A review of “ROGUE ONE”

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.36.29 pm.pngAnother scene that #Didn’t happen

MIDNIGHT

I didn’t expect to watch another 12:05 viewing of a movie — and not by myself — something I would have found so utterly pathetic when I was a 12 year old. Which is perhaps the average age of the initial target audience of this movie. (I realise the studio is also expecting a lot of coin from people like me).

But the excitement just overwhelmed me. It was a Wednesday night and I had nothing better to do, and I had arranged that Thursday off on the ‘morrow so I could watch it at a more respectable hour. (It turned out I had to go to work — but that is another story.)

So it was fun and exciting to get to have a nap at 8pm, then snap up an hour later in a daze and stumble for an hour over to Southbank and mix it up with my fellow nerds. They were an eclectic bunch — in nerd terms. There were coolsies that wouldn’t look out of place at a Laneway Fest. And then there were the gender-ambiguous overweight people in big black tent-like clothing — channeling the Comic-book-guy from the Simpsons.

It was mostly dudes.

Everyone was well behaved. Although a group of lads kept grappling randoms and saying, “Did you know Darth Vader is Luke’s father?” Like it was the funniest joke ever. Douchecanoes.

HERE’s WHAT TO EXPECT FROM BELOW:

a) A review
a.1) A note on “Mendo”
b) The Elephant
c) FAN-SERVICE — What I cringed about
d) FAN-SERVICE — What I thought worked
e) Why the TRAILERS are so different (or “What I thought the movie might have been )

a) A REVIEW

WARNING! MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS BELOW

First of all I want to say I enjoyed it. As a major Star Wars fan it is certainly entertaining — but it’s not as good as episodes 4, 5 (my fave), 6 or 7. (I don’t acknowledge the prequels.)

Secondly, it had a major feature which I found quite distracting — and something I thought was a dangerous precedent in film-making. (I’ll cover that later).

It’s a lush movie. Visually very diverse and all the settings are amazing. I recognised Iceland immediately. A cheap setting for an alien world without any set-dressing or CGI.

The characters don’t get developed much. I think Jyn was a little hard to truly care about. I found the droid K2-SO’s tragic end far more emotional. (He was obviously inspired by the robot in Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky.) Long arms and tiny head. Always looking downtrodden. Plus maybe the Paranoid Android in the Hitchhiker’s Guide.

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And the Baize and Chirru bromance was much more thematic. Cassian was almost interesting, but again a little unappealing.

Well before the movie came out, the nerds had guessed that the perfect-defect in the Death Star was purposely designed. And the trailers pretty much gave that plot point away with Galen Erso telling a baby Jyn that everything he did, he did to protect her. So that revelation was put down pretty early. There was no way the script writers could have avoided this obvious plot-gift. Someone on the inside was a Rebel at heart and had made this hideous planet-destroying-machine hopelessly weak.

Moving on.

a.1) A NOTE ON “MENDO”

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Ben Mendohlson. What a bloody legend. Deadset legend.

He’s like the David Boon of acting. Boony being the very first deadset legend.

He’s like an enigma, wrapped up in a dirty, dweeby, wrinkly paper bag.

He’s like an older brother, or a shitty cousin that is sometimes your bestie, but is so mercurial he becomes a crazy psycho with no warning.

Whenever me and Dee see Mendo in super-acting-genius — we call it “Classic Mendo”. Others have different terms. Tony Martin calls it, “How Mendo is that?”. And seeing Mendo in Bloodlines was incredibly sublime. He was so, so, so good in that series.

And when he was cast in Rogue One I instantly thought, “Wow! Mendo is going to rip shit up as a Star Wars villain.” Holy shit! I was so excited.

But although there was a bit of “Classic Mendo”, sadly I think he was always a bit comprimised. Apart from the beginning, he never really got to rise in darkness. He had his lisp thing — “Classic Mendo”. He had at least two moments when he got to say something so evil and maniacal. “Classic”. He gets a cool cape. (Though Dee thought it looked plasticy). And he gets to be annoyed most of the time — but I don’t think he ever got to be truly scary or about to snap and lose it.

I guess any character that gets force-choked by Vader can never be treated seriously as a villain. If Vader cuts off your airway it means, “you’re a dickhead. And you’re expendable — to the plot.”

And Mendo’s doom is ultimately kinda pathetic. When he says, “Who are you?” it’s not what a true villain would care about when they were pointing a gun at their defeated (and seemingly doomed) pugnator. It’s like a confession that he was always out-played. I suspect Mendo had a far sinister role in the original movie (before the reshoots). But more on that later.

b) THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: RESURRECTING PETER CUSHING

Apparently they announced over a year ago but I missed that memo. So they made a CGI version of Peter Cushing (who died over 20 years ago) rather than employ a real actor to play the role of Grand Moff Tarkin. Admittedly it was convincing so far as CGI goes. While watching I thought it might even fool someone who hadn’t seen Star Wars or hadn’t realised Cushing was long dead. It was definitely a grand achievement in the technology. Cool even.

But is it ethical?

How does a dead person get to control the appropriation of their likeness? (I know the character’s intellectual property belongs to someone else — and you can’t own your own image, be it a picture or a painting or a film of yourself.) [Although I think France has different laws about that.]

But what about the way you played that character? What about your voice or mannerisms — what you can uniquely bring to your performance? Isn’t that going to be forever connected with the original actor?

Another quite bizarre outcome is that “Rogue One” is now one of Peter Cushing’s films on his wikipedia page. Am I the only one who thinks this is weird? I haven’t dared to check IMDB. I don’t care if he was a big fan of the franchise. (Apparently he was). I don’t care that his family approved. (Apparently they gave it their blessing). I just wonder. I just wonder for the future.

And I am very, very nervous that they will do the same treatment to Sir Alec Guinness. I impurity certain he would turn in his grave if his likeness is used next. (Admittedly his voice is appropriated in The Force Awakens and I did not get up on my high-horse about that. I feel a bit conflicted about that.)

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SO WHAT IS NEXT?

I can just imagine in the next decade some douche will release a film with a recreation of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe or Elvis. If there’s money to be made — what’s stopping them?

They’ve done it to Audrey Hepburn. And in the 90s they did it Humphrey Bogart, Louis Armstrong and James Cagney for a fucking Coke commercial for fuck’s sake. Ugh. [Note: these were not CGI but real footage mixed into new scenes – but essentially their image in a very new context].

So I will say to the actors of today — make a stand if this means something to you. Can you let this precedent continue? My nephews saw that film and had no idea that was a CGI Princess Leia or Moff Tarkin. What happens to your likeness when you are long dead? What happens to your legacy if you get shoved into an absolute dud of a film and your character gets blamed? Actors — how do you feel as artists — how do you feel about people making money out of your likeness? What’s stopping the studios making new Indiana Jones movies with a fake “Harrison Ford” forever and ever?

ALSO OF NOTE!

All the scenes, out-takes or actual footage from A NEW HOPE that they re-purposed for this film in the final space-battle. Is that ethical? Should we care cause I for one found it so fucking obvious and gratuitous.

For details see below.

c) UNNECESSARY FAN-SERVICE DETAILS IN ORDER OF SHITNESS (apart from Grand Moff)

1) adding C3P0 and R2D2 — for months I vowed to throw something if they were included. But thankfully my civility prevailed. Instead I just cringed and shook my head. Don’t these people making these films have any shame? It’s literally getting to the point where anyone making a Star Wars movie just can’t help but chuck in these two “classic droids” like it was the Force controlling them. But it is just so redundant. So unnecessary. Except if you’re Anthony Daniels and you get a truckload of money each and every time.

2) The old footage of fighter pilots from A NEW HOPE (ANH) getting regurgitated. There were at least three pilots who got re-hashed and one had their sentence “I am starting my attack run on the…” re-purposed to say “shield gate” at the end while the vision tracked to that big shield gate thing.

3) The recreation of that exact scene from ANH with that cranky fuckwit with the deformed face (and his mate). Rehashing the exact dialogue from the cantina scene just before he gets his arm cut off. Embarrassing.

4) All the extra references to “Hope”. One is enough.

5) CGI Leia. We got it from the costume. There was no need to go further. And it was almost like a big, “Look at how impressive our CGI is” rather than a true addition to the film.

6) It’s a diverse cast — if you’ve got balls and a dick. Just cause you have a female lead doesn’t mean you are excused to make every other role — including robots — a male. I doubt it passed the Bechdel Test.

d) COOL FAN SERVICE

1) I think I spotted a Wilhelm Scream from the first stormtrooper that gets nailed in the Jeddah battle.

2) Donk droid. And maybe a couple of other droids from ANH

3) Referencing “A New Hope” was ok. (But see above)

4) Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) were inoffensive and kinda drove the plot. Although of course it was a bit excessive.

5) Mon Mothma was excellent — and she a great fit for that role.

e) THE TRAILERS WERE LIKE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MOVIE

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.27.09 pm.pngTie-Fighter confronting Jyn at the top of the communications mast #Didn’t happen

About 8 months ago the studio announced it was doing a big bunch of re-shoots. I took this to mean they were finessing the film. Getting it even more perfect. Taking pride in the job. Realising they didn’t need to rush things. I saw many fans appreciating the “quality over quantity” vibe. They were not disappointed.

But it seems the film was rather drastically changed if you go by the trailers. There’s the  redundant footage which is not a hanging offence. But then there’s the just plain wrong scenes. Scenes that don’t happen. Scenes where characters interact which makes no sense. And it wasn’t just the footage — the dialogue was also stupidly weird at times and inconsistent with what the finished film delivered. It was grossly unsettling.

I suspect the nerds would have already taken this to pieces. OK a quick google revealed this. It’s embarrassing really. (Another precedent this movie has delivered: How can we trust any trailers now?)

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.34.48 pm.pngSaw Gererra without hair lecturing Jyn about joining the fight #Didn’t happen

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.35.15 pm.pngCrennik getting his tails wet on the Skarriff beach #Didn’t happen

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.30.37 pm.pngIn the trailers they imply Vader is confronting Galen Erso in this scene

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.33.08 pm.pngJyn in shackles at the Rebel base #Didn’t happen

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.13.04 pm.pngRebel pilots in shackles, led by Stormtroopers, (presumably on Jedda) #Didn’t happen

So here is my stupid idea about why they changed the film — apart from the fact I suspect the director was a bit of a dud and the movie he delivered was shithouse.

It seemed the end of the movie was going to be a bit too much like Return of the Jedi (RTOJ). The final act in RTOJ has the rebels on Endor trying to get the shield generator while those up in space are waiting for that to happen so they can launch an attack. But the Emperor has set a trap. “It’s a trap!” Admiral Ackbar famously (or memes-worthy) says.

It already is very much like ROTJ in those last scenes, but from the trailers you get the impression that Krennic had set a trap just like the Emperor had done in ROTJ. Krennic is seen gracefully walking over the shallow water on Scarriff with his cape getting a tad damp. You see a tie-fighter jump up and confront Jyn when she’s up on the mast just below the satellite dish. And from the whispers in the spoiler’s community, there definitely was a scene shot and CGI’d where a group of AT-ATs emerge from under the ocean to gradually rise up and make the rebel troops shit their collective pants. (Which would have been so, so cool!)

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 2.36.00 pm.pngAnd Cassian and Jyn are in the above scene. #Didn’t happen #wtf?

Anyway. I think that movie might have featured a bunch more dramatic scenes, but not a more plausible plot. And plus, as I said before, so much like ROTJ. But in these “re-shoots” I honestly suspect they ruined the character of Krennic. Maybe I am just being a bit romantic about “Classic Mendo”. Or maybe not.

So I give the movie a pass. On a good day I’d give it a 7. The test will come if I choose to see it again and again.

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GUEST BLOG – Jess writes about the Redhead Festival

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My take on Redhead Days is a little different to Davey’s… While I fully sympathise with the plight of the downtrodden gingers, wept for the guy in the Being Ginger Netflix documentary, and would argue strongly that the lack of ginger emojis is a mild form of racism… I myself never endured any ginger torment as a child.

Sure, there were what Dee would call my “terminally ill years” between the age of ten and 15, before braces and eyebrow tinting, but even through those awkward teenage times, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “Is that your natural hair colour?” I’d have enough money to hit up every ginger festival in every country every year.

I know this makes me (even more of) a minority, and I consider myself lucky for never having been made to feel embarrassed about my hair colour. (Except maybe for the time I dated a guy who turned out to be obsessed with Annie, and I only found out when he introduced me to his grandmother, who said, “Oh, she does look like Annie!” That was awkward.) My ginger pride stems from my upbringing, and the strong female gingers I had as role models – my beautiful mum, who I watched being constantly adored by my dad, and my fiery aunty, a total knockout loved by everyone. I don’t even know if you could call it “ginger pride”… Our hair colour, while acknowledged and celebrated, was just a small part of who we are. It was a non-issue, so I never had to overthink it, and I just kinda liked my hair colour. Even appreciated that it made me a little different.

So for me, Redhead Days seemed like a bit of fun. Something that would make a cool story… “Yeah, so I’m traveling through Europe for six months, and my first stop is a little town in the Netherlands for a three-day celebration of gingers.” Why not?!

But then I arrived in Breda, and my little ginger bubble burst. For the first time in my life, I actually felt self-conscious about my hair colour. While there was a strong sense of solidarity amongst the gingers, it was the non-ginger ginger enthusiasts that really made me uneasy. All of a sudden I was on display, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Standing in the town square, men with cameras would swarm and take photos of me like I was an animal in the zoo. One guy got so close I had to give him an “I can see you” eyebrow raise so that he’d back off.

Probably the most unsettling encounter was with a (non-ginger) guy from Vienna who claimed to be a journalist. He approached Dee & me in the park one afternoon looking for a story, with a bottle of coke and pack of cigarettes his only tools of trade. Within five minutes of awkwardly sleazy chitchat, he was convinced he and I were “the perfect pair” and suggested we be Facebook friends. Feeling a little flirty (in hindsight, foolish!) from the wine, I said that if he could find me at the pub crawl later that night, we could make that happen. He did find me. Twice. At two different pubs, among hundreds of gingers. In the dark of night in a foreign town, he seemed even more creepy than during the day, forcing me to make a French exit and go home to bed.

The official group photo was the last straw. Being herded into the photo location space, and then separated by a barrier from the non-gingers while the photographers snapped at us from the top of a cherry picker, just felt a little too much.

So while Redhead Days was an interesting experience, I was relieved when the weekend came to an end, and I could just throw my hair up in a ponytail and move on. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d washed and blow dried my hair three days in a row. Because hey, if I’m going to be photographed unknowingly, I want to be looking my best. 💁 (Blonde emoji used for lack of a ginger one.)

And here’s Jess’s blog: The End of August

GINGER FESTIVAL – BREDA

DAYS 8-10

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It’s been a bit of a life-dream going to The Ginger Festival. There are others apparently — but the one in Breda is the biggest and I think the very first. But despite being desperate to go, I was still quite a bit intimidated by the experience. I treat my gingerness as politics. It’s incredibly important to me. I know I harp on about this all the time, so just skip the next two paragrapha if you’ve heard this all before.

I am what I can only describe as a “Militant-Ginger”. I genuinely believe we have a case for ethnicity. Not just for our physiognomy, but because we are genuinely persecuted. And I know you are thinking, “What’s a few harmless jibes? Get over it Coppertop.” But it’s really tough growing up the only redhead in your class. You feel so different at a time when you just want to be so, so the same. But I never had it as bad as the woman I saw on TV describe how her (male) classmates ripped down her dress to see if her pubic hair was red too. And when that South Park episode came out I wept for my little ginger comrades still at school that had another set of bullshit to deal with. I constantly feel like telling little ginger-kids, “Don’t worry — it gets better.”

There is also another case for our ethnicity — the fact we evolved to be genetically adapted to the highest latitudes — where the sunlight was weak or only available for the shortest periods. Our pale skins could soak up the limited sunlight more effectively so we didn’t have any vitamin D issues. Anyway. I identify as a ginger and it shits me so much when we are dismissed as just a minority hair-colour. We are all so much, much more that that.

I CAN”T HELP NOTICING EVERY SINGLE GINGER

When I see a random ginger I cannot help but pausing for that milli-second to process that meeting. I feel we have a tiny recognition moment similar to what the movie “Fight Club” popularised. We don’t say or do anything, (or even nod or maintain any length of eye-contact) — but it’s just an instant affinity. Maybe it is even mutual. So of course SPOLIER ALERT: this will become a bit of sensory overload very soon. More on that later.

So back to BREDA. When I announced we were going to the festival, Jess — a fellow ginger from Brisbane— said she would come too. I spent ages at Antwerp Station lining up to buy our train tickets (cause the machines refused to work). The woman at the counter was a ginger and for the 20-odd minutes I waited in line I worked up the courage to say that I was buying tickets to go to the Ginger festival — imagining all the while she would be pleased or at the very least — interested. It turned out she was mystified at best. Maybe it was my terrible attempt at translating the concept, but she had no idea about the festival, didn’t care about my trip and maybe even didn’t identify as ginger. Not a great start.

We arrived at Breda station around lunch time and when we walked out into the light we stopped because we weren’t entirely orientated. But then suddenly a woman came up to us with a brochure and I thought, “Ugh, somebody selling something.” I did my least enthusiastic “hi” and was even about to decline what she was offering. But then she asked if we were here for the Festival. Instantly I was gobsmacked. Though not a ginger, she was an official spruiker of the Festival. She handed us these booklets and gave us directions — all in English. It was incredible. We felt special. We had arrived. We just might be home.

PAYMENT DRAMA

There was a bit of drama getting this apartment — despite the fact I booked it first and three whole months before we were due to arrive. (The whole reason for the trip was based around getting to Breda). Eventually Laura in the UK had to pay for it because I couldn’t pay by credit card and paypal would only pay in Australian dollars (which the owner refused). And that was a highly convoluted process and took ages and all the while I seriously wondered if we were being scammed.

So when we arrived at the address and it was just a vacant shop I was horrified. “I had a bad feeling about this,” I said. We looked around the back and were met by a security gate with no intercom. Dee was calm. Jess was calm — but I was mortified. I dove into my pack and brought out the confirmation print out. There was a phone number listed. So after a few fails at  getting the area code, I got through to the owner and he was like, “You’re early! I’ll be there in 10 minutes”. Saved! I can’t imagine what we would have done had we not got SIM cards. Anyway. Crisis over.

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This is my review of the apartment if I could be bothered: only one bedroom, but there was plenty of space. Noisy at night — made good use of ear plugs. No hair dryer. No air-con (just a very ordinary ceiling fan in bedroom). The three flights of metal stairs were treacherous after rain. Complicated key system. Wifi was a bit flaky. Don’t forget (like we did) to bring 300 euros in cash for safety deposit.

Exploring Breda we saw all the sights despite only officially simply trying to find a supermarket. Then we realised we needed that hairdryer so Dee and Jess went off hunting that while i lugged all our groceries home. Jess and Dee made a frittata for dinner and we ate on our balcony which had a decent view. Then we all got showered, made-up and blow-dryed (me included) and made our way to the nightclub which was the first event on the Festival schedule.

FIRST GINGER PARTY — AND I AM WORRIED. “IS THIS A TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT?”

As we got closer I got both nervous and excited. Not being totally confident in google maps I wasn’t even sure we were in the right place, but then we turned a corner and there were some gingers hanging about outside. I instantly said hello to everyone. But I got some push-back. I got the intense feeling they were not used to being greeted so warmly by a stranger — even a fellow ginger. I think that is a European thing. (My friend Cass moved to Norway and said to me that if he greets a random in the street, like just being polite, they cannot comprehend it. They assume you are an acquaintance they have forgotten. It is inconceivable to them that a stranger would want to simply say “hello”.) I worried that this whole event would be a bit wooden. Just a photo-op. A total disappointment.

But of course I was determined to make the best of this. Inside, as the beverages kept flowing, everyone seemed to loosen up a bit and realise there was an affinity. Eventually you could just go up to anyone and say, “Hi”. We met a bunch of gingers including Ireland’s Ginger King. (He had a crown to prove it). And then we were all corralled into a group photo. At that point knew this event was important. The Ginger-Fest hadn’t officially started but there was at least 200 gingers here ready to stand up and be counted (and party.)

IMG_0687.JPGHere’s the Irish King!

I got in there for the photo and then dived upstairs while the MC was still talking to get a shot of the crowd below. I posted that shot to Instagram as something like: “There are 100% gingers in this shot. True Story” It was profound. I know I use that word a lot — but it was so meaningful. I was with my brothers and sisters. I was with people who knew what I had gone through and I knew what they had gone through (and would go through, potentially, for the rest of their lives.)

My ginger friend Nicci commented on that post saying, “I can’t imagine what that would feel like.” And as I woke up the next day and saw that — I realised it was a truly momental occasion.

NICCI: “You’re so used to being an oddball that you don’t even think about it anymore, until someone mentions they were in a room full of people similar to you, and you get an odd sense of belonging for the first time that you didn’t know could exist.”

GINGER SATURDAY

The next day Jess and I were all trying to look our best. I have never had the need to shampoo my hair twice in one day — but that happened. As I ventured out that morning I felt   quite consciously that I was being “looked at”. I felt like everyone knew why I was here. But combatting that hyper-self-consciousness was the fact I felt like I wasn’t the only one. All us gingers were almost celebrities. Indeed Jess will later tell you stories about how she was shot by all these ginger-paparazzi. (Stay tuned)

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That morning we got our country stickers. We seemed to be the only Australians there — but later we found at least two other gingers form Australia. But most of the gingers were from Europe. One from Iraq. For the first time ever I have worn our flag with pride. Not pride in the flag, just pride in the fact we had come a long way and there were many, many gingers in Australia that I had promised to represent. And I thought of EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. (Even though I forgot to tag the awesome Shelley in my Insti post. Still sorry about that Shell. Forgive me!)

PUB CRAWL

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On this night Dee chose to stay home. She could have come, but in her mind that would have been awkward. I understood her decision. So it was just Jess and me who got assigned to different “teams” for this event. They had to divide us all up into groups of about 12 so we didn’t overwhelm any single venue. My group had two guides and then we hit about 8 pubs and nightclubs before a big meet-up at some massive nightclub. Of course – I had a great time. That was a given. I was a bit dusty the next day it should be said.

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PHOTO DAY

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OFFICIAL PHOTOS (we are actually in these – just saying)

So a Sunday emerged and we all met in the Square and again it was too many gingers to process. It was obscene. Ginger-kids too. About ten of them were planted on this stage looking out over all of us. (They were so well behaved it should be said). After a big speech by the mayor we all walked about a kilometre to the train station for a group photo. At that point Dee got excluded. There were bouncers that literally said, “Gingers THIS WAY, you people go over there.”

Dee was a bit nonplussed already. Obviously I felt sorry for her, but then I didn’t. SOZ BEB.

The Sun had now come out and it shone down on us just like the deadshit it is. We all realise it is the reason life exists and the reason we all still exist, but to us, it is still pretty bullshit.

We all stood there in that SHINE for about 30 minutes trying to look our best “GINGER” and always looking straight ahead while these goobs tried to get the perfect shot on-top of these cherry pickers which were constantly going up and down. All the while we were melting, squinting and possibly developing (or nurturing) various skin cancers. UGH! This terrible MC was running around interviewing gingers on the loud speakers and it was cringe-worthy at best. I didn’t really expect anything better — but this was billed as the pinnacle of the whole event. And it was pretty ordinary. They really need to make that bit slightly less contrived. Like we are herded. Or a spectacle. Just saying.

BONUS SHOTS

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Zero Dark Thirty review

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On Saturday we headed up to the Barracks cinema and it just happened that everyone else in the universe was there too — seeing as they had put on 4 movies at the very same time.

Being hyper-punctual, of course it wasn’t a big deal and we made it inside with ages to spare — cool story huh?

Anyway. The movie: it was fantastic. Even before those incredible action scenes at the conclusion I was convinced this film was exceptional.

Just like ARGO it had an amazing ability to create tension when you knew exactly what was going to happen next. And the scenes where they tried to surprise you — like the many, many bombs going off — it was like they knew you knew already so just made those vignettes interesting in other ways. In any respect — I think the point of historical films where you know exactly what happened (at least in a wikipedia-sense) is that it is about the characters involved.

And this film had enough great characters to really keep you interested. And Maya, a ginger it should be noted, was pretty fucking amazing and maybe that obscured my judgement. She wasn’t angelic, and probably someone I wouldn’t really want to know. But she was compelling.

There’s been “controversies” about this film. Did it condone torture? My answer — yeah it did, perhaps even BIG TIME. But in doing so it got me thinking for myself whether or not I accepted that. And I’d have to say if it was me in a room with someone who had information of the fate of someone I cared about or even just a random — I’d probably not be consulting the Rules of Engagement. I would let my own moral compass guide me.

But I am not a professional combatant. I am just a soul that will step-up when confronted. In case you hadn’t worked this out about me already — I don’t suffer fools and I certainly wouldn’t be much good as a diplomat. I think I have just experienced enough right and enough wrong in my short life already to have a decent grasp on that subject matter.

And seeing as I have to perpetually mete out justice when I am riding because I am so, so often confronted with someone thoughtlessly endangering my life. Just last week a fat bastard in a 4WD was so affronted by the fact I called him a shit driver for almost causing an accident (or worse) when he dangerously overtook me on a very narrow road which resulted in him gaining absolutely no advantage — seeing as I had the opportunity to catch up with him less than 30 seconds later. After I said my piece I turned towards the river bikepath and then, when the lights changed, he changed from turning right, to turn left to chase me. He spun his wheels making the best screeching sound possible just to see me disappear down the underpass.

He was then stuck at an intersection that led him down Coronation Drive towards the city — the complete opposite direction he was intending to travel, and not a road that it is easy to turn around upon. If you are reading this — all I can say is Suck shit you fat fuck.

Some bike riders think you should treat aggressive drivers with a smile and a wave, because essentially a combatant, wants a combatant to engage with and that will confuse them at worst and perhaps level them in a best case scenario. I think I can find it in my morality to be a bike rider that steps up and makes them think twice about leaning on a horn or doing something dangerous cause they could be held accountable for that at the next intersection when I get a chance to catch up. And believe me — I have been hit by enough cars not to be afraid of some deadshit thinking they can get their petty problems off their chest within the safety of their big fat metal cage and be entirely unaccountable for that nonsense.

But me, I think people should be accountable. And I will put my own hand up first. This blog is somewhat testament to that.

Go see this movie, if just for 2 and a half hours that will sweep by without any personal awareness.

And then read the wikipedia page about the death of Bin Laden. It is almost as surreal as the movie.

It’s now “Armstrong” not “Lance”.

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So I feel a tiny bit dirty.

Most of that feeling stems from the fact I went on that charity ride with Armstrong in 2011 — paid my money — felt a bit “important” riding with the biggest legend of this sport. But the other half of that equation is that although I was aware there was a huge debate out there as to “did he or didn’t he?” — I somewhat chose to give him the benefit of the doubt or just believe whatever drugs he took: that was early on — maybe only in those crazy 90s — and that maybe only influenced the first few of his Tours.

In all honesty — when I started out riding bikes with some degree of seriousness I did so really, really not knowing about him or his epic feats. I probably knew his name, maybe that he was important, but I only understood his whole story just very gradually after.

And my first inklings of him were the chatter on the internet of his potential doping. I mostly took it to be internet gossip and weasels trying to create controversy and conspiracy. But then there was this one terribly convincing article I saw — which is lost to history — but that got me thinking. That and a 4Corners story around that time about how pathetic and hopelessly-behind anti-doping strategies in sport were.

So I had a few reservations when Armstrong came to town but I still rode that day and felt good and rated it as a bit of a highlight of my life when I came to write a list at the end of 2011.

A year and a bit later I saw Tyler Hamilton’s evidence and I was starting to crack and get convinced I needed to distance any feeling one way or another for Armstrong. He is now “Armstrong” — not “Lance”.

To be honest — Bike Snob and his pretty obvious support for Armstrong was a big influence.

Then the USADA investigation (and incredible summary) was upon us and I was unceremoniously yanked away from any fantasies that things weren’t as bad as they could be and utterly convinced and really, really appalled — not so much by the epic doping — but more by the allegations he controlled the situation and bullied his team-mates into taking drugs or else. He seemed ruthless and belligerent and really, really nasty.

Bike Snob has certainly toned down his “support” for Armstrong — but maybe he needs to atone too. I dunno. Maybe I have just misconstrued everything he says — his blog is frequently surreal in its comedic adventures. I shouldn’t take it so seriously.

So today was the big confession. I didn’t expect much but I admit — it was drama and good TV and I was hopelessly transfixed. I actually thought Oprah did OK. Of course I thought Armstrong was still in good form in his “PR” and consequently wasn’t entirely sincere. There were bits where he still had digs — at Tyler — I haven’t read his book and refusing to deal with his fucked up treatment of Betsy and that I never called her fat bit. HOLY SHIT.

That stuff was so shocking. I had no idea how he treated those poor women who stood up. This is Betsy’s reaction:

http://youtu.be/WTrkBRwT5Uc

That was pretty heart-wrenching.

I think it is safe to say I have an even worse opinion of this person now than ever. And yes — I will be watching part 2 tomorrow.