December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Some Guy With a Website

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Some Guy With a Website will return in January. Have a great holiday season and a happy new year!

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:20 AM

December 22, 2009

In closing

The annual Christmas card will go up in a few hours, so this will be the last post for the year. I'm taking the rest of 2009 off to spend with friends and family.

This has been one of the most interesting years of my life. A lot of bad things have happened, and a lot of great things have as well, one in particular. I know I've spent the year ragging on the lapses in the Obama agenda, but honestly a lot of policies this year, particularly related to the job market, have been my salvation in this troubling time. The support of a surprising number of new friends has been a big help this year too.

It seems rushed and pointless but like I say every year, and mean every day, your readership is something of great value to me. I don't really make money or pad a portfolio with this cartoon, and I'm not being quoted on any TV shows or blogs- the only purpose it really serves is entertaining you guys and after ten years of it I'm amazed it's still able to.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:17 PM

December 20, 2009

Like you care what I think reviews: Avatar


So this review on AICN sort of matches the bulk of my thoughts on Avatar. I wasn't planning on seeing it because Jesus, it's Fern Gully in space. But I got a chance to see in in IMAX 3-D and well, that is what really sells the movie here. Much like how you would pay forty bucks to watch a musical on Broadway, Avatar is something you should pay the sixteen bucks for to watch with 3-D glasses on an enormous screen.

Which is good, because as a movie itself the thing is goddamn ridiculous.

Here's the conundrum: I very much enjoyed this movie, despite not being surprised by a single minute of it. Literally every single plot point and story arc was predictable, in many cases being irritating because they were the cliche plot points of these types of movies that always bother me. Of course the aliens are going to defeat the invading humans who of course suddenly become a faceless army of evil the moment it becomes necessary for them to be. Of course the hero will fall in love with the women from the tribe who is of course the chief's daugher which of course causes a love triangle which of course heats up in the third act when the hero's betrayal of her trust is revealed. It's two and a half hours of this.

It's not even that the plot is bad; it's just vacant. The star of the movie is the special effects, which I will again repeat are phenominal. I don't understand how anyone will enjoy this movie simply renting it on NetFlix and watching it at home. As a narritive, it's a bad movie. But you know how at fancier movie theaters in the 90's they had those virtual-reality rides where for ten bucks you could pretend you were on a roller coaster for five minutes? With IMAX, for sixteen bucks you are on an alien world for nearly three hours. There is no argument of value here.

That said, I find it funny that the "political" argument people are going to make from this movie is how the message hammered into your head- and even someone as liberal as me giggled at how blatantly James Cameron suddenly pushed the "message!" button in the third act- is about the evils of destroying a native people and not respecting the earth and the environment, etc. The reason I find it funny is because as a progressive, the yet-again Great White Savior element is what I find infuriating. Avatar follows the same pattern of The Matrix, Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai, Dune, and soforth by making it a story about how a white guy is thrust into a society of "undeveloped" ethnic/alien people and in record time not only integrates into their culture, but is in fact their messiah. The third act of these movies- where the white guy hero transcends from a legitimate, engaging message of "hey, ignorant douchebag, spend some time with people different from you and you might learn something about them" into "oh, hey, I just retrieved the Golden MacGuffin from the Mountain of Impossible that your entire ancestry failed to do, thus proving I'm actually your god. Oh shit, is it lunchtime already?" is just aggravating. Basically, this movie goes to shit right after two blue aliens start fucking, which... well, that explains a lot, doesn't it?

Anyway, yeah- this is an experience the way a Broadway musical or a live concert is an experience. There's a reason you should pay good money for it, and there's a reason it's not as fun watching at home. See it if you can see it in IMAX. Failing that, don't see it at all, because you've seen the story eight times already, just without robots.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:18 PM