Sunday, January 13, 2008

Movies, politics and Star Trek

Wow… it’s been a busy few months, so I apologise. Here’s a summary of things on my mind over recent times.

The US electionBarak Obama is “the man”, but something tells me his lack of experience (*coughskincolourcough*) will prevent him this time round. I do quite like John Edwards, but he’s far too liberal and anti-corporation to ever be allowed to be President. Hillary is probably the still favourite, but there’s a long way to go. The least said about the Republicans the better, but if you fancy a laugh, check out the Republican nominees on Wiki, it’s very scary.

The hijacking of “Liberalism” – from liberal interventionism being used as an excuse to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Iraq to right wingers describing themselves as “social liberals”, the politicians have stolen all that is good about democracy and freedom and used it to wage war, introduce draconian laws and take control of every aspect of our lives. We have sleep-walked into one of those dystopian futures that Philip K Dick, George Orwell and Alan Moore wrote about, and I am at a loss to explain how to wake up.

The WGA strike – The studios stand to make over $1.5B this year alone through airing shows on the internet and via download. Currently the writers aren’t entitled to a penny of this. Add in the fact that a writer gets only $0.04 for every DVD sold, in an industry that makes over $20B a year in DVD rentals and sales, you can see why the writers are slightly peeved. So come on Murdoch and co… give the writers the money! The more this goes on, the more I see the SAG and DGA being dragged in. Their contracts are up in the summer and if the writers negotiations aren’t done with then we face the possibility of an industry wide strike in 2008 that would cripple TV and movie making. If you are a fan of great writers like Joss Whedon, Tim Minear, JJ Abrams et al, then show your support.

The Economy – Northern Rock should be nationalised. Simple as. Another massive guarantee by the government now means that each taxpayer has personally guaranteed a private firm to the tune of £2000 each. As for the economy in general, we have had one of the longest period of sustained growth in history, but it’s all built on easy credit. We’ve been here before, but I fear for the future (see dystopian futures mentioned above!).

Review of the Movie Year 2007 – I do try to write a review of the movie year around Dec/Jan, but this year I just can’t come up with 10 films that deserve to classified as “great”. There were some very good films – Curse of the Golden Flower, Sunshine, Death Proof, Planet Terror and Stardust, but when compared to 06’s Prestige, Pans Labyrinth, Children of Men, Inconvenient Truth and Syriana they pale away.

The blockbusters were woeful, while the Oscar hits were sub-standard. 2007 lacked any real soul and quite frankly was the worst year for movies I can recollect. The fact that we are now in the grip of a writers strike doesn’t bode well for the future. But yey, we have 60 year old Indiana Jones (plus sidekick son) to look forward to in 2008. Whoopty frickin do!

Star Trek – My geeky love for Trek is long-standing and quite well known. So you’d think I’d be over the moon that JJ Abrams is making a new movie chronicling the early days of Kirk, Spock et al. In fact, the opposite is true. The studio is throwing big money at a movie written by the people who brought us Transformers and The Island and it seems clear that this will be aimed at making the movie accessible to the mainstream. For me, this is sacrilege. Star Trek was always supposed to be hard-core science fiction. Instead, this obsession with meeting mainstream needs can only lead to a dumbed down Trek movie that will have little in common with the ideals of the original. This movie is going to be a Star Wars clone. It will probably make more money than any Trek movie has before it, but it won’t really be Star Trek; just a sci-fi action film with a familiar name. Take the name off it and it could be any other sci-fi action movie.

You want proof? Take a look at MI:3; a fun action thriller, but with no soul. Take the title away and it’s just any other action thriller. Oh and that was also directed by JJ Abrams.

However, if you want to have a laugh at geeky Trek fans… check out the following IMDB board (note, you’ll need an account).

9/11 verses 2/27 (or 27/02 for those of us outside the USA) – Marinus van der Lubbe – the man who torched the Reichstag building on Feb 27th 1933 – was officially pardoned recently. As he was tried under Nazi justice it was deemed unfair to allow his trial and subsequent execution to stand. The Reichstag fire remains one of the most pivotal moments in the rise of Nazi Germany. The terrorist act happened shortly after Hitler had been brought to power and was subsequently used by The Fuhrer to limit human rights, outlaw political opposition and begin a reign of terror that led to millions of deaths across Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.

This news brought the tragedy of 9/11 (or 11/09 for those outside the USA) back into my thoughts. Two massive acts of terrorism separated by nearly 70 years. One was used as an excuse to introduce legislation that limited the movements of people, isolate minorities, threaten political opposition and intimidate the media… the other led to the growth of the Third Reich. My question is, will we ever get our freedoms back?

Anyway… I’ll try to blog more this year. I need to if only to vent. Happy New Year!

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