Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Has American Politics Officially Bottomed Out?

Imagine if I told you a few years ago that in 2017, we would have a president with at least 16 accusers of sexual harassment or assault against him... endorsing a candidate for the Alabama senate with 9 accusers of sexual harassment or assault against him - including several underage girls.

And then I told you that their best rationale for not resigning immediately was based on their ongoing denial of these accusations even with dozens of corroborating witnesses to contemporaneous accounts of these heinous actions, going as far as threatening to sue the women making the accusations and the journalists who report their accounts alongside research that supports material evidence of the predatory behavior of these same men.

And then I told you that this special election in Alabama looks like it will be incredibly close because the Democratic candidate, who prosecuted two KKK members who had killed four African-American children in a 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was accused of being "soft on crime" by the president who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals, walking into the dressing rooms of underage girls, and repeatedly joked about dating his own daughter.

And then I told you that the rationale for supporting the accused child molester was because the Republican party really, really wants to pass a "tax reform" package that vastly favors the wealthiest individuals and corporations while making cuts to healthcare programs and eliminating a variety of deductions that working class people rely on while penalizing taxpayers in Democratic-leaning states - all of which will add around $1.5 trillion to the deficit and relying on the myth of "trickle down economics" to boost wages and job growth without any historical or contemporary evidence that such wealth transfer to financial elites will accomplish that.

... If I told you all that, would you believe me?  And would you care?

Friday, November 3, 2017


Dear Snowpiercer, I haven't gone in with higher expectations or left with more disappointment in a very long time.

What were they thinking?

This film has some laudable ambition, a solid cast, fantastic production design, and a premise that is interesting and original enough to hold great promise. Apparently, many reviewers really liked it given the film's 84/100 on Metacritic. I can recognize those worthwhile elements.

But they absolutely do not add up. The film earns its gory R rating but has some incredibly childish dialogue that belongs in a young adult novel. Yes, Tilda Swinton does very well with her role and there are some other notable successes in the cast (the classroom scene was by far the most well-directed). And Chris Evans carries the film well enough except for a macabre monologue about eating babies (can a good guy ever eat babies?).

But not since "The Matrix Reloaded" have I seen such a clumsy, unsatisfying deus ex machina. Ed Harris channels his role from "The Truman Show" here with a fumbling finale that underwhelms and feels almost insulting to sit through. After a two hour train ride, this really isn't where we should be getting off.

What's worse, the film is all too eager to kill off basically every character we meet and grow to care about, leaving us with very little worth rooting for when the small band of surviving characters finally escape from their Flakes on a Train experience.

And what do we have left? A totally unsurvivable wilderness that cannot possibly sustain these untrained and ill-equipped passengers. Nobody seems to have thought this through - not the characters, not the filmmakers. By nightfall, temperatures will drop and they will desperately flee back into the train they just blew up in order to salvage whatever they can to build a habitable environment in their former prison. Where is Matt Damon from "The Martian" when we need him?

So we're left with a trite and superficial meditation on classism and population control, a banal plot twist involving child labor, and a vague cautionary tail against geoengineering. I was truly hoping that the antagonist's big reveal was the frozen landscape being an intentional act by the train's designer to purge humanity and rule the remaining world from within his train car. But what we get is much simpler - and the realization that the film has greatly over-promised and under-delivered.

Best case scenario: the polar bear brings in his family to feast on the sorry lot of human corpses strewn about for half a mile. THE END

Or a happier ending would be if the polar bear attacked the survivors until Leonardo DiCaprio shows up to suplex the bear, tame it, and then teach everyone how to build igloos and go ice fishing.  THE END

The 2016 Election, One Year Later...

--- SUMMER OF 2016 ---

Berners: We want Bernie! He is going to mobilize more first time and independent voters.

DNC: Clinton is the best candidate! She's a longtime party favorite and she's been covertly stuffing our coffers with cash for a year now. (source)

Berners: No, her numbers are bad, Sanders are much better! She is going to lose against Trump.  (source)

DNC: It's our party, we know what's best.


DNC: OMG!  Clinton lost against Trump! How could this happen?!?


Berners: We told you, her numbers were bad, Sanders were much better. And a year later, her numbers are worse, his are even better. (source) (source)

DNC: Yes... but... He wasn't really a Democrat, anyway! There's nothing we could have done differently.

Berners: You really don't want to win these things, do you?