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Juan is played by Alexis Díaz de Villegas, who is immediately evocative of the skinny guy from the Bugs Bunny cartoon, “Waikiki Wabbit,” the final scene of which features two starving castaways imagining one another to be hot dog and a hamburger. De Villegas is the skinny hot dog guy.
Also: zombies in Cuba. The end.
Ok, I’ll say a bit more.
In the long tradition of zombie films before it, Juan of the Dead actually has something to say. In this case, it’s Cuban politics. Fun fact: Juan’s iconic weapon of choice is a boat oar. The Cuban media constantly refer to the zombie hordes as “dissidents.”
I watched Primer again the other day and it got me thinking. Some people say that the fact that there are no people visiting us from the future proves that time travel into the past never gets invented at all. But is that really proof?
Consider time travel as it is portrayed in Primer. How does it work? Supposing you wanted to travel back in time from Monday night to Monday morning (to make a killing day trading or something). You don’t simply hop into the machine Monday night and twist the Destination dial to 8 hours in the past. Doesn’t work that way. Here’s what you do:
Wake up Monday morning and turn the time machine on. Do not get in it.
Go sequester yourself in a hotel room or something and watch the stock market.
Leave the hotel Monday evening. Go to the time machine, turn it off and climb inside as it is powering down.
Emerge from the machine at the exact moment you powered it up–Monday morning. There are now two of you. Your other self is on his way to the hotel room, but you are now free to surf over to eTrade armed with your foreknowledge of the closing bell.
Your hotel self gets into the time machine at 5 PM just as you did–and promptly disappears. Or rather, becomes you.
Supposing you built the time machine the day before these events, on Sunday. Could you ever use it to go back to Saturday? No. Because the machine would have had to exist on Saturday for you to climb out of it. It didn’t exist on Saturday, so you can’t possibly do that.
So perhaps the reason there are no time travelers visiting us from the future isn’t because time travel doesn’t get invented. It could just be because they can only travel as far back as the date of the invention.
I’ve written about the book an embarrassing number of times before, but I’m very excited about the upcoming movie adaptation of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. If you haven’t read it, you should do so. Now. It’s a beautifully written, deeply moving mind-blowing adventure. I’m tempted to read it again for the, what, third or fourth time now?
I have a secret, dear reader. One which I will disclose to you now. I understand that upon reading these words you may wish never to visit this blog again and also immediately disavow any friendship we may have had in the past. But I’m wiling to take the risk. I can’t hold this inside anymore. I have to speak my truth. So here it is.
Yes! Sucks! One might forgive its dated hairstyles and clothing which remind me most unpleasantly of how the world looked when I was 10 years old. One might even forgive Kenny Loggins. Might. But the film’s awfulness goes far, far beyond these atrocities. It’s humor can only charitably be described as puerile. Many of its performances are painfully amateurish, including and especially that of Bill Murray, a man whose subsequent career is actually pretty admirable. Mumbling unscripted lines in a silly voice out the side of your mouth isn’t the kind of thing a professional actor does unless he’s trying be funny by emulating someone who doesn’t know how to act. (Or unless you’re Adam Sandler, who as far as I can tell modeled his entire career after Murray’s performance in this film.)
The only thing that isn’t completely without merit are the scenes between Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight. But they aren’t nearly enough to make watching the entire film worth your time.
I won’t even get into the puppet gopher.
So what’s up with the rest of you? 78% on the Tomatometer, people? Really? It must be that Americans of my generation were imprinted on this film like ducklings who, emerging from their shells to see a gardner, subsequently follow him around in error for the rest of their lives. Everyone seems to have seen this movie at a similarly impressionable stage of life, it perhaps being the first R-rated film they’d ever seen, and, God help them, liked it. I, however, was absent that day and didn’t see it until much later, which is why I recognize its inherent and unwavering terribleness while the rest of you wander about hopelessly lost in egregious cinematic tastelessness.
There. I said it. I feel strangely free. No more pretending! And maybe somewhere in this wide world there are others like me. Maybe we could start a colony somewhere, like lepers, leaving the rest of the Caddyshack-loving world to carry blithely on without us.
Speaking of entertainment, what movies are you looking forward to yet this year? Here’s a few that have caught my eye.
1. The Hobbit. Duh. I’m one of it’s millions of fans. And it seems to have a lot of the same ingredients as the excellent Lord of the Rings films.
2. Prometheus. I’ve been a huge fan of the Alien films. In fact, my appreciation for them has grown over the years rather than diminished. Sequels and prequels, those movies that eventually follow the original successful film, are usually duds. But the Alien franchise has been defying that principle since 1986. Perhaps it’ll keep on doing so.
Connie wants to get a Blu-Ray player. I don’t. She fears a future where newly released movies won’t be available on DVD, but only on these new discs. I look forward to a future without discs of any kind.
What do you think? Is buying a Blu-Ray player worth it? My TV is only 720p, I don’t have cable and I rely entirely on internet-delivered television programs and movies (with the occasional DVD from the library).
On the one hand, if DVDs do become scarce, I’ll be able to play the new discs. Also I’m an Amazon Prime member. And since some Blu-Ray players feature access to Amazon’s streaming service, I’ll be able to augment my existing movie streams beyond what I already get on my Apple TV.
On the other hand, if I could will the entertainment industry into adopting streamed solutions quicker, I’d do so. Buying into the next-gen disc player seems like placing a bet on the team you hope loses. And of course once you have the player, you’ll acquire discs–and of course once you have a library of discs you’ll need to maintain a player for as long as you own them, even if streamed solutions really do take off like I hope they do.
I don’t want any more plastic spinning discs. They break, they scratch, you lose them. They aren’t available to all my playback devices. I’m willing to keep a DVD player for the purpose of accessing our existing library of those discs. But I don’t want to be saying the same about my Blu-Ray collection in ten years.
A pal of mine at work has been participating in the contest for years, and he recently shared with me a documentary film about the entire phenomenon, Triviatown.
The movie documents the 2003 contest. What I find fascinating about it is that there seems to be very little reliance on the internet. I mean, if someone asked you about a product name in a scene of an old movie, what’s the first thing you would do? Google, of course. Same as you would do for anything else you didn’t know. But contestants in the film seem to be relying on handwritten notes from the previous year’s television watching, stacks of old cereal boxes and paper sports almanacs. Crazy. The 2003 season must have been right on the cusp of when the internet became the All Knowing Oracle of World Knowledge.
The thing I find so odd about that is that 2003 seems to be several years late. Every time a question was asked in the movie, I wanted to pull my phone out of my pocket and Google for the answer. And I was confident that I could have it within seconds. Were things really so different eight years ago? Apparently they were.
When I asked my friend directly about the influence of the internet on the games, he told me it had changed everything. And not for the good, I was made to understand.
I avoided seeing it for a long time, but tonight I watched The Social Network. I had no idea it was going to be some kind of half-assed revenge of the nerds thing. Also, I kept thinking to myself: The Napster guy isn’t a pretentious California asshole like in the movie. I met him personally at a party in San Francisco back in 2001 and he seemed pretty down-to-earth as far as I could tell. After the credits rolled I did a little Googling and realized that I’d met Shawn Fanning, not Sean Parker, the dickhead from the movie.
Anyway, it was a pretty good movie. But I still don’t see what all the Oscar fuss was about.
Me and the knuckleheads I have lunch with at work have just decided to take turns bringing in movies to watch while we eat. The guy who’s name was drawn first out of the hat intends to bring in Big Trouble in Little China, which I have not seen but always meant to.
What should I pick? My turn comes up October 19 and 20.
You can all breathe now. I have compiled for you a list of my favorite science fiction films of all time. There are half a dozen other greats that I could easily add to it, but you have to stop somewhere. I stopped at 14. If there are any of these that you haven’t seen, take it as a given that I recommend you remedy the situation as soon as possible. Here we go. In no particular order…
The Matrix A mind-bending classic that feeds our paranoia and our distrust of technology.
Star Wars Nerds everywhere believe Return of the Jedi is better. They are wrong. Kids today often prefer the new “prequels.” They are stupid.
Aliens Tossup between this and the first Alien film. But the space marines just kicked so much ass.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind “Meet me in Montauk.” This one grew one me after the first viewing.
Blade Runner “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
Donnie Darko “Twenty-eight days, six hours, forty-two minutes, twelve seconds. That is when the world will end.”
The Thing Diabolically simple. The setting: An Antarctic research facility inhabited by a small group of men. The premise: An alien who, after killing you, makes itself look exactly like you. Horror and paranoia ensue. Brilliant.
12 Monkeys A prisoner is sent back through time to prevent a biological plague released by a terrorist organization known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. Or maybe he’s just a delusional mental patient. One of the best time-travel movies ever.
Back to the Future Can anyone not like this movie? It’s just so much fun. “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour you’re gonna see some serious shit.”
Brazil After seeing this, every bureaucratic runaround smells like a “27B/6.”
2001: A Space Odyssey An epic movie about evolution, science, alien life and artificial intelligence. You will never trust your computer again, no will you ever hear The Blue Danube the same way again.
Gattaca Eugenics, prejudice and the triumph of the human spirit.
Contact A brilliant and realistic story about first contact with extra-terrestrials and also about the nature of belief.