Monday, March 28, 2016

Movie Madness: "Ben-Hur" (2016)

Here's the trailer for the remake of 1959's Oscar-winning epic Ben-Hur, and I am all kinds of unexcited about this project, even if it somehow got Morgan Freeman to bring some dignitas by sheer dint of his voice:

Maybe the remake will surprise me and actually not be a disgraceful insult to the splendor and substance of the real Ben-Hur (i.e., Heston's, obviously), but I have my doubts.  Heston won the Best Actor Oscar for his turn as the complicated lead character, and I am pretty darn sure nobody's winning anything for the action-filled mess that is the remake if the trailer is any indication.

"Remaking what?"

When I watch the new Ben-Hur and write a review, I might end up having to rehash my Exodus: Gods and Kings review where I said:
I seriously contemplated framing it all as a "I'm sorry, please take me back, I love you!" letter to Chuck Heston. 
... Come on, babe.  You know it's always been about you.
I should never have left Heston's Moses aside to watch Christian Bale's.  It was no contest, and the storytelling was garbage.  Seriously, how do you screw THAT up?  Well, in much the same way people are probably going to screw up the Ben-Hur narrative, I guess?  Come on, the story is supposed to be about the fractured ties between Ben-Hur and Messalla, and the all the trailer can do is have Messalla yell, "Are we having fun now, brother?" like a snippy teenager.  Is that really the best you can do?

Anyway, people tried remaking Ben-Hur as a TV mini-series back in 2010 (yes, this really did happen), and that project made no impact whatsoever.  

Dang it, stop remaking Charlton Heston classics already!  

Contemporary movies are getting to be so much sound-and-fury, CGI pixel insanity kinds of nonsense (with notable exceptions).  Maybe I should start doing reviews of more classic "old" movies to remind everyone, myself included, not to forget the great cinematic achievements of the past.  Sure, they were all made long, long before I was born, but I'm a history buff: we shouldn't become so engulfed in the present that we forget the things that went before and start thinking that the short-term, attention-deficit cult of Now is the only thing that matters.

Longing for a hero on a white horse?  How about four?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter 2016! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

Best wishes to all for a happy, contemplative, and restful Easter!  This year's art of the Resurrection comes from Baroque Venetian painter Sebastiano Ricci and dates around 1715-16.  Currently it resides in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.  Click the image to enlarge for better detail.

Usually for holiday art postings I go for something from the Renaissance, but Ricci's vision has such a wonderful sense of color and composition.  Immortal angels and all-too-human soldiers alike are stunned by the sheer power of the figure of Christ risen in sublime glory.

For more Easter art (and related items), see the archives here.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Movie Madness: Terrible Movie Reviews 1, Ben Affleck 0

The reviews are rolling in for the much-anticipated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and they are pretty brutal.  Look, La Parisienne and I were sure from the get-go that the flick would suck, but "30% on Rotten Tomatoes" is the kind of soul-crushing, black hole level of suck that not even I thought the thing could plunge into.  That's barely better than the 26% rating of the worst superhero movie I ever actually paid to see (that would be Green Lantern from 2011 ... and I still want my money back!).

So when someone edited a sad, sad song into this snippet of an interview with Ben "Batman" Affleck and Henry "Superman" Cavill, the internet ate it up with a Schadenfreudelicious spoon.  This thing is equal parts tragedy and comedy, and I suppose I should feel bad that I laughed, but ... The dead, glazed eyes of surrender just killed me.  At the same time, bless Cavill for bravely - nay, even heroically - soldiering on with a smile.  Take a look for yourself.  Oh, dear.  Oh, oh, dear.

PS: In case you're wondering, I still intend to go see this train wreck ... but maybe I should see Zootopia first (it may be a cartoon, but it's got 99%!).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Help Wanted in Japan

Think you're up to it?

Care For Some Politics on the Ides of March?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Two ambitious senators have the opportunity to stop a pompous would-be tyrant from destroying the republic. To do so, they need to team up and take him down on the Ides of March.
Apply to Rubio, Cruz, and everybody's bête noireTrump.  Hey, the essay is good for a laugh, especially with this imagined Trump-ifying of Shakespeare's Caesar:
"And no one is more constant than me. No one. Maybe the North Star. Maybe. But I gotta tell you, the North Star gets hidden behind the clouds. It's true. It happens. But no cloud ever hides me. I can promise you that. Always I am Trump."

Quote of the Day: Ian McShane on "Game of Thrones"

The great British actor sums up the show in 5 words in this interview, which is itself well worth a read for its sheer personality.  By the way, if you've never seen McShane in Deadwood or Kings, you really should.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Absolutely Awesome: Solar Eclipse Seen From the Air

More delightful details here!

March Madness 2016 Is Here!

Had enough politics?  (Here's an interesting piece if you haven't.)  The rest of us, though, can rejoice that March Madness is upon us at last!  SO, SO HAPPY.  Feast your eyes on the official brackets for the men, and get ready to cheer for your favorites!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Movie Review: Don't Do What I Did

I've been collecting data for a while, and now I finally have enough to write this post.  File the following under I've made a huge mistake

I have a pretty high tolerance for silliness, especially in the name of "so bad it's funny" and therefore "so bad it's good," but sometimes a project has absolutely no redeeming qualities of entertainment whatsoever.  Please take my word for it and don't waste any time or money on these gigantic steaming piles.  They all get a grade of F, and in my world "F" means "something I'll never, ever watch again."

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Free Speech on Campus: A Depressing Update


Thank goodness for FIRE and sensible campus defenders of free speech like Chicago.  Remember, kids: speech codes are unconstitutional!  I should report, too, that not every campus is a basket case: the student government at UC Santa Barbara just voted in favor of free speech ... though I have to shake my head that this is even an issue at all.

Film Culture Commentary: Spectacle, Storytelling, and "Interstellar"

I've been thinking about movies lately (heck, anything is better than thinking about the current political campaign season!), and I owe you a review of Deadpool, so here's something for the interim. Check out this rather nice analysis of Interstellar (a movie I had reviewed here):

Nerd Scandal: Plagiarism and Crossword Puzzles

Well, well, well ...