Monday, April 25, 2011

Provo Spring

I just went for a run and was reminded at how amazing Provo is in the Spring. The air is cool, the mountains green (and still snow capped) and all the trees are in bloom. Plus, the population has dropped dramatically with so many BYU students going home. On my run I even saw several cool people that I know. The overall result is that I remembered how of all the places in the world I've been, Provo is sometimes the most pleasant.

To Each Her/His Own (Movies)

So my last post might need a little explanation. As a Mormon, I frequently encounter the belief that people should not watch movies filled with sex, violence, swearing, etc. Many, many Mormons also believe that people should not watch movies that are rated R by the MPAA.

Personally I disagree with these beliefs. I believe films have to portray difficult, sometimes graphic content in order to make positive points. (Think of a film like Schindler's List, for example.) Not watching these movies, or editing out part's that the filmmaker obviously thought were important, isolates viewers and impedes intellectual and spiritual growth, in my opinion. Also, like many people, I believe the MPAA is a wildly corrupt institution.

But, in the end I don't really care what people do. There's a limited amount of time and some people like me chose to watch a lot of films, and other people chose to other things. To each her/his own.

But what annoys me is when people try to tell me A) I should not watch movies that I consider uplifting because they contain "bad parts," B) That it's better to watch edited versions of movies, C) It's bad to have graphic content in movies, D) that they love movies but don't watch R rated movies.

A) To each her/his own. Somewhat paradoxically, I know, I expect people to reciprocate that attitude. At least when it comes to things like movies.

B) Edited movies are still technically rated R, or whatever the MPAA assigned them. In other countries there is no "R" rating. A movie is the vision of a group of artists and to cut it up is disrespectful. It disrupts the movie. Blah, blah, blah. There are a million reasons that watching edited movies is bad. If you want to watch edited movies, I suppose that's you're right, but don't tell me to do the same. And don't tell other people to do the same without giving the other side of the argument a chance to voice their views.

C) Brigham Young, a once-prominent Mormon, once pointed out that the arts have to portray evil to show good. Fast forward to today, when a church leader recently said media should not "portray" anything AT ALL that is bad. Yikes. Obviously, that would mean ending all media production. I don't know what this leader was going for, but I wish people would consider what they're saying when the constantly quote stuff like this.

D) And finally, if you are a film buff, you have to watch the classics. Things like "The Godfather," and "Raging Bull." The best picture-winning "Midnight Cowboy," which is also on AFI's list of all-time greatest films, was even rated X! I don't care if people watch these films or not, but don't go around pretending to be into films and then say you're unwilling to watch these masterpieces.

It's probably worth mentioning that this post stems from an incident that occurred at a church meeting recently. Like usual, people were talking about the supposed decline in civilized values and how evil the media apparently is. I was playing angry birds.

But then, this guy started rambling on about how he saw the PG-13 version of "The King's Speech" and how great it was. The movie is good, but the PG-13 version cuts out some important stuff. The swearing in that movie has a purpose and is vital to the story, unlike so many movies (rated everything from G to PG-13) where the swearing is just put in for laughs, or to make the movie more "hard core." Cutting out those parts or editing over them (which the filmmakers expressly condemned in this case) dilutes the point (which is, of all things, charity). (Note, there is more cut out of the PG-13 version than some people realize.)

Anyway, this guy at church was annoying and, ultimately, talking moronically about things I love, study, and work hard to understand. It was frustrating and I just wanted to yell that we should all just be able to do whatever we think is best. But of course, as always, I didn't.

You can't be a film buff...

...cinephile, or cineaste if you categorically refuse to watch any particular kind of film. Or films with any particular rating. Sure, you can say you like movies or whatever, but you're not a true lover of the art form if you haven't seen the classics (or if you've only seen edited or "clean" — meaning chopped up and ruined — versions). Sorry.

(Obviously, if you've chosen to not watch some kinds of films or those with any particular rating, the world of film buff-ery may just not be for you. If you've made that decision, that reality obviously isn't abhorrent to you.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The (so-called) Cougareat

Today I saw a random tweet about how someone loves the Cougareat at BYU (the school's main student eatery, for the non-BYU people). It reminded me that I used to love the Cougareat when I was little, but that today it's completely lame.

When I was a kid and came to BYU during family vacations, it was still more of a cafeteria type place. I loved the food at the time, but even if it wasn't haute cuisine at least it was unique-ish to BYU. In other words, it was something at BYU that could be found nowhere else in the world.

Fast forward to today, and it's mostly filled with generic chain fast food places. Taco Bell, Subway, blah blah blah. Sure, these places aren't bad, but they're nothing to write home about. There are a few unique places (Sugar and Spice, for instance), but for the most part the place feels like it could be anywhere. Actually, no that's not true. It feels like it could be in any suburban mall. And I can think of no greater insult. (I heard students in the 90s actually wanted the Cougareat to be based on a mall food court. WTF.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Movies I have watched this week...

... or, rather, in the last week and a couple of days. Anyway here are the good ones:

Tell No One
The Kids Are Alright

Unfortunately, I also watched a few mediocre or downright bad films in the last few days. Here are the mediocre ones:

The Other Guys
Despite not being much of a Will Ferrell fan, this film got decent reviews. I also typically like cop movies, and so I had high hopes. As it turns out, though, I found the movie kind of hit and miss. It wasn't terrible, but I wasn't all the entertained either. There were funny moments, but overall I'd describe this film as boring.

I had even high hopes for this film because it was made by the same people who did Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead, both which were great. This film also got good reviews. However, Paul seemed filmed with cheap jokes and cardboard characters. It didn't have the charm of the team's earlier work, and seemed to generally convey what must be British stereotypes of the United States. I didn't hate this movie, but as with The Other Guys, I was kind of bored by it.

I also watched one downright bad movie this week. It was:

Again, high hopes and dashed expectations. This film is directed by Guy Ritchie, who did Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which is one of my favorite films. Ritchie also did Snatch, which is pretty decent too. But for some reason Revolver was terrible. It was confusing and pretentious, and lacked the almost palpable setting of Ritchie's earlier films. By the end, I kept checking the timer on the instant streaming thing to see how long was left. So don't bother watching this movie.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dog Days

A few days ago I was running and a dog passed me. As it passed, I noticed that it had a huge tumor or growth on its side. The growth was under the skin, but larger than a football. It was strange because while I've seen many stray dogs with bizarre and disturbing health problems in developing countries, I've never seen one running around in Provo.

As I jogged past I thought about how the dog would probably not live much longer. Then I realized: "This dog's days are over!" It made me wish someone was with me — or that I had a camera — so I could share the thought.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Movies I have watched this week

This week I didn't have to work insane hours, and Laura and I were sick over the weekend. So, we got in some good movie watching. Here's the list (not necessarily in the order we watched them in):

(In retrospect we had a generally violent, surprisingly Swedish week of films.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sam Anders

Today I learned that both Battlestar Galactica and Clarissa Explains It All include characters named "Sam Anders." How could this be? Though Sam Anders isn't the most unique name out there, it's also not the most common. Could it be that the (re)makers of Battlestar Galactica were really, secretly fans of the Melissa Joan Hart teen classic? If only Clarissa was around, to explain this strange and miraculous "coincidence."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Movies I have watched this week

This week I worked crazy hours, and Laura and I also watched the mini series Downton Abbey (which takes more time than a two hour film). As a result, the number of titles I've watched is lower this week than normal. But here they are:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Kills

I'm really loving Blood Pressure, the new album by The Kills. And best of all, you can stream it for free here.