Tag Archives: movie

A nice, slow, zombie movie

What I don’t get about zombie movies is how the zombie plagues inevitably wind up spreading so fast. It’s like, every movie starts out basically the same, everything’s fine, people are happy, there’s maybe like a random clue, a piece of background news or something about an unexplained riot somewhere else, and then it’s like a countdown, five, four, three, two, one, zombies.


And from that moment, it’s just nothing but zombies. You look outside and you’re like, what? Zombies? Only there’s no time to even really ask yourself that question, because a whole swarm of zombies is coming at you from down the street. And, oh look, your wife’s a zombie too, sorry dude, yeah, she did complain about not feeling so well, and was that a Band-Aid she had on her leg? You didn’t think to maybe ask her what happened, did it have any relation to the zombie fever she was burning up with?

Well, too bad, because now she’s trying to bite you, and go ahead and run out of the house, but the police are no help by now, the entire force has already collapsed from within. The few cops that are alive have undoubtedly secured whatever firearms they could grab before the zombies made that whole station a zombie cesspool.

Someone should make a zombie movie, but make the pacing really slow. Like maybe they could just start out with like two or three zombies. They’d be walking through the park, maybe they’d have their eye on an unsuspecting jogger, someone who stopped to tie her shoe at the wrong place and the wrong time.

And then right before they approach, some police officer shows up, he’s like, “Hey! Stop it! Leave that woman alone!” Of course the zombies won’t heed the warning at all, but he’ll try to interfere, and when the zombies try to bite, they cop just kind of whacks them in the face with his police baton.

So then some sort of an emergency crew shows up, they contain the three zombies, and nobody gets bit. Or maybe one person gets bit, I don’t know, but they keep him in isolation. Under quarantine, he eventually turns into a zombie, and now the heavy-duty government science teams are brought in.

Would they let the public know about this? Of course they would. Come on, not two years goes by without some ridiculous overblown epidemic scare. Everybody stay inside so we can spray the entire country with mosquito-killing chemicals because West Nile disease is coming. Did we say West Nile? We really meant SARS. SARS is going to wipe out the planet. Or swine flu.

If there was a serious zombie pandemic, you wouldn’t see random news clips in the background, clueless reporters standing in front of a riot saying things like, “Nobody knows what’s going on!” Everybody knows what’s going on. Everybody knows exactly when something even has an very small chance of turning into a disaster. Media thrives on this type of nonsense. A real disaster like actual zombies would be a frenzy.

Of course, I guess that wouldn’t really make for that interesting of a movie. I mean, I could picture it, the whole film being a regular family just watching all of the news safe and sound from their living room. Super boring, yeah. But come on, even that would have been better than World War Z. “The cure is, you have to be sick!” Oh yeah, thanks Brad Pitt.

You should watch Blackfish

If you haven’t watched Blackfish on Netflix, do it immediately. It’s definitely one of the best documentary films I’ve seen in my life. Composed mostly of interviews with former trainers at SeaWorld amusement parks, Blackfish argues that it’s barbaric and morally wrong for human beings to hold killer whales in captivity, that regardless of their ability to learn and perform tricks and other complex behaviors, orcas simply aren’t meant to be living their lives in these fish tanks, prisons really, where the lack of stimulus often leads to aggressive behavior not seen in the wild.


The movie is powerful. I watched it a few days ago, and I’ve been carrying around a pit in the center of my stomach ever since, a weird sort of indefinable sadness lurking in the periphery of my thoughts. I’m not like a whale lover or anything, I mean, I certainly respect the majesty and the intelligence of these creatures. We share the same planet yet they occupy a totally different world, experience reality in ways that we can only guess.

And that’s, I think, kind of the root behind why I’m feeling so down. That while I can guess as to how the whales feel, out in the wild, in captivity, I really have no idea, and I’ll never have any idea. One of the trainers in the film looks back at his time with SeaWorld, he remarks that he used to feel like he had a special connection with his whale. But after having been removed from the situation, he starts questioning, was it really a connection? Or was it merely anthropomorphized responses motivated by the fish used to reward each behavior?

Who knows what a whale is thinking? I look at my dog, who knows what my dog is thinking? And this is where I start to get really bummed out. We adopted our dog Steve when he was only six weeks old. We were living in Ecuador at the time, and this flea-covered animal, barely bigger than a baseball, was all but thrown at us by a well-intentioned neighbor. “Here you go, look, a puppy,” was the gist of it, and we raised him, we brought him back to the United States with us, giving this animal that should have been living on the streets a life of luxury and comfort.

But is that what Steve wants? I know that he likes to eat, and if I’m holding out a dog biscuit or a piece of rawhide, he’ll sit, he’ll lay down, he’ll give me his paws. But if the reward weren’t a part of the equation, is there any way he’d be doing what he’s doing? Steve spends a lot of the time sleeping on the couch, or looking out the window. Is there a part of him that wishes he had his freedom? How big of a part is it?

It all boils down to the fact that, I have no idea what he’s thinking. I look at him and I make assumptions based on his behavior that he’s happy or not happy. And I do love my dog, and I really do hope that he’s happy. When I come home after work and he’s jumping at the door, I like to think that he’s excited to see me, rather than just excited at the potential that I might be moved to ask him to do a trick to be rewarded with a dog biscuit. When I’m sitting down on the couch and he lies down on top of me, I hope to think that he enjoys my presence, that he’s not begrudgingly using me as a substitute for what should be physical contact with other dogs.

Whales aren’t dogs, I know that. I know that dogs have a history of domestication, of a mutual partnership with human beings that dates far back throughout history. But dogs aren’t people either. And I can’t even tell what other people are thinking most of the time. If you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll probably always smile and say, “Great!” But am I really doing great? Maybe. Maybe I’m super pissed off. But I just want to come across as cheerful, because that’s going to get me farther in life than being pissed off.

I guess I just have to do the best I can, to try my best to be empathetic, to treat everybody with compassion and kindness. But there are always a million other questions that I’ll never really be able to touch. Like what the cow feels as it’s led to the slaughter. Or what the cockroach feels as I stamp it out under my shoe when I see it running across my living room floor. It’s too much. These moral dilemmas, I don’t have any convincing answers to make myself feel better.

But seriously, watch Blackfish, because it’s a great movie, and it made me certain of at least one thing: don’t go to SeaWorld. Don’t support them caging those whales. Fuck that.

You’ve got to watch this great documentary

I had this thought earlier today, like I could be a great documentarian if I wanted to, that if only I had the equipment, and the knowledge of how to use that equipment, I’d make some of the best documentaries in the history of film. Like these headphones that I’m holding in my hand right now. Where were they made, in China? Where? That’s where I’d start. I’d take my crew, my top-of-the-line cameras and lights and unobtrusive microphone packs.


If only I had the time, and the money to be able to commit to supporting myself while I figured out which Chinese factory these headphones came from, and then even more money to book a flight, to gain access to the assembly line. I’m sure I’d have to talk to some sort of a party official. I guess I’d have to learn how to speak Chinese.

If only I could speak Chinese, I’d make one of the most gripping documentaries about Chinese people making mass-consumed cheap throwaway products, stuff that we get for free over here, like when we buy a cellphone, or when we fly on a plane. I’d follow around just one guy, like his story would embody my story, the story being, look at this man, he’s just a cog in the machine. But he’s a person.

I’d probably have to either bribe my way through whichever party officials would be in charge of allowing an American to just waltz in and paint this cinematographic representation of how bleak factory life must be for the average Chinese laborer, “Bleak, but tinged with hope!” again, my Chinese would have to be spot on, or I’d have to pay a lot of money for a translator clever enough to understand exactly what I’m trying to say, in English, while at the same time being able to deceive the party officials into making it like I’m trying to capture all of the positive aspects of China’s industrial workforce.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be as simple of pointing and shooting, like, there would probably have to be planned out questions, all of the filming employing multiple cameras, so that while he’d be pondering the answer to some existential question, something like, “What does it all mean?” I’d be able to switch between the two cameras, one of them aimed just off of the center of his face, his pensive stare positioned just behind where I’d be if you could see me standing behind the camera, and then the other camera would be a profile shot, and it would have some grainy filter, and it would be in black and white.

I hadn’t considered subtitles. I’d have to use subtitles, right? Yeah, definitely, if even just for my own sake, you know, assuming that I hadn’t learned Chinese. No way I’d be able to learn Chinese. I mean, I’m not saying that it’s impossible. I’m sure that if I absolutely had to … what I mean is, I think that my brain is physically capable of learning Chinese … but subtitles, definitely subtitles. What font would I use? Do documentarians have to outsource the font work, like they do in comic books? Couldn’t I just pick out something myself?

If only I was well versed in documentaries. I think I’ve only ever seen like maybe six or seven documentaries, total. That’s not a lot of real-life documentary experience to then use as the basis for my very own documentary. Or maybe that’s what I’d need, a complete outsider’s perspective. I’d show up at the documentary film awards and everybody would be like, “Who is this nobody?” and I’d win every category hands-down, even the judges wouldn’t be able to close their mouths, hanging wide open in shock, like, he did it, this guy just completely changed the genre forever, for the better.

I remember when I was in college I saw that documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. There’s this opening scene where George W. Bush is making some broad generalization about something, you know, I don’t even remember what he was talking about really, but the camera zooms out and it turns out that he’s golfing, he says something like, “Now watch this drive.” I remember thinking, man, fucking George W. Bush. If that guy spent less time golfing and more time governing, well, whatever, fucking Bush.

But now it’s like, every once in a while I’ll see something on right-wing news, when it’s a slow news day they’ll point the finger at Obama, taking a vacation, or playing golf. They throw out barbs like, “This president has spent more time on the golf course than any other president in history!” And I get so mad, I’m just like, back off, all right? He’s the president. That’s a tough job. Everybody’s got to unwind, right?

Love, Actually, actually is all around

My wife and I have this annual holiday tradition. Every year, she watches Love, Actually on TV, and each time, about halfway through the movie, I come downstairs and start making snarky comments and bad jokes, to the point where nobody’s having any fun at all by the end of the film. Jeez, when I say it like that, I sound like a huge dick. And, I don’t know, I’m not that big of a dick.


But Love, Actually, come on, in which darkest timeline have I wound up where this movie has taken on such celebrated significance? I saw it in the theaters with my wife while we were still dating, and at the time, yeah, I did nice things like that, went to the movies to see romantic comedies. We saw Two Weeks Notice, a bunch of other mostly Hugh Grant movies. As we exited the nine o’clock showing of Love, Actually that night, all I thought was, well, I guess that’s as bad as it’s going to get.

But no, she started watching it the next year, and the year after that. Each Christmas, the TV stations started playing it more and more. Every time I’d hear a significant buzz, groups of people waiting for the subway, talking about how much they love Love, Actually, stuff like, “Oh my God, I just love that movie. It’s seriously probably my favorite movie of all time. Love, love, love, Love, Actually.”

Last night was the 2013 viewing, and I caught more of the movie than I usually do, to the point where some of the stories didn’t ring any bells in my memory. Obviously I’ll never be able to forget the scene where Hugh Grant, acting as Prime Minister of the UK, gives President Billy-Bob Thornton some ridiculous speech about Britain being a small but proud nation, but other subplots, like the one about the office romance hindered due to that lady’s disabled brother, it was as if they’d been blocked from my memory entirely.

Which was probably for the best. If only I had stayed away this year. But I can’t help myself. I hear that ongoing Mariah Carey chorus and I just have to march in and start poking fun. And asking lots of questions. Like, is Liam Neeson that kid’s dad? I mean, I know the mom died, right, but do they address whether or not he’s the kid’s biological father?

To me, it seems as if he has to be the step-dad, like maybe he married this single-mother, and after a while she died, and he’s left in charge with this little kid who he really doesn’t have that strong of a connection with. Because their relationship is so over the top. “You’re in love? Well go get her! Run after her! Right past Mr. Bean, through airport security, go get ‘em!” If that were a real dad, he’d be like, “Hey, do me a favor, all right? Just stop talking for a second. Please. Just one second. I’m incredibly depressed around the holidays, ever since your mother died, it’s just me and you. Stop talking about your little kid girlfriend for a minute, please.”

And you talk about love, right? Half of the stories have nothing to do with love. What about the one where the guy falls in love with his best friend’s wife? First of all, I’m watching this movie and I’m like, who the hell is this guy? Why does he look so familiar? Then it hits me, he’s the actor who plays Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. And again, I wish I had never watched it this year, because now when I watch my favorite TV show, I’m not going to be able to shake the image of this guy wearing an oversized sweater holding up signs telling his friend’s wife not to make a sound so he can steal a kiss while he’s not paying attention. I’m going to be too focused on scrutinizing his fake American accent. Seriously, how do people do that? If I tried to talk in a British accent, best case scenario, everybody in earshot would mercilessly make fun of me, worst case scenario, I’d get punched, hard.

Or what about the story where the guy is cheating on his wife? I’m not trying to make a moral argument or anything, you know, because a story about a guy cheating on his wife, in a romance movie, you don’t really need some guy like me pointing out how out of place it is. But from a logistical standpoint, it really bothers me. Like, he buys a necklace for his mistress, OK. Why don’t you go shopping for jewelry like on the way home from work or something? Why insist on taking your whole family to the mall, and then making the worst attempt ever to sneak out of their sight for a second so you can buy a necklace? Isn’t that a little reckless? It’s stupid, is what it is. And then, you’re not into your wife, fine, but maybe buy her something a little nicer than a CD to at least pretend that you give a fuck about her not finding out. Doesn’t she even say something earlier, like, “Is it just sex? Or is it sex and love?”

What’s the message here, that true love is all about perspective? That regardless of how bad a situation appears from the outside, somebody might be caught up in true love? That actually sounds kind of legit. Holy shit, did I just figure it out?

I could go on all day, but I’m clearly in the minority here. Love, Actually actually looks like it’s here to stay, and for the long haul too. I can just picture myself as an old man, this movie’s going to come on and I’m going to force myself to sit there and provide asinine commentary, pitching the same lame Love, Actually jokes. Remember when I said before that I wasn’t that big of a dick? I guess I can be kind of dickish, but only when Love, Actually is on. I don’t know, it just brings out the worst in me. It’s a good thing that all of the follow-up imitation ensemble movies always bomb at the box office, like He’s Just Not That Into You, and I think there’s a Valentine’s Day one also, the sister from Seventh Heaven is in it. OK, I’m done. I’m going to be sick. Wait, no, OK, I held it in. Wait, it’s coming back. Yeah, I’m definitely going to be sick. Yep, I did it, I threw up. Gross.

Steve Jobs: The blog post

You loved Steve Jobs, the book. What a page-turner. You bought one copy as an actual book copy, and then you bought another book as an iBook copy. And then you read one page from the book and the next page on your iPad. But something happened with the synching, like the pages weren’t exactly the same numbers, and so you wound up reading certain paragraphs over and over again.


But that’s OK, because those paragraphs were awesome. You loved that book, Steve Jobs. And then you got really pumped for the Jobs movie. Finally. It’s bad enough that you had to wait all of those months after he died to read an official autobiography. But now it’s been almost two years since Steve Jobs died, and we’re only just this summer being given a proper motion picture treatment of his life, his work, his beard.

You drank the Steve Jobs soda. Crisp, refreshing, exactly the flavor of soda that you didn’t even know you were thirsty for until you saw it in the refrigerator at Seven-Eleven. That sleek white can, it just said, “Jobs,” and that’s how you knew it was the official Steve Jobs soda, not those unlicensed, “Steve Jobs: the soda,” cans that came out two weeks ago, some opportunist trying to make a quick buck with an unofficial soft drink. Pathetic.

You always go for the official Jobs brand, like those official Steve Jobs windshield wipers. You’ve changed the wipers on your 2009 Ford Taurus two, three times. And each time, yes, they worked reasonably well after installation. But six months in, that squeaking sound. The last time you replaced them, they faced a different angle, claimed to wipe a bigger percentage of the windshield. But the Jobs wipers wiped an even bigger percentage. A much, much larger surface area. Still not a hundred percent, that would be impossible, you know, barring one, giant, horizontal wiper that wiped top to bottom, over and over again, but that’s a little unrealistic.

And it wouldn’t be that cool white, like your iPod, like the Steve Jobs official backpack. Although that one came in a really cool black also, but not a regular black, it was a matte black. You still bought the white though, a Jobs traditionalist, the only kind of tradition that really defies convention. Officially.

Like that official Steve Jobs haiku released last week:

Steve Jobs was so great

I wish he were still alive

I loved him so, so much

Did you see that extra syllable at the end? Classic Jobs, ever the innovator. I wasn’t supposed to post that here, so if you just read it, you really should go to the iPoetry store and buy your own copy. And then you can read it as many times as you like. While you’re there, you should check out Steve Jobs, the sonnet, the limerick, and the acrostic. Each one of them, truly, inspirational, a real game changer, to the world of poetry, to the English language. Even this blog post, even though it’s an unofficial Steve Jobs blog post, it’s talking about Steve Jobs, I’m writing down the name Steve Jobs.

And so you get it. Steve Jobs was our generation’s Thomas Edison. Right? Only, when you think about it, all Edison did was invent a light bulb. Well, and other stuff, the record player, something with magnets. I don’t know. Maybe that was cutting edge a hundred years ago, but come on. You take all of Edison’s greatest inventions and they don’t even compare to Jobs’s worst invention. And yeah, that’s kind of a moot point, because Jobs didn’t have any worst inventions, or innovations, or whatever. I’m just saying, light bulb, iPad, I’ll stick with the iPad thanks. I can always just download a light bulb app. And then I’ll never use it, because there’s no need to, my bedroom is already plenty illuminated by me reading Steve Jobs again, the white background is brighter than any stupid bulb.

Can anybody lend me a few thousand dollars? I really want to buy up every seat for the Jobs midnight showing tonight, so I can watch it by myself, in a big theater, and then I can walk out and see everybody else lined up for the next showing, and I’ll just look at them and say stuff like, “I’m not going to say anything, just … just … wow. Just wow. Just really, you guys are in for a treat, you guys are just … wow … you guys are just, really, really … holy shit man … wow.”