In the present entry, I am going to talk about the 2017 Oscar nominees, in particular the filims Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell And High Water, Hidden Figures and La La Land. I am also going to talk things entertainment and entertainment-related in general, especially about gavaged entertainment. Here is the list of the best picture nominees. I am commenting on just over half of them because I saw just over half of them. What about the other half? Well, I just did not get to see them on time. Most likely because it was a choice between them and one of the aforementioned filims, or because it was a choice between them and the final installments of the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises, or because it was a choice between them and this awesome, criminally overlooked and ignored, superb Canadian action-adventure filim, Below Her Mouth. Arrival is being hagiographised port and starboard in Canada because it "is a Canadian filim" on account of the director and some other crew being Canadian. Arrival is a metaphorical massive suckfest compared to Below Her Mouth. But, I will save my ether of Arrival for later.
Hacksaw Ridge is a very brutal war filim along the lines of the original 1993 Stalingrad and Cross of Iron, albeit set in the Pacific Theatre and featuring US Army draftees. I consider filims like Hacksaw Ridge, Stalingrad, Cross of Iron, Der Untergang, Saving Private Ryan, Blackhawk Down and We Were Soldiers to be horror filims because they show genuine, real-life horror, as opposed to The Ring franchise and all the iterations of Dracula which, compared to the aforementioned seven filims, only show made-up, Hollywood horror, many times bordering on being special effects extravaganzas marketed as filims. The only thing I want to say about Hacksaw Ridge is that it unrealistically shows soldiers yanking out the pins of their grenades with their teeth. Grenades, you see, are equal opportunity killers. You do not want the safety devices on it to be so loose, so easily manipulated that a mere tug of the teeth will activate them. People who try to yank out grenade pins with their teeth in real life end up losing the teeth in question. This not me being nerdy or nit-picky. This is me reflecting USMC Scout/Sniper Veteran Lee Marvin's position that war should be shown as realistically as possible so that the public will never fall in love with it, a position that led to a clash, an exchange of "fuck yous" and Mr. Marvin being kicked out of non-Veteran Lee Strasberg's school.
I already reviewed Hell And High Water for superb artist Wooly Bumblebee's ProblematicPeople.com. HAHW came out at just about the same time every YouTubeser was a-whinging and a-whining and a-ma-BLOW-yo-house DOWN over last summer's Ghostbuster's remake, which has a few minutes of obvious social justice jihadist boilerplate sandwiched into what is basically a Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) 1980's Doctor Who serial sans the ever-so-lovely, appropriately clad Peri. HAHW is far, FAR stronger AND insidious in its social justice jihadist dogmatics than the clumsy, bad 1980's Doctor Who-style Ghostbusters remake could have ever been...yet, I enjoyed it. The landscape is beautiful. The story shows Chris Pine being a real man, as opposed to being the Lindsay Blowhan boy-toy/kindergarten space ship commander he was previously famous for being, and Jeff Bridges' perpetually inappropriate display of affect senile peeler character was done well enough to merit him the Oscar.
See, that is one thing that separates me from all the YouTubes outrage merchants--of BOTH the social justice jihadist side AND the anti-SJW, nutjob gods-in-their-own-minds/professional Ronnie and Reggie Kray imitators side. I can look at a piece of art, notice that it is laden with themes that I do not like at all or interpreted by people I do not like at all, and still find something enjoyable enough to recommend it. Maybe it is because I am old, but I simply do not get offended by movies, TV shows or art. In 2013, a whole bunch of actors, at the instigation of Piers Morgan, did a video calling for the abolition of the Second Amendment. I did not agree with them at all, but most were small fry who gained nothing with their little stunt and who have not said much about the subject since, so I still watch some of them. Many actors and performers have taken to protesting Trump/Bannon. I am no fan of Trump/Bannon, but I am even less of a fan of these protests. I am not going to stop watching any actors act based solely on their position on Trump/Bannon. I can see something that is meant to have an influence, and then walk away from it the exact same bastard that I was walking in.
Kraut and Tea and Freedom Alternative, among others, have taken to whinging about Emma Watson for speaking about feminism at the UN. Not being a particular fan of Harry Potter (like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, a ripoff of Parsifal), I was never a fan of Watson to begin with. The fact that the Panama Papers revealed her to be a latter day Heathcliffe and George Warleggan--i.e. a vile, repulsive council estate dweller who, just like many YouTubes anti-SJW gods-in-their-own minds/professional Ronnie and Reggie Kray imitators, can always be taken out of the council estate while the council estate can never be taken out of them--disincentivises me from seeing either of the filims she has coming out shortly. You see, Watson could have done like Bernie Ecclestone, the son of an impoverished fishmonger, and behave with class and discretion once she acquired wealth and fortune. Instead, she chose to be a dirty, disgusting-ass skanky ho, with which the market is already saturated (see Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, Lady KaKa and Lindsay Blowhan.) The difference between Kraut and Tea and Freedom Alternative on the one hand and me on the other is that, not liking Watson, I simply avoid seeing her filims. It really is that simple and that easy to do. Contrary to what Kraut and Tea and Freedom Alternative will assert, you can do this with minimal effort, with zero verbal effort and zero whinging. I do the exact same thing with regards to the filims of Mark Wahlberg, who has criminal convictions for alt-right race realist-type actions. Kraut and Tea also would not be a fan of Wahlberg. Freedom Alternative, I am not so sure. Vee also said in a recent video that he voted for the Romanian party that is the equivalent of Mark Wahlberg.
So, back to the 2017 Oscars. La La Land. Sweet, decent musical that also has a very real-life economic element to it that West Side Story and The Lords of Flatbush simply lack. There is a scene in this movie that The Harvard Business Review would do well to do an article on, a scene that could have been taken from the kitchen of almost any American family in 2008 or so. The music is decent, certainly better than that of its rival Passengers, which La La Land, in my amateur opinion also beats out for Production Design. In the latter sentence, it is important to note that I am not Kylie Ireland and Andy Appleton, which makes my commentary on production design akin to my commentary on Formula One when the latter is contrasted to that of Paul di Resta. As far as the acting is concerned, I do not think Ryan Gosling merits Best Actor for this filim. He played a standard-issue central casting character easy to find in any '30's, '40's or '50's filim, and exuded nowhere near the power, commanded nowhere near the pull as his characters in Drive and The Big Short. I am also somewhat iffy on Emma Stone as Best Actress for this filim. Don't get me wrong, she has matured into a lovely young woman in her evolution from the damned teenager she played in Superbad a decade ago, however, she did not quite have the "umph" in this filim as she did in Easy A. Gosling and Stone do have unquestionable on-screen chemistry though, both in this filim and in their previous filim together, Gangster Squad. In this regard, they resemble the eternally charming pairing of Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in Adventureland, American Ultra and Café Society.
A bit more on Ms. Stone maturing from a damned teenager in Superbad to a lovely young woman in La La Land. Maybe it is because of my age again, maybe it is because I often run into far more 20-, 30-, 40-something year old adultescent females who have zero concept of situational awareness, much less the sterile cockpit rule, but I am the type of man who prefers real, bona fide women to girlies, no matter what their age. Emma Stone's character in La La Land is a real woman, something I prefer infinitely to dingbats like Dina Lohan who are perpetual girlies, no matter what the carbon dating on them reads. That is also why, although I thoroughly loved Downton Abbey--especially for the fact that it has Sargon/Charmingman93/Heathcliffe/George Warleggan-type guttersnipes exactly where they belong, which is to say a) out of public view generally and b) only being heard saying "Yes, milord! No, milord!"--I infinitely prefer Michelle Dockery's "Letty Raines" in Good Behaviour to her "Lady Mary Crawley" in Downton. Unlike Sargon, Charmingman93 and Emma Watson, "Lady Mary Crawley" is supremely well-mannered and well-disciplined. However, she is also a perpetual adolescent engaged in an eternal pissing contest with her sister "Lady Edith", at one point being as cruel and brutal to "Lady Edith" as Heathcliffe is to everyone. "Letty Raines," on the other hand is an impoverished single mother who has no time for puerile pissing contests and who is forced to use her wits as a high end retail logistics/high-value and low volume supply chain manager forced to collaborate with a professional problem solver. "Letty Raines" is basically an awesome female version of Billy Bob Thornton's beloved, classic every-man character "Willie T. Sokes." "Letty Raines" is also unquestionably a woman, "Lady Mary Crawley" only arguably so. Perhaps not un-coincidentally, Michelle Dockery became a widow in real life in between the filming of Downton and the filming of Good Behaviour. That would be consistent with the fact that Ms. Dockery is still a class act while Emma Watson is not.
That leaves Hidden Figures, Arrival, Below Her Mouth and the topic of gavaged entertainment. Between the first two, Hidden Figures is the better filim, being based on actual science, while Arrival is basically a Doctor Who story that lacks the charm of the Daleks. Hidden Figures closely resembles The Martian in its discussion of the precise and complex calculations behind getting the late Colonel John Glenn into orbit the first time around. I had a difficult time following these calculations since I only have a high school-level numeracy, and I personally would have much preferred the lady doing the Calculus and Analytic Geometry to do first-person narration like the protagonist "Mark Watney" does in The Martian. That being said, I love the fact that Hidden Figures did like the first GI Joe filim--the one with pre-Continuum Rachel Nichols--did and repeated mathematical and scientific terms like "spherical geometry," "Calculus and Analytic Geometry" and "Go/No-Go."
An explanation is in order on my last sentence. You see, the part of the brain that does math and science is separate from the part of the brain that does verbal reasoning. That is why there is a separate math and a separate verbal section on the SAT. The part of my brain that does non-verbal reasoning is not particularly strong, hence why I have only a high-school level numeracy. What do the latter four words mean? Simple. I took mathematics courses at university. However, they were not "university-level mathematics courses," but rather mathematics courses that happened to be taught on a university campus. "University-level mathematics courses" are generally reserved for mathematics, chemistry, physics and engineering majors and usually run for two to three semesters apiece. Mathematics courses that happen to be taught on a university campus such as I was allowed to take, on the other hand, are designed for anyone who is functional enough to walk in, sit down, take notes and study, and these courses are generally only one semester in duration. I was at university a long time ago, during an epoch where there were no filims like The Martian and Hidden Figures, and no TV shows like Numb3rs.That is why I am happy to see such filims and shows around today to help demystify complex mathematics to younger people who, like me, are not naturally mathematically gifted.
Arrival, by contrast, in addition to being essentially a Doctor Who serial without the charm and the class of the Daleks, also has a lot of mystical woo-woo nora-nora, like the kind preached by the group on which a documentary was recently made featuring a trashy former late 1990's sitcom actress who apes Edward G. Robinson and George Raft every time she opens her pie hole. Arrival's star is Amy Adams. I like Amy Adams. She is one of those actresses like Michelle Dockery and Emma Stone who can become famous without degenerating into a completely ratchet trashbag ho like Emma Watson, Ashley Judd, Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Blowhand, Lady Ka-Ka and Miley Cyrus. I particularly like Ms. Adams' performances as an every-woman in Sunshine Cleaning, as a super-sinister senior cult member in The Master, as a complex character with a heavily foreboding air in Nocturnal Creatures (for which Michael Shannon deserves the Best Supporting Actor for his role as a peeler) and as a debutante in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. Ms. Adams' presence and charm was enough to get me to be able to stand the vile, disgusting sectarianism of Leap Year. But her performance in Arrival is just like Ryan Gosling's performance in La La Land, i.e. standard-issue central casting.
In the interests of disclosure, I do have an enormous personal animus against Arrival. You see, its director and some crew members are Canadian...which means that all the local media, both state and private sector, are whooping up Arrival like it was the hottest thing since sliced ka-ka. Had Arrival not been gavaged into me, I might be more charitable to it. But that is the thing about Canada. Every time a Canadian farts in front of a microphone, some Canadian media outlet is immediately shortlisting said flatulent Canadian for the Nobel Prize in Physics. It is the surest sign that Canada, and Canadians as a whole, suffer from LDS (Little Dick Syndrome) that they have to CONSTANTLY plug themselves. Non-Canadians may not be aware that there is a state censor, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, that hassles even American channels that want to broadcast in Canada until they have enough "Canadian content." One would think that if Canadian content was good enough, it could market itself all on its lonesome, without massive state intervention in the form of the CRTC holding a knife to the throats of broadcasters to force them to have a quota of Canadian content--most of which is just.plain.AWFUL!!!!! Yes, there are exceptions. Recent Canadian sci-fi shows like Lost Girl, Continuum, Bitten, Orphan Black, Killjoys and Dark Matter are superb as is 19-2, a swell police show that has all of the charm of The Sweeney and Justified and none of the sterile, standard-issue central casting, only-in-Hollywood general moronity of Law&Order: SVU and CSI. There is also one of my favourite bands, July Talk.
These, however, are the exceptions. Much Canadian-produced and gavaged-into residents of Canada "content" is pure dreck along the lines of Trailer Park Bhoys, Letterkenney and Corner Gas, each replete with characters of a grossly indeterminate phylum blabbering away in thick Old Canadian. Imagine being FORCED BY LAW to listen to Lauren Southern, the Honey Do-Dos, John da Ogre and Jordan Peterson drone on and on and on and on and on in thick old Canadian for hours on end, and you have a damn good idea of what it is like to live under the regime of the CRTC's "Canadian content" Diktat, which comes close to a real live Ludovico technique. The nice thing about the exceptional shows I mentioned in the previous paragraph is that the cast are either young or immigrants, which means they speak in Nice, Normal Person English instead of Old Canadian.
In contrast, the British companies behind the Masterpiece Theatre shows Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge are secure enough in their penile dimensions so as not to require "British content" Diktats, which is why these shows respectively starred Americans Elizabeth McGovern and Jeremy Piven, something that would have the CRTC censors aghast. One of the reasons I intensely dislike social justice jihadists like Gail Dines and Anita Sarkeesian telling me what to watch, and one of the reasons I remain a fan of Jordan Owen's superb filim The Sarkeesian Effect is that, in Canada, there is a government agency, the CRTC, foisted upon me to act, like Dines and Sarkeesian, in loco parentis as far as what I am allowed to consume as entertainment.
This brings me to Below Her Mouth, another exception of a Canadian filim. Below Her Mouth, you see continues in that proud but criminally overlooked Canadian filim genre, the action-adventure filim of the style of When Night Is Falling and Better Than Chocolate. Below Her Mouth surpasses even these two masterpieces. As with Tatiana Maslany in Two Lovers And A Bear, Below Her Mouth's two leads, Natalie Krill and Erika Linder, both visibly have their two little soldiers standing at full attention for what is referred to in aviation as a "decent loiter time." And, in contrast to even the San Fernando Valley/Chatsworth side of the mountain these days, Below Her Mouth has beautiful amidship displays of lush Bonsai gardens. The thing I loved the most about Below Her Mouth, though, was the action sequences. Ms. Krill and Ms. Linder both did all of their own stuntwork--of which there was a-PLENTY--all by themselves, no stunt doubles, no body doubles, no CGI. Some years ago, Kylie Ireland recommended to me the Sam Rockwell filim Moon because of its handmade, devoid of CGI, special effects. I loved Moon, and I love Below Her Mouth because of their dedication to old-school, hands-(and other anatomical parts, in the case of Below Her Mouth)-on action sequences.
Below Her Mouth is a superb specimen of Canadian cinematic craftsmanship and acting, far more so than Arrival ever could be. For some reason, the Canadian media, which usually goes into a state of self-induced verbal orgasms whenever it reports on something "made in Canada," decided not to give Below Her Mouth the prominence they gave that weak-ass Doctor Who-wannabe filim Arrival. This is tragic because, as per The Economist, even in this digital age, what gets seen is usually what gets pushed. The Canadian media, and Canadians in general, used to being told that "shit is good," that "Trailer Park Bhoys, Letterkenney and Schitz Creek=high quality entertainment" are all squeeing like schoolgirls when Justin Bieberlake posts on Instagram over Arrival, while ignoring the masterpiece they have in Below Her Mouth. One can only hope that future generations will do onto Below Her Mouth what past future generations did to Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, and recognise and appreciate it as a gem that contemporaries to its publishing were to enstupidated to appreciate.