06 December 2010

State of Mind

A fantastic documentary about Mass Games in North Korea. It clearly demonstrates that Americans do not understand the complex issue at stake in dealing with North Korea. While certainly the country is a prison-state, the people being filmed were followed around for nearly a year. You can see them start to relax (if only just a little) and tell the film-makers exactly how they personally feel about America and Iraq (filmed in 2003). They are not just parroting their leader's opinions. They really do worry about just how far the American Imperialism machine will go.

Since I am personally invested in the unification of Korea, I am fearful of events like the recent attack on Yeonpyeong island. And think that our black and white foreign policies in the US will only ensure more entrenching by Kim Jong-il and his successor son.

Despite all my soapboxing, State of Mind is a horrible title for anything, let alone a documentary.

World's Most Dangerous Gang

Since this is a National Geographic documentary it means they covered a topic that no one else covered, but ended the documentary with the audience more confused then when they started.

I'm not convinced that MS13 (or Mara Salvatrucha 13) is the MOST DANGEROUS GANG in the world, but they are the largest in America. If you're looking for a pilot program to test your euthanasia drug, look no further than this ever-growing, ever-stupifying gang of El Savadoran misfits.

Albanian, Russian, and Georgian gangs scare the crap out of me. Italian and Sicilian gangs earn the respect of nearly everyone in the world. Irish thugs have held portions of New England hostage for decades. Even the Mexican mafia has matched the strength of the Mexican government.

El Salvadorans are a menace, to be sure, but they are hardly a cancer in the system like the ever-present old school gangs of Europe.

I think they probably meant Ruthless or Unwavering or perhaps Friendless (since no one likes them). But dangerous? I don't think this documentary met the requirement of its thesis statement.

Casino Jack and the United States of Money

Documentary about Jack Abramoff from the man who made the Enron documentary. While informative, it's not gripping, a little long-winded, and easily shows a good director coasting. Abramoff might be on the top 10 list of most despicable humans in American history and he only got 4 years in prison. He was out of prison, before I saw this documentary.

According to Wikipedia
On November 15, 2006, Abramoff began serving his term in the minimum security prison camp of Federal Correctional Institution, Cumberland as inmate number 27593-112. The Justice Department requested that he serve his sentence there so as to be accessible to agents in Washington for cooperation as the investigation related to his associates intensifies.

He currently resides at a halfway house in Baltimore, Maryland and is employed by kosher pizza firm Tov Pizza, earning between $7.50 and $10.00 per hour.

He is scheduled to be released on December 4, 2010.

The order of those paragraphs cracks me up.

Here is the news of his release.

Link

The Crazies

The problem with horror movies is.
a. you know people are going to die, so there are no surprises
b. people make poor decisions, which leads to a
c. often times director's believe "mundane people" in "mundane places" makes for gripping movies
d. which is wrong, because if you don't care about the characters, nothing that happens in a or b is going to matter to us.
If you don't understand what that has to do with why I didn't like this movie, then you've never read this blog before.

Ultimate Heist

Could not finish it. Stopped watching after the seventh pause in the flow the was stopping the characters from uncovering the plot.

Really, really, really lame.

I Love You to Death

If you're like me, you avoid Lawrence Kasdan films after Silverado. In fact, I didn't even know this movie was made. It proved to be funnier than expected, but it's entirely misable.

The all-star cast does nothing to fix the film's inane act two.

War Made Easy

Do you distrust your government? Did you enjoy Why We Fight or Manufacturing Consent? Do you believe that both parties and the media work to keep you uninformed about crucial foreign policy? Is the BBC just that much better than any American news organization?

If you said yes to any or all of these questions, you may want to watch this documentary.

Or you can just go back to watching Dancing with the Stars.

Armour of God (Long xiong hu di)

In the states, also known as Operation Condor 2: The Armour of God, the history of this film series title is so long and laborious, let's just call the two films Armour of God and Operation Condor. Okay?

The short description on Netflix reads
Jackie Chan and his bumbling sidekick are sent on a quest through Europe to find a mysterious treasure held by a shadowy organization of monks.
Not only is this incorrect, it's also misleading, as the movie is really just four action scenes sewn together with some of the worst dialog ever. And an even less plausible story. Where Operation Condor goes to great lengths to be fun, funny, creative, and thrilling, Armour of God makes me wonder how the two films have anything to do with one another.

The chase city through the streets of some Italian/French town is really the highlight of the movie. You can skip everything else, including the poorly contrived fight with four black women who serve the evil "European" monks.

NOTE: This movie is the one where Jackie almost died during a routine jump to a tree branch. He fell and cracked his skull. This is the closest to death Jackie has ever been from a stunt, and it's so routine and boring, you wouldn't even notice it in the movie.