Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

It's hard to describe this Werner Herzog documentary. The title has two meanings. Drawn to the South Pole and its various research labs by stunning underwater photography, Herzog films a number of people who are doing research projects. At first, it seems like a documentary about scientific research, but he becomes fascinated with the mindset of the kind of people who would leave society and come down to the land of endless daylight, far removed from human civilization? What draws them there? What do they hope to find? What is there to see? It's not just people; in the most haunting moment of the film, Herzog's cameras watch a penguin running away from its home, in the opposite direction of its food source, out into the forbidding wastes and the mountains of madness. The penguin researcher tells us that even if you were to stop the penguin and turn it on the correct course, some sort of derangement would just turn the penguin back around and it would keep going. I still think of this penguin. Where was it going? Why was it going there? What called it to run off from the protection of its society and leave everything behind? And that's, of course, the second meaning of the title; the film doesn't just go down to the world's furthest southern point. Herzog is also contemplating the extinction of mankind, and the way we have used our resources and taxed our planet. Herzog seems to feel that it's too late to turn around now; we're on our course, and even if we could be turned around now, perhaps we would just keep going, like that little penguin, optimistically rushing towards our doom, for reasons even we cannot explain. ****

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are the titular couple, sappy in their romance, and who want to make things better for the grumbling and bickering Donald Duck and Daisy Duck. Very cute. ****

In one sense, it comes across like a Veronica Mars reunion episode. It's for the fans. On the other hand, what impresses me is that it doesn't feel like you have to have seen an episode of the show to enjoy it. It enhances the movie, sure, but I don't think it's integral, and that's something I didn't expect. Of course, as one of the movie's many Kickstarter backers, I'm biased and it's entirely possible I'm not being completely objective, because I'm just so glad this movie even exists. And it's good. ****


Yasmin said...

I have been waiting for you to write about the Veronica Mars movie! I bought it on itunes the day it was released and just found out today that it does show in theaters here in Germany! And not even that far away from where I live. I don't know whether I will be able to go see it, though. Most of the showings are in German(foreign movies are usually dubbed here) and I missed the one that was in English in the town closest to where I live today. There is another one on sunday a bit farther away. Which would be perfect on one hand because sunday is my birthday and I turn 30 and I am really, really close to a breakdown. Which is also the reason why don't think I'll make it. I don't drive and though public transportation is good, the thought alone is freaking me out... Sorry for telling you all this, I guess I don't really have anyone.
Anyway, the movie. I can't be objective either. I'm just so happy I can add another thing to my yearly re-watch of the series. And I want more. It made me so happy last week on a day I really needed it and will watch it again on birthday, even if it's at home, because I know it will make me happy again.
Which pop culture references did you catch? I only caught three and I know I must have missed some..

SamuraiFrog said...

Oh, boy, I need to watch it again and count the references this time, because I was just so caught up in the movie. It made me so, so happy. And when it was over, I turned to my wife and said, "So, when's the sequel?"

I'm not going through the best time right now, either. You can tell me whatever you need to. I know exactly what you mean about this movie; it made me happy on a day when I needed it, too. It was just a ray of sun at just the right moment.

Also: I love James Franco. Him being in it, playing a parody version of himself, was just that little extra bit of heaven for me. I just love the guy. "You're never more than two degrees from James Franco."

Roger Owen Green said...

You should watch The Adorable Couple again, too. The Daughter records it, but the ending got cut off, so we watched it again on demand.

Tallulah Morehead said...

You're a Kickstarter "Backer" of the Veronica Mars movie? How much do you get if it makes money? Because, in the land of show business I've worked in all my life, a "Backer" owns a percentage of something he or she backs and gets money back if and when it makes money.

Did Warner Brothers thank you for your donation? Because I'm sure they're enjoying the money the movie is making for them but not for you filmed on your money and not theirs.

I do not "get" Kickstarter, nor why folks struggling to get by and keep body and soul together are giving away money to millionaires and giant corporations when they get nothing in return.

Did you even get a free ticket? Because, I don't know how to break this to you, but Time/Warner Inc. is a lot better off financially than you are, so why you'd donate money to help THEM BUT NOT YOU make money, I can not grasp.

SamuraiFrog said...

Why would you assume that I hadn't thought of all of this in the past? You clearly do, since you're talking down to me like I'm an uninformed child. I have really never understood what it is you personally get out of trying to make me feel bad about being a fan of things you're not into or don't like or don't "get."

I'm going through a really low, depressed point in my life right now. I saw a movie and it made me really happy. You can think that's ridiculous or you can think I'm stupid all you like, I just wish you weren't so classless about it.

Tonio Kruger said...

For what it's worth, I liked the Veronica Mars movie as well. And I'm surprised it's getting such a negative reaction from people. Especially when I remember all the godawful trailers I saw in front of it. Am I really supposed to believe Veronica Mars is worse than, say, Tammy?

Tallulah Morehead said...

I'm not "trying to make [you] feel bad about being a fan of things {I'm] not into or don't like or don't 'get'."

I said nothing at all about your love of Veronica Mars. NOT ONE WORD! My comment was about Kickstarter.

I was asking why you were subsidizing Time-Warner Inc. THAT'S what I don't get: giving money to a huge corporation to help bankroll a movie, regardless of what the movie is, without being treated by Warner Brothers as a true investor and having profit participation. It's not about content, it's about finance.

You saw the movie and it made you happy. Good. I'm glad. I saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and it made me happy too, but all the money that MGM, Warner Brothers and Wingnuts Films got out of me was the price of my admission ticket. (Later they'll get DVD money from me also.)

To me, Kickstarter seems really to be a con that allows millionaires to get folks scraping by to just give them money, no strings attached. Kickstarter makes no sense.

Further, using Kickstarter encourages the rich cowards in the Studio boardrooms to pull this stunt more often, and tell more fans: "Look, you want a movie of so-an-so that you love. Fine. YOU pay for it and we'll make it and pocket all the profits, thank you" only without the "Thank you."

Warner Brothers is not a charity.

SamuraiFrog said...

Yes, I've gone over this before. I didn't invest anything in Warner Bros; I invested in Rob Thomas and the makers of Veronica Mars because Warner Bros. would not make it and I wanted to see the goddamn movie.

No one who backed the movie on Kickstarter is under the illusion that they've financed some kind of indie film. But no one went into it for the purpose of subsidizing a conglomerate, either. We wanted to see this movie and were put in a situation where this was the only way to see it. Is it an ideal situation? Obviously not. Is it going to encourage people to abuse Kickstarter? Exhibit A: Zach Braff. I get it. But I can live with my decision because I got exactly what I wanted out of it.

(And yes, we got digital copies and will be getting Blu-Rays, so it's not like we have to keep paying for it. And surprise, Warner Bros. fucked up a lot of the digital copy release. If anything, the ABSENCE of Warner Bros. from this situation would've made the movie easier to get to the people who wanted it most.)

I know you said nothing about Veronica Mars. I can read. What I was referring to is your condescending tone where you assume I'm an idiot just blindly doing what a movie studio tells me to because I don't know any better. The same tone you continue in your second comment.

I made a decision--one I thought very carefully about--that you wouldn't have made. I don't have to defend it to you. If you're curious as to why I would do such a thing, it is possible to ask in a less disrespectful manner, rather than trying to make me feel stupid because of it.

Roger Owen Green said...

Tallulah- Frog is perfectly capable of defending himself here, but frankly, you've rather pissed me off. It's HIS money, and he gets to spend it any way he damn well sees fit - it was a minimal amount, as he noted elsewhere, in any case.

I've backed a dozen different Kickstarter projects, generally because I want to see this book or this movie or that film be made, with mixed results.

But there are lots of things that don't make sense to me: selfies, LinkedIn, reality TV, Nancy Grace, to name a few. And if someone else likes them, that's fine. (Well, except Nancy Grace.)

It's REALLY BAD FORM to go to someone else's blog to dis him about something he's done because it doesn't fit your world view.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I'm just trying to understand it, because it makes no sense to me.

"I invested in Rob Thomas and the makers of Veronica Mars"

No, you didn't. You donated money to them. Investors get profits.

I'm glad to hear you got a digital copy and a Blu-Ray from it. That's at least some tangible return, though it's literally the least they could do.

Roger Owen Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Owen Green said...

TM - OK, maybe this will help: it's an emotional investment, manifest in monetary terms. Three times I read just this week that an entrepreneur ought not to create a customer, one should create a relationship.

That's why people root for Olympians who they'd never heard of in sports they don't understand; they root for the story. Frog is investing in his relationship with the Veronica Mars franchise, that, in his way he owns (not in a fiduciary way but in an emotional way) the story.

I feel the same way with most of the Kickstarter projects I've supported. I wanted that Bill Plympton film to be restored; it was important to me that it happen. I got an early copy of the film, but derive no profits from it (if there even WERE any), and that's fine, that's what I signed up for.

Or maybe Frog & I do it out of the goodness of our respective hearts.

SamuraiFrog said...

Here's something that no one really understands, because I don't like to talk about it: I have a guilt complex about spending any amount of money on myself. I don't feel comfortable with it, and I don't feel, deep down, like I deserve any amount of happiness. So it is very, very hard for me to let myself go. Any purchase that I make is something I have to consider for a very, very long time, even if it's something as essential as food or hygiene or clothes. I wore pants that were too small for 10 years because I felt guilty at the idea of having any comfort.

As part of my therapy, I'm supposed to be learning to let myself do nice things for myself. This is very hard for me to do, because I have a very deep-rooted notion that I don't deserve things, and it is turning out to be extremely hard to overcome that.

So I let myself have this very rare feeling of being part of something, perhaps in part because Veronica Mars fans are one of the only fan groups that haven't made me feel like an asshole yet for liking the Prequels or not hating L. Sprague DeCamp or questioning Obama or any of the other things other groups have chased me away for liking.

This is a low time for me right now. Very low. My therapist almost sent me to the hospital the other day. I am on a suicide watch right now and am going to daily check-ins because I really want to hurt myself.

But I let myself have one thing. And it made me very happy to be a part of and extremely happy to see the result of. And I talked about how happy it made me online. And now, OF COURSE, someone has to come along and berate me for making myself happy because he doesn't approve of or understand or agree with the way I spend my little bit of money.

So now, that thing that I felt good about--gone. Now I feel as guilty as I hoped I wouldn't. Now any happiness I could have felt about my decisions has been erased, and now I just want to sit here and do nothing and be catatonic some more.

I know that wasn't your intention, Douglas, but you have to let this go now. Find someone else who gave money to Kickstarter and berate THEM for a while. I do not have to justify my spending to you. You are being (and continue to be) monstrously rude about this, and I am done. I am over this. You have made me feel terrible. You win.

This is the only time I'm going to say this politely: this conversation is now over.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I did not "Berate" you. I just tried to find out why you would donate money to millionaires. You've explained it now. Glad you liked the movie.

Why would you allow me or anyone else to control your emotions? Not that I was trying to, as making you unhappy was never my intention. But why would my disliking KICKSTARTER make you feel bad about liking a movie you like? Why grant others that power?

Yasmin said...

Seriously? I'm going to try and only speak for myself but do you really think it's that easy for people with psychological problems, mental diseases or however you want to call them? Reacting in a way that could be considered inappropriate or not fitting the action (I'm struggling a bit to find the right terminology since English is my second language) is a big part of my disease. It's not a choice or something I can just switch off because I have realized the error of my ways. It's something that takes a lot of time, strength and therapy to learn and is connected to a lot of deeper rooted issues. And maybe you writing 'why grant others that power' comes from a good places but I bet all it does is making SarmuraiFrog even worse and as he wrote, he really doesn't need that right now.

SamuraiFrog said...

Yasmin, that's exactly right. This more or less reminds me of the time when I talked about my agoraphobia, and someone's advice in the comments was "You just need to go outside." When I said that was probably well-meaning but unhelpful and only made me feel more like there was something WRONG with me, he was totally unapologetic and stood by his useless advice. Incidents like these are more ripples in a pond that I fear will never be calmed. Being bullied and disrespected doesn't help that.