langwidere: a john uskglass pixelbuddy (i came to my enemies in a RAIN OF QTE)
[personal profile] langwidere
So, I waitedwaitedwaited patientlypatientlypatiently for Apple to squeeeeeze out that new Mac Mini, and then it finally appeared! Last month! Hooray! I ordered it like this: CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! FAINT! And then it came, and it was the worst computer I have ever seen in my life. It appeared to have been assembled by a committee of those weird, embittered Mac-haters who used to troll Daring Fireball back when it allowed comments. It has no optical drive! The specs are weird! The only included monitor cable is three inches long and 100% useless unless applied to Apple’s new $999 screen! It has four USB ports! It is pointlessly tiny! Why is it so fucking tiny! It’s not like I’m going to be carrying it around! It’s supposed to be a desktop computer, isn’t it! You know, if it were slightly less tiny, you could’ve maybe fit a fucking superdrive in there, couldn’t you! Speaking of which, it has no software component! It relies upon the Magic of the Internet to back stuff up/repair problems, in the event of an inevitable (if you’re me) catastrophe! So let’s imagine a scenario in which I attempt the upload of my 450GB of pure binary shit onto some fantastic ephemeral Apple Data Cloud in the middle of the night as my computer gently weeps, and think of the many exciting new dirty words I will accidentally invent! And what happens when the system wakes up cranky one happy Sunday morning when I am supposed to be vetting thesis topics and it can’t find its start-up disk! Those nakedly grasping brilliant Apple engineers! What a bunch of fucking cards! They should just start selling branded computer cases and let us put the parts in ourselves!

Also, ALSO, I bought the ($77! At Amazon!) Apple-approved optical drive that was supposed to complete the Mini, Cameron Crowe-style, but it had such a short cord I couldn’t even plug it in. Well, I mean, I could plug it in, but it looked like this, and obviously I couldn’t exactly sit the fucker on top of the computer itself. (The wifi antenna-thing is still in the top of the case, right?) Also it ate up one of my four (4) (IV) available USB ports, leaving me with three (3) (III) open USB interfaces and approximately nineteen USB devices, including hubs. Really amazing cool idea, you guys.

So I cried a little tiny bit and sent the entire thing back (for which I was out $12 shipping!) and started looking over used Apple sites for multiple-processor G5 towers, since it would’ve taken me several months to save up the extra $500 to get an iMac, even eating steamed rice every single night for dinner. But then my dad! Went to Best Buy without saying! And got me this!!! DAD YOU ARE THE GREATEST, FOR REAL. ONE DAY SOON WHEN I AM A MULTIMILLIONAIRE I WILL FIND SOMETHING REALLY EXPENSIVE THAT YOU LIKE AND BUY IT FOR YOU. THREE OF IT. EIGHT OF IT, MAYBE! LOVE YOU LOTS, DAD.

So: I have a new iMac, suddenly! What? Yes! Everything about this computer is perfect and amazing, I am dangerously in love with it. Well, actually, there’s some sort of bizarre annoying Lion-related Bamboo Driver/Preview/TextEdit bug that causes the “write anywhere” window to appear and eat all my pen gestures every time I open either of those programs, but that’s not the computer's fault. That’s Apple’s fault. They’re dicks. (I’ve sent them three bug reports, the bastards.) (So far I am treating the symptoms with Xee and Byword, but I’m still hoping for a cure.)

But the moral of the story is: Do your best to foster the impression, in your parents, that you are intellectually child-like and thoroughly incompetent, because then they will buy you shit. (It helps a lot if that is more or less the way you actually are, anyway.)

So now I am basically completely penniless, and I won’t start getting paid again until the second week of September when I once again begin teaching mysteriously entitled 22-year-old college sophomores how to write complete sentences, the end.

Also, speaking of which, I have been trying to Write Something for the last nine days, and Things Are Not Exactly Going As Smoothly As Expected. So, rather than wangsting tenaciously over that (MY BRAIN CANNOT CONTINUE COCKBLOCKING ME FOREVER, CORRECT? I MEAN, EVENTUALLY AFTER MANY YEARS I WILL HAVE TO DIE OR SOMETHING?) I thought I would do that thing I do where I write strange long whiny ‘reviews’ of movies everybody else saw eighteen months ago. And that’s what I did: Ta-da!



THE TIME-TRAVELER’S WIFE:
The characters in this movie are the worst characters ever. They aren’t even Danielle Steel-grade romance-novel people. They’re like particularly attractive, boring Muppets, discarded by the Henson empire for being too unconvincing. Looking at them for two hours hurt me, in my eyes. A lot. But, The Time-Traveler’s Wife itself, by contrast, is worse: There’s this real dumb jerk named Henry, who has inherited (how? HOW???? more on this later) a ‘genetic mutation’ (haha) which causes him to flow backward and forward through time, like sands through an agitated hourglass, like the days of our aimless lives. During his time-travels, Henry repeatedly appears in some boring meadow someplace — among other random, equally boring places — where he meets the lovely but boring, um, Rachel McAdams’s character, and they fall in love. Eventually they get married, boringly, and Rachel McAdams turns out to be some kind of an artist (what? she’s so boring) and she keeps getting mad at Henry because he’s always vanishing on her, like literally, he literally vanishes on her — even though she’s known that he’s chronologically-challenged since she was maybe nine. In fact, it was his time-traveling tendencies that brought the stupid boring douchefarts together in the first place. You think she’d be happy he was a time-traveler, if she actually loved him as much as she says she does. Nope, wrong, guess she’s lying! (The subtextual elements of characterization in The Time-Traveler’s Wife are of course very sophisticated and brilliant, as you have probably surmised from context.)

Eventually Rachel McAdams has a hissy fit because she can’t have Henry’s baby, because baby-having is the “normal” thing this silly idiotic boring cow wants in her silly idiotic boring life (AND EVEN THOUGH SHE’S KNOWN THAT HENRY WAS A TIME-TRAVELER SINCE SHE WAS FUCKING NINE, AND HEY MAYBE A THING LIKE THAT COULD REALLY COMPLICATE A RELATIONSHIP, WHAT DO YOU THINK? HMM?), and apparently their fetuses are always, for serious, 100% on the serious, time-traveling out of her uterus, so she keeps having miscarriages. This is the point at which I genuinely began to hope that everybody in The Time-Traveler’s Wife would be run over by a cement truck, on camera, and end horribly with their guts leaking out their ears, because I hated them like burning fire. Yes, why not pass on to a helpless child your tragic, life-ruining genetic flaw, you selfish, awful cunts? That would be the “normal” thing to do, right? I hope you both die in a fire, you ghastly revolting monster people, I thought, watching this extremely emotional, character-defining plot arc unfold onscreen. Tragic life-ruining genetic flaws are the least of your fucking problems. Anyway, and despite my well-reasoned objections, they finally have a kid (yay!) whom they name “Alba” (presumably “Biel” was already taken by some other time-traveling family) who is (of course) a time-traveler but who is also slightly less stupid than Henry, which is, on balance, not much of an achievement even for an infant. Then Henry dies, very hilariously. Then, after he’s dead, past versions of him continue to time-travel into and out of the linear filaments of his wife’s and daughter’s mortal lives, preventing them from moving on from the trauma of his death and ending their prospects of happiness forever, the end.

In terms of the movie’s actual narrative, though, that all came off even lamer than I made it sound. The most interesting thing about these characters, as I may or may not have mentioned, was the physical beauty of the actors portraying them, which is the awfulest of signs in this sort of movie. And also, also, the movie was not really about the time-traveler’s wife at all, which is not so surprising given that she was a vastly unsympathetic feminine cipher whose unseen emotional pendulum swung from “incoherently understanding” to “incoherently petulant” and back to “incoherently understanding” for no perceptible reason. And the entire substance of Henry’s existence was irritating, slap-dash, hapless Forrest Gumpery — even his terrible untimely death was a dumb boring accident. Ultimately, The Time-Traveler’s Wife’s banal portrayal of Henry’s “disorder” was somehow almost perfectly pointless, and so his too-dopey-for-the-X-Men mutation wasn't really elevated to the kind of epic blessing/curse status that you’d typically see in even the goofiest superhero film. Henry was less a Passover question than a hastily-scribbled deli order. (ZING, I AM ZING.) The only thoughts I had about Rachel McAdams’s character were: 1.) ‘Gosh, she’s pretty!,’ and 2.) ‘She’s so fucking boring, how good an artist can she possibly be?’ They should’ve named this movie The Time-Traveler’s Boring, or maybe just Boring, and issued an MPAA warning for the pro-life, anti-reality wank. Awful! Two thumbs in my butt, because I’m that mad about it.

INCEPTION:
I’m thinking that this one time some painfully rich and stupid Hollywood people were getting really drunk somewhere, or something, or hookers and blow maybe, they all love hookers and blow, and then one of them was like, DUDE DUDE WAIT LET’S MAKE A MODERN ADAPTATION OF THE MATRIX BUT WITH A PLOT THAT’S EVEN MORE STUPIDER! BUT WAIT I KNOW LET’S HIRE CHRISTOPHER NOLAN TO DO IT, HE IS OFTEN ABLE TO CAUSE ABSURD THINGS TO LOOK SLIGHTLY LESS ABSURD ON FILM, and then they did, and that movie was Inception. On the other hand, it is kind of hard to genuinely dislike a movie that features a magic choo-choo train as a major leitmotif. (Also I believe the film’s pivotal scene is set inside the holodeck of the 90s-era starship Enterprise, which is pretty fucking great right there.)

Materially, Inception is a series of highly stylized, meaningful action sequences dispensed for the viewer by glossy-haired, ladyfaced male super-operatives (sub-operatives?) who are hyperseriously engaged in business-sexy pursuits like wearing fancy suits, shooting guns, and punching people. Hott! Also: What is up with all these characters’ pitiful-ass, unimaginative dreams? I mean, I know the movie was intentionally placed within ‘mazes’ of manipulative, artificial fantasy constructs, but please do tell me I am not the only person in the whole world whose dreams fail to be möbius-shaped, purposeful, commercially-sponsored urban horrorscapes. Why couldn’t Leonardo DiCaprio incept somebody at the space zoo with Gloria Loring and Robert Benchley, like a normal person? That would’ve been a lot more realistic than what actually ended up happening. At the end, when Cillian Murphy was discovering the substance of Peter Postlethwaite’s dumb incepted will (AND THAT'S A VERY REASONABLE PREMISE YOU HAVE THERE, BY THE WAY), I was, for some reason, expecting to witness some real, random dream voodoo* — like, say, the secret brain-safe turns out to contain a salami sandwich, or a tiny green singing buffalo who belts out a surprisingly emotional rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” or a partially-forgotten, naked recitation of Shakespeare’s eulogy for Julius Caesar, delivered for an audience of blank-eyed malicious popular kids from high school. Or something. That is how dreams happen. Dreams do not involve the careful, origami-like folding of giant historically-significant French buildings onto one another; they involve articulate insanity and humiliating symbolic nakedness. (Right? RIGHT?) And speaking of which: Wherefore the pants? So many pairs of pants, gratuitously covering so many excellent manbutts. The lovely dudes of Inception were lucky to be inserted into the mind of Cillian Murphy’s character (whose name escapes me), who had an Elektra complex but no bicurious impulses. Had they found themselves inhabiting, for example, one of my dreams, they would’ve been nekkid and boning each other like skeletons in a trash compactor in three seconds flat (“skeletons in a trash compactor,” yummy). In fact, had Inception been set in my head, its plot would have looked like this:

“You're waiting for a butt-train, a butt-train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this butt-train will take you, but you don't know for sure. But it doesn't matter. How can it not matter to you where that butt-train will take you?”



There were other nice things about Inception, such as the fact that while I was watching it I didn’t want to stomp on Ellen Page’s neck even once, and Tom Hardy’s long blond eyelashes (and the rest of his, you know, face), and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s inability to pronounce “Saitou” (and his, you know, face), and also too speaking of which the fact that Ken Watanabe’s character had a real Japanese name and was hardly regarded as an instrument of solemn Oriental minstrelsy at all (AND ALSO HIS INTOLERABLY GORGEOUS FACE AND HIS BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL EYES I AM ONLY HUMAN WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME). Wasn’t loving the lugubrious subtext of Marion Cotillard’s plot thread, in which she functioned as a fatal guilt-siren sockpuppet, or worse, as some sort of ridiculous exotic moonflower, doomed by her beauty to blossom and then die. I guess her morbid hysteria was intended to be balanced by Ellen Page’s manifestation of the movie’s anima — Ariadne was a competent GPS pixie, orienting Leonardo DiCaprio steadfastly and successfully toward the labyrinth’s exit, which is Life. But, I mean. That is icky. It is really, really icky. This, officially, is what every hack writer in the world sees when he looks at a woman, then: a symbol of something exciting. Yuck, man. One of these days someone’s going to put a lady in a movie, and, like, she’s just going to be symbolic of a person.

A girl can dream, right?

But I suppose Inception was calculated to be uniformly “symbolic” all the way through anyway (check out that authentic-looking shorthand depiction of "research," for example! “research" involves sad little binders filled with photocopied newspaper clippings and brainstorming and writing painfully stupid things in big block letters on large sheets of paper for everyone to focus on, apparently! exactly like 7th-grade gifted class!), and so I can’t really hold Ariadne’s allegorical tendencies against her — probably all the characters personify the fragments of Cobb’s trauma-fractured psyche, battling his death-urge with the tools of corporate subterfuge? Um? Because, uh, DiCaprio is “Dom,” the dominant, male, calculating, fore-brained element of the Inception persona, ineffectively striving against “Mal” (ew, why?), the bad, female, primal, lethal desire to sublimate your ego utterly, to close your eyes to the world, to sleep instead of live, to dream instead of reason. And then Arthur is the rigidly adroit, perpendicular superego and Eames the movie’s resourceful, thought-having, flamboyantly misleading id? And Mr. Saitou represents the army of superhot Asian men who haunt your every sleeping moment? Or is that just me, again? Yeah? But that’s pretty boring, not to mention fucking medieval, so I like the other way better. And, again: If my unconscious mind contained any artifacts that resembled Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Tom Hardy or Ken Watanabe or Cillian Murphy, let alone all of them together shooting at stuff with big sexy Freudian guns, I would be a major Lunesta addict with massive wrist-related repetitive-stress injuries living in a house with prophylactic wall-to-wall mattress flooring, just in case.

Otherwise I thought Inception was just about the bestest seinen animu ever, much better than source, great job, two thumbs up, and also some fully-dilated jazz hands, and I am literally hoping that every single movie from now until forever features a beautiful guy in two-thirds of a bespoke suit flying down a hallway, and finally I congratulate Leonardo DiCaprio on somehow — and despite being successful and critically-acclaimed and extensively fapped-over — having made a career out of crafting lead performances so joyless and sodden and dour and depressing that I am actually beginning to feel kind of sorry for him, in real life. (Also he has an amazingly gigantic manga-style head, which helped to visually tie the two major themes of the film together.) (Those themes would be “choo-choo train” and “nihonshiki lalala,” for those of you scoring at home.)

AND LASTLY, ALSO, TOO, TOO, ALSO AND VERY IMPORTANTLY TOO, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “SUBCONSCIOUS MIND,” YA’LL!!!!!! NOT EVEN IN THE MOVIES!!!! THAT IS JARGON FROM AN HISTORICAL VERSION OF PSYCHIATRY SO HEAVILY DISCREDITED THAT NOT EVEN DR. PHIL IS WILLING TO BUY IT. YOU SOMETIMES MADE MY INNER MARION COTILLARD FEEL VERY STABBY, CAST OF INCEPTION, WHEN YOU WERE NOT STANDING AROUND LOOKING FREAKISHLY PRETTY OR PUNCHING SHIT :@


* And I know, Inception is no Eternal Sunshine; it r sum srs bidniz, rite — but then this happened, and I was like, THAT IS IT. THAT IS THE LAST STRAW. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE. THIS IS A VERY STYLISH CELEBRITY BEAUTY PAGENT WITH ALARMING ARCHITECTURAL PRETENSIONS. That is also the point at which I decided I was going to hold Inception’s misogyny against it, as punishment for repeatedly siccing upon me the same incredibly stupid set of plot demons. I mean. So, fine, Eames has a bigger gun than Arthur. That is terribly funny, and it is also a joke that I have never heard of or seen before, okay. Yes. But if Eames can manage to dream that he has such a huge gun, why can’t he go ahead and dream himself up a thermonuclear device that kills everybody but hot people? It’s not as though there’s some sort of internally-consistent inventory of absurd things that are allowed to happen in incepted dreams, upon which pocket rocket launchers are perfectly feasible but hunk-sparing bombs are dangerously self-conscious. Right? And also, having pulled the trigger, why couldn’t Mr. Eames dream himself hypothetically bullet-proof? Why can’t he dream he’s Superman? Why couldn’t Mr. Saitou dream away his chest wound? Why is everybody’s unconscious mind populated with a finite number of armed and hostile people? Why are they all driving late-model SUVs? Why are they people? Why not a few rottweilers, or highly trained attack-giraffes in panzer tanks, or something? And how are the inceptioners able to hide from them, anyway? A dream is not a location, nor is it “set” in a location, like a story or a film or an actual event; a dream is nothing, in fact, but private mental noise. So then, trying to hide yourself inside somebody else’s sleeping brain would be about as effective as trying to unobtrusively climb into their underwear with them at the airport without anybody noticing, correct? And why does everybody in this movie keep constantly referring to a “dream within a dream” every three minutes? There are no dreams within dreams. There’s only ever one dream at a time. A dream might have several interlocking parts, but it’s still turtles all the way down. Once you go to sleep and begin dreaming, inside the dream you do not become a separate biological organism with discrete anatomy and a self-sustaining arrangement of brain chemicals who can take drugs and get shot and go skiing and other shit like that. The whole idea of “inception,” since we're talking about it, is not so much “science fiction” as it is “comedy time,” which is fine, but have you ever taken a recreational gander at this movie’s reviews? (Cf., cf., cf.) Then again? It’s a valid argument.

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF:
This movie was so unwatchably bad and so uniformly off-putting that I’m not even going to bother to insult it, but I will tell you that I fell repeatedly asleep during its “climactic” fight scene, which was extremely loud in addition to being narratively useless. Also I am pretty sure that the producers of this terrible thing have negatives of all the super-famous celebrities who appeared in it having sex with goats. Or, you know, possibly the same goat. At the same time. It was that bad. (But two thumbs up for perennially hot Rosario Dawson, who somehow invested her three lines of incredibly stupid dialogue with humor and human-like feeling.) (That was one lucky goat!)
No thumbs at all. PERCY JACKSON STOLE MY THUMBS.

THE OTHER GUYS:
This movie was kind of cute and funny, I think, despite the presence in it of Will Ferrell, but I watched it two weeks ago and now I quite literally cannot remember anything about it :[
Two thumbs up? Why not.

CRAZY HEART:
This was a “grown-up” movie, and I really liked it a lot despite the fact that it managed to nimbly elide pretty much every genuinely creepy feature of the impressionistic country-music scene (like the fact that 87% of modern country music is a series of unintentionally self-deprecating cliches about Wal-mart and terrorists, designed to pander exclusively to the lucrative ‘illiterate racist xenophobic misogynist teabagging Jesus-humping stripper-licking trucknutz-buying asshole’ demographic, and the other three songs are about dead or dying kids), but I don’t have much to say about it except to point out that I know many people who are strongly reminiscent of Jeff Bridges’s character pre-redemption, and he did a crushingly awesome job of portraying that particular set of dead-end circumstances. Also, when he ‘lost’ Maggie Gyllenhaal’s little boy and then drunkenly attempted to behave like a normal human in front of the police, his panicked voice somehow had the sound of edema in the lungs that old alcoholics get after they’ve been drinking whiskey every morning for twenty-three years, how did he do that? Wow! Also, the end of the character’s semi-far-fetched, mostly off-screen sobriety arc somehow came off really believably, because that is how you act in a movie, son. Also, Colin Farrell can sing, nearly managed to pull off a tolerable ‘Southern’ accent, and is cute even with a greasy-looking ponytail! Who knew? Two thumbs up.


That was really long! Probably I should post more often, so there’s less chance of these huge tumescent word-monsters escaping unchecked into the unwary wilderness.

Lastly: CONGRATULATIONS YOUR THIRTEE WON TOO!

Now I am going to go address my e-mail situation. (“HELLOOOOOO, E-MAIL SITUATION!”)

cf.

ETA: UGH THIS FUCKING POST. DID DREAMWIDTH'S HTML EDITOR SPONTANEOUSLY GROW SOME STANDARDS IN JULY OR SOMETHING?
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