Monday, March 07, 2011

A pleasent enough diversion.

Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-day Comedy.

I finally saw the Mormon version of Pride and Prejudice. Overall, I enjoyed it. It’s hardly the best movie I’ve seen, or the best Mormon comedy film, or even in the top five of Pride and Prejudice adaptations, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I had a few weak points, mostly from the film editing, which was so obviously a novice job that it distracted from the movie at times (most jarring were the odd pauses in conversation created by the film editor not splicing various takes together very well). There were a few odd plot points as well – the Wickham character is, for comedy reasons, made a bit too dorky – so it’s hard to see why the Jane character fell in love with him.
However, I think the adaptation was mostly successful. I laughed often enough, so it’s clear I enjoyed myself while watching the movie. I think the part where Darcy explained why he told Wickham that Jane was engaged to another man worked very well, and the sacrament meeting talk was hilarious, mostly because it was too true (as a single guy at BYU, I heard way too many passive-aggressive sacrament meeting talks like that).
A lot of critics said this movie did not require an understanding of Mormon/BYU culture to enjoy. That is true – to an extent. The movie never explicitly states any of the characters are LDS, but frankly, it seems to me the movie requires some knowledge of Mormon/BYU culture to truly understand. The LDS references are not overt, yes – but they are used the way Mormons use them with each other. The movie is a lot like a conversation at a Ward Potluck. You’re talking with a fellow Mormon, and you rarely ever explicitly tell each other you are LDS. Instead, you make a lot of references to “The Ensign” (as this movie does) and other shared concepts. That’s the way this film works. Viewers could understand the broad strokes and about half the humor without any knowledge of the culture behind it all, but I find it difficult to think they could actually enjoy it to any real extent.
But if you are Mormon, this is a fun movie that’s worth your time. Not great, but there are a lot worse movies out there, and this one is a pleasant enough diversion.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In which one of the most burning questions in history is finally answered?

Which of the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies had the best rap song for its theme?

The contenders are
1. Partners in Kryme - Turtle Power
2. Vanilla Ice - Ninja Rap
3. Psychedelic Dust featuring Loose Bruce - Turtle Jam

Now, a good theme song needs to have some applicability to the movie it's part of (unless it doesn't - as the Veggie Tales veggies state in "This is the Song that Runs under the Credits": There should be a rule that the song under the credits/Remotely pertains to the movie’s basic plot/That rule has not been made).

However, when determining which of the three Ninja Turtle raps are the best, it's clear that the first place to look is at how well it pertains to the movie. On that score, "Turtle Jam" from the third movie fails utterly. It barely even lets you know that we're dealing with Mutant Ninja Turtles. The rhymes are uninspired and the similes lacking ("like my man DeNiro" makes no sense except as a lazy rhyme). Listening to the song, you'd get the idea that the turtles are from the sewer and they "kick some shell." That's about it. The turtles do get name checked, but you learn nothing about their personalities or situations. Less than 10 percent of the lyrics could be changed, and the song could be about Charlie's Angels, the cast of Firefly, or even the Brady Bunch on a particularly aggressive day.

Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap" suffers from a similar problem, but almost gets a pass because in the movie, it's part of the plot and the conceit of the song is that it's improvised on the spot, during an actual battle. Thus, Mr. Ice would not have time to understand the players or the situation. The song works as a nice, generic rap about why ninjas are cool and should win fights against bad guys, so in the context it is presented, it doesn't fail utterly.

However, it was done by Vanilla Ice.

Partners in Kryme's "Turtle Power", on the other shell, stands head and shoulders above them all. After the song you know the basic personalities of the various characters, the set up for the movie's plot, what's at stake - and you've learned a valuable lesson about how to "stand for what you believe in/and find the strength to do what's right." Clever rhymes, specificity, and a good moral that's not shoved down your throat. It succeeds on all levels.

Thus, the first is the best. Now Western Civilization can rest at ease.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I have a job

As I have said many times before, I should keep this blog up more. Well, now that the divorce is finalized and I finally have a job at ASU, I might be in some emotional and financial shape to actually devote some time to blogging. Or not. We'll see.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Update on me for the new year

Still looking for a full-time job - just got back from Philly for an interview with USC at the MLA convention.

Right now, though, I will be coaching the Homer Middle School wrestling team for the next two months. Which makes me a rival with my dad, who's coaching the Vosnesenka jr. high wrestling team. Last semester, I was the assistant coach (in charge of conditioning) for the Vosnesenka High School wrestling team.

I'm also doing a lot of substitute teaching. We'll see how things work out in the near future.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Against my better judgment, I watched 2012.

Here's my two sentence review:

I liked the movie better when it was called Independence Day. Why Roland Emmerich felt the need to remake his own movie, I have no idea.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Zombie Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised

I've been thinking about the Zombie Apocalypse lately. See, this is not a recent cultural fad, but a literary motif that goes back as far as humans have been creating literature.

Don't believe me? Read the Epic of Gilgamesh (one of the oldest liteary works in existence, it dates to at least the 7th century before Christ). In it, an angry god threatens another god with a Zombie Apocalypse:
"Father, give me the Bull of Heaven,
so he can kill Gilgamesh in his dwelling.
If you do not give me the Bull of Heaven,
I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!"

Another translation:
For if you do not grant me the Bull of Heaven,
I will pull down the Gates of Hell itself,
Crush the doorposts and flatten the door,
And I will let the dead leave
And let the dead roam the earth
And they shall eat the living. The dead will overwhelm all the living!

So, there you have it. Nearly 3000 years ago, poets were talking about the Zombie Apocalypse.

{Yes, I am aware of translations that say "eat food like (or with) the living" which makes the threatened calamity more like Malthus gone wild than a zombie uprising. Zombies are cooler than Malthus, though).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

As everyone must know by now, Walter Cronkite has died.

Here's a link to an old post where I review an audiobook by and about "the most trusted man in America."