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2013.01.16: "Just not yours and not mine."


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I.

I made the mistake last week at Belle Foods of buying 'quick' barley rather than the variety of pearl barley that takes the better part of an hour to cook. The latter is better for making something risotto-esque. The former is still tasty, mind you, and cooks in only 10-12 minutes, but it doesn't have the chewiness that resists you. I should have read the label more carefully.

Nutritionally they're basically the same, though.

The bag of dried red dates I bought at the market Monday afternoon are now ... gone. They were too tasty, so I must return and buy more next week! They're low calorie on their own. Unfortuntely if you decide to read on the IntarWebs about (dried) dates, you'll find all sorts of pseudo-scientific nonsense about the magical healing properties of dates. Note that the 'red date' ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ju
jube
) is not the same as the regular dates you're used to ... it's not the kind of date that almost poisoned Indy in "Raiders of the Los Ark."

I also want some regular dates ... it's winter ... it seems like a good time for dried fruit. It seems like a good time for dried fruit rehydrated in rum or brandy.

II.

Perhaps the closest 'The X-Files' ever comes to engaging gender politics in a meaingful rather than back-handed and usually behind-the-times way may be completely by accident in this brief exchange between Scully and Skinner early in "Piper Maru":

Scully: You know, it's strange - men can blow up buildings, and they can be nowhere near the crime scene. But we can piece together the evidence and convict them beyond a doubt. Our labs here can recreate out of the most microscopic details their motivation and circumstance to almost any murder. Right down to a killer's attitude towards his mother and that he was a bed wetter. But in the case of a woman... my sister... who was gunned down in cold blood in a well-lit apartment building by a shooter who left the weapon at the crime scene, we can't even put together enough to keep anybody interested.
Skinner: I don't think this had anything to do with interest.
Scully: If I may say so, sir. It has everything to do with interest. Just not yours and not mine.

The topic is Scully's sister's murder and the technology and know-how of the FBI. It's about incredulity, about conspiracy and turning a blind eye. There's context to it, but read out of context and from 2013 it serves as a smart commentary on privilege and priorities.

That's just an aside.

We watched "Piper Maru" this afternoon before Ms. S. went to work. Once she returns home we'll probably watch the next episode of 'Dollhouse' ... the disturbing one about Sierra and Victor, and Sierra's pre-Dollhouse life. It will be bloody.

III.

We indeed went for the Karl Urban marathon yesterday: "The Bourne Supremacy," "The Chronicles of Riddick," and "Pathfinder."

Of those "The Bourne Supremacy" is clearly the 'best'. It's the only one that is clearly structured with no fat, with tight performances that may not be 'deep' or 'awards-worthy,' but they are engaging. If there's a problem, it's Matt Damon's rather excessive eye makeup that, by the end, makes him look a bit draggier than he ought to. It's perhaps my least favorite of the Damon-Bourne movies ... no, that's not quite right. It's the one I've seen the least, as I've rewatched the first several times and always find it rewatchable, and I've skimmed the 3rd multiple times, but only watched it all the way through that time in the theater and perhaps once after that.

This one has a feature I love: Berlin. The movie was shot around 2004 and so the landmarks are slightly different, to some extent, than those I experienced a year or so later. The 'Palast der Republik' ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pa
lace_of_the_Republic_%28Be
rlin%29
) features prominently in one shot, but while I lived there it was being dismantled. Not torn down ... they deconstructued ... constructed it in reverse ... took it apart from the ouside in, from the skin to the skeleton. This took time, but reduced noise and pollution and damage to the surroundings. It was astonishing to walk past it day after day, week by week, and watch it unmake itself.

We know Gabriel Mann as 'Nolan' on 'Revenge' ... and Ms. S. did not see his fate coming.

Anyway, then during dinner it was on to "The Chronicles of Riddick," which is a seriously midguided piece of filmmaking. It's a mess, almost a hot mess, a convoluted piece of myth-making in search of story. It's a little 'Macbeth,' a little Old Testament and Herod, a little Crusades, a little let's-borrow-a-look-from-LotR, a little let's-steal-from-Jeunet, a dose of prison story, too many references to the previous film to which it has no real connection except a couple characters ... and so on. And don't get Ms. S. started on Karl Urban's space mullet ...

... or the fact that you have DAME Judi Dench and you use her for opening voiceover!

It's possible that Thandie Newton actually thought she was in a production of Macbeth.

Nick Chinlund is to Liev Schreiber as Clint Howard is to Ron Howard. Here he's a Mexican Non-Union Equivalent of Wolverine by way of "Alien Resurrection."

And then around time for dessert we moved to "Pathfinder," which could have also worked in a Viking movie lineup with "Outlander" and "Valhalla," or in a white-savior-Native-American movie with "Last of the Mohicans" and similar (perhaps even put "New World" in there). I like Karl Urban, but here he's the 'star' and he's one of the least interesting guys on screen; this is not his Doctor McCoy. It's the *old* Pathfinder I want to see more of ... somebody who has personality, somebody I care about a little, even or especially when I know he's going to die. And then you cast Clancy Brown but hide him behind such a costume -- more a mask -- that I can't care that it's him. I'm left with unmotivated 'villains' who exist soley to kill and serve as an obstacle for a protagonist for whom I also do not care. There was a smart thread plucked out midway through, when the old Pathfinder shows up after a slaughter and inquires of Karl Urban's Mighty Whitey, how's that vengeance gig working out for you?

Answer: it's not ... it's gotten everyone he cares about killed.

It's a blunt and obvious storyline, but it would work. It would have provided a 'third way'. Instead the movie doubles down on death and destruction, opting for schemes over a full-frontal-assault.

I am not, however, complaing, as this is exactly what we were looking for: "meh" movies we could enjoy and complain about while watching them (part of the enjoyment!), movies that were not so smart that we had to pay a lot of attention, but were at least trashy enough that we'd remain somewhat invested.

And now: to preparing dinner.

Commander Johansen: Conscience, it's just the voices of the dead trying to save us from our own damnation.
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