Friday, May 10, 2013

American Idle

We do not have cable, which is close to admitting that we have no electricity. We realized the ROI was getting pretty slim. Even before that, I found myself not really interested in what television offered. I watched but didn't invest.

I am now in a state where I don't now recognize many of the people on the cover of People, let alone the the supermarket tabloids. This leave me uneasy. All this culture in which I swim, passing me by. Okay, I know who the Kardashians are but am pressed to say what their hold on us is.

So anyway. I saw a bit of American Idol last week. The last (perhaps only other) time I saw the show, Simon Scowl was still a judge, and the talent was at a much more amateur level. My recent viewing, I guess the competition was well along; the singers were competent and they had accompaniment. But the fabrication was just as taut as before.

The orchestration endemic to the show is a political nuisance, and always has been. Simon of course played it the best. His commentary was mean and republican: you're all equally bad. His pleasures were concessions to the idea of winning, and winning big. The other two judges, Paula and Dawg, were there to pretend hope existed. Hope has always been a nice story line in this country.

The latest set of judges showed less centre. Whereas Simon anchored the centripetal force, no one really holds the chain with this latest bunch. Nicki Minaj comes the closest. Her comments seemed unrepentently sour. She's balanced by the cheerful Mariah Carey. Supposedly there's tension between the two, which is just the respected theatre we feel that we need. Folksy hip Keith Urban adds a thoughtful note, and R-Dawg is R-Dawg. I checked Wikipedia, by the bye, and Randy Jackson has serious cred as session bassist and producer. Cred on American Idol is simpler, he just has to say Yo Dawg.

The three singers competing were all women. I don't know if categories exist in the show: male, female, group. The singers all sang heartfelt ballady tripe. Excuse me, I sound a little impatient. I guess they're effective songs, just not on my turntable.

Each singer had a taped session with Harry Connick Jr before performing live. He'd joke with them in a friendly, folksy way then tell them how great they were. Shrug.

After an enthusiastically received song by one of the singers, Nicki Minaj directly said that something was missing. Well first she said she liked the singer's pants. Minaj noted that the singer didn't commit to the song enough. Plausible, tho not perceptible to me. Surprisingly, Mariah agreed, tho she said so in a nicer way. Keith agreed too, but allowed that nerves and pressure effect performances. And so on.

That's the keynote to the show: it goes on. Ryan Seacrest hosts the show, taking the media mogul crown from the now completely dead Dick Clark. Seacrest has no rough edges, is just politically there as a process of containment. Basically, he runs the republic. His blandness, like Clark's, lets him into our homes as the Mayor of Distraction.

And since we have once again had terrorist attacks here in the U.S., thank heavens for the distractions. The patent says that America gets together to worry about American Idol. Well, the country worries about Bachelors and Bachelorettes too, which to me is an amazing insight into our country's soul. We're watching people pretend to date!

I'm sure this goes on in other countries, I'm just not up on the latest data.

I know Idol is losing ratings and, flashpoint, Randy Jackson, as well. People are right now discussing how irreplaceable Dawg is. Honestly, why do I know this?

That Idol exists doesn't bother me. It's the professional wrestling of entertainment. Maybe Nicki Minaj (from parts unknown)has a foreign object in her hand as she points out a performer's failing. It's a zestless subject of conversation, the probity of catastrophic political muteness. That's the less good side of this crap.

Of course that Benghazi tv show has become popular, and we're still watching reruns of Boston Marathon Mayhem. I think the perpetrator did it. They usually do. And we need to know that perps are responsible. Makes things nice and clear.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Ironman 3

Saturday, 5/4, was Erin’s birthday. Twelve years ago on the same date, he had four stainless steel pins removed from his femur. The pins held the bone together so the breaks could heal. He was in study mode this past Saturday, so he and I went to the movies Sunday. Pretty full house, e’en tho a beauty day. New England is good for fine days but doesn’t often string them together like this past week. Anyway, the trailers:

Well jeez, everything explodes! I know there‘s no reason to get thoughtful, but why are we so excited about explosions and crashes? I don’t know from Fast and Furious, but I get the faked up dynamics of crash, vengeance, and super-powered nothingness. The franchise is up to six, and I have no doubt you could not tell the episodes apart. Oh this is the one where the car crashes and spewing guns represent justice. Justice, sir, is what I hand to you.

Marvel has Thor comin’ at us. The comic that I remember, Thor flickered between the mighty god and the limping mortal. The first Thor movie strained too much at the soap opera sentiment, Marvel’s gift to comix. Went nowhere near the limping mortal. The best parts of that movie were the interactions of god world with this one. It looks like this next one dishes up the next Armageddon, again.

Marvel also exudes The Wolverine this summer. I don’t find the character, or Jackman, interesting. Wolverine seems like the type who would engage you at a party with how his liposuction operation didn’t work out, I mean it’s all on his sleeve. Okay, he’s a hunk, maybe the human growth hormones he takes gives him a rash. Let’s just say his gravitas seems a bit phony.

A Hunger Games sequel seems prodded. I stand posted as having little knowledge of Hunger Games, but this seems like tripe. I care for none of these flicks, waiting on Star Trek. At least no animated blockbusters in the offing.

Oh yeah, the Lone Ranger. Of some interest to me, but it looks too explodo. Seems like nowadays, scale = explosion. Putting the explosion into a less explosive era just rocks too hard.  I never saw Downey’s Sherlock Holmes but I glean from the trailers that they’re not a matter of grey matter but instead action hero. Which is an off note (and more) for me.

Ironman has one resounding resource: Robert Downey Jr. I cannot think of an actor with a more ready, flip delivery. I know nothing of acting but I think there is effort and craft in his flip delivery. He commands the rhythm, so that you don’t know what to expect, tho the set up is obvious. His effort and understanding carry the film.

I missed the 2nd I-man. There seems some effort at continuity. I know there’s reference to The Avengers.  Comic continuity has always been a bete noire, like anyone could make sense of all the plotlines.

The plot of I-man 3 is simply a petrie dish in which things happen. Add zingers and and explosions and you’re done.

I only vaguely remember The Mandarin from the comics. Sort of a Fu Manchu arch-enemy type. Today’s worst nightmare. In 3, he is firstly served as an Osama Bin Laden cubed. He takes credit for mysterious bombings that don’t offer any evidence of bombs.

I started to flinch when the Mandarin appeared, because it gave off the odour of let’s get the Muslims. Moreso, bombings as entertainment shows an odd panache. I mean, after the heart-rending and hand-wringing of the past month. Ben Kingsley does a lively job with the character, tho. Ominous and crazy, with an interesting rhythm. We feel better, it seems, when that one crazy person is identified. That guy is our problem.

In a flashback, Tony meets with an attractive lady scientist and a wild-looking crackpot science type. Both are just bumps in the night for pre-enlightened Tony Stark. More later, of course.

Tony suffers post traumatic stress disorder, apparently from the Avengers movie. It’s good that the writers have heard of such a thing. Gywneth Paltrow is tiresome, I’m afraid. I think People named her the most important something. In the first I-man, she appeared so that it could be said that she appeared. I think she shall continue to look 25 for a few more years. Can’t last forever, and what are we going to do then? Not really to blame her for that, it’s just a cultural rule that a 40 year old Paltrow would be unacceptable. Same with Jennifer Aniston. Same too with Tom Cruise, as I think of it. Even tho it’s okay for men to age.

Tony Stark, finally ready for action, challenges the Mandarin to bring it on, going so far as to give his Malibu address. Attractive lady scientist comes to warn Tony about crackpot science type, now somehow a hunk. Then Mandarin’s choppers attack the Stark compound and everyone almost gets hurt.

I think I-man flies away. Pepper takes ALS to safety only… Perfidy! ASL and hunky crackpot are in cahoots.

Tony ends up in snowy Tennessee on a snowy Christmas Eve. His Ironman costume is broken. He meets a young boy who is fresh from some Frank Capra movie. There’s a cheesy back story there. Luckily, Stark snarks, and the malevolent attacks on our heartstrings are neatly averted. Some great lines between Stark and the kid. Downey gets next to the people when he acts. Even with the big apparent ego, he’s there with the other actor.

Thru out the movie, bits of I-man armour fly about, often to satisfying slapstick effect, but sometimes gimmicky distraction. Kinda wonder why that bit stuck.

There’s an I-man prototype that works for the government, with Tony’s friend Colonel Somebody inside.This must have shown up in I-2.  A bad guy gets into that suit and attacks Airforce One. El Presidente is snatched, and a hole in the plane causes many to be pulled from it. Rather than freeze to death immediately, all 18 decide to plummet until I-man manages to collect them all and place them safely in the ocean. From there they wave to the hero. Nice!

I guess I should mench that ALS developed a something that allows regeneration. Prob: unstable: causes people to explode. Which is the answer to the bombings.

Anyway, it looks bad for the Prez, bad for Colonel Somebody, bad for the world. Tony finds the Mandarin’s compound and, well, it turns out that the Mandarin is a fake. He’s an actor. Kingsley plays him as a small time actor. Kingsley has fun with the role. This guy is supposed to be an innocent figurehead but in one scene, he kills a man. He has captured a businessman then, by invading everyone’s television, including the President’s, he kills the guy on tv.

The movie is pretty violent, in the careless way we like it. Bad people die and sad people die, everyone else can worry about justice.

So the guy behind the Mandarin is hunky crackpot. He shoots ASL when she evinces a moral streak, and so, well, gotta bring it to the mat. Colonel Somebody joins Stark fighting the bad guys with the most explosions possible. An army of Ironman suits aid the good guys. Pepper appears to be dead after a fall into an inferno.

The final battle, I-man vs whack job, is the usual unmeasured mess. They trade vast blows with no effect. Still, it looks like Stark will be toast until… Pepper Potts blasts fire thru her mouth. She’d been infected by the same thing as the whack job. Dunno why this particular attack worked. But it cooked him.

After that, a check in on everyone. Oh by the way, the vice president was somehow involved in the evil plot. The end suggests that Tony Stark may be quitting the superhero biz. We’ll see about that.

It’s fun to watch tho there is a lot of relevant stupid going on, in all these possible flicks. It’s not much different from the stupid in real world, like, okay, for instance, the actions and reactions, the explanations and panic, surrounding the Boston bombing. Magic fire will come out of our mouths and solve all problems. Count on it.