Monday, August 27, 2012

Breaking bad down

I've watched every episode of breaking bad (...well, to episode 8 of season 5, anyway). For those that are not in the know, it's about Malcom's Dad getting diagnosed with Cancer and turning to meth production with the help of a high school drop-out (who would assist with distribution) as a means of providing his family with a little cream for when he passes on.

Needless to say, things go a little (lot) awry and he realises that meth production is a lot harder than he thought it would be. I enjoyed the premise although the implementation left little to be desired. Far too much time was spent fixing issues that they created because the producers/writers needed another set piece to be introduced and they had nothing better than forcing one of their characters to do something completely out of character to produce this desired effect. They also go out of their way to make every single female character completely annoying ... apart from one**.

(spoilers ahead)
**She soon over-doses while Walter (Malcom's Dad) watches on and his partner lies passed out next to her ... which is completely out of character for anyone that isn't suffering from cancer and isn't a sociopath. This show cannot possibly have a likable female character but her demise was inevitable. I did predict her downfall as soon as I saw her if that's any consolation (pretty, sane woman befriends ex meth-head = death from overdose). This is a 'gritty' drama, and so, it's only natural that every person gets their come-uppance in the end. FYI: there are references to Scar Face in season 5. Hmmm... wonder what Walt's going to be doing in the grande finale? Considering Season 5 starts (a flash forward one year into the future) with him purchasing a machine gun/grenade launcher almost exactly the same as Pacino's should make the finale pretty obvious.

Anyway, Walter does a whole bunch of really stupid things that only a moron (or meth-head) would do. Except he's an intelligent (ex) high school chemistry teacher, which makes what I am about to list of out-of-character moments even more out of place:
  • Walter goes into partnership with a meth dealer / ex student of his high school class.
  • Walter makes a move on a colleague at high school and is instantly fired from his high school job.
  • Walter spouts random dark words at 100% inopportune moments any chance the writers feel that there isn't enough drama. This mostly occurs in front of his DEA brother-in-law.
  • One day Walter doesn't want any partners, the next he does.
  • Walter poisons his partner's pseudo child just so his partner's focus can return to full-blown meth manufacturing.
  • Walter buys a muscle car + luxury sedan *cash* and flaunts it under his DEA brother-in-law's nose
  • Walter, apparently, doesn't have an understanding of basic arithmetic as he's always surprised when his cut isn't larger (despite being able to do complex yield calculations in his head).
Other bone head moments:
  • Jesse does *not* use plastic containers to dissolve the dead gunman, despite Walter's expressed desire that he should. The guy dissolves through the bath tub and then through the floor of his parent's home. Hilarity ensues.
  • Walter and his wife devise  the weakest cover story possible by stating that "Walt's good at cards" and, therefore, that this is the perfect cover for his new-found wealth.
  • Apparently the girl that Walter witnesses O.D. was the daughter of an Air Traffic Controller, which results in a mid-air crash that just happens to occur directly over Walter's house, hence the burnt pink teddy bear. Ridiculous ... or the world's best example of chaos theory in effect.
  • The wife has an affair (not so far fetched) and because she's the accountant for her bone-head boss,  then feels compelled to cover her boss' cooked books with Walter's money to the tune of around 600K ... without Walter's knowledge.
  • The boss decides to buy/lease a 300K sports car instead because, hey, what's the IRS gonna do? Put him in jail for tax evasion?
  • She orders her lawyer's thugs to go and push him to pay the outstanding taxes and he snaps his neck through an act of god.
  • Walt kills Mike for no good reason other than "he's now Heisenberg" (the god particle?). I'm sure this will play out somehow where Jesse (the partner) finds out. What drama.
  • His DEA brother-in-law finally cottons onto Walt possibly being a meth manufacturer. NOT because he doesn't work anymore. NOT because he's a brilliant chemist. NOT because he bought multiple cars cash. NOT because he bought a car wash cash. But because he found a book in Walt's house signed by the guy Mr DEA found murdered (also referring to Walt as W.W. in the inscription). Way to sleuth that one, Mr DEA.
I could go on but I won't - far too many bone head/silly moments to list. But the biggest point is that every single woman in this is really annoying. The writers must all be misogynist because no love is directed towards them and pretty much nothing particularly consequential comes from anything they happen to do ... outside of them being a pain in the ass every time they're on screen. You could quite happily watch this series without any one of them and the story would be a whole lot better.

Classic example ... need I say more? (Although Nurse Ratched did make the  film)
  • Walt's wife: nagging, vindictive, philanderous, catatonic, suicidal, prone to silent treatments, prone to aggressive outbursts, smokes cigarettes while pregnant.
  • DEA's wife: nagging, kleptomaniac, unable to keep a secret, gossiper, prone to jealousy.
  • Skyler: pretty cool, attractive, a little punk ... and dead through O.D on meth/heroine.
  • Lydia: squirrely, opportunistic, prone to putting hits out on all those that know her, compulsive liar.
The women really get the short end of the stick most of the time. The guys are still annoying but less so. I think this series would have been far better if the characters had stayed true to their personae and not as prone to uncharacteristic outbursts for the sake of creating a situation. This broke the realism and destroyed any sense of rapport with them. This is a series of coulda and shoulda. So close, but no meth for you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dystopia by definition

Dystopia is a word that's thrown around a lot lately. The word, by definition, means:

"A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding."

Which brings me to this video that attempts to convey dystopia through many forms of media; multimedia if you will. I think this video is interesting (but not as interesting as their slow-motion flying dogs). I think they went for a far simpler definition of what dystopia was to them (mostly over-population) my personal view is that our society is nearing the zenith of what I see as dystopia. Already, far too many people know far too much about you simply through using their services; whether directly or indirectly.

I had an interesting experience recently:
I've recently been on the lookout for a new laptop over the last few weeks, I was surprised when I started receiving emails from Amazon about cool laptops that were on sale. Without prompting by me, they knew that I was a likely candidate for a new laptop and, therefore, they were proactive in ensuring that I knew all about their clunky low-res laptops (I'll refrain from getting on my soapbox this time) . A little scary, sure. And all of this came about because I had decided to browse a few laptops on their site while logged into their system. Apparently every website that utilises facebook integration automatically collects information about your browsing habits irrespective of whether you actually click or comment via their facebook integration. They collect information just by you going to that page (while remaining logged into facebook). Unless you choose not to be very social, they are guaranteed to know quite a bit about you (even if all they're able to trace is your unique IP address).

bonus points if you know what this is from :)
Scary, indeed, but that's the price you pay for living in the information age.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What an ordinary web you weave

The Amazing Spider-man. With a movie like this I cannot help asking why? Why did they feel a need to rehash this story? Why did they choose to rehash this with an extra dorky version of Peter Parker? Why did they think there was a market for a movie that should still be relatively fresh in your memory (and infinitely better). I would like to think that Spider-man 3 did not exist but unfortunately the horror that is this film still haunts me and should serve as a warning that drugs are bad, 'mkay? The one positive is that at least everyone managed to not get all teary in the grand finale.

From the start, there is a chronic sense of déjà vu. A dorky but smart college student, Peter Parker, attends school and is brought up by his grandparents and is then bitten by a radioactive spider. Yawn. The one cool bit is that he gets back his spider-web-shooter thingies (official scientific term) rather than having spider web shooting out of his wrists. That's one point for science, albeit comic book science. Compared to Raimi's films, the web swinging and snarky New York Spidey repartee is more fun and the effects are better realised. I liked it and at this point I was holding out hope that the rest of the film would only get better. But that is about the time that we are introduced to a very poorly transposed Reptile/Rhys Ifans amalgam that just looks all parts ridiculous and zero parts scary or intimidating. Even the fights are not memorable and the grand finale is just plain boring with little reason to care whichever way the movie chose to fall (the good guys win once again).

Off topic: what is it with modern-day film makers (Raimi and Nolan included)? Why do they have a hard-on for exposing the hero's secret identity to anyone willing to give them the time of day? I don't remember my Spidey being as flippant with his alter ego but maybe this is a warning sign of my impending dementia.

Peter Parker you ain't
It is unfortunate. I think a lot was right with this film although there was not enough to make it good. First and foremost, the story isn't particularly good, The main actor (Andrew Garfield) sort of flounders in the role and the love interest is classic damsel in distress with a hint of girl power but not much purpose outside of trying to look fabulous. Go and watch Sam Raimi's Spider-man and (the most excellent) Spider-man 2 instead. The only thing amazing about this film is the name.