Just because there’s more of you, doesn’t mean you’re right…

Speaking of Internet rage, I Just wanted to put it out there, so that I have something to refer to in two years’ time. Yeah, so in case you just woke up from a coma, none other than Ben Affleck has been cast as the next Batman in the upcoming sequel to this year’s “Man of Steel”, which is supposed to be a Batman/Superman crossover. And again (and pretty much on the same day as the Joss Whedon thing happened) the Internet has crapped its collective pants in the violent episode of nerd-rage and to this day – three days later – it still stinks… Wherever I turn, it’s really difficult to see past the feces-hurling and name-calling, because for the vast majority of the Internet vocal hate-club Ben Affleck is as good as dead as an actor and to take on such an iconic character of The Caped Crusader can only be seen as a slap on the face of everyone out there.

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I’m not even going to delve into the subject deeper, because it’s not my place to comment on casting decisions, especially in light of what I’m about to say. As somebody who has grown up alongside the Internet revolution, I should only remind everyone that the phenomenon of the World Wide Web has not so much spawned, but brought to the public light the collective problem of humanity – the fear of change. We know all too well that we tend to like what we know and fear (and dislike) the unknown and different. That’s about as close as it gets to the foundations of racism, intolerance and a whole slew of other modern problems we struggle with every day. Combine all that with the anonymity the Internet provides and we can bask in hatred all day long, just because somebody somewhere is trying to force a change down our throats.

But change is good and it’s what we need to evolve and further ourselves as humans, and more often than not what we had feared so terribly in the first place, ends up being our next favorite thing in the whole world. ‘Who needs iPads anyway?’ you’d have asked yourselves a few years back – now you probably own one (or its Android equivalent) and cannot imagine your life without it; that’s how addictive toilet gaming is… But I digress…

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So let me dig out some dirt, if you let me, because I simply can’t stand the overwhelming abundance of non-creative memes that attack my poor sense of vision every time I look something up online. As the old adage goes (and if there isn’t an adage like that, there damn well should be one by now), the Internet forgives, but it never forgets. And it didn’t forget what you all felt when you heard that a Brokeback-brat Heath Ledger was going to become the next Joker in “The Dark Knight”. Hell, even Jack Nicholson wasn’t having any of it, partly because he wasn’t even considered for the role, but to leave a character of that magnitude to a prince Charming was just a bridge too far. It’s amusing to read all that profound wisdom from where I’m sitting now, but it wasn’t all dancing and singing back in the day. It got to a point that Nolan himself had to explain his casting choices to fend off the pitchforks and torches.

And do you remember Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man? Well, it didn’t get all that nasty, but there was a good crowd of nay-sayers voicing their disdain about it all too loudly. And Daniel Craig as the next James Bond? I reckon none of those brave hate-mongers who prophesized doom to “The Dark Knight”, “Iron Man”, or “Casino Royale” will admit how terribly wrong they ended up being. Therefore, I’ll reserve judgment until I’ll have seen Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Sure, he’s made some terrible films in the past, but let’s not overlook that he is  a talented man of film (universally acclaimed and thusly awarded) and I think we might be in for a surprise with this one. But I hope to God he’d ditch Bale’s bat-voice…

Oscars Recap – All Hail Tarantino!

tarantino oscar

Yes, you heard me! That’s right, I said it and I’m not taking it back! I couldn’t be happier than to see Quentin walk away with an Oscar for the best original screenplay. After all, it is his crown category. There. I’m happy.

The Academy Awards have been awarded, the champagne has been drunk, the carpets have been rolled back in, the tuxedos have been laundered and the limos have been returned to that place that rents limos for Hollywood extravaganzas. It’s all gone now and we can now recollect Seth MacFarlane’s inappropriate jokes, Jennifer Lawrence’s slip up on her way to the stage, Quvenzhané Wallis’ doggie-shaped purse or suspiciously large amount of male Oscar recipients with long blonde hair. Continue reading

Is “Argo” too much?

I don’t really want to write a full-blown review on “Argo”, as it is for the most part in the limbo between the theaters and DVD release and it would be rather hard to just go and watch it now. But I do feel compelled to share a few thoughts on that film and it’s not exactly the film itself that I have the need to express myself about, but the potential discussion it may open and fuel together with the fallout it may bring.

Don’t get me wrong, I think “Argo” is a great story that really had me bolted to my seat. But it touches on the subjects that are tainted with ambiguity in a way that leaves a bad after-taste. How do I put this? The story that “Argo” tells is just bound to feel wrong. It looks as though it was a fantastic film material, but I really don’t have a clue how Ben Affleck could have possibly presented it without running into the same problem all over again – having the viewer take sides in this morally ambiguous territory.

It seems to me that Affleck had a really hard time trying to decide what to focus on. On one side he had this wonderful story of human resilience, determination and survival that in any circumstances – fictional or otherwise – would make a fantastic movie, and on the other he had an excuse to have a say on a subject that is widely discussed and notoriously abused for political reasons – human oppression, power and the global image of the Muslim community. I’m afraid you just cannot have the cake and eat it too. You just need to pick one and Affleck, sadly, failed to make that crucial decision.

This makes “Argo” a very unusual experience. We are fed this almost constant stream of imagery taken from real TV programs, we see actual historic evidence of how the Great Islamic Revolution unfolded, we are given enough background to understand what had started it and we are given the opportunity to see that there were no good guys there. This is what documentaries are for. This is what we usually expect from the journalists to provide us with: hard data, good research and an honest unbiased opinion. On top of that, I might add, whenever a wildly complex topic is under discussion, the viewer needs a bit of guidance, so that he does not choose sides, at least prematurely. Otherwise you are not documenting history, but forging propaganda. There are of course fields, where something seems ambiguous and very grey at first, but good research can at least attempt to find a plausible unbiased explanation. This is not the case, though.

Argo

Source: pandawhale.com

So, when you get past the political and historic shell and follow the story, you somehow cannot help but root for the main characters. Why wouldn’t you? There you have it; a group of innocent bystanders who happened to find themselves in a wrong time and place are surrounded by violence and death. And as the CIA goes to ridiculous lengths in order to get them back home, the viewer is allowed to establish a personal connection with them. I couldn’t help crossing my fingers for them even though I knew beforehand how the story ended. And while it’s desirable in an action film or a thriller or what-have-you, here in “Argo” it feels out of place. Simply because Affleck (purposefully or not) right there portrayed the Iranians as the baddies and the Americans as the victims of oppression and I think that crosses the line. He made me subconsciously choose sides in a conflict where no-one is sufficiently qualified to do so.

This is the bane of “Argo”. At the end of the day, it’s the story that holds the movie together. The story that is very compelling, gripping and most of all – true. But it feels as if it was desperately trying to be a documentary when it’s the last thing it should ever aspire to be. While I do understand the need to bring certain issues to light, this story is by far the worst vessel for it. I think we do need to attempt to comprehend that The Revolution of 1979 cannot be spoken about in absolutes. It was a disaster waiting to happen, simply inevitable. Before we even begin to discuss it, it’s imperative that we try and wrap our heads around the sad facts of how people responded to oppression only to allow a different kind of morally uncertain people to take over the reins. However, it cannot and should not be put as a background to a story where the good Yanks have to fend off the bad Muslims. This subject needs more than that and as it stands “Argo” requires too much from the viewer. It’s far too easy to get radicalized while watching this otherwise great story. A story like that should either be presented in a non-emotional way (i.e. a solid documentary) or fictionalized altogether. Or maybe it should have waited in the drawer for a couple of decades until we learn to distance ourselves from certain things and certain topics crystallize into verifiable and unbiased history.