Living in Portlandia

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I found a quirky show on Netflix awhile ago, Portlandia.  It stars Saturday Night Live player Fred Armisen and writer/musician Carrie Brownstein. It is sketch comedy show about all things Portland, and to a greater extent the Pacific Northwest.

The show is always setup Fred and Carrie living in Portland and observing the random things that happen, but after that they go in to sketches with a whole range of Portland themed stereotypes: super hip bike rider, feminist book store owners, crazy animal rights activists, hippie liberal mayor, and many more.

Some of the sketches miss the mark or are to overly risque for my taste, but some of them are dead on: there is sketch about a couple that find a dog tied up outside a restaurant and freak out and try and find the owners, and they can’t believe how inhumane that is, and the pay off is that their baby is tied up around the corner, or the couple that had to visit the farm where their chicken was coming from at a restaurant before they would order it.

It is a pretty funny show, and you can tell the humor is coming from love and not hate.  Carrie Brownstein who writes most of the sketches grew up in Seattle and still lives there, so her observations are pretty spot on.  The show is good for a laugh and there is good chance if you live in the Pacific Northwest you have met most of the characters in the show.

Are We Headed for an Idiocracy?

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Idiocracy is another cult classic from the creator of Office Space and Bevis and Butthead, Mike Judge.  It is very funny even if the thesis it based around is flawed and quite classist.  Its premise is that unintelligent people are breeding faster then intelligent people, and because of this by the year 2505 the human race will be dumb as rocks and headed for collapse.

Luke Wilson is a soldier with completely average intelligence, so they decided to use him as a guinea pig to test out a freezing chamber for one year.  They don’t have a female soldier that fits the criteria, so they use a local woman of the night played by Maya Rudolph.  Sadly they get forgotten about, and end up in the year 2505 as the smartest people in the world.

The best part of this movie is the first twenty minutes where they show a smart couple discussing how it would irresponsible to have kids during the current economy, and that they should wait until they have enough money saved.  Meanwhile a guy in a trailer park has like five different women and kids all over the place.

Like usual Mike Judge’s sarcastic take on the world really shines through here.  While the premise is flawed it plays on our fears so it seems like it is true, and it gets us all thinking that the future may truly be full of moronic degenerates, but as we all know money and breading have nothing to do with inelegance, but the movie knows that we forget that sometimes.

It is a shame Mike Judge has never really had mainstream success because he does know how to write a funny movie.

I am Ravenous!

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Ravenous is one of my favorite movies from when I was in high school.  It was passed over by a lot of people, but it has David Arquette’s name on the box, so I forgive them.  The reviewers for the most part were not kind to this movie, but I think it holds up well and it is worth a look.

The story is a about a soldier who during a battle fakes his death and as a result is thrown under a pile of bodies.  He wakes up and is enraged and turns the tide of the battle, and it is promoted for his ‘victory’, but his commanding officer guesses at his cowardice and sends him to the middle of nowhere.  At his new post he finds that his power and strength may have come from the blood dripping in his mouth, and he may not be the only person that knows how to harness this power.

So right now you are thinking “great a movie about cannibals and David Arquette, that means I am out!”, but it is still awesome, and David Arquette has a minor role and gets eaten, so that is a plus.  This movie is so unique and fun, it is hard not to have a good time, and for the record Roger Ebert agrees with me.

My buddy TK and I must have watched this movie like 30 times.  TK even had the soundtrack which is one of the best parts of the movie.  The music is so offbeat it just adds to the character of this movie.

If you are looking for something different to watch, and aren’t afraid of a little blood, you should give this movie a try, and if you don’t like it you can blame TK and me.

Is there something wrong with Prometheus?

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Prometheus was the long awaited prequel to Alien from Ridley Scott, and while it got good reviews, people tended to be disappointed with the film.  I am not sure this disappointment was fair.

The movie is about a group of scientists that find messages all over the earth that seem to point to one planet way out in space, as where our forbearers came from.  So like all good scientists, they commission a space ship, the Prometheus, and head out.  Now I am not going to spoil the rest of the film for you, but since it is a prequel to Alien, I guess you at least know that things do not go well for the group.

Most people’s complaints about the movie tend to center around the fact that all these people are scientists, and yet they are always doing very dumb things.  I would counter that just because they are book smart that does not mean that they are going to know what to when their lives are on line and they are being chased by unknown beings.  True they choose the guy with the map to get lost, but I think they do a good job of showing him as an idiot before then.

The main thing I like about this movie is that they truly tired to make a good Sci-Fi movie.  They tried to make a movie that would scare us and make us think, and while the movie was not excellent it was very good.  And I think because Alien was excellent anything less then that was considered a let down.  I would watch this movie a hundred times before I had to watch Total Recall again, because the effort showed, and I am looking forward to the sequel .

Despite the negatives you may hear about this movie, you should give it a try.  I believe that it will still entertain you.  It may not be as good as Alien, but it is better then ninety percent of the garbage out there, and since so few good Sci-Fi movies make it, we should show our support.

What to do about Star Wars

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There has been a lot of action recently around the Star Wars franchise: Disney bought all things Lucas Arts, writers were hired, Michael Arndt writer of Toy Story 3 for Episode VII, Lawrence Kasdan writer … of well … Star Wars for a spin off, and J.J. Abrams to direct Episode VII.  I just thought I would give my two cents on it all, and what I think they should do.  After all I am on the internet so I must be right.

Disney is ridding on a lot of good faith from the great job they have done with the Marvel franchise, but with that they were just smart enough to follow the plan created by Kevin Feige.  With Star Wars they need to make their own plan.  It is good to see they brought Lawrence Kasdan back, after the horrible messes of Episodes I through III it will be nice to have a good writer involved again, but the big question is what are these writers are going to write about.  What stories does Star Wars have left to tell via film.

The Star War universe is huge now.  Lucas decided to open it up and allow a lot of good writers and not so good writers to expand the universe in so many different ways.  It now spans thousands of fictional years, and has so much back story that I think Disney would be foolish to ignore it all.  I think they should embrace it, and maybe even set the spin off in a different era with a different cast of characters.  I would push for the Knights of the Old Republic time frame.

The Knights of the Old Republic is set about 4,000 years before the movies, and would allow the writers to do pretty much whatever they wanted.  They could have massive Sith vs. Jedi battles, or they could just focus on a small group trying to navigate the Wild West of the Star Wars universe, and they wouldn’t have to worry about how they interacted with previously created movies.

But the most important thing they should do:  Is just make a good movie, and I think the J.J Abrams hire was perfect for that.  He proved with Star Trek that he was more interested in a good movie then sticking to the Star Trek canon.  This may have made a few Trekkies mad, but the movie was great and it became the most successful Star Trek movie ever.  If he keeps the same frame of mind with Star Wars, we should be in for a treat.