Sunday, January 31, 2010

if god were a nutter... (rated 3 stars)

I wasn’t expecting much from Legion, I was just looking to escape for a couple of hours. But it didn’t really do the trick. The movie is a monster/action fantasy. The monsters weren’t scary or novel enough to do anything more than gross me out in a few cases (I admit that I though that “grandma” was kind of a funny twist, but I’m not avidly into horror movies so maybe that’s been done to death).

And the premise was pretty ridiculous. First, we’re told there’s a God, and He’s fed up with humanity so He’s decided to get rid of every last one of us. So what does He do? He sends out angels to slaughter us. Angels! And the “angels” are acting a heck of a lot like demons, possessing some people, and taking bite-sized chunks out of others. Come on, angels behaving en masse in this evil manner?? So all plausibility is gone at this point, because if this is the way “God” behaves, then how do you differentiate him from Satan? Who, by the way, never appears once.

On top of that, the archangel Michael has decided to rebel against “God”. His reasoning? Father doesn’t know best. “God” should be given what he “needs,” not what he “wants.”

So basically, this “God” is either a psychopathic nutter or a giant megalomaniacal baby. Either way, it’s totally unbelievable because it’s so far out of the bounds of any mainstream Christian theology. If you’re going to propose a crazy-ass demon god, you should get him from some theology where that’s more plausible (ancient Egypt? The Greeks? The Aztecs?).

The reason that I’m rating the movie as “OK” is that it was a reasonable distraction, and I kind of liked the small cast of characters, even though they weren’t very well fleshed out (as is typical with horror movies). I don’t feel like the movie was a waste of time, although I do wish I’d seen something else instead…. If you’re going to watch it, do see it in the theater; I think I would have been more disappointed seeing it on a TV screen.


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Did I mention the terrain in Val D'Isere is magnificent?

I have to figure out a way to take an entire winter to tour the towns in the French Alps and get a good sampling of all the skiing available. I'm pretty sure Val D'Isere is some of the best available (at least at my level), but I'd like to know what I'm missing, too.


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

In a weird coincidence, there were a few games of a winter polo match being played during our visit. It was fun, and we wound up standing around in the cold to watch for much longer than we thought we would.

petit dejeuner at chevallot

petit dejeuner at chevallot
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

In addition to the wonderful skiing in Val D'Isere, the town has a lot of old world charm.

For the best breakfast, you must go to Chevallot (the one on the main road). Their "petit" dejeuner is huge, and every bite is mouth-watering.


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I took another ski vacation in Val D'Isere a few weeks ago (I've been there twice before, in 2007 and 2003). This has got to be some of the most glorious ski terrain in the world!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A review of "The Book of Eli [Blu-ray]"

by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes

Denzel Washington plays a ninja-powered, Bible-toting wanderer in the post-apocalyptic movie, The Book of Eli.

I enjoyed it despite the religious overtones and the thin plot. The movie has a lot of weaknesses, including the fact that Washington should have been a lot scrawnier if he’d been eating cat for the last 30 years. Furthermore, the twist near the end was completely unbelievable. But I do enjoy dystopias, so I was tolerant. The casting was excellent, with Gary Oldman, Tom Waits, Mila Kunis (“Jackie” from That ‘70s Show), and Jennifer Beals.

I kept waiting for some revelation to get me all woo woo, but it never happened. Maybe this movie only really works if you’re religious. Still, it was worth seeing!

commitment shy (rated 5 stars)

by Jason Reitman

Up in the Air is the story of a guy whose job is to fire people. He’s a “road warrior”, someone who spends his time mostly traveling for his job. His sole commitment is to this job and the freedom that it gives him by keeping him moving and thus hard to pin down. He even mostly manages to evade his direct family, two sisters who still live in the town where they all grew up.

I haven’t read the book. The main character in the book sounds shallow and unsympathetic in comparison to our protagonist in the movie, Ryan Bingham, who seems to be kind of sweet (is it impossible for Clooney to play an unsympathetic character?). Even in his job as an ax-man, it eventually comes out that he’s sensitive to what he’s doing to his victims, trying to show them that there’s a future way out of their sudden darkness.

Bingham is depicted as a vulnerable man, always running away from the burden of commitment. And the movie is filled with commitments which go bad, so Bingham’s philosophy of “keeping one’s (metaphorical) backpack light” seems wise, in the context of the movie. This philosophy is in line with Thoreau’s minimalistic lifestyle, but is counter to American mores. In contrast, the “American dream” of marriage, kids, house is viewed with cynicism in the movie. This is kind of surprising, given that it’s a Hollywood production.

In the end, you aren’t given a neat Hollywood ending, another thing which I liked about the movie. Nice!

[I saw Up in the Air in a movie theater.]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tank one hundred and four

Total miles: 36864. Trip miles: 264.5. Gallons: 6.743. Price per gallon: $2.719.

Screen mileage: 39.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 39.2 mpg.

Short trips, snowy and icy mornings, make for inefficient mileage. OTOH it's been almost a month since I had to tank up. Less gas is used when the car sits in the driveway!