Rewatched Zero Dark Thirty

Rewatched Zero Dark Thirty last night. Simply reinforced my view that this *was* the Best Picture of 2012, Oscars be damned. I knew it back when I first saw it, and it's still just as captivating and enthralling today. Kathryn Bigelow's direction here is right up there with the best that Spielberg and Cameron have given us, with a confident, muscular drive that never lets up and feels authentic to the events. I also found that the rewatch allowed me to see more of the subtleties that they layered throughout the film, like a shot of Maya's shadow reflected in the middle of a framed, tattered American flag. Hidden gems in a larger tapestry.

Bigelow does for the hunt for Bin Laden what Paul Greengrass did for 9/11 with his seminal "United 93." It's grounded, serious, and utterly mesmerizing to watch. You feel all 10 years of the hunt through the movie, which makes the final 30 minutes of the story all the more impactful and cathartic.

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Review: Noah

I enjoyed it. The slow pacing gave it a real portentous and grand feel, which seemed appropriate considering the setting and events. They had to extrapolate and add some filling to the story, since the actual Flood story is only a few short paragraphs in the Bible, so I was fine with stuff like the Nephilim being rock monsters who helped Noah. Actually got kinda emotional when they exploded and flew up to heaven.

Russell Crowe does a good job portraying a man who's almost driven insane with mystical visions. It's a rather extreme interpretation of the heroic figure of the Bible, but I liked the ambiguity and uncertainty that he wrestled with throughout the film. Noah's weighed down with an unimaginable burden and we got to see the effects of that on an ordinary man in a harsh, unforgiving time.

The only real issue I had was that I felt Ham's story was a little half-baked. The movie seemed like it had an idea of what it wanted to say with him, but never fully committed to it. He betrays Noah and gets ready to kill his father, but then flakes out and it's never spoken of again. He sees his father naked and then... just up and leaves. It feels unsatisfying and unresolved.

Oh, and maybe the whole vegan thing could've been dropped. I'm not sure why they had that in there. The Bible doesn't really say anything about eating meat being an evil trait. It felt weird just having this message of only eating veggies, when the Bible explicitly says "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you" in Genesis 9.

6.5/10

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Legend of the Galactic Heroes

As far as sheer scope and ambition and world building go, it's hard to find anything to match the anime LOGH. Based on a series of acclaimed novels by... some Japanese guy, the four season, 110 episode run of the main anime series (there are supplementary side stories that add another 52 episodes to the total count) was painstakingly released over a period of 9 years, from 1988 to 1997. While ostensibly about a bunch of Admirals fighting space battles with huge fleets, it's really just a canvas to allow for a meditation upon the nature of democracy versus authoritarianism, and questions whether a poorly-led and corrupt democracy is actually favorable to a well-led, meritocratic dictatorship. This is some heavy stuff, and you might question whether it comes off as ham-handed or preachy in the course of the show. Well, I think it's a fair question, and you'd be right to be skeptical if these themes were introduced over the course of a two hour movie. It might indeed end up feeling incredibly blunt and inorganic. Yet since LOGH has the entire breadth of 110 episodes to deliver and develop on its ideas, they end up being carefully woven into the fabric of the show to where it feels mostly natural and unobtrusive.

One of the LOGH movies is titled "My Conquest is the Sea of Stars." If this were used in some franchises, it'd probably come off as pretentious and overblown, yet it feels completely appropriate in LOGH. The overarching plot unfolds across vast empires and with a cast of over a hundred named characters. The truly immense interstellar battles do indeed feel like they take place over a sea of stars. Fleets of thousands of starships fill out the vast canvas of space like tiny pinholes in the curtain of night. While there are some actiony Star Wars-esque scenes from time to time of individual fightercraft dueling one another in the lonely void between larger warships, the emphasis is clearly on the macro view of the battle, with thoughtful admirals manipulating wings of a thousand ships at a time with the tranquil wave of a hand. The show is a vast departure if you're used to something like Star Trek, where a single ship can make a difference and often seems like the entire universe, with every corridor and engineering room memorized like the back of one's hand. In LOGH, there's simply too much to show to dwell on the layout of a single battleship.

Like a jigsaw, the individual pieces are somewhat baffling and might not connote much importance, yet slowing piecing them together gradually reveals the masterwork. This is the attitude you have to take with LOGH, which is completely worth the 110 episode investment, but individual episodes start slowly and bring in characters whose importance might not be felt until 15-20 episodes down the line. This grand approach to the universe requires patience and dedication, but also gives it a nuanced scope and scale that other series may never match. Just be ready for a slow burn, the first 5 episodes are especially plodding in their pacing.

What I really enjoy about LOGH is that it tries to stay away from a lot of the awful tropes of other animes. There isn't a young teenage boy who's the central hero. The main protagonist here is an actual adult. Sure, he's still a really young admiral, but hey... he's an adult. Later in the series, they slightly go back on this, but for the most part you won't feel perplexed by watching a series where all the important characters are teenagers trying to act like elite soldiers. There also aren't any ridiculous samurai robots with lightsabers or interdimensional starships transforming into giant robots or little school girls singing about love. The LOGH starships are very utilitarian looking and fire lots of lasers in straight volleys, old school naval style. It feels hard sci-fi, at least to a certain extent.

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Godzilla 2014: The Godzilla origin story that's not about Godzilla

One of the big disappointments for me was how this wasn't Godzilla's story at all. It really felt like it would've been, from the promo trailers and ads, but nope. It was really all about the MUTOs, with Godzilla as this side character.

First scene with the excavation of the underground cave and dinosaur skeleton reveals... the MUTO eggs. Then we see one of the eggs has hatched and gone tearing down the side of the island. The entire focus of Serisawa's team becomes the study of these MUTOs.

Then the power plant disaster that claims the life of Walter White's wife is... not the result of Godzilla at all. It's the MUTO attacking that ruins the Brody family's lives. This MUTO ends up hibernating at the plant for a decade.

We get back to the power plant ruins and they're monitoring the MUTO egg. The mysterious and tantalizing electromagnetic pulses that Walter White has been obsessed with for the last ten years are being generated by... the MUTOs. They're not being generated by Godzilla, he's got nothing to do with them.

Then the egg hatches and the newborn MUTO rampages and kills our most interesting character. It's not Godzilla that kills this father figure and leaves Ford with another tragedy, it's the MUTO.

Then we get aboard the aircraft carrier and find out that there's a Russian submarine that's been attacked and somehow landed on Hawaii(?). Now, Godzilla has had a long history of attacking submarines. It's kind of a tradition in his movies. We've got the Russian sub that gets sunk in Godzilla 1984 and threatens to ignite the cold war. Then we've got a nuclear sub owned by Mr Shindo that's sunk in Godzilla vs King Ghidorah 1991. Actually, he sinks an unseen Russian sub in that same movie. Then he sinks a US submarine in Godzilla Tokyo SOS. So it seemed cool that they'd bring back this submarine-sinking tendency in the new movie.

They send out special forces teams and they do find the sub, which has its nuclear missiles being eaten by... the MUTO. Not Godzilla. The MUTO's the one who wrecked the sub and drains its nuclear power. How disappointing.

So now Ford's in Hawaii as well and we get to see his tram derailed and wrecked by the MUTO. Not Godzilla. The MUTO's in charge of everything that's happening in the movie. All we've seen of Godzilla has been him tranquilly swimming alongside the US naval fleet, with his spikes sticking out of the water. The MUTO's wrecking everything in Hawaii and helicopter gunships are pouring fire on him. This is a nice military vs monster scene, but it's all about the MUTO. Then Godzilla shows up but we cut away and there's nothing to be seen.

So then we move from Hawaii to the US mainland and the MUTOs go and wreck Las Vegas. Nothing to do with Godzilla. The atomic waste reservoir is breached and we see the MUTOs off in the distance. The military plan calls for nuclear missiles to be used. So we're on a train heading for SF. But wait... a monster attacks the train. And... it's not Godzilla. I think Godzilla's still swimming alongside the US fleet, with his spikes poking up out of the water. The MUTO is the one that's attacking the train, and we get to see Ford trying desperately to hide from its senses. The MUTO wrecks the train and devours a missile. Once again, we're focusing on what the MUTOs are doing.

So the one remaining nuclear missile is placed in the Bay Area but... it gets snatched up by the MUTOs. Now the MUTOs have placed it in the middle of the city. Godzilla arrives, but he's only there to stop the escalation caused by the MUTOs. He simply reacts. The MUTOs are driving the movie's momentum.

So no, I don't think they did a good job of introducing Godzilla for the first time to a new generation of moviegoers. They didn't tell Godzilla's story, they told the story of the MUTOs. Which I think would be fine for a regular Godzilla movie in a series of movies, but doesn't feel satisfying at all when this is the first one and supposed to bring Godzilla back to prominence. As an origin story for Godzilla, it's really, really misconceived.

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Review: The Postman

Boy... the critics were right about this movie. What a bungled mess it turned out to be. The Postman, based on David Brin's acclaimed sci-fi novel, has somehow been turned into... a Hallmark Channel movie by Kevin Costner. The post-apocalyptic premise is genuinely captivating, but the movie's unfortunately full of tremendously hokey, saccharine, and corny scenes that are seemingly composed with a timid, unsure hand. These languid and lethargic scenes also combine to form a film that's three hours long, when Costner only seems to have devoted enough thought to fill up one hour's worth of script. On the bright side, the movie has been filmed with rather beautiful cinematography, and there are many sweeping shots of scenic vistas that evoke nature documentaries of the American Northwest.

Acting wise, I found Will Patton's General Bethlehem to be a great movie villain. He's got all the hallmarks of a modern age Hitler, but Patton also succeeds at subtly hinting at Bethlehem's past life as an unremarkable salesman. I'm only familiar with Patton's work as Captain Weaver in the show Falling Skies, and I can see now why they picked him for the show. The guy's fantastic at portraying a leader with a seemingly iron will, while hiding inner vulnerabilities from his men.

Kevin Costner never seems completely sure of himself as the Postman and gives a strangely halfhearted performance. His attempts at delivering humor in the rare instances where it's available completely fall flat, such as when he announces that all dogs must be leashed, or when he states that residents must claim their mail at the bottom of a dam, after climbing up a steep flight of stairs to the top of the dam where the town is. The legend around the Postman grows and he eventually attracts an entire outpost full of eager young mail carriers who would die for the mail, yet you never understand why because Costner's sketchy performance never gives the heft or gravitas or personality necessary to make it believable. Olivia Williams is more of a sure presence in the movie and she does an admirable job of presenting a tough frontier woman, but sadly she's saddled with terrible lines of dialogue, with the winner being "You give out hope like it was candy in your pocket" which can't help but induce groans. In movies, you're supposed to show, don't tell, so I can't understand why Costner felt it necessary to tell us so forcefully the entire message of the movie.

Part of the problem with the movie's runtime is that the entire first act is completely unnecessary and could have been discarded without any loss. It's nothing more than the experiences of the Postman being a prisoner/forced conscript in Bethlehem's army. This seems to be solely so we can see how terrible Bethlehem is. Well... that's not needed, since we can clearly see how terrible Bethlehem is in the next two acts of the film, where he butchers and rapes innocent villagers. And the few characters the Postman meets in this beginning act are all completely wasted and killed off at the end of the act, so they don't even factor into the remaining film.

The lowest point of the movie is the ending, where we get some inane ceremony scene in the future where they unveil a bronze statue to the Postman, positioned on horseback grabbing a piece of mail from an eager young boy. It's a reenactment of a previous scene where he nabbed the mail from a boy, yet it's so perfectly captured that I struggle to understand how they could have gotten every detail right. Then a man in the audience tearfully chokes and utters "I was that boy!" Oh brother... like it wasn't obvious enough. Thanks for clarifying it for the dullards in the theater. The whole scene is heavy handed, maudlin pap that belongs on the Hallmark Channel and feels completely unworthy of being in a serious post-apocalyptic story. When Roger Ebert reviewed The Natural, he complained that it was simply "idolatry on behalf of Robert Redford." I disagree with Roger about that one, but I do think that's a perfect way of summarizing The Postman. The movie is simply idolatry on behalf of Kevin Costner.

4/10

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Review: Predator

The great thing about Predator is that it's organized so well that you can enter during any of the three acts and get into an enjoyable, well-realized ministory. The first act is Dutch and his men against the Colombian guerillas and the film has only slight inklings about the true danger they face. Then the second act is about Dutch and his squad gradually piecing together the alien mystery and facing off against an invisible sci-fi foe. The third and final act has Dutch reduced to the barest essentials, finally relying on his wits to go against the Predator, hunter vs hunter. All three of these ministories are satisfying and effective in their execution, and so you're able to hop on at any point in the movie and get immersed real quick into the proceedings.

The movie doesn't really try and do anything innovative or revolutionary. It's more of a meat and potatoes action flick, just pumped up to the very heights of craftsmanship. A muscular, full-blooded, adrenaline-pumping thrill ride that never hitches or slows down, due to the excellent pacing McTiernan sets. The characters in Dutch's squad are all larger-than-life tall tales, in a sense. It's not simply one main character of note surrounded by a bunch of forgettable red shirts, even though it eventually does get down to a mano-a-mano duel between two titanic, primal forces.

The Predator himself is just such a classic, indelible design now... completely different from anything we had ever seen before. Marrying a savage safari hunter with high tech weaponry seems like a big challenge, yet Stan Winston pulls it off effortlessly. The shoulder cannon itself is such a neat idea that looks and feels completely otherworldly. We're so used to ray guns in sci-fi movies, so to throw that whole idea out the window and come up with a bizarre, laser sighted alien cannon mounted to one's shoulder... it feels inspired and brilliant and completely appropriate for an alien civilization that developed on a different planet. Plus, the hands-free nature of the weapon means the Predator has his arms available to stab you right in the jugular with a mean looking set of extendable wristblades. Sci-fi movies ask for a lot of imagination to create a memorable look and universe, and they certainly delivered with the Predator.

And that final third act does have some thematic resonance. Instead of relying on modern technology, Dutch must resort to that which first thrust humanity to its place at the top of the food chain... his intelligence. The primitive hunter reemerges to challenge and survive against one armed with future technology. Even the necessity of cold mud harkens back to the primitive days of tribal warriors applying war paint. The movie does a truly brilliant job of illustrating how this final battle has plunged man back into the earliest days of his forefathers, where brain mattered more than brawn and getting in tune with nature and its vast resources was essential to the hunt. One cannot help but be reminded of grand stories of hunting and survival like Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game."

Another incredibly strong element of the movie is the very environment they're placed in. The beautifully shot Colombian jungle in Predator becomes a memorable character in its own right, with its sweaty, dense, suffocatingly primordial features. You feel as if this hot, humid, and treacherous jungle could swallow a man whole all by itself, without any help from the titular alien. Even when characters are merely sitting down and talking, without any action, you still feel entranced and captivated by the lush and beautiful yet sinister foliage that's all around.

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Review: Snowpiercer

I uh, I was interested at the beginning. The premise seemed pretty darn interesting.

And then... oh boy. Then it descended into "In Time" but on a train. I dunno why they felt that would be a good idea... but yeah, it was some really heavy-handed nonsense. And I was constantly chuckling to myself at the mental image of large, burly, hooded men with axes, calmly shuffling through fruit orchards, elementary school classrooms, aquariums, and spas. I can't be the only one who thought that, right?

I mean, the idea of the Snowpiercer itself makes no sense. You have this train that can run forever, but... the tracks never wear out? Really? They're exposed to icy, frigid conditions... but they never bend or crack or deform in any way? Even after 17 years of constant wear and tear? Nor the wheels on the train? They're constantly in motion, for 17 years, but they never need replacing or anything? Are they made out of adamantium? See, if they'd made it a maglev train instead, where the train never actually touches the track and you avoid the wear and tear of constant friction from metal on metal contact... that'd made a little more sense.

And of course, the horrendous arctic conditions of the Earth never seem to present any problems for the tracks. They're never covered by snow or anything. If there's a buildup of ice that, let's say, creates a wall of ice on the track... the train simply speeds up and goes right through it, with nary a pause. In real life, with such a long train, I kinda see things going a bit differently, like say... immediately derailing the train with the loss of all lives aboard. Large buildups of ice can create things called icebergs, and if the Titanic has taught us anything, it's that when man's metal constructions collide with things made out of ice, ice will tend to win. So I never bought that the Snowpiercer would just ram right through the ice walls without derailing or crumpling up. That felt silly.

Of course, we also get ridiculous scenes where individuals are able to shoot through the train's glass windows with guns, even though this glass is meant to protect the train from extreme conditions that have wiped out all life on earth. You'd think such extinction-proof glass would be somewhat bulletproof? Well, apparently not. I dunno, I guess they don't make em like they used to. Also, the guns, which include an M4 and a Skorpion SMG, are apparently accurate enough to have only a few inches of deviation at several hundred yards, while being fired from a moving train. Through inches-thick glass. I was cringing hard throughout that whole idiotic scene.

But wait... maybe those nitpicks about realism don't matter. Maybe the whole movie is simply meant to be a big allegory. Well, that's true I suppose. The whole movie is definitely meant to be one big heavy-handed appeal to class warfare. "In Time" was the last one I saw that really addressed this issue, and Snowpiercer faithfully follows that awful movie's footsteps in being really blunt and obvious about everything. If I wanted someone to shove an anti-capitalist screed in my face, I could just go get one from the smelly hippy screaming on that nearby street corner. I know the movie’s adapted from a French comic book, and the French generally tend to be kooky left-leaning socialist jerks, but I still expected a bit more sophistication on the story front. Instead, it’s just… well, let’s hit the audience over the head with this sledgehammer. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

Now, here’s a fundamental issue I had with the characters in this movie. The small group led by Evans trudges along through the train towards their goal, just as the Goonies or Frodo and his companions might in their movies. But you never grow close to most of the group or get to know them. The fast, agile knife guy… remains the fast, agile knife guy. You don’t get to learn about him or know him at all. Octavia Spencer is completely wasted and never gets much of a chance to show off her acting talent before she’s killed. The Korean girl is mostly in a drug-induced stupor. There’s never a sense of that tight-kit connectedness that many other films have with small groups on a quest or adventure. There’s just not that much there for us to latch onto, outside of Evans. And when we do settle down and finally get to learn about him, it comes in the form of a bizarre, extended monologue where he talks about how babies taste best. Oh jeez. I was certainly shocked by that revelation and how the baby that was saved turned out to be his right hand guy from the beginning of the story. Yet this right hand guy had been dead for such a long time by that point in the movie that it didn’t even feel as important or emotional as it probably should have. You had to slightly rewind the movie in your mind and go “Ohhhh right, that guy from the axe fight. I sorta remember him now.” The gap between those two points in the movie really worked to dull the effectiveness of that reveal about his past.

Okay, here’s some questions I had:

Why would Chris Evans be incredibly grossed out by the idea of eating protein bars made out of insects? We’re stuck on a train protecting us from instantly freezing to death on the planet… I think I’d be happy to have any sort of protein to eat, ya know? It’s like… hey, be thankful you’re getting to eat at all. Plus, we later find out that he’s resorted to eating human flesh in the past. Given that sort of grisly history, I don’t see why he’d be so repulsed by insects. Plenty of people in the world today eat insects without complaint, and they’re not stuck on a train as the last remnants of humanity. This reaction seems completely out of place and inappropriate.

So if they always had plenty of bullets… why didn’t they bust them out right from the start? Why keep them from the guards at the back? Why send out a bunch of your men with axes when you always had bullets in reserve? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Or was that part of the plan? I mean, I thought the whole idea of the engineered revolt was to thin out the numbers of the back of the train? Or did it require Wilford to thin out his own men as well? Well, no… because Wilford went on to say that his men took higher losses than expected, therefore John Hurt had to die. Well… this seems rather foolish to lay all the blame on John Hurt, when you were the one hoarding bullets and not using them. Fuckin hell… the complicated layers of bullshit in this movie are giving me a headache.

What was up with the fish? They cut it and then they smear it on their axes and… uhhh? Was that just for the intimidation factor? I would’ve figured the sight of a bunch of shiny axes would’ve done that all by itself. Now, to be fair to the movie, I did think the axe fight on that train car was shot pretty well. There’s a nice sense of kinetic energy to the fights and it’s mostly shot in profile view which evokes a bit of Oldboy.

Now, did Wilford always have the idea that the back of the train would revolt and his thugs would lack guns and use axes and so… right before he finished his train, he went and bought up a ton of night vision goggles? Did he go and do that? So then he’d be prepared for a certain specific situation where he could turn off the lights to a train car and the train would just happen to be passing through a lengthy tunnel and all his thugs armed with axes would have a tactical advantage? Is that what happened? Cause I don’t think a normal person just decides to bring a hundred pairs of night vision goggles on a train for some random eventuality.

I hate the late twist in a movie where the big bad mastermind becomes conciliatory and tries to sway our hero to his side, even though most of the movie has established that our hero is fighting to end this villain’s reign. It always feels fake and forced. You had the Emperor trying to turn Luke in Return of the Jedi. And now here we have Ed Harris’s Wilford trying to convince Evans to come over to his side and be his successor. Why did he think that this ploy would work? We’ve seen Evans throughout the movie fighting to get to the front of the train to take Wilford down for what he’s done. Why would Wilford believe that a nice little sitdown chat would turn him to his side? These sorts of scenes never work for me and just feel ridiculous. Especially in this case, where Wilford has erected this immense solid door to his front compartment. The man is obviously extremely paranoid about other people getting into his space. Yet he just lets Evans right in because he can sense that he’s the right one for the job? Huh? Where is all this coming from? Did Wilford read some script where all this was ordained?

I do have to hand it to the director, he really didn’t mind using Ed Harris again in the role of “God” in this world, drawing inevitable comparisons to The Truman Show. That was probably intentional, I’d guess. Well… that’s quite unfortunate, since The Truman Show is a great movie, and this definitely is not.

So wait… John Hurt was secretly in cahoots with Wilford all along? And they even shared phone conversations late at night? Wha… what? How does that even make any sense? So every night, John Hurt was just secretly picking up this hidden phone with his rickety wooden stick arms and they’d just have nice hearty conversations late into the night? And nobody else in the back of that train ever heard this? Or if they did hear it, they just shrugged and went back to sleep? It was never uncovered that he was doing this, even though the back of the train is severely overcrowded and cramped? He’s just able to stealthily chat on the phone with Wilford without anybody being the wiser? Really?

Now at the end, our intrepid heroes decide to just blow the train apart and derail it and everybody pretty much dies, with the exception of the Korean girl and the little black boy. But they’re probably going to freeze to death. Except they see a polar bear, so maybe they won’t. Except they’re alone and everybody else is dead, and there’s no source of power or shelter or anything. So they’re pretty much dead. And everybody that was in the back of the train, who Evans wanted to save, they’re all dead too. Wow. What a bad ending. Given the options, I think it probably would’ve been preferable if they hadn’t gotten to the front of the train and killed nearly everyone. Life in the back of the train sucked, sure, but at least they got to live. Evans and his Korean friend just killed everybody. That’s um… not much of an achievement.

This movie is a tremendous mess. An ambitious mess. A refreshing mess, you could even say. But at the end of the day… it’s still a mess.

3/10

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I'm really screwed up right now. This has been a long time coming.

I admit it, I'm fucked up. I had this great girl and then it kinda all went down the drains and it's been about a year... happened a whole year ago and I'm still not over it and I've thought about suicide. It's funny, you live in San Francisco and you don't start thinking about the Golden Gate Bridge until it's time for suicidal thoughts. I thought about it. It seemed like the logical choice. But then you learn about how a lot of people don't actually die instantly when they hit the water. You fall off a bridge and it's supposed to end when you get all the way down to the bottom part with the water. But no, a lot of people just end up breaking a lot of bones but they're still alive. They're just alive and in a lot of pain and they end up drowning to death because their body's all broken inside but they can't swim or do anything to stay afloat. That sounds like... not a wonderful way to go. That sounds like a pretty horrible way to go, I think. So jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge might not be such a good choice.

That's what I was thinking for a few months. But now, I dunno. I guess I'm not that suicidal. Now I'm just in this perpetual hell where you sorta kinda still think about her, but then you remember how she left you for that other guy, and you just reflexively end up whispering "you fucking bitch" under your breath. And then you look around and hope nobody in your workplace heard you, cause then they'd obviously think you're kind of a psycho. But it keeps happening. I'll think about her, and then I think about how she completely stabbed me in the back, and ripped my fucking heart out, and how I never even got a chance to tell her to her face that she's absolutely the worst person I've ever met, and I fucking hate everything about her... and yeah, I'll end up muttering "fucking bitch" under my breath, looking crazy.

But the real awful truth is that I can't even fully commit to that idea of her. I can't even fully hate her, because a part of me deep inside still loves her. It's like it's two different people. You fall in love with this sweet, amazing, perfect girl who seems so full of life and energy and who only seems to want your attention. You can't stop thinking about her and what your lives together will mean and how everything from that day forward will get better and better. It's like a dream come true, as cliche as that sounds. I believed in that dream. It kinda also helped that this was the first girlfriend I'd ever had. There was that unfortunate event that happened to me a while ago that kinda got in the way. So... just finally meeting this fantastic girl who seemed to be way into me... it felt like maybe this was somehow life treating me right for once. Like karma was finally going my way. I had to suffer through a whole lot of shit... but it was all leading up to this great awesome event. When I finally got a girlfriend and would be like... a normal person. I wouldn't have that monkey on my back anymore. Who cares if it had to happen over WoW. That's just life these days.

But nope. I guess it wasn't a good thing at all. I guess it was just setting me up for the most painful thing I'd ever experience.

"He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever." -The Great Gatsby

Ya know what I actually did the other day? I finally erased the WoW password she gave me. Just one of those things she told me. Gave me her WoW password. I wrote it on a sticky note on my desktop. And I've kept it for the past year, even though it'd been a year without seeing or talking to her. Why did I have it? No fucking idea. Just stupidity I guess. What, am I gonna go hacking her account? Just try and see what sorta messages she's been sending with her new love? Fucking hell, that makes me want to puke. I literally wish to vomit every single time I think about the two of them. Fuck me. It shouldn't still be this bad, but it is. So yeah... I went and erased it. Cause she's gone, and I don't believe I'm ever going to speak to her again in this life. So why keep it. Best to just bury the past. I still haven't gotten rid of her picture on my computer though. I can't force myself to do that quite yet.

But it still hurts every day. Is that normal? I don't know. I don't know what this is all supposed to be like. It's the first time I've had a girl stolen from me. First time for a lot of things. I guess this is gonna sound pretty fucking lame to other people, who've probably had four or five of these happen to them already. But I can't just let go that easily. Maybe I'm different from normal people that way. I can't just shut my emotions off like that. It's been a year but... a part of me still loves her. Loves that girl that I first met and talked to and connected. Of course, I also hate that girl who went and threw away everything I thought we meant to each other. I hate how she made me feel completely inadequate and worthless and not good enough for anything or anyone. It's like she's two different people. I've somehow mentally separated her into two different entities in my mind. One to love and one to hate. And I'm just in a limbo now. Is that normal? Or am I just crazy? Is this what crazy people think about?

And you know what the worst part of all this is? The absolute worst part is that now... I don't think I believe in love anymore. I think I used to. I might've been a romantic. But now... I just don't think there is such a thing as love. It's just all bullshit. And I'm a bitter, lonely fuck. I don't want to go and meet anyone or anything. Why would I want to venture out and try to make a connection with another girl? She might just stab me in the heart... the way she did a year ago. Just completely change her mind and forget everything she said, every single time she texted she loved me and loved being with me and fuck fuck fuck I hate this part of writing. Writing about it just makes me remember more of it. Reliving the fucking past that ended up being so much fucking meaningless bullshit. She never meant anything she said, I guess. So I don't know how I could possibly try again. With another girl. How do I know she isn't just gonna leave me for someone else. Someone with more money, or with a nice southern accent, or some other bullshit. It's just all meaningless to me now. Love is... I don't think it exists. I think it's a fantasy we delude ourselves with. That's the only conclusion I can come up with. And I just feel ill when I think about trying again. It seems like a fool's errand. If it could feel that good and amazing and right and still end up falling apart in such a painful and horrible fucking way... then I don't believe in any sort of certainty. A girl can just do the same thing again to me. And I can't take that again. I just don't want to be hurt like that. I don't want to think about suicide again. I don't want to be humiliated in my own fucking guild again. I don't want to have to go and quit WoW because it's so fucking painful I can't even fucking bear to play it anymore. Just run away from the whole sorry situation and avoid everything associated with that game.

It's just hard right now. It's hard to feel like living. You want to just sit in bed and do nothing. Wait for a meteor to fall from the skies and take you. Just end it.

Thanks a lot, you bitch. I fucking hate my life. I hate living. I try and surround myself with things. Knick knacks. Got a model of the USS Enterprise D and USS Excelsior over my bookshelf. Thought that might cheer me up. But I don't think I even glance at them anymore. They don't fill up the void in my heart. I dunno. I can't think about anything happy anymore. My face seems to always scrunch down into a scowl. I might have dead eyes, like a doll's eyes, according to Quint from Jaws.

I've been holding it in for a year. Didn't want to type it out. Didn't want to say anything. Felt pathetic inside. Still feel pathetic typing this out right now. There's nothing like a girl you love who... dumps you for another guy in your guild to make you feel completely inadequate and worthless and not good enough. Not good enough for anything. Not good enough to exist. Not good enough to spit on. It's a truly awful, awful feeling.

But I guess I can't hold it in anymore. I needed some sort of release valve. So I'm sharing. Not sharing all of it. The whole story's actually much more complicated and drawn out. It's fucking horrible, how long this story goes. But I felt like... if I could share that stupid Catfish thing that happened to me, I guess I can share this too. There's something of a precedent. And this actually feels way worse then that Catfish thing did. That was one good thing about the Catfish thing... it was basically unrequited love. The awful, horrible thing about this and why it feels so much worse is that she said she felt the same way. She said she loved me too. And then it all went to shit. That makes it so much worse, to know that you had something incredible and amazing, and she felt it too, and then to lose it.

No, I don't think about jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge anymore. Not for a while. But now I'm stuck in this sort of limbo. I don't feel joy. I don't feel like doing anything. I don't want to make contact with any attractive women. I just retreat back into this shell, trying not to fall apart. It's a bad way to live. I know this. But I can't really change it.

Sorry this has been such a downer.

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Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Oh boy. E3 week really kept me busy, cause I actually saw this movie on opening day and probably should’ve had a review up much sooner. What a lazy fuck I am.

Note: I haven’t read the original Japanese novel, manga, anime, etc. So this is just my reaction to the movie as its own movie.

Just when would we get the next great sci-fi action movie? That’s a question that’s been floating around for a while, ever since we got Predator, Aliens, and the first two Terminator films. A worthy successor to those classics of yore wouldn’t come until 1999’s The Matrix. Yet the subsequent sequels utterly failed to live up to that original’s legacy. The next great work in the genre wouldn’t appear until Neill Blomkamp’s out-of-nowhere tour de force District 9 in 2009. And once again, the question arose… how long would it be until we got another sci-fi action flick that would earn a place among the pantheon? Well thankfully, I think that question’s once again been satisfactorily answered with Doug Liman’s superbly satisfying Edge of Tomorrow.

The Japanese author of the original novel stated that he got his inspiration for the story from playing video games, and that’s been well translated to the movie. The scenes and indeed the entire narrative are structured like a video game, with death after death, retries again and again. There’s a true sense that Tom Cruise is reverting back to the same checkpoint save again and again, without any convenient F5 quicksaves in sight. Edge does not purport to be a true video game movie, but in its depiction of repetition of action and experience, it succeeds far better than any existing video game movie at conveying the raw essence of the video game experience. It’s quite an amusing thought and made me wonder… why is it that we keep getting bad video game movies but movies *about* video games tend to be great (The Last Starfighter, King of Kong, Wreck-It-Ralph, EoT)?

Simply put, the movie is imbued with a great balance of comedy, tension, and emotion. That careful balance of humor and action is often difficult to get just right, as evidenced most obviously in Michael Bay’s filmography. They need to harmonize with each other to form an appropriate tone that’s inviting and encourages the audience to climb aboard and go with the narrative. Marvel’s been incredibly successful on this front and Edge is another example of nailing the tone exactly right. That interplay of comedic timing and kinetic action is probably most effectively conveyed in these hilarious montages of Tom Cruise getting knocked on his ass over and over again by training spider drones. The humor truly works and feels natural and also completely serves the overarching story being told. Doug Liman’s past work has been a bit varied as far as tone goes, with the Bourne Identity being a very deadly earnest sort of spy thriller, while Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a completely flippant and over the top comedy romp. Edge neatly fits into a middle ground between these two extremes, with equal doses of seriousness and silliness. It never feels forced, but evoked a strong sense of what Zhang Yimou once said about his movie To Live: “There are tears and laughter, one following the other in a gentle rhythm like the breath of a bellows.”

Now, for everyone who watched the trailer, one thought generally came to mind: “Hey, this looks like Starship Troopers crossed with Groundhog Day.” And ya know what? After watching it, I would say… yes, that’s pretty much what this movie is. Totally. It is very accurate to summarize it in one sentence as being Starship Troopers (the novel) combined with Groundhog Day. But that’s perfectly fine, since that’s still not a movie we’ve ever seen before. Why not combine a gritty, war torn, power armored dystopia with Harold Ramis’s feel-good time travel classic?

The triumph of the movie is how effortlessly it weaves the two concepts together. You don’t feel that it’s just been cobbled together in a hazy, disorganized evening by Hollywood scriptwriters high on caffeine and coke. The universe actually feels cohesive and lived in. And while you’ll feel greatly reminded of Groundhog Day, you’ll also notice that it utilizes all the good ideas of Groundhog Day. First of all… they know exactly how to edit the time loops. The scenes are paced in a way that you’re able to gradually sink into the premise and overall universe, and then speeding things along and eventually cutting out unnecessary filler scenes once the audience is fully immersed and no longer need the hand holding. The movie takes off the training wheels and suddenly you realize that Cruise’s character has jumped from dying a few times to dying a few hundred times. The core concept requires a solid grasp of editing and compressing scenes for maximum effectiveness in order to not lose the audience’s attention with the repetition, and Edge succeeds as well as Groundhog Day did all those year ago.

Secondly, they film all the takes from different angles and perspectives, in order to again bring a little something new each and every time Cruise repeats his day. One scene may play out only slightly differently, but it’s filmed from the opposite end of the room. Or a closeup might change to provide a long shot. These little techniques, again derived from Groundhog Day, all work to reduce the time loop repetition and keep the viewer engaged in the story.

Now, Edge is a time travel story. As such… there has to be some sort of sci-fi explanation. Groundhog Day didn’t, but it’s more the exception than the rule. The time travel rationale in this movie is… well, crazy. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you dwell on it. They do sketch out a reason for the time loops, but it’s incredibly far-fetched. But at the end of the day... so what? It doesn’t much affect the rest of the movie, and they don’t actually dwell on it. It’s a flimsy device that enables the movie to go where it needs to, and that’s all they demand of it. You’re not focused on the reason why, because Liman is too busy showing off all the crazy spectacle and action and human drama that’s the actual heart of this film.

Now that I think about it, Source Code is another one of those sci-fi movies that resembles Groundhog Day. And its rationale for the repeating time travel trips was just as crazy and far-fetched. A military computer simulation that actually turns out to be a real honest device to access alternate timelines in the space time continuum? Sheer bonkers, right? Yet that didn’t stop me from enjoying the narrative and rooting for Gyllenhaal in his quest to save that commuter train. See, in my view… if a movie works emotionally, then it really doesn’t matter if the actual internal logistics don’t fully make sense. It just has to work on that gut level. “Frequency” is a good example, because while the time travel depicted in that movie was sloppy and incoherent and ultimately nonsensical when you try and analyze it, it did work for me at the end of the day because it had emotional resonance and catharsis and delivered all the feels.

Now look guys, I’m no Tom Cruise fan. Personally, I think the guy is off his rocker. I didn’t care for him when he robbed the world of a young vibrant Katie Holmes, and I certainly don’t care for his nutty embrace of Scientology. But… you can’t fault the guy as an action star. Tom Cruise’s performance here is not completely out of his wheelhouse, but he does provide a neat little twist at the beginning, where his character is made out to be a flat out weaselly coward. It can feel a little reminiscent of Sharlto Copeley’s Wikus, but Cruise does pull it off in a convincing manner. You can find a lot of fault with the guy in his personal life, but I didn’t think about any of that while watching Edge. When he turns it on, the guy does remind you why he’s one of the last remaining Hollywood action stars.

Emily Blunt. You wouldn’t think of her in this sort of action heroine role, just off the top of your head. Or at least, I didn’t. She doesn’t come immediately to mind when you’re asking for someone to play the next Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor. Yet that’s pretty much exactly what she did. Blunt’s Rita Vrataski is right up there with those indomitable women of action, thanks to her acting chops and uh, amazing yoga prowess? Boy, I could stare at that long, loving pushup shot of her, all toned and sweaty, all day. Tom Cruise’s last sci-fi flick Oblivion was majorly let down by a miscast love interest, in my opinion. Edge thankfully avoids that unfortunate mistake and gives us someone who fully deserves the nickname “Full Metal Bitch.” There aren’t too many kickass female action roles in general, so it’s especially nice to see that Blunt does full justice to hers.

Of the rest of the cast, Bill Paxton sticks out as an amazingly delightful platoon sergeant who probably represents what Hudson might’ve eventually become if he’d survived that unfortunate xenomorph incident on LV-426. The guy looks like he’s having a ton of fun and you can’t help but smile along with him, the Kentucky hardass with a shit-eating grin. The supporting cast of roughnecks, J-Squad, doesn’t make much of an impression and almost feels like set dressing. At least until the end, where they finally do reappear and we get to see them in action at last. I was waiting for that and it felt good that Cruise was finally able to relinquish a bit of screentime to the lowly grunts, courageously fighting with their admittedly non-superhuman abilities.

If there’s anyone that feels wasted in Edge, it’d have to be Brendan Gleeson, who plays the gruff and stubborn General of the allied invasion force. The problem here is that they apparently told him to way underplay his role, to the point where he lacks any real energy and feels completely flat and insubstantial. The reason we love watching Brendan Gleeson act is because he always exudes this lively, cantankerous attitude… a sort of larger than life screen presence. So to see that completely drained in favor of restraint on his part just seems to miss the point of casting him in the first place. He doesn’t do a bad job at all, and the part isn’t particularly noteworthy in how it’s written, but I still felt like they made a wrong choice with going in that direction.

Now, the one big criticism that I imagine most can level at Edge of Tomorrow is simply that it’s very derivative. That’s a striking similarity it shares with Cruise’s last sci-fi film, Oblivion. One of Oblivion’s key criticisms from reviewers was how it felt derivative of other films. And the same can be said of sections of Edge. There’s the movie’s opening, which shows Liman ripping off the opening to Saving Private Ryan about as blatantly as possible. There’s even a shot of a guy wandering around while on fire. Liman’s basically smacking you over the head with Omaha Beach sand at that point. Of course, the time travel loops are all reminiscent of Groundhog Day and Source Code, by necessity. Cruise’s role as an initially cowardly and contemptible desk jockey has strong parallels to District 9’s Wikus. The military exo-suits can’t help but remind you of the Mech suits in James Cameron’s Aliens and Avatar. And even a brief car chase through a parking garage evoked a sense of Liman’s past work in Bourne and Mr and Mrs Smith.

So yeah, that stuff is all there. But frankly, the movie is so damn fun and energetic and inviting that none of that really bothered or annoyed me. It definitely could have, if the movie had simply limped along and given you time to pause and notice. But the pace and humor work splendidly to carry you along on this great, well-oiled machine of a story. Sometimes, a movie is more than just the sum of its parts, and it can succeed on sheer quality of execution. I think “Predator” is a great 80s example of this. When Siskel and Ebert reviewed it, Roger Ebert acknowledged that it was basically Commando crossed with Aliens, but so what? At the end of the day, Commando crossed with Aliens made for a fantastic action flick. Edge of Tomorrow follows in the footsteps of that McTiernan classic.

Now, let’s talk about the “Jacket” exo-suits. When they were first unveiled in studio pics last year, they looked pretty damn clunky and awkward to me. And while the film does initially portray them that way, with soldiers doggedly trudging forward in a dense, mechanical cadence… you do get to see them used later on in some awe-inspiring, surprisingly balletic maneuvers when Cruise finally gets the hang of it after 100+ deaths. The evolution of his expertise and gradual leveling up, so to speak, is well communicated to the audience. And again, the video game parallels are easy to grasp, since a newb to a brand new game will often feel as if his control of the player character is clunky or awkward. How better to visually show that then to stick the main protagonist of your film into an actual clunky, awkward, heavy exo-suit? But later on, once you’ve mastered the controls of the game and grown confident in your own death-dealing abilities, the player avatar starts to feel like a second skin and your button presses and aiming maneuvers feel synchronized and natural. That’s exactly what Cruise and Blunt show off once we get far enough into the film and you do get wonderful eyefuls of the exo-suits at their full potential.

I was surprised they didn’t have some sort of neuro-link for the pilots to interface with, in order to control the two over-the-shoulder cannons. Something along the lines of the neuro-links you see in shows like Exo-Squad, for example. It seems a little hard to believe that a soldier would be able to aim both the arm weapons and the shoulder cannons from one joystick/pad on the right hand. Though honestly, I do think the most unbelievably aspect of the entire movie has to be the fact that in this war torn future, we still decide to fight our battles against monstrously large, armored alien beasts with… 5.56mm ammo. This seems incredibly silly to me, considering that 5.56mm has been complained about in the past as lacking sufficient stopping power to kill humans in battlefield conditions. And yet they still use this for fighting off giant, insanely quick monsters from space? C’mon. Considering the exceptional strength granted by these new exo-suits, I would’ve thought they’d want to mount .50 cal machine guns or something. With 5.56mm, well… I think I can kinda see why the human race has been losing this war.

Liman consistently delivers great action scenes throughout the movie. And not just the pure action setpieces themselves, either. The whole setup… building up to the action scenes is also legitimately thrilling and perfectly executed. A slow, long, loving camera shot of an enormous metallic sword, before being picked up by a practiced, confident, armored hand. Shots of giant metallic boots stomping in unison against the tarmac. A close-up of grim, paint-chipped skullheads on ominous heavy helmets. These are all action movie basics that are often forgotten by fresh-faced directors today, yet add so much when correctly shot. The anticipation of the action is often just as magical and mesmerizing as the action itself, and Liman has been around the block long enough to know how to carefully facilitate this process as effectively as possible.

The alien designs were new and imaginative for me, and actually brought something new to the table. Memorable alien designs are hard to come by these days, and the most enduring ones are still the Xenomorph and the Predator, both from the 80s. These aliens were legitimately surprising and threatening in appearance. About the only thing I could think of to compare them to might be the aliens in Crysis. Though even so… these aliens actually warped around the battlefield in a dizzying manner. Initially, you’re simply witnessing the human forces suited up in their big bulky robot suits and wondering how the aliens can possibly withstand this militarized metal juggernaut. But once you catch sight of them in their spectacular entrance during the Omaha Beach scene, you quickly realize why humanity is on the losing end of this five year long war. The sheer speed and ferocity of these monstrous alien drones is dazzling and overwhelming to the eye, and utterly outmatch the ordinary soldiers in their slow, clunky robot suits. The way they seemed to warp around the battlefield was also a nice touch that evoked video game memories, at least for me. Back when I used to play multiplayer Rainbow Six on a 56k modem, players would often seem to warp around the level, which made for an annoying target to kill in a firefight. I’m not sure if that was intended to be a video game reference or just a nice sinister attribute for the movie’s antagonists, but either way it makes for a cool visual effect.

The stakes are upped once we get to the final action sequence, because he can’t reset. It felt so much more intense and dangerous since we know these people are in real danger and only have one life left. I was reminded of Inception, once you finally learn that dying in the dream will send you down to Limbo, instead of simply waking you up. Suddenly, the safeguards were all thrown away and we were out in uncharted territory, without any backup. It was the “Shit just got real” moment of the movie. And here, the loss of the alien blood worked just as well. You’re right on the Edge… of your seat. Did I just do that? Boy, that’s a bad line. I’m a bad person. I’ll stop.

So yeah, they go and crash the troop transport right into the Louvre and get knocked down a bunch of concrete shafts. But hey… they’re actually okay. They’ve made it this far. Cruise brushes himself off, grabs his shotgun, and grimly declares “We’ve been through worse.” That right there is one of the great cheer-worthy moments of the movie, for me. It so simply and aptly summarizes the trials and tribulations that they’ve been through to reach this point, and acknowledges the way they’ve both honed their minds and bodies through a lifetime of retries, for this one final chance to defeat the alien invasion. In video game terms, you might say they’ve both leveled up high enough in order to face that ultimate boss. In another lesser movie, that line might not hold any real resonance, but after what we’ve been through with these two characters in the last hour and a half… it feels earned.

Okay, so let’s talk about the kiss at the end. I’ll be honest, I mentally screamed “No!” when they actually went for the kiss at the end there. I was angrily wondering why they went for that, when the entire movie as a whole had done such a good job of letting them form a connection through the loops without establishing a traditional Hollywood romance. I mean, it wouldn’t make sense to deliver a love story while in this war torn hell, where they’re fighting for their lives and trying to save the human race from extinction. Oh, and also dying over and over again. In the midst of all this chaos, there’s not much room for love. So that kiss at the end felt like a retreat from what most of the movie had established. I couldn’t help but think back to Pacific Rim and how Del Toro deliberately kept Raleigh and Mako from kissing at the end because it wouldn’t have been right, and wished Liman had had the good sense and restraint to make the same decision here.

But then I thought about it some more, and my mind changed. Given the situation they were in, where Rita had laid out the grim reality that they’re both probably going to die in the next five minutes… that kiss took on a completely different tone as a last human goodbye between soldiers who realize that death is imminent. So it wasn’t so much of a romantic kiss as much as a final exchange of weary camaraderie. A pure expression of humanity between comrades in arms, who are sacrificing themselves in service of humanity. When I mentally reframed the scene in this context, the kiss really didn’t bother me anymore, and it did feel justified and unobtrusive. Maybe not everybody will see it that way, but I think it’s at least a valid interpretation to ponder.

The happy ending. I’ve read a lot of people aren’t happy about the happy ending. And yeah, I can kinda understand why. It does feel like a little bit of a cheat. But I’ll be honest, it didn’t really bother me. The movie does visually explain it, with the Omega’s lifeblood completely enveloping Cruise’s dying body. I mean… if you were able to buy into the whole absurd notion of alien blood allowing a person to travel back one day in time in the first place, I don’t see how this new scenario is any more ridiculous or hard to buy into. Alien blood doing time stuff… it made sense to me heh. And when you really think about it… the happy ending seems rather de rigeur in this time travel subgenre. Groundhog Day, Source Code, Déjà Vu… they all have happy endings. Perhaps it would’ve been a refreshing change to see Edge break this tradition, but I felt fully satisfied with the ending we got. It made sense with what we were shown, and didn’t feel like a cheat in my eyes.

The movie knows exactly what it wants to be, but it doesn’t set out to be some low grade, mindless summer blockbuster. You can feel while watching that it legitimately wants to be an ambitious, satisfying sci-fi action flick with an emotional core that resonates with the audience, and it executes near flawlessly on that. As a finished product, it is a fine, fine example of something which ends up being so much more than the sum of its parts. And after having watched Godzilla recently, just let me indulge for a sec and say how happy I am to finally get a movie with some actual heart and humanity. To invest in and root for characters that aren’t just flimsy cardboard cutouts staring blankly. The contrast between the two films is astonishing and really makes one appreciate the carefully thought out direction and heartfelt dedication of Doug Liman.

I can’t think of a better movie this year.

8.8/10

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Louie Episode 4x11 "In the Woods"

It's been apparent for a long while, but just so everyone's clear about it, I think "In the Woods" clearly plants "Louie" in the realm of tv drama, not comedy.

So many moments of this super long episode spoke to me. That's the great thing about Louie, he creates stories that feel realistic and speak to personal experiences and emotions and mistakes that we've all had, or come close to having. There's a tender universal relatability in this episode that reminded me of similar coming of age stories like Stand By Me.

I loved the teacher, Mr. Hoffman. So often, you run into burnt out, bitter teachers in public school. Old teachers who've simply been ground down over the years and no longer give a rat's ass about the kids. It happens way too often in America's public education system, unfortunately. But every now and then, you get one of those good ones. They might not be hip and cool and with it, but you can tell that they still like what they do, and they do form a connection to their students. They still believe in what they're doing and there's a sense of fun as well as respect in the classroom. I've certainly had a few in my life, and Mr. Hoffman happens to be one of Louie's. He's a fleshed out, believable teacher, as opposed to a patently absurd one like Robin Williams. Which makes it all the more disappointing and painful when we see how Louie betrays his trust.

But seriously, 10 scales? WTF Louie? You steal one, and nobody probably notices. But 10? Jesus Christ, young Louie was dumb.

Then there's the teacher's daughter, a shy girl who nonetheless seems to like Louie. And Louie seems like he might like her. The moment when he's walking up to her but gets dragged away by his friend before he can manage to talk to her is one of the many tiny tragedies of the episode that probably haunts Louie as an adult. What better moment to symbolize what might have been? The road not taken. Again, this is stuff that we've all gone through in life, in one form or another. Regret for the actions in our past... that's part of living life as an adult, I feel.

So many aspects of the episode rang true for me. You watch the interactions between Louie, his little dwarf friend, and the bully kid, and it feels like what actually happens to real kids. Hollywood movies and tv shows often portray school as a battle of factions, between the jocks and bullies on one side, and the nerds and loners on the other. With a strict line dividing the two. But in real life, the lines do get blurred, and bullies and the bullied can mingle and interact in a much more fluid and dynamic relationship. Someone who might've been a nemesis yesterday might just change and become a casual friend the next. School is a time of learning and growth, and part of that's learning what friendship is actually about.

Comedians are often described as astute observers of human nature, and while the show Louie itself can't really be classified as a comedy anymore, it does do a great job of showing us Louie's observations on human nature.

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