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All reviews - Movies (9) - TV Shows (1) - Books (1) - Music (3)

Me Without You

Posted : 1 year, 8 months ago on 12 July 2016 05:50 (A review of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates)

"You just want every moment to be magical and glow-y, but sometimes things happen."

There's a pretty serious subplot or something about community relations, but since I lack the skills of an artist, I'm just going to leave it, and say that it connects it because of the theme that things can't always be this perfect way that you want things to be. It's really not your sociology teacher judging you for having ideals, it's that you don't have to feel defeated or detested if something works out differently. Every little thing's gonna be alright. 


"This wedding is going to Hell."

The theme is a little conflicted. It's about how you should be a little romantic and not try to ruin your sister's wedding; it's about how things are going to happen and it's not going to work out that way. But it's fine. 

There are also conflicting subplots with the boys' subplot and the girls' subplot, but they're actually very similar people. 

Anyway, it's a very irreverent movie but like a lot of the modern comedies just because it's irreverent doesn't mean that there aren't things to say. 

I prepared a little essay that I'm going to edit slightly and include about what the movie's appeal is. It's almost like a single person's comedy, and that's why I called it "Me Without You", because it's not perfect. 

It has a lot to do, I think, with the Anna Kendrick subplot about how love hurts, and the maid of honor's subplot about how you think everything's gonna be perfect, but how it's not gonna be. 

It's also largely a film about unconventional romance, in the sense that it's "not perfect", with just enough of the Anna and Zac thing thrown in because it's not like you're going to forget about that. 

Anyway, I call it "Me Without You" because it's alternative, because it hurts, because it's not perfect. 

"I just felt really bad because of your fucked-up face, and I wanted to make it up to you."

There is an image we all have, persistent even if we choose to revile it, of the contentment of two. It's not a bad thing, and we certainly don't gain much by pushing against it and screaming. It's good to have hope. 

But there's a point beyond which thinking of our hope becomes a sort of a mixed thing. Do we need to remind ourselves of desires and circumstances not present? Of course delving into troubles can be a mixed thing too. 

Into this sort of background steps something like "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates". Some people don't want to go see the Rise of the Haters movies they're always showing, at least not exclusively, because of how little it says about being in love. But some people also have this experience of not having it, of that good love story being a little soured by the condition that it reminds them more of the cousin they last saw at the wedding, than whatever the result of their own striving has been. 

Something like this, a grand display of all the failures and fiascos of dating, reminds us that we all have options. We don't need to give up hope, but rushing only leads to nasty stories and scars. "You need a date to avoid looking like a fool", people seem to tell us. And you see where that got him. In a way, it makes you feel better. 

It's like that Rachel Platten song: "I wish my heart would stop.... Beating me up." You think it's what somebody else says or does, but it's really you, your heart. Your heart chooses how to react, even if sometimes it's out of habit. It wasn't that you were single: it was when you decided what that meant. 

Of course someone told you, in essence, that you'd always be the fool and never amount to anything if you weren't stabilized by a relationship, but you know how much that can hurt, and you can know how unnecessary it is not to be "independent of the good opinion of other people", as Wayne Dyer likes to say. 

The movie is largely about unconventional romance and people who don't feel like they can have the legitimizing influence of a marriage on their sexuality, but I think it's also largely about single people, the "I need a date" people, because for us (too) the perfect never seems to arrive. It's not just that there is a me before I meet you, it's that there is a me that does not seem to ever find you. 

I think real love finds you, sometimes when you're not asking for it. I don't know why. We all know the story of letting yourself finally fall for someone who's been growing on you, but sometimes you need one for not flailing around when nothing lies that way. You can chase after the trappings of power, to prove to God that you're somebody, but probably the most you'll find is somebody with the same problems as you, and a circular path back to where you started. 

Of course the movie makes you feel better by showing you a good relationship evolving out of a bad one, but by not being perfect, and yet it's still fine, it can give you hope in general. As much as I do not want to just be a partisan for my youth, I think we absorb a lot of the negative things that age tells us, about being either totally stable or a total failure. It's intimidating. 

Living single is hard. Living single can be empty. "Love hurts. Love scars...." But the sun still shines in the morning, even after you've convinced yourself that it won't. 

It's like what I interpret the Gita as saying: it's right to try, but good not to be attached to the outcome. 

I also generally have a high opinion of Anna Kendrick. 

You have that pain video playing every time a wedding comes up, which is always, but sometimes you've just got to delete that memory. 

Things go wrong, but you can set it right; take the power in your hands. 

"By the power invested in me by 'be your own deacon dot com'" I submit this review. 

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Darkness and Light

Posted : 1 year, 8 months ago on 11 July 2016 03:16 (A review of Warcraft)

The races collide in the world of Warcraft as they do in ours, and in the fantasy world we are allowed to re-imagine the origin of conflict. 

We are taught to see both races in a sympathetic light; an Orc baby reminds us that the Orcs are not just beasts, and a (wounded) human youth reminds us that members of the Alliance are not always powerful. 

The Orcs at first believe that because their own world was dying they had no choice but to invade the human world, and the humans also believe that their troubles are not their responsibility, but both sides learn that it is one of their own race who causes their sorrows, and not the other nation. 

The main form of dialogue between the races comes in the form of a female Orc who falls prisoner to the humans, and the movie's main comment on the strife of the races is discovered by a human Mage who finds that it is written, not that light fights with darkness, but that "from light comes darkness, and from darkness, light". 

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The Nice Kid

Posted : 1 year, 8 months ago on 10 July 2016 07:44 (A review of Rupert)

Not everybody wants to murder that character who's, you know, the nice kid. 

Here's what Wikipedia says about the main character: 

"Rupert Bear is a considerate, smart, resourceful, brave, trusty, good spirited white bear who is extremely popular with all the residents of Nutwood."

Sad to say, some people just don't appreciate kindness, but personally if I am to meet a white bear, I'd prefer that it be the kind type, and not the infamous type. 

I think there is something to be said for kindness and idealism; "this is a nice kid". 

It's also a very clever show. To give a few examples I hope to expand upon later: in "Rupert and the Leprechauns" we meet with the troubles of Northern Ireland or sectarianism in general-- and again, if kindness is such a plague, we have only to see what kind of plague unkindness is! ("They stole it; then we stole it; then they stole it; then we stole it....") In "Rupert in Timeland" the children are given a bird's eye view of the happy ("we're your girlfriends!") and unsettling moments of their life span before being returned by Father Time to the eternal now. 

In "Rupert and the Mulp Gulper" we consider the relationship between bragging ("I can't see him, but the strange thing is, I think I can hear him bragging!") and bravery. In "Rupert and the Tiger's Eye", the relationship between leisure ("Nothing ever happens in Sandy Cove!") and excitement. 

The show isn't stupid, and perhaps Rupert's greatest gift is that he's not an idiot. He's considerate.


It's also a great example of childhood/comedy adventure/sci-fi.

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Initiation Album

Posted : 1 year, 8 months ago on 10 July 2016 05:28 (A review of Wildfire)

There was a time, not too long ago, when Rachel Platten was an unknown, who made CDs only to see them slip out of print. She was a quirky artist that no-one had ever heard of, an intelligent, feminine girl in an unsentimental, uncomprehending world.... And there was a time, not too long ago, when it seemed like every time I went into Barnes & Noble they were playing "Wildfire"-- the complete album. 

"I have sent a thousand ships to you, but my messages never seem to make it through", sings Rachel in "1,000 Ships"-- before "Fight Song". "Fight Song"-- named after the rah-rah go-home-team songs played at sporting venues that have mascots-- is about a girl who chooses not to be weak, a story she tells in a surprisingly sensitive way. She takes the theme of empowerment from the general culture, and returns it in a more sentimental way, full of life, but also full of hope. And in "Stand By You" she reminds us that she is not actually about fighting, not actually about separation. 


1. Stand By You 

One of the surprising things about this song is how it uses spiritual imagery-- Heaven, Hell; truth, belief; faith, reason-- in an almost casual way which makes it seem the most natural thing in the world, and not off at all. Also note that this is the lead song on the CD, and not "Fight Song". "Love, you're not alone!" "And I'll be your arms; I'll be your steady satellite...." Rachel Platten is not too proud to be supportive. 

2. Hey Hey Hallelujah ft. Andy Grammer 

He really likes her, and she really likes that. 

3. Speechless 

She really finds him to be impressive. 

(IMO 2 & 3 are a pair.)

4. Beating Me Up 

Perhaps a lead-in to "Fight Song". Notice how the line is, "I wish my heart would stop.... beating me up." It is possible to rule the heart, and it is our heart that beats us up, and not other people.

5. Fight Song 

The first verse is so pretty that I'll just quote it: "Like a small boat, on the ocean, sending big waves, into motion-- like how a single word, can make a heart open: I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion." It's not her only song, but it was her breakthrough: "prove-I'm-alright-song!" 

6. Better Place

Some troubles are more persistent than others, but there are still things that give us hope. And there are songs that are about the world, in addition to being about two people: "I'll tell the world; I'll sing the song-- it's a better place since you came along." Like the idea that "Everything Has Changed", like Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran, some things are kind to us. Sometimes there are worse, deeper problems than the ones we see improving, but sometimes too the darkest night gives us but an incomplete sense of the whole day. Sometimes we must believe; we must see how we have been blessed far and above what was given to our parents in the old day. This is now a better place. 

7. Lone Ranger

Some things are shared between brothers and sisters. Women are social creatures, but the girl with too much social anxiety, too much fear of people, can never develop all of her gifts. "But I'm calm as can be, in a room full of strangers." The party can be a frightening organization, but sometimes you must just "drink in sound, meditate". 

8. You Don't Know My Heart 

I guess it is something like a breakup song, but what's striking is how positive it is-- no whining, nothing. 

9. Angels In Chelsea 

"I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time." Allow me to have a little fun with those who disagree with our thesis. In "Labyrinth of Lies", a modern German film about prosecuting SS Nazis in the 60s, one of the old timers tells the young hero, "Your generation knows nothing of loyalty.".... You can't always be peering into Hell though; you've got to see the Angels around you. 

10. Astronauts 

I hate to compare girls, (which is why girls don't really do bands-- they couldn't take it, being mistaken, one for the other), but I love Rachel Platten for that happy innocent girl Taylor Swift-ness. 

11. Congratulations 

A song for haters, dare I say, a song for the Internet. Wayne Dyer constantly quotes Maslow as saying you've got to be "independent of the good opinion of other people". You've just got to let other people be crazy sometimes; the way they were going to "react" was never really about how you treated them; let them go, and you can walk away saying, "I really don't think you get it now". 

12. Superman 

"You don't have to be Superman." People talk about how in the modern world a man doesn't have to take over the earth anymore, but this is what it sounds like when a kind person tells you that there's nothing that you need to do, that she isn't waiting for an excuse to call you an idiot. (It's a very social song, like 11, but about a very different situation.)

13. Lonely Planet 

Isn't it lovely to meet people? 

14. Stand By You-- acoustic 

I think it's repeated to reaffirm that this and not "Fight Song" was the lead song. 

15. Speechless-- acoustic 

Given the title, it's the perfect fade out. 

So that's that. Anyway, people talk about pop, which I'm not ashamed to say is young, but really only tracks 2 & 3 were about sex.

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