Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Review of "Sense8"

I recently finished watching Netflix's first season of the Wachowskis / J. Michael Straczynski collaboration Sense8, and thought it would be worth writing a quick review.
  
  
  
  
The Wachowskis co-created the series alongside Straczynski, and I've got history with all of them.  Like many people, I first encountered the Wachowskis via The Matrix, a sci-fi/action flick that had an enormous impact on pop culture when it was released in 1999.  To say that their record since then has been spotty would be an understatement.  In point of fact, that span of nearly two full decades has seen mostly disappointments from the siblings.
  
Let's have a look:
  • 2003, The Animatrix -- the Wachowskis produced and co-wrote this animated spinoff that led up to the Matrix sequels
  • 2003, The Matrix Reloaded -- the first sequel was a big hit, but many people were left bemused by it
  • 2003, The Matrix Revolutions -- the final part of the trilogy was substantially less successful than the first or second, and seemingly represented a popular judgment having been placed on Reloaded
  • 2005, V For Vendetta -- the Wachowskis wrote and produced this adaptation of the Alan Moore graphic novel, which attracted some controversy and a cult following, but was not a notable success
  • 2008, Speed Racer -- returning to directing, the siblings brought the anime series to life on the big screen, and got miserable reviews and lethargic box-office for their troubles
  • 2012, Cloud Atlas -- after a four year break, the duo returned with this ambitious large-cast sci-fi epic, which got decent reviews but was not a box-office hit
  • 2015, Jupiter Ascending -- another sci-fi epic, this one of a more space-opera bent; it was an enormous box-office flop and received savage reviews
  
I like every single one of those, except Jupiter Ascending, which I stupidly failed to see when it was in theatres.  I allowed myself to be swayed by the reviews, and inexplicably forgot the fact that I loved Speed Racer.  I like both of the sequels to The Matrix just fine, although I do recognize that they are inferior to the first film.  Cloud Atlas has problems, but it is insanely ambitious.  As for V For Vendetta, I feel as if it is about as good an adaptation of that graphic novel as there is likely ever to be; in fact, part of me prefers it to the comic, which is a near-blasphemous statement coming from a devoted Alan Moore fan.  And yet, I stand by it.
  
So, all in all, would I say I am a fan of the Wachowskis?  You bet I would.
  
As for J. Michael Straczynski, he created Babylon 5, which is one of my favorite sci-fi shows.  I would argue that it has not aged well at all, but that does not negate the fact that it was a highly influential series, one which helped to steer television as a medium toward a serialized format.  It also does not negate the fact that during the years in which I was really into B5, I was as into that show as I've ever been into ANY show.
  
So, all in all, would I say that a sci-fi series on Netflix from Straczynski would be a thing I got excited about?  You bet I would.
  
And yet, for no reason I can explain, I did not jump on Sense8 as soon as Netflix released it.  I waited a week or two, mostly to see what reviews were like.  And most of the reviews I saw were unkind.
  
Eventually, though, I decided I'd watch an episode or two and see for myself.
  
And overall, I'd say I loved it.  For some reason, this surprises me.  WHY?!?  I'm well-established as a fan of the Wachowskis in general and of Straczynski in at least one iteration.  So there is no reason on Earth why Sense8 should be anything other than precisely my cup of tea.

It's an interesting reaction, and I think it says something about the way I am experiencing media in 2015.  I don't want to disappear up my own butt for too long, but since I blog mostly in an effort to understand myself through the prism of the things I enjoy, I think a brief detour is acceptable.
  
The modern age of the Internet (he wrote, sounding old as fuck, but not immediately sure how to avoid doing so) is a curious one.  It has opened up enormous avenues of information, and has resulted in more or less the entire artistic history of mankind being available in one fashion or another to anyone whose Internet speed is sufficient.  That's an exaggeration, of course; but if it isn't a literally-true statement, it is true enough that it means a fellow like me has a wide array of choices open to him in terms of leisure-time pursuits.
  
For those of you who don't know, I am a huge Stephen King fan, and one of my primary goals in life is turn myself into a critical authority on King's incredibly voluminous canon of books, stories, movies, comics, etc.  I've got similar desires to write expansively about the James Bond movies and books; the films of several favorite directors (Spielberg, Hitchcock, Kubrick); Disney animation and theme parks; Alan Moore; Larry McMurtry; and, as this blog disappointingly expresses, science fiction literature and film.
  
I've got plans, brothers and sisters; I've got a lot of plans.
  
Unfortunately, I work very, very slowly.  And at a certain point toward the end of 2014, I began to despair of being able to achieve success with even a tiny number of those plans.  I got dangerously close to retiring as a blogger altogether, not because I'd lost interest in it; but because my interest in it is so expansive that it has begun to seem unachievable.  
  
In fact, the mere process of being able to watch all of the movies and tv shows, and read all the books and comics, that I'd like to has itself begun to feel oppressive and unachievable.  Why?  I can only assume that it is because whereas twenty years ago the thoughts of doing such a thing would not even have occurred to me due to the fact that acquiring all the required media would have seemed impossible, the Internet has changed that.  Today, if you want to make a list of every major science-fiction movie and television show released in the English language since the advent of film, and then set about acquiring the entirety of that list online, it's doable.  I'd rather not say how I know that; but trust me: it's doable.
  
The sheer volume of choices, however, has had a curious result: it's made whittling the choices down to a practical list nearly impossible.  Or, at least, the potential exists for that overwhelming result to happen.  It happened to me, that's for sure.  And I was still very much wrestling with the lamely existential crisis and dread that resulted from it when Sense8 premiered.
  
Interestingly, Sense8 is one of the things that seems to have snapped me out of it again.  Initially, I planned not to watch the series, mostly because it got an indifferent review from Alan Sepinwall and Dan Feinberg, the television critics who I follow most closely.  They shrugged at it; so I mimicked them, and I shrugged at it, too.  However, in trying to figure out what accounted for my apathy, I eventually stumbled upon the notion that I'd allowed myself to become too overwhelmed.  If I may coin an analogy, I'd become to worried about reading an entire library and not worried enough about reading individual books.  
  
Another part of the reason why I didn't intend to watch Sense8 is that I simply didn't want to devote the time to do so.  That was why I never got around to going to see Jupiter Ascending; I just didn't want to take the time to sit down and watch it, because I could put those two hours to use doing something else.  What else?  I don't know!  Something that got me closer to Achieving My Goals.  What that was, I can't say; not being able to say, I simply shrugged Jupiter Ascending off.  Never mind the fact that I was a fan of the directors; never mind the fact that I was a fan of cinematic sci-fi in general.  I missed out on seeing Ex Machina in a theatre for the same reason.
  
Does any of that make sense to anyone other than me?  I have no idea.  I'm not a hundred percent sure it makes sense even to me.  But there you have it: that's where I was from roughly October of 2014 to July of 2015.
  
Now, it feels to me like it was a necessary recalibration.  Sense8 is a big part of what completed that calibration.  I found myself contemplating the fact that the series was out and thinking to myself, "Do you really want to be the guy who is a self-professed sci-fi fan who doesn't actually watch a big new sci-fi series?  Is that who you are?"
  
It isn't.  So I decided to watch Sense8, and that simple decision took a weight off of my shoulders that I had not entirely realized was even there at all.
  
That said, I realized that I still felt a need to limit my consumption of the series somewhat.  In some ways, I'm a big fan of the Netflix model, which is to simply release the entirety of each season of their original shows and let fans decide what pace to watch at.  I'm also not a fan, in that I tend not to be a binge-watcher.  I certainly have been at points in time, mostly when catching up on older shows I've never watched before (such as when I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or when rewatching favorite shows (such as when I rewatched all of Star Trek a few years ago).
  
I'm not a fan of it with new shows, though.  I have nothing against those who wish to consume a show in that manner (although my perception of this trend is that it's less out of a sense of enjoyment than it is out of a sense of wanting to be able to brag about it on Twitter); it's just not for me.  And so I opted to watch Sense8 the old-fashioned way, one episode per week, on the same day each week.  In my case, I watched on Sundays.  I missed one week, which seemed permissible; mentally, the show has taken off for a holiday, which is not by any means unrealistic.
  
The result?  I enjoyed it.  I will almost certainly continue to watch Netflix shows in that manner.
  
Now, with all of that self-indulgent hand-wringing out of the way, let me talk about the show itself.  It's about a group of eight men and women around the globe, all of whom are connected in a manner that is not immediately apparent.  This is seemingly what caused some critics to mentally check out.
  
If you are a sci-fi viewer, though, you are likely to recognize fairly early that what's happening is that the characters are telepaths who are linked together.  Is there more to it than that?  Future seasons may or may not clarify that matter, but really, all you need to know is that the series uses location, performance, and (especially) editing to convey the essence of telepathy on a scale unlike anything I've ever seen on film before.
  
Let's talk about each character, covering them in the order the series credits them:
  
  


Aml Ameen (whom you might recognize from The Maze Runner) plays Capheus, a Kenyan man who drives a bus for a living.  His primary goal in life is to earn enough money to help keep his AIDS-stricken mother supplied with medicine.  I say he drives a bus, and stand by that designation; but Capheus himself refers to his privately-owned vehicle as a van.  Specially, as Van Damn, as in Jean-Claude Van Damme.  Here's what the Van Damn looks like:
  
  
  
  
Don't worry; you will see plenty of the Van Damn during the course of Sense8's first season.
  
Capheus is a calm and noble man, but he eventually becomes tangled up with a local crimelord, and also with some of that crimelord's competitors.  Initially, I was a bit resistant to Capheus's plotline, but it won me over within a few episodes.
  
  
  
  
Doona Bae (whom you might recognize from Cloud Atlas) plays Sun, a Korean woman who goes to jail to cover up her brother's embezzlement from their father's company.  Like Neo, she knows kung fu.  Or, if not actual kung fu, then other skills she has gained from a successful amateur mixed-martial-arts career.
  
Before we proceed, I want to mention something I heard from a critic recently.  This critic was a fan of Sense8, but could barely contain his distaste for Cloud Atlas; and a big part of the reason why he hated that movie so much is that it cast Western actors (in makeup) as Eastern characters, in a way not dissimilar to what you'd see in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Remo Williams.
  
That stance seems to me be an almost willful misreading of that particular movie, which is all about reincarnation and depends on you being able to track the actors through their various roles.  It also ignores the fact that several Asian actors are called upon to play Western characters at various points!  So it's not as if the Wachowskis were . . . ah, forget it.  The whole thing just makes me angry.  Cloud Atlas speaks for itself, it needs no defense from me.
  
Anywho...
  
Let's now talk a bit about how the telepathy works in Sense8.  For one thing, I'm not sure "telepathy" is an adequate designation.  It'll do for now, but it might be too limiting.  In any case, it works like this: if you are part of a cluster of "sensates," then you have the ability to communicate with other members of your cluster.  You can enter their consciousness as a visitor, and this is communicated by means of having (as one example) Sun appear to be sitting on Capheus's bus, talking to him.  This is identical to how it would be if Capheus was seeing a ghost, except nobody else can see Sun; she is only in his mind.  Their communication is close enough, however, that they can experience the sensation of touching one another.  It can go further than that, too: Sun can take over Capheus's body and act through him, which means that when this happens, Capheus knows whatever kung fu Sun knows.
  
Will this come in handy at some point when somebody questions his love for Van Damme?  Well, I don't want to spoil anything; but yes, yes it does.  This stuff puts me in mind of Stephen King's the Drawing of the three, in which Roland the Gunslinger can enter the minds of a trio of characters and can choose either to merely be present or to exert influence over them.
  
Early on in the series, none of the characters has the slightest idea what is happening to them.  One of the best such scenes involves Sun and a rooster that may or may not be on her desk.
  
  
  
  
Oh, brother...
  
We now have to dive into some murky waters to talk about Nomi, as played by Jamie Clayton.  First, let me say this: Clayton is terrific, and Nomi is one of my favorite characters on the series.  So lest the next paragraph or two seem negative in any way, let's have that as a foundation.
  
Nomi is a trans woman, as is Clayton.  I've got problems with trans issues, and I feel like it would be disingenuous of me not to mention them, if only because I feel the need to discuss the degree to which Sense8 has impacted them.  2015 was obviously a big year for trans issues, what with the whole Caitlyn/Bruce thing, and Transparent, and The Dutch Girl; so I'm writing this from a conflicted time, but a time of tremendous strides.
  
My problems are my own, of course, and I wouldn't want to force anybody to have to share them who didn't want to.  Which is part of my problem with the way trans issues have been rammed down people's throats.  Look, I won't bother lying to you about it: when I look at Caitlyn Jenner, all I see is Bruce Jenner with long hair and fake tits.  I have a very hard time referring to him as "her," because I don't see a female; I see a male.  I am biologically designed to react in that manner, and having been alive for 41 years, I've got a lot of practice at it.  I've also got nearly 41 years of referring to Bruce Jenner as Bruce, not as Caitlyn, and frankly I just don't see why I should have to make the change.  This is not a matter of me wanting to keep Bruce/Caitlyn down; I never wanted to refer to Prince as "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince," either, and by God, I didn't do it.  If I changed my name to "Rerbert" tomorrow, I would not expect people who'd known (or known of) me for decades to suddenly stop calling me Bryant.
  
I see what Bruce Jenner did as a tremendous act of vanity on his part.  And yes, I said "his."  Sorry about that, it's just how I'm going to be.  I don't think he's crazy, or that he ought to be disallowed from doing what he's doing; I just think he's vain, and rich enough to act upon that vanity, and vain enough to want the rest of the world to support him.  I'll support his right to do it, but I won't cede my own right to think the way I've been thinking for nearly half a century.  My thoughts -- and expression of them -- do not in any way limit what he's doing, and if he or anyone else feels that it does, then all of a sudden we are having a very different conversation.
  
Watching Sense8, my eyes completely accept Jamie Clayton as a woman.  Knowing she began life as a man -- and, by the way, you will notice my pronouns have shifted; they did so without me having to consider it -- doesn't change that.  In some scenes, depending (I'm guessing) on the makeup, I can sort of tell that there is some masculinity there; and her voice is deep enough that I can kind of hear it, too.  But I suspect that most of that is my knowledge impacting my reactions; if you somehow beamed an image of her back in time to a younger Bryant who had no reason to suspect he might be looking at a former man, I think that younger version of me would simply accept Jamie Clayton as a woman and think nothing more about it except maybe for wanting to see her tits.  Sorry about that, but it's true.  And it helps me to prove my point; whether you want to condemn me for it or not is up to you.
  
All I'm saying is, if my social responsibility circa 2015 is to accept people for what their biological makeup is commanding them to do and be, I'll do my best; but I'm going to ask that the same courtesy be extended to me, and I think it's unrealistic to ask me to completely set aside my definitions of gender.  Maybe that'll happen eventually; but if you try to force me into it, you're the aggressor, and you leave me no choice but to fight back a bit.
  
Better by far to be Jamie Clayton, who simply shows up on screen and IS, and lets me make up my mind for myself.  When and if the fight begins, I'll fight for her; Caitlyn, not so much.
  
Speaking of trans issues, did you know that one of the Wachowskis is a trans woman?  Once billed as Andy and Larry, the Wachowski Brothers, they are now Andy and Lana, the Wachowskis.  So lest you get any thoughts about how they are using Jamie Clayton and Nomi to merely hop onboard a bandwagon, rest assured that this is a highly personal issue for them.
  
Nomi is a skilled computer hacker in Sense8, and it is through her that we initially begin to explore the danger that lurks in the world.  She is involuntarily hospitalized early on by her mother, who still refers to her as "Michael" and wants a doctor to "fix" her sickness.  Little does she know that the doctor in question has actually been hired by the villain of the show to kill or otherwise incapacitate her.  He's trying his best to eliminate all sensates, and while I will not tell you whether he succeeds with Nomi, I will say that she isn't the only character he targets during this first season.
  
Will Nomi's computer skills prove valuable to other characters at some crucial points?  Of course.
  
I'm amused by a subplot in which a colleague who knew Nomi when she was still a man shows up to help her, and is sort of flummoxed by her gender-swap.  But he's also charmed by it, and thinks she's awfully hot in her new guise.  I may as well confess, I find her pretty damn hot, too.  Hey, what can I say?  Other than "no homo, bro," I mean?
  
  
  
  
I spent much of my discussion of Nomi in female-objectification mode.  I'd love to say I'm sorry about that, but I'm not; I don't think it's a bad thing to be honest about the fact that we find people in a movie or television series to be attractive.  I will do my best -- and mostly succeed -- not to say horrible things, but expressing that a woman is hot does not seem to me to be much of a sin.  As I've said before, I love women, and if I could turn the world over to them right now I would almost certainly do it without more than a few moments' hesitation.
  
That said, holy moly is Tina Desai gorgeous. She plays Kala, a scientist living in Mumbai.  She is struggling with her decision to marry a wealthy man whose father's company employs her; she likes him, but not not love him, and probably never will.  Did I mention how hot she is?  Because Y'ALL...she is stunning.  (I may as well mention it here: I find all of Sense8's ladies to be hotter than balls; even the one that used to have them.  Tina Desai is probably my favorite in that regard, but I also find Doona Bae to be almost inexpressibly lovely.)
  
A great deal of time is spent with Kala, but she is also one of the least-developed characters on the show.  She doesn't interact with most of the other sensates very often; mostly, she is involved with Wolfgang, about whom we will speak more when we get to him.  Kala is an interesting character, though; her plight is very moving, and relatable.  It also allows for some good science-versus-religion subtext text to enter the story, and I suspect her character will prove to be much more important to the show the longer it runs.
  
  
  
  
Tuppence Middleton plays Riley, a London DJ who inadvertently gets mixed up in some nasty criminal dealings and has to flee home to Iceland.  Things gets even worse there, unfortunately.
  
I don't have a whole heck of a lot to say about Riley at the moment, but I like her (and Middleton) a lot, and we'll come back to her.
  
  
  
  
Max Riemelt plays Wolfgang, a German safe-cracker who, along with his best friend, has some problems to work out with his crime-boss uncle.  If I had to pick a least-favorite subplot on the show, this would be it; but don't take that to mean that I disliked it, because I didn't.  Riemelt is a good and intense (yet sympathetic) actor; if James Bond could be a German guy, I'd give him a look.
  
As the story progresses, he and Kala begin inexplicably appearing to one another, often at very inopportune moments.  He appears naked (tackle-out) at her wedding, causing her to faint and delaying the proceedings; she appears to him, almost as a guardian angel, when he is considering walking into a situation from which he may never emerge.  Their relationship is affecting and effective, as is Wolfgang's relationship with Felix, his best friend since childhood.  Felix makes his life considerably more difficult, but Wolfgang refuses to give up on him.  Plus, the two of them bonded over Conan the Barbarian as children, and I can't -- and won't -- resist that.
  
  
  
  
If I had to pick a favorite Sense8 character, it'd probably be Lito, played by Miguel Angel Silvestre.  Lito is a closeted-to-the-world gay actor who is a major star in Mexico.  He is dating a woman for appearances' sake, and when she stumbles onto his secret, she...
  
How would you expect that sentence to end?  I don't want to give it away, not because it's any sort of huge plot twist, but simply because it's a bit unexpected.  So if you don't want to know, skip down to the next photo.
  
Still here?
  
Okay.  Well, what happens is that she is thrilled by how adorable she finds Lito and his boyfriend, Hernando, to be together.  The three of them become great friends, and she becomes their live-in straight best friend.  Now, have you ever seen that in a movie or tv show before?  Probably not.
  
This is not to say that there is no drama; her former boyfriend finds out, and some bad shit happens as a result.
  
Through it all, Silvestre comes very close to stealing the entire series.  He is very funny, very good at drama (of which there is plenty), very good at action for the scenes in which we see Lito filming his movies, and very good at parodying action when we are supposed to see those same scenes as being ridiculous.  He shows up to help some of his fellow sensates at times when they need a good liar; he explains that he is very good at being a liar, which is both a referendum on what he does for a living and a judgment on how he has chosen to live her personal life.
  
  
  
  
Brian J. Smith is the last of our eight main sensates.  He plays Will, a Chicago cop who is haunted by seeing a murder victim as a child.  He comes into contact with Riley at some point, and the two of them fall head over heels in love despite not being present in the same room.  In one of the first season's best scenes, they have a conversation that neither of them is sure is even happening; to find out, one of them gives the other their cell number and has a friend call it.  Thus, proof.  Very clever, guys.
  
Smith is a good actor; you might recognize him from Stargate Universe.  His skill makes him a convincing policeman, but the show doesn't do all that much of interest with his story until it becomes intertwined with Riley's.  That's not a bad thing, necessarily; it's just that most of the characters' stories are interesting enough on their own that even if they were completely separate from the sci-fi trappings of Sense8, I would still be interested in watching them.  Will's story?  Not so much; it isn't developed very far, and sort of vanishes midway through the season as Will becomes involved in the larger story.  Whether that is a flaw for the series remains to be seen.
  
  
  
  
Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones from Doctor Who) plays Amanita, Nomi's girlfriend.  How interesting is it that Nomi is not merely trans, but also a lesbian?  Well, pretty interesting, and even more so since it gives Agyeman plenty of room to shine.  Her American accent isn't perfect, but the rest of her is.  Amanita is utterly devoted to Nomi, and of the various subsidiary characters I believe she is the only one who is even informed about the "sensate" idea.  There are some quality scenes in which Nomi and Will are telepathically conversing while Amanita is in the room; she is shut out of the conversation, but does not seem to hold this against Nomi in any way, and instead focuses on helping her the best she can.
  
Lest that make her sound like a character with no agency of her own, she is extremely important to the Nomi-in-the-hospital plotline.
  
  
  
  
Lost veteran Naveen Andrews plays Jonas, a sensate from outside the cluster of the eight sensates who comprise our main characters.  He is a wanted terrorist, although this is maybe only a sham enacted by the bad guys who want to catch him and use him for their own purposes.  Andrews is tasked with delivering much of the show's exposition, and he does so with aplomb.
  
Jonas doesn't have a huge amount to do compared to most of the rest of the cast, but I assume this will change in subsequent seasons.
  
By the way, since conversations about casting a man of color as James Bond have been raging across the Internet lately, let me thrown Andrews' hat in the ring.  He'd be at least as good as Idris Elba, in my opinion.
  
  
  
  
The final person from the series-regular cast I'd like to discuss is Daryl Hannah, who plays Angelica.  She is murdered in the first scene of the first episode, and only turns up very occasionally for the rest of the series.  I can't even immediately be sure she has a single line of dialogue after that point.
  
You don't cast an actor of Daryl Hannah's stature (no pun intended) for a glorified cameo and then put her name on all twelve episodes of a series, so I assume this means that the Wachowskis and Straczynski have plans for Angelica in subsequent seasons.  She obviously has some sort of a role to play in Will's backstory (it's her whom he saw dead when he was a child), and signs indicate that she and Jonas were deeply involved in one way or another.
  
*****
  
There's plenty more to say about Sense8, but without delving into episode-by-episode reviews, I don't think I can be of much further use.  It's worth mentioning that Sense8 is one of the best-looking tv series ever made.  The whole thing was filmed by cinematographer John Toll, who won Oscars for Braveheart and Legends of the Fall and also has on his resume things such as The Thin Red Line, the pilot episode of Breaking Bad, Almost Famous, The Last Samurai, Iron Man 3, The Adjudtment Bureau, Tropic Thunder, Cloud Atlas, and Jupiter Ascending.  This guys is the real deal, folks; if he doesn't win an Emmy for Sense8, I'll be disgusted.  Fuck, they should probably give him an Oscar for it.

The series was filmed on location around the world; that's not Vancouver standing in for Nairobi, it's Nairobi.  Or somewhere in Kenya, if not Nairobi itself.  Ditto for Korea, Mexico City, Mumbai, San Francisco, etc.  This has got to make it one of the most expensive television series ever filmed, and even if you dislike the end result I think you have to applaud Netflix putting this much money up on the screen.  In so doing, they are genuinely raising the bar for what "television" can mean.
  
The editing by Joe Hobeck and Joseph Jett Sally is just as impressive.  The show would not work at all if the editing did not successfully convey the intricacies of what is happening with the characters telepathically in any given scene.  And it may prove to be too much for some viewers.  Those who are a bit more conversant with the language of film, however, will have no problem keeping up.  That's down to the editors, who will deserve every award they can be given.
  
And with that, I think I'm out of things to say.  It's a recommendation, in case you were wondering.  Binge it if you want, or take the old-fashioned approach like I did; I don't think either way will work against you.

2 comments:

  1. This sounds like a cool show. Excellent overview, I'm sold. I like the term "sensate," as well.

    Naveen Andrews as Bond is madness but the kind of madness I could probably embrace. To me, even more than Sayid, he'll always be the balls-collector guy from Planet Terror.

    I used to say "It's nice to see another fan of Speed Racer" but I actually have never known anyone who's seen it and didn't love it. It's weird that one didn't land at the box office or elsewhere. I think it caught people's imagination as the wrong reboot at the wrong time or something - just didn't catch on. But it's a great flick. I haven't seen Cloud Atlas or Jupiter Ascending. I liked V for Vendetta just fine. (I liked Watchmen, too, while we're here. I sympathize with its detractors, but it's a reasonable translation of that story to the screen, and that's how I feel about V for Vendetta as well. I prefer the comics in each case, but the distance between the comics and the film is considerably less with V for Vendetta than it is with Watchmen.)

    For what it's worth, what you describe as handwringing I found to provide meaningful context. Also, re: "When and if the fight begins, I'll fight for her; Caitlyn, not so much." I'm right there with you. I don't really care how people choose to define themselves, but cast your seeds on fertile ground is what I'm saying. Don't rush to embrace every dingbat in a dress, is another way of putting it. Context matters.

    Definitely bookmarking this one - sounds like fun.

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    1. "Speed Racer" is one of the prettiest movies ever made, as far as I'm concerned. It's also a great adaptation of a cartoon mindset to live action. Plus the score by Michael Giacchino is awesome.

      "Planet Terror"! I forgot Naveen Andrews was in that. God damn, what a great movie. It still irks me that "Grindhouse" didn't make a gajillion dollars.

      "I don't really care how people choose to define themselves, but cast your seeds on fertile ground is what I'm saying. Don't rush to embrace every dingbat in a dress, is another way of putting it. Context matters." -- It sure does. At least to me, it does; and if that means that I am destined to increasingly become a relic in my own time, well, I won't be the first guy that ever happened to. All I know for sure is that if you grab and orange and tell me it's an apple, I'm probably going to argue with you about that.

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