitrary element. Consider the two main Best Picture contenders from a couple of years ago: No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. A few minutes of viewing will reveal that they are both made by superior filmmakers.

Both movies, however, are uneven. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem are great in No Country, but Tommy Lee Jones is incomprehensible. I guess that makes the glass two-thirds full, and, indeed, I was an enthusiast for this film, but actually more because it quietly solved a long-standing problem: how to make a movie that conveys the pleasures of a first-person shooter video game. Instead of making the action more frenetic, slow it down so that the viewer can think along with the characters.

Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing in Blood, as is the cinematography, but what the hell is the movie about? Why does this competent, self-disciplined entrepreneur suddenly turn into a violent lunatic around the wan preacher?

The more I researched the story behind There Will Be Blood, the more frustrated I became with the movie. The movie is inspired by the first half of Upton Sinclair's novel about oilman Edward Doheny, Oil, but Paul Thomas Anderson didn't finish the book, so he didn't seem to be aware that Doheny became involved in the great the scandal of age, Teapot Dome. And after Sinclair published his book, Doheny's story climaxed with the still unsolved murder-suicide in LA's biggest mansion involving the oilman's son and his secretary, presumably over testifying in the oilman's Teapot Done trial. This case an its cover-up inspired the subsequent career of a failing LA oil company executive named Raymond Chandler. The more I learned, the more my review turned into an argument that There Will Be Blood is half-empty .

Now, Paul Thomas Anderson is an artist and artists tend tget their inspiration from idiosyncratic sources, and thus, presumably, fail to get inspiration from what should have obvious sources. Perhaps, if he'd tried to use the tremendously dramatic real-life events, his artistry would have dried up. Still, as memorable as Blood is, it struck me as underachieving. Clearly, though, that's a personal judgment. My hope is that was a more interesting perspective than most other reviewers came up with.

Similarly, I tend to write reviews about movies that are at least partly misunderstood. For example, Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is universally seen as a Jewish revenge fantasy, which, in part, it is, just as District 9 is described as an "apartheid allegory." There is some truth in both conventional interpretations, but it's clear from interviews with the filmmakers that much is being missed. As Neill Blomkamp has explained repeatedly to uncomprehending interviewers, District 9 is at least equally a post-apartheid parable. Similarly, the Jews butchering Nazis theme didn't much inspire Tarantino's intelligence, which is obvious from how underdeveloped those limited parts of the movie are, while what really fascinated Tarantino was the multiform idea of being in show business under the Third Reich. For example, what would it be like if instead of having to rely on Harvey Weinstein to scrape together money for your movies, you could persuade Hitler to provide you with the full resources of his totalitarian empire?

Perhaps it's just as well that most people don't pick up on Tarantino's fascination with Goebbels, but, still, it's not exactly subtle.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool writeup, and one of the very rare times where you actually give any indication of caring about the views of your audience :-)

so far as Idiocracy is concerned, I would never have seen it if not for you. The previews seemed designed primarily to attract the sort of people who were being mocked (perhaps like B&B, which I've never seen). I seriously can't thank you enough though for sending it my way. An important, awesome, extraordinary flick - even if the story sucked and there were long sequences that were absolutely and entirely worthless. Idiocracy's cup is a whole lot less than half full, there's hardly enything in the glass at all, but those few drops are liquid nitrogen. It was worth making the movie for, "Welcome to costco. I love you" alone.

As for Tarantino. As a Jew's Jew, whose grandparents were all under the Nazi's thumb in one way or another (Bergen Belson, Auschwitz, On the run, Taken by the Russians), I take the holocaust way too seriously to feel anything but revulsion, disgust and seething anger at people who exploit it (for anything other than stopping a future holocaust that is). I wish that all of the cultural "Jews" whose American grandparents ate, slept and partied well 60 years ago (and who themselves support something they call a 'comprehensive peace' in palestine) would just shut the frak up about the Holocaust and cease violating it's silent scream with all of their artsy nonsense and their cute little causes.

Now, Tarantino not being Jewish (nor particularly in need of Jewish approval until he decided he wanted Harvey's) I'm still discomfitted by the whole thing but can afford to be more relaxed about it. Nonetheless I hate the guy (for his other repulsive Orgy of Violence films) and this new venture of his kept my esteem for him where it had hitherto lay.

Except -

I saw the first and final bits of the movie (before and after watching District 9, on your (Steve's) recommendation and the ending scene appeared to be Tarantino Nazifying his fans. Was he not? I mean, he may regard that as a compliment to his followers but the repeated scenes of Hitler's repulsive joy at watching people gruesomely die on the screen would seem to be Tarantino engaging in some kind of subconscious transposing of his audiencve with the theatre-going people in his movie.

Again, I didn't see the rest of the movie so I'm curious as to whether this is the case or not - is Tarantino calling his audience Nazis?

Anonymous said...

I think you are a fine movie reviewer Steve.


Idiotocracy was a truly important film because it asked us what is the logical consequence of the lower-IQ'ed massively outbreeding the higher IQ'ed would be over time. It showed us, comically parodied, how ridiculous it would be in the future if the underclass kept making many more babies than the intelligent over multiple generations.


If Judge really wanted to grab the viewer by the throat and showed him dystopia in full-color, it would have taken a lot more money and it would not have been a comedy. A comedy was the only way Judge could portray such an idea and not be professionally crucified for it.



Im intriqued by the idea of expectations. When isteve readers seen the movie, their expectations were sky-high because Steve Sailer had mentioned it in positive terms. Therefore they rented it thinking they were going to see something akin to what Pulp Fiction was in 1994, when that movie really could smash you in-the-mouth. We were much more jaded by the time Idiotocracy came out, but for someone viewing it a second time with lower expectations, the theme is all there. Judge made a comedy out of a very serious subject.




We dont tend to want to think about the effects of breeding patterns out there, but Ive thought about one in particular: I wonder if the girls will be as pretty in the future as they have been and still are now? With many women choosing "thuggy" hyper-masculine men with flat-receeding-brows, large jawlines, close-set eyes, ecto and mesomorphic bodies (look up a picture of Brock Lesnar), how will they give rise to very many beautiful delicate creatures like Kate Hudson or Natalie Portman in the ensuing decades? I imagine the girl of the future will look kinda like Pink---pretty butch with a pseudo-mannish face.


I guess that is a parody of future-time-orientation on my part however, as Im not going to be around long enough to get to see : )

l said...

You either like something, or you don't. Usually I find myself hating movies that everyone else says they love -- Sideways, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Little Miss Sunshine, anything with Adam Sandler.
Upon your recommendation, Steve, I bought Idiocracy on DVD. As others have commented, it's funnier everytime I watch it.
The first Lord of the Rings put me to sleep. I did not bother to watch the other movies in the series.
I'm one of the few people I know who liked Cold Mountain. It worked for me.

ricpic said...

All I took away from There Will Be Blood was that it was a mess. And a vehicle for ham acting by Lewis (is his acting ever not ham acting?).

Lundgren said...

Steve, shouldn't you follow up on this post with something related to another familiar topic at iSteve: "Half-Man & Half-Woman Sprinters" a la Caster Semenya.

Also, what are the chances that she would also have the word 'semen' in her surname?

Lucius Vorenus said...

Obviously, a few movies, such as the Lord of the Rings films, simply work on all levels.

PLEASE tell me you're kidding.

Lucius Vorenus said...

What the hell do you people have against Walmart greeters?

You do realize that they're retarded, right?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the DDL character in There Will Be Blood, if you notice, he's not completely a well-adjusted character in TWBB. He reminds me of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights; he's a sociopathic Byronic hero.

By the end of the movie, the DDL character's adopted son finally grows up, asserts himself, and leaves his household. The DDL character's characteristic hatred means that he responds with rage, and causes a permanent break between himself and his adopted son. This drives him to drink.

In the final scene, the preacher character, who is hated by the DDL character for his false or at least facile faith, his inexplicable happiness in spite of his poverty, and his social acceptance, comes to beg the DDL character for money. Seeing a little bit of a victory against life, or at least what he hates, the DDL character starts to humiliate the preacher character, until finally under the pressure of life and drink, he loses his control and gives in to his thirst for revenge. In this, all his anger and hatred is poured out, which you could say was his animating force (actually, from my experience, anger and hatred is self-generating; even if you loosed yourself completely of them, those feelings would be back in the morning), and between that and committing the murder of a socially-established man, the DDL character declares himself to be finished.

The Dude said...

I wish that all of the cultural "Jews" whose American grandparents ate, slept and partied well 60 years ago (and who themselves support something they call a 'comprehensive peace' in palestine) would just shut the frak up about the Holocaust and cease violating it's silent scream with all of their artsy nonsense and their cute little causes.

As a "Jew's Jew" myself, and one who isn't liberal nor into "artsy nonsense" and "causes", I wish that all of the "It's always 1939" Jews would stop trying to dictate what kinds of foreign policies individual Jews should or shouldn't support.

Anonymous said...

"It's always 1939" Jews

The 1939 Jews were pro-Hitler.

You're thinking of the 1941 Jews.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the commenters above. Idiocracy was courageous in that it dealt with an important topic that people are afraid to talk about. It's opening sequence showing dysgenics in action was brilliant, but the rest of the film was pretty mediocre. It would have been much better as a pseudo-documentary.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Nonetheless I hate the guy (for his other repulsive Orgy of Violence films) and this new venture of his kept my esteem for him where it had hitherto lay.

Pulp Fiction was absolutely brilliant, and I'm not generally impressed with violence because, as a twenty something, I've seen so much of it by now that I've become jaded.

It was criminal that PF lost to the horrible Forrest Gump in 1995. Bernie Madoff himself couldn't have robbed Tarantino worse than the Academy did that year.

Unfortunately, everything Tarantino has done since then has been, um, not quite so good.

Truth said...

"A comedy was the only way Judge could portray such an idea and not be professionally crucified for it."

I'm very curious here, what makes you guys think that Judge was exploring any deep, profound "idea" at all? Was there like in "Animal House" or "There's Something About Mary" or Trading Places?"

No, I think this is a case of projection, with you guys projecting your own cause celebré on a blank screen.

As a matter of fact, I think that Judge played a bit of a joke on all of you (I make this point from having watched B&B.)

It wend kind of like this:

"OK, you dummies think you came to a movie called "Idiocracy" and watched a movie-within-a-movie called "Ow my balls!

Well guess what dumbshits, you have actually been watching Ow my balls! for the last 90 minutes, laughing at it, and writing articles about what a comedic tour-de-force it was. Not only that, but you gave me $4 each for the privledge of being ridiculed by yours truly. I never intended this movie to be funny, the distributors didn't think it was funny, that's why they didn't release it in theatres, Suckers, but hey, that's why I'm rich and you're not!"

TGGP said...

Thuggish men are not outbreeding the bourgeois.

Svigor said...

Steve, I think your previous post about your reviewing style was more along the lines of what I want in a reviewer - someone who takes the intersection of politics and media somewhat seriously and lets people of various views know what they're getting into.

One of the things I despise about leftists is their assumption that all their customers are leftists, too. It's bad enough when they demand the whole world convert or burn at the stake, without them pretending they already converted the whole world.

Dave R. said...

I hope this isn't an apology for your positive review of Extract, since I'll be seeing it this weekend because of that. Still, even a glass-half-full Judge movie is better than a big studio time filler.

albertosaurus said...

The problem I had with No Country for Old Men is that the plot hinges on Josh Brolin acting very stupidly. He comes across the drug deal gone wrong slaughter house site while hunting. He finds a salesman's sample case full of money.

The sensible thing to do would be to leave no trace of your identity. But instead of transfering the money to his back pack he walks out of the wilderness carrying this highly inapproriate black case. This bothered me when I first watched the scene. If he ran into someone on the way back to his truck they would surely notice this odd piece of luggage.

Later we learn that there is a tracking device in the case. He would have surely discovered it if he had emptied the case at the site as any sensible person would do. But then there would have been no way for Bardem to come after him. Except of course he "returns to the scene of the crime" so as to give the bad guys another chance at learning his identity.

It's hard to care about a character who cares so little about himself. The Brolin character was so dumb that I rooted for Bardem. Also anyone who kills Woody Harrelson is OK with me.

Nanonymous said...

The problem I had with No Country for Old Men is that the plot hinges on Josh Brolin acting very stupidly.

So, it's a very realistic movie then, don't you agree? Acting very stupidly is not unheard of in this world.

Dennis Dale said...

I think you've onto something here, namely the fascist undercurrent in Tarantino's oeuvre.
His characters are outlaws and marginal types, but they exist to celebrate the will to violence as purifying and self-justified. His heroes are heroes because they kill without shame; perhaps subconsciously, he conceals this within his traditional motifs, such as Kung Fu films--as far East as you can go to avoid the f-word.

The political implications of his work should appall the sensibilities of any "liberal" reviewer; by shuttling his violent fetish through the seemingly endless genres out there he's made some very interesting, and some very awful, film. But what he hasn't done is consider his true subject squarely. Maybe until now. It's still not worth going to see "Basterds".

CJ said...

For example, is Caddyshack a juvenile mess of a movie with awful special effects made by a bunch of Hollywood types on prolonged drug binges? Or is it a handful of great lines like "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice"? Is Idiocracy an underbaked dramatic effort or is it a bunch of indelible images and lines?

Caddyshack is essentially a very funny extended sketch resembling the best of SCTV or Saturday Night Live. What would be the point of higher production values? It's a comedy. The hokey special effects are funny in themselves the same way they are in SCTV material. I don't expect the gopher to look real and I don't expect any of the actors to be proficient golfers (which they surely aren't -- is there one guy in the whole cast who looks like he could break 100?).

Now Idiocracy does in fact treat the theme of dysgenics, but it's much more than that. A few of my friends and I watched it and immediately afterwards had to go to a nearby shopping mall to pick up some medicine before the megadrugstore closed. We entered the mall and it was the very world of Idiocracy - a food court full of obese dullards, low-grade pop music playing, large screens in the electronics store playing WWE wrestling, the GNC store with the supplements and the energy drinks. The movie is a thinly science-fictionalized version of our degraded culture right now. There was even a Carl's Jr. in that mall. It didn't actually have the "Fuck you, I'm eating" motto, and the GNC didn't actually have Brawndo, but it wasn't too damn far off.

Anonymous said...

He didn't act stupidly - he tried to act nobly - returning to the scene of the crime to give some water to a dying man - it was his conscience that sealed his doom [and he admitted as much, before returning to the scene of the crime].

PS: You know, even as recently as ten years ago, the Coens weren't nearly so nihilistic - the good guys used to win in their movies [or at least the bad guys used to lose - Frances McDormand's character in Fargo was so obnoxious that it's difficult to classify her as "good"].

Anonymous said...

(Cliff Arroyo)

Someone too lazy to come up with pseudonym: "Tarantino engaging in some kind of subconscious transposing of his audiencve with the theatre-going people in his movie."

Truth: ""OK, you dummies think you came to a movie called "Idiocracy" and watched a movie-within-a-movie called "Ow my balls!"

Been done (better) before:

"I wonder who the real cannibals are."

www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCiRtdREif4

Fred said...

"If Judge really wanted to grab the viewer by the throat and showed him dystopia in full-color, it would have taken a lot more money and it would not have been a comedy. A comedy was the only way Judge could portray such an idea and not be professionally crucified for it."

By the same logic, the only way the Bonfire of the Vanities movie could be made was to dumb it down into farce. But I never heard anyone rave about that movie. Why not? Because it was clear it was crap, in contrast to its brilliant source material?

"...(look up a picture of Brock Lesnar), how will they give rise to very many beautiful delicate creatures like Kate Hudson or Natalie Portman in the ensuing decades?"

There aren't exactly a lot of pure mesomorphs like Lesnar among us. Future Kate Hudsons will be produced by the same method she was: the pairing of an attractive Jew and an attractive WASP. Future Portmans will be produced by the pairing of two attractive Jews.

"And a vehicle for ham acting by Lewis (is his acting ever not ham acting?)."

The Last of the Mohicans. Great movie, and his performance was perfect. He seems to have become a hamosaurus since Gangs of New York.

CJ said...

Before anybody gets exercised about multiple handles, may I say that I am NOT the "Mr. Anon" who commented on the Extract thread about Idiocracy saying almost exactly the same things about the movie that I did on this thread -- and no, I hadn't read his comment before I posted mine.

But what an insightful observer he is! :^)

I also agree totally with a point he makes that I didn't mention, namely that the reason the studio dropped Idiocracy like a radioactive potato has to be the use of real company names. That was an unfortunate lack of judgement by Judge. If he'd just called them Costlo and Darl's Jr. and Warbucks that probably would have been fine, but actually using the names of three successful deep-pocketed retail businesses? What big studio wouldn't have balked?

Anonymous said...

Caddyshack - I now see that as a hatefest. But thats OK because the hate isnt directed at certain groups. I find it hard to laugh at now.

i am the walrus said...

So, it's a very realistic movie then, don't you agree? Acting very stupidly is not unheard of in this world.

Actually, that's the point. Brolin's character fails miserably at crime just as William H Macy fails in Fargo, Jeff Bridges in Big Lebowski, Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona, and Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading.

No Country is about fate vs free will, so albertosaurus' points about Brolin's stupidity are both valid and meaningless. There is no escape for those on the left side of the bell curve. The Coens cut the below lines from the movie that Chigurh says to Brolin's wife before he kills her:

"I had no say in the matter. Every moment in your life is a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning."

That pretty much sums up the point of every Coen brothers' movie.

Concerned Netizen said...

I too would never have seen IDIOCRACY were it not for your positive review. Here's my thoughts:

1. Setup: pure comedy gold. The childless yuppie couple juxtaposed with the fecund white trash couple was hilarious.

2. Rest of movie: eh. Had its moments ("because it's got electrolytes") but generally witless.

3. Maya Rudolph should be banned from the movies. Ugly skenk - only a little better looking than Caster Semenya - and not funny. I guess she came union scale.

4. Luke Wilson is leading man material. When will they notice he's handsomer and more charming than Tom Cruise?

5. Judge's main mistake was making the president of Idiot America a black man. Opened him to charges of racism. Doesn't matter if said charges are unjustified, that one suspicion killed the movie. Would have been funnier if he'd made the President a gay East Asian transgender, or something unclassifiable, from an ethnic group that isn't organized into professional grievance gangs.

Concerned Netizen said...

Is EVERYTHING here about the Jews? Well, OK, I'll go along with the flow.

Kate Hudson - half Jewess, very delicate and pretty.

Natalie Portman - 100% Kosher, very delicate and loveliest girl in Hollywood.

Pink: I'd rate her half-Semenya. Half Jewish. Can't win 'em all.

MQ said...

Tarantino did make a great movie after "Pulp Fiction" -- "Jackie Brown", which was criminally underrated.

I agree that "There Will Be Blood" was a botch, but it was a huge missed opportunity. Talented director and great subject material wasted. The period of American history from 1880-1930, which was the consolidation of American power and the key transitional period into the modern U.S., is extremely dramatic and still has lots to teach us, but hardly ever gets paid attention to. Even the history channels focus on endless crap about WWII and the civil rights movement.

Dutch Boy said...

Movie reviewing strikes me as a tough job (like one I had as a kid cleaning public toilets). My condolences.

albertosaurus said...

Steve,

Your problem with being a movie reviewer is that your day job is to make sense. Movies don't need to make sense at all. You are leaving yourself open to a bad case of cognitive dissonance.

For example consider Kill Bill. This movie is a total fantasy, like X-Men, Watchmen, or Spiderman. The Hanso swords in the Kill Bill movies are the moral equivalent of the radioactive spider in Spiderman. However large parts of the public actually believe all that samurai nonsense at least a little.

So should you as a person dedicated to rationality try to refute some of the crazy premises of Kill Bill or should you just accept the movie as a bit of irrational fluff? But if you abandon critical thinking and wallow in archetypes and symbols, why are you particularly qualified to be a movie reviewer? Why not some mystic pot head?

Tarantino apparently believes in a lot of the silly things he portrays on screen. When I tune in Mythbusters on TV they often have some samurai fable under scrutiny. This tells me that the public too actually believe in ninja and samurai hokum.

I enjoy a good fantasy myself but if I were to write about it for others I would feel compelled to point out the violations of logic and/or physics. I think a better reviewer might be some one less rational and analytical. Someone less concerned about the actual world and more sensitive to the world of movie conventions.

David said...

lundgren said

> Caster Semenya [...] what are the chances that she would also have the word "semen" in her surname? <

Her uncle's name is Lesiba Rammabi.

Matt Parrott said...

I take it that this blog post is your roundabout way of apologizing to me for giving "There Will Be Blood" a negative review. I accept your apology, Steve.

Michael said...

Great posting. Two of the real puzzles in movie reviewing (or any other, I suppose):

1) How to keep it fresh? What are you offering that your average surprisingly-good movieblogger isn't?

2) How to handle the movies you don't really react to all that strongly? It's easy to write out of real enthusiasm or anger, but much much harder to come up with something worth reading when your reaction is basically "Meh. Was OK. Didn't enjoy it much today, but might have enjoyed it a little yesterday. Who knows? Depends on my mood."

I once asked a pro movie reviewer how he handled question #2. (The web wasn't around yet, so question #1 didn't yet apply.) His answer: "I pretend to have a strong positive or negative reaction and then write from that."

Maybe this is one reason I'm not a pro reviewer, but: I find it more interesting to try to be franker about the "Meh" response, and wend my way around all those complications. Why not at least try to be honest?

Anonymous said...

The problem with NCFOM is the plot has everyone being stupid and unbelievable. For instance:

1) Unbelievable that the lead character wouldn't empty to suitcase - if only to count the money.

2) Unbelievable - that a lone deputy wouldn't secure a prisoner and keep in sight while talking on the telephone

3) Unbelievable a cop killer and serial Killer could roam around the country with only Jones and one assistant looking for him.

4) Unbelievable that a wounded American criminal could blow up his car in Mexico and get away with pharmaceutical drugs without anyone knowing and then patch himself up as good as new.

5) Unbelievable the Woody character would take no precautions and let himself be ambushed, that also goes for the man who hired him.

I could go on and on, but the whole plot was unbelievable and while well made - rather stupid and vulgar.

Anonymous said...

"Kate Hudson - half Jewess, very delicate and pretty."

1/4 Jewish, actually.

Anonymous said...

The period of American history from 1880-1930... hardly ever gets paid attention to. Even the history channels focus on endless crap about WWII and the civil rights movement.

Gee, I wonder why...

Truth said...

Very interesting that someone would choose two random paragons of beauty to make a point about eugenics and it would be a Jew and a half Jew (sort of). I think the site has been infiltrated!

Anonymous said...

I thought No Country For Old Men was very well done technically but dull and kind of implausible.

TCO said...

I think that just because a movie hits a few themes that you like. Shares a few viewpoints. Is not enough to excuse it being crap in terms of a story. You ought to retain some artistic independance. Heck...you're making me want to go see Borat now. For all I know it was great fun as a movie and you just panned it for being on a different political side!

Anonymous said...

We dont tend to want to think about the effects of breeding patterns out there, but Ive thought about one in particular: I wonder if the girls will be as pretty in the future as they have been and still are now? With many women choosing "thuggy" hyper-masculine men with flat-receeding-brows, large jawlines, close-set eyes, ecto and mesomorphic bodies (look up a picture of Brock Lesnar), how will they give rise to very many beautiful delicate creatures like Kate Hudson or Natalie Portman in the ensuing decades? I imagine the girl of the future will look kinda like Pink---pretty butch with a pseudo-mannish face.

There will always be sexually antagonistic traits favoring one sex over another, just as feminine women will always choose masculine men. What is best and what is possible is for sons to be hypermasculine and daughters to be hyperfeminine from the same family.

Development of concentrated beauty requires having only the beautiful girls of each generation reproduce, over and over down the generations. Naturally, they will only reproduce through the best masculine guys of each generation. Ice age europe was such a cradle; that is, a harsh but not too harsh environment with high male mortality.

Those particular selection pressures have been relaxed for thousands of years and we have a growing number of effeminate men, to give an example, surviving under the good graces of civilization. Given what it took to reach the original high state we should not throw away quality genetics lightly.

Anonymous said...

I could go on and on, but the whole plot was unbelievable and while well made - rather stupid and vulgar.

Do you realize who wrote the book?

Anonymous said...

I find Pink to be pretty damn hot actually. Is there something wrong with me?

Anonymous said...

Re Pink...

Whats not to like here?

Anonymous said...

I just saw Idiocracy, finally, and it really is everything Steve's been saying it is. And more. I cannot believe Judge got away with releasing that. Can you believe all the Cholo music?

I'm certain the horrible narration was tacked on afterwards against Judge's will.

God, such an amazing movie. I must own it.

-Idiocracy's biggest fan

Anonymous said...

You guys need to watch Turner Classic Movies if you think that either Kate Hudson or Natalie Portman are paragons of femininity.

In fact, I'd strongly urge every iSteve reader to make a couple of stops at TCM each night as he [or she] channel-surfs through the vast, desolate wasteland.

If nothing else, it will open your eyes to the [historical] fact that our nation's culture was not always so nihilistically vacuous as it is in our era.

Anonymous said...

In watching NCFOM, I was constantly frustrated with why the characters just didn't hop out of the track they were on. Eg, why Brolin didn't just get his wife an hop it for Vegas or Duluth or Monaco or whatever.

Its almost like the Coen's make the characters slaves to some sort of inner narrative -- that a moment's higher perspective wold give them safety and security, but they can't escape the hunter/hunted paradigm that Bardem pushes on them.

I also think that this gets followed up on in Burn After Reading, where you effectively watch, how many, 3? 4? train wrecks occurring due to the character's inability to escape the narrative tracks they have set themselves on. All of which is summed up at the end by the director "Well at least we learned... well, I dunno what the fuck we learned here..." and clses the file.

Fate. We drive our fate, our behaviours may clever, but it is very very difficult to escape the high level stupidities we engage in because we can't see any other narrative that might play out.

Anonymous said...

I agree that "There Will Be Blood" was a botch

It did at least produce one memorable line.

"I drink your milkshake!"

Templar said...

It did at least produce one memorable line.

"I drink your milkshake!"


If by "memorable" you mean "incomparably stupid-sounding".

Silver said...

Tarantino did make a great movie after "Pulp Fiction" -- "Jackie Brown", which was criminally underrated.

I agree. It contained one of the more believable interracial couplings I've seen too.

Truth said...

"It contained one of the more believable interracial couplings I've seen too."

Now why is it that I just KNOW that you are talking about Forster-Greer and not Jackson-Fonda?

HAAAAAAAAAAWWWW-HAAAAAAAWWWWWWW!

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