philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
I didn't exactly have high hopes for either of these, but I wasn't expecting either of them to be quite so unbearable.



Maleficent (2014)

Okay admittedly I was told that Angelina Jolie would be the only good thing about this and it's true, she really is the only good thing about this. Actually, I tell a lie, the special effects work is gorgeous and often kind of cool. But could we have the story unfold for itself for a bit without constantly having the gaps filled by voiceover narration? I found the whole thing felt like a bad adaptation of a book. It's like they had so many plot points to introduce and not enough time to fit them in, so the film would rush from one point to the next. It's like a story written by a child, rushing to all the important points in the story without spending the time to build any of them up.


Read more... )


Cuban Fury (2014)

Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, The World's End, Hyperdrive (TV)) and Chris O'Dowd (Calvary, FAQ About Time Travel, The IT Crowd (TV)) in a movie together! Just the idea of it sounded brilliant. Whatever the premise of the movie might be, those two would surely be awesome. How could they not be?



Well, pretty easily as it turns out. Chris O'Dowd is giving a highly animated comedic performance, but unfortunately nothing he is saying is funny. His lines simply don't make him anything other than an obnoxious bastard. It seems the writer worked on a few series of "Misfits" and that involved a lot of people being obnoxious to each other, but that's the difference really. Those characters were horrible to each other, whereas here it is very one-sided. Chris O'Dowd is mean, and Nick Frost's character just takes the abuse.
Read more... )

Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 2 "Into The Dalek"

On the plus side, this week's Doctor Who episode was a return to form. It reminded me of the episode "Dalek" from the first NuWho series. Also Capaldi has been allowed to calm down a bit this time and he's got a sort of Tom Baker element to him. I've not actually been that keen on Tom Baker's style, but what's good about this shift is that it is drastically different from the style of the last three Doctors and, in this episode at least, it seems to be working.
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Hellbenders (2012)

A comedy where the concept is rather funnier than the film as a whole. The opening of the film admittedly had me laughing out loud.

The concept is of a sect of 'hellbound saints', a group of exorcists who specifically aim to use the method from the movie "The Exorcist" to defeat the most powerful demons. (You'll remember that in the Exorcist the priest defeats the demon by committing suicide while possessed.) In order to be possessed you need to be impure and the intention is to send the demons to hell, so the Hellbenders are priests who intentionally live in a state of debauchery to be ready to use this technique against demons.



Naturally Clancy Brown (the Kurgan from "Highlander") is on his A-game as the leader of the Hellbenders. But a surprisingly fun addition to the cast is 'Bubbles' from the wire (actor Andre Royo). He plays the bureaucrat of the group, recording all their sins to check they are all 'damnation-ready'. However, it's clear that breaking the rules is against his nature (so he's a far cry from the junkie he plays in The Wire').


Click here to read the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

This is the sixth in a series of movie lists I've been making charting my favourite movies of each year.

My top films of 2007,2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were the following:

Click here to see my top 5 for 2007 (which I have plans to expand)
Click here to see my top 10 for 2008
Click here to see my top 10 for 2009
Click here to see my top 10 for 2010
Click here to see my top 10 for 2011

Part way through 2012 I suggested that it had been a great year for movies. I was rebuked for this comment at the time. Looking at my favourites of the year (having been able to fill in many of the gaps) it is interesting to see that many of my selections had a very limited cinema release, if they made it to a cinema at all. "Dredd" was a flop, "Cabin In The Woods" had its released delayed for years, "The Revenant" had its straight-to-DVD release delayed for years, and most people in the UK have never even heard of "Detention". Of all my "very best of the year" top 10 movie lists, this one for 2012 contains by far the most obscure entries. I still think this was a pretty great year for movies, but I don't think I'd have been feeling that way if it hadn't been for wonderful online recommendations opening me up to so many hidden gems.



10. Excision (2012)
UK release: 2 November 2012


A twisted coming of age tale, with a protagonist who has a sexual fascination with blood. Both horrifying and comical at the same time, "Excision" is an incredible piece of work. Inventive dream sequences help to colour the more down-to-earth character drama. While Annalynne McCord is exceptionally brilliant in the central role, Traci Lords also gives a great performance as her mother.



My review here

Richard Bates Jr.'s next film is "Suburban Gothic" about an unemployed man who discovers he can channel the paranormal.



9. The Girl (2012 TV Movie)
UK release: 26 December 2012


In the same year where we saw Antony Hopkins donning extensive prosthetics to make himself look like the great director Alfred Hitchcock, Toby Jones is able to do an even more effective job working mainly with his own highly expressive face. This is a not even remotely flattering portrayal of the director (though it's worth noting that, for all it's cutesiness, neither was "Hitchcock" with Antony Hopkins), but it does work very well as a Hitchcockian drama, thick with menace and atmosphere.



My review here

Julian Jarrold's next film is "Girls' Night Out", a romance thriller about Princess Margaret in the immediate aftermath of WWII.

More favourites of 2012 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Amreeka (2009)

I'd been meaning to see this for quite a while based on the trailer. It seemed almost akin to "Amelie" in its level of sweetness.

Amreeka is about a woman and her son who travel from Palestine to the US for a better life. In particular, the son hopes for a better education and greater opportunities than he could receive in Palestine.



The central actress playing the boy's mother is an incredible actress and really helps to carry the film. But the character she is playing is so naive that it's rather hard to suspend disbelief.


Click here to read the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Philomena (2013)

I have mixed feelings about Stephen Frears as a director. He does these strange combinations of 'sweet and cheerful' and 'fraut with emotion'. It's a crowd pleasing combination because it means that you never go so dark as to alienate potential viewers, but you are still engaging the audience with the issue at hand.



Still, it's probably notable that the film of his which I enjoyed the most is probably his darkest: "Dirty Pretty Things" (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo, Audrey Tautou and even Sergi Lopez, all in the same movie!). It was a film about illegal immigration, prostitution, sexual harassment and the illegal trade in organs, but even that had its sweeter side.



In "Philomena" I was actually surprised at how minimal the tragedy is (at least initially). The protagonist is wronged because her child is adopted by a rich family. Now, this is a child which she could not actually afford to raise herself and which, in that social setting, would have been considered a shame on her. (She was an unmarried mother. Not a big deal now, but back then was enough to get you committed to an asylum.) Living with the nuns was not much fun, but there are now stories emerging of far worse treatment in Church-owned establishments. But thankfully(?) things do get worse. More has happened in those decades since her son was taken away from her. So by the end, we really do have a story worthy of our outrage.


Click here for the full review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Hmmm... I'm not really liking this.

In fact, to be frank I felt like "Time of the Doctor" was very nearly as bad as Russell T. Davies' "End of Time" travesty. So even before starting the first episode of Series Eight of NuWho I already felt like Doctor Who was somewhat in the doghouse. (Which is a pity, because I really really enjoyed the 50th Anniversary Special.)



So a few things everybody else has probably noted already:
Spoilers... )





But the weirdest bit for me was this: What was Jenny clapping about???

Clara essentially seems to be saying to Vastra "oh you totally fancy me" and then Jenny starts clapping. It makes no sense to me.

The best explanation I can come up with right now is that Jenny was finding the whole argument as tiresome and awkward as I was and was just desperate to get to a point where it was over and done with.

Can anyone else help me out with this? Why was Jenny clapping?


Other LJ friends have had the following to say about the new Doctor Who episode (and please let me know if I missed you out or if you'd like your link removed from here):
Sabotabby - Liked it
Shadowkat67 - Liked it
Xerinmichellex - Didn't like it


UPDATE:
Oh my goodness, suddenly it all makes sense. Ben frikkin' Wheatley was directing!
Doctor Who generally thrives on its comedy, so who could possibly worse for the job of directing the episode than a guy who made a whole comedy movie which wasn't funny?

philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

When I was on one of my bouts of searching for music in the same style as the soundtrack from "Drive" (yes, I'm still listening to that synthy stuff years later), I came across some music which actually belongs to the genre of Chiptune.

Chiptune is a genre based on making music purely out of the sounds which can be produced from a gameboy. (Otherwise known as 8-bit music.) For many of us, I think our first exposure to this genre was the 8-bit version of "Threshold" from the "Scott Pilgrim Vs The World" soundtrack.

I was pointed to what is probably the best song from Unicorn Kid by a youtube user claiming it was the chiptune equivalent of selling out. So perhaps Unicorn Kid doesn't count as chiptune? (Not sure that adding in a few sounds which AREN'T straight from a gameboy is such a bad idea.) In any case, the song "Lion Hat" consists in a beautiful melding of squeaky noises which really appealed to me. I think others may find it annoying beep-y rubbish, but heck if you don't check it out you won't know what you are missing:

Lion Hat


(video link)


More recommended Unicorn Kid music under the cut.... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Act of Killing (2012 Documentary)

This is quite an incredible piece of work. It's quite hard to.fathom what or how the filmmaker must be feeling behind the camera since it's harrowing enough just watching the finished product.



The documentary-maker has travelled to Indonesia to visit the figures responsible for a military coup in which they killed thousands of people accusing them of being communists.

He has then asked these figures whether they want to make a creative artistic film about these killings they are so very proud of.


Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Okay, so I didn't pre-select this group of sci-fi movies for reviews. It was more that I had a lot of movies still to review and many of them happened to be sci-fi. And since sci-fi is my first love as far as genres go, unsurprisingly I've kept checking out new sci-fi movies since then. So here's the latest one I've come across...



+1 (2013)

Oddly titled "Shadow Walkers" in the UK. A title which has absolutely no relevance to the film's content whatsoever. "+1" is a science-fiction film about a group of older teenagers/young adults most of whom are home for the summer after their first year at uni. The party seems to be set up by an absurdly wealthy friend and while this is rather taken for granted, it does at least explain the size of the house in which the events unfold.



A strange comet causes a doppelganger of everyone at the party to appear. Initially no one at the party notices because the partygoers are led to an event outside while the doppelgangers repeat their actions inside.



Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Kidnapped For Christ (2014)

It's actually a misleading title since many of these 'kidnappings' are performed by organisations without a religious affiliation. Nevertheless, this American organisation is fundamentalist evangelical Christian (are we surprised? It's either that or Roman Catholic amirite?) and the filmmaker was (prior to uncovering this hypocrisy at least) a strong believer in that faith.

What's a little more irregular however, is that they are taking those kidnapped children to the Dominican Republic. Many of these organisations are quite happy to run within the US itself.



The odd thing about these kidnappings is that they are actually arranged by the children's parents. While that might sound like sending your child to a holiday camp, in those instances the child is normally informed about the trip in advance. Also these 'camps' don't just run over the holidays. The parents pay huge amounts for their care and tuition so they can stay for months or often years.



So perhaps it is like being forced to go to boarding school? And having the decision forced on you? Sometimes in the middle of the night by complete strangers?

Well yet another aspect of this camp which makes it strange (apart from the way it is located in the Dominican Republic and is importing children from the US) is its bizarre discipline procedures. There is a complicated points system for behaviour. Avoiding picking up naughty points basically involves doing whatever you are told to do without question. That includes regular demands that children do sets of press ups, star jumps and the like. It also involves passing spot checks with bizarre requirements (such as that shirts hanging in the closet must have all buttons done up and must be 'evenly spaced'. Any complaint about conditions will lead to being disciplined. Any calls home are monitored. Any attempt to tell parents about the bad conditions results in a punishment for being manipulative.



If someone is on the highest tier of punishment then there will be a period of time (weeks perhaps?) during which they will not be allowed to talk to other children. The worst punishment of all is the sinister sounding 'quiet room'.

Click here to read more... )

The Cracked article to which I refer can be found here
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Hunter (2011)

Willem Dafoe is a great actor. However, I rarely see him in a leading role.

There is no doubt that Dafoe carries this leisurely-paced indie drama. Even playing such a reclusive character his performance is crammed full of emotion.



Right from the start we discover that he is being employed to find and kill the last remaining tazmanian tiger, yet Dafoe is always wholly relateable. We always sympathise with his character in spite of his questionable motives.
Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

Remember how in the mid-credits sequence at the end of Thor 2, Benicio Del Toro explains that the Ether was just one of six planet-destroying magic stones? Well it turns out he wasn't kidding. Here in "Guardians of the Galaxy" they really do just find another sparkly magic rock with very little to distinguish it from the one we found in 'Avengers' and the one we found in 'Thor 2'. And speaking of indistinguishable, we also get a villain who is basically a stand-in for Loki, only with none of the charisma.



All that being said, "Guardians of the Galaxy" looks gorgeous. The design of the world in which the characters live is fantastic. I feel like I'm damning with faint praise here (just like when I said that "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" was better than "Battle for the Planet of the Apes"), but it has to be said that "Guardians of the Galaxy" comes across rather like a Star Wars movie and, to my mind, it wipes the floor with the Star Wars prequels. We see a variety of awesomely designed environments building a full world in which the characters can exist with flying vehicles and technology for them to use.



Sadly the characters themselves seem incomplete. It seems to me that the more important the characters were, the less interesting they were. The big surprise actually was Groot the humanoid tree-person. Actually one reason why he wasn't as goofy as I'd been expecting is because he's basically Swamp Thing. Sure, he's more like Swamp Thing before John Constantine comes along to tell him he's essentially a nature god, but there's still time for Groot to develop that way. Marvel actually have their own more clear-cut Swamp Thing clone, but that's Man Thing (a name I cannot imagine catching on) and he's already had one of their least impressive movie outings. Anyway, the variety of plant-based powers exhibited by Groot is by far the most creative element of the film. And he's not really the most central of the characters.
Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Best of Men (2012 TV Movie)

Sure, it's a made-for-tv movie and it feels like it. Nevertheless, the performances are so good and everything is just handled so well that I just felt joy from beginning to end. There's not a lot in the way of impressive directorial flourishes, but there is a good story told well and emotionally engaging as all hell.



At the centre of it all is Eddie Marsan playing the true-life figure, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, a German doctor who is finally allowed to treat spinal patients in Britain during the latter half of World War II. Marsan has a very wide range as an actor, but this is definitely my favourite performance from him so far.


Click here for the rest of the review... )



Labyrinth (2012 TV Series)

Oh dear me Christopher Smith, what happened?

Christopher Smith has become one of my favourite directors. While there's a decidedly annoying decision for one of the scenes in his first movie "Creep" it was nevertheless a pretty cool debut. He followed it up with "Severance" which I saw in the cinema upon its release. Not realising that it was the same director, nor how great it would be, I missed "Triangle" in cinemas (not least because I thought it was about the Bermuda Triangle - which it isn't). And his latest film "Black Death", with Sean Bean, was one of the better "medieval horror" films of late (others being "Centurion", "Valhalla Rising", "Season of the Witch", "Solomon Kane" and arguably also "13 Assassins").



It's been a rather long wait since "Black Death" and it seems that Christopher Smith has tried to transition to tv. (Something it seems that the very similar director Neil Marshall has already successfully managed by directing the excellent 'Blackwater' episode of "Game of Thrones" and starting the series "Black Sails", which I hope will be rather less disappointing than this was.) Unfortunately he seems to have chosen a 'Da Vinci Code' knockoff. I remembered seeing Kate Mosse's book "Labyrinth" in bookshops and I always thought it came before Dan Brown's cheesy bestseller. But it seems I was mistaken.

What's perhaps most annoying of all is that "Labyrinth" is about the massacre of the Cathars in the 13th Century. It's a really interesting historical event to base a drama around. Unfortunately Kate Mosse's book is instead about some kind of mystical books supposedly connected with the Holy Grail. To be frank, I'd rather be watching the bleeding Indiana Jones movie if we are going to go that goofy.



Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

I'm not so fond as most with the first HTTYD movie. I think it's great, but not up there with the best Pixar films. Still these films are actually based on a book series, so there's presumably a fairly wide scope to expand the HTTYD universe.



That being said, while this sequel kept promising to expand the universe in interesting directions, it doesn't really go very far.

It's quite bizarre how HTTYD2 both starts and finishes by saying that their town is special because they have dragons, despite having encountered a whole bunch of other people who have dragons over the course of the story.


Click here to read the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Ronny Yu is a Hong Kong director who I know first and foremost for his highly entertaining contributions to two 80s horror franchises. On the one hand, there's my absolute favourite entry in the Child's Play franchise "Bride of Chucky", which managed to successfully combine both the horror and comedy elements as well as introducing the awesome character of Tiffany to reinvigorate the series. On the other hand there's "Freddy Vs Jason", a film which combined the Friday The 13th series and the A Nightmare On Elm Street series and acted as an homage to both, establishing itself as one of the better entries in both franchises.



However, Ronny Yu also has some background in martial arts films and perhaps his most revered is "Fearless". I've also now checked out a low budget flick starring Bruce Lee's son Brandon (who so famously died making the early comicbook flick "The Crow") called "Legacy of Rage" and Ronny Yu's latest contribution "Saving General Yang".



Fearless (2006)

An interesting tale about a fighter who stands against western imperialism. I don't know to what extent it could be called a 'true' story, but it's an interesting one all the same.


Click here for the rest of the review... )



Long zai jiang hu (1986) (Legacy of Rage)

I wouldn't say that I exactly hated this action flick with Brandon Lee, but the acting is bad, the storytelling is somewhat confused and our protagonist has the most unlikely friend ever who, early and obviously, betrays him.


Click here for the rest of the review... )



Saving General Yang (2013)

It should be noted right off the bat that this is not a beautiful artsy action film like "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" or "Hero". There's still parts that look good, but it's not going for that same colourful fantasy vision. Things are kept relatively plausible in this film.



While it could be partially a result of the translations used for the subtitles, the dialogue feels a little stilted. Everyone is very uptight and it's rather difficult to identify with the characters. But oddly the character which irritated me the most was the wise Buddhist monk they approach.

There's some political wranglings at the beginning regarding an accidental death during a tournament and some fighting taking place against rival armies. (Our protagonists are serving the Emperor of the Song Dynasty and their enemies are Khitans serving the Empress of the Liao Dynasty.) General Yang is cornered fairly early on in the film during his skirmish with the Khitans and his wife asks a wise monk in the mountains for advice.


Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Under The Skin (2013)

I've heard a lot of mixed impressions of this film, with some lauding it as one of the best films of the year. So, as a sci-fi fan, I realised there was a possibility that I could love this. I heard it was a bit artsy and possibly rather dull, but I mistakenly believed I knew the story it was based on, which meant that I was convinced that the climax would definitely be exciting regardless of what came before.



After some hard searching I've found the story I believed this was going to be adapting and I do admittedly feel a little silly. My mind was immediately drawn to a short story called "Hitch-Hiker" from a collection of short stories entitled "Break of Dark" by Robert Westall. Westall is perhaps best known for "The Machine Gunners" and is a children's writer. But "Hitch-Hiker" was a story about a man travelling around near Glasgow who is surprised to find a beautiful naked woman stranded outside his tent. It becomes clear as the story progresses that she is an alien.



Now looking at wikipedia plot summary for the book "Under The Skin" it appears that the film isn't a particularly faithful adaptation. But the themes are a little different. This isn't quite as simple as an 'evil alien' plotline.



Click here for the rest of the review... )

(Robert Westall's book of short stories "Break of Dark" containing the story "The Hitch-Hiker" is on Google Books here, but unfortunately it is missing a huge central chunk of the story. Still it's enough to get a good taster for it and to see why I associated it with the basic synopsis of "Under The Skin".)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
When "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" started getting some positive buzz I made a point of working through the previous movies in the series. Having now seen the latest entry, it's time to rank the series:



8. Planet of the Apes (2001)



I didn't think this was all that bad when I first watched it, but then again I was less critical of movies in general back then anyway. This has not aged well. The first thing I noticed was the very obvious actors-on-springboards effect being used. I know that apes can jump higher than humans and clearly Burton thinks this effect is very dramatic, but it was so over-used that it quickly started feeling comical.



Even Paul Giamatti's orangutan character, who I remembered quite fondly from seeing this when it came out in the cinema, seems way too cheesy here. The purpose that Mark Wahlberg's protagonist serves is also hard to understand, not just because of his ridiculously uncharismatic and boring performance, but also because all the humans can speak and all the humans think being enslaved by apes is a bad thing. It's not at all obvious why he would be able to shake up the social status quo.



Burton clearly wanted to use this movie as an opportunity to shove together a bunch of quirky visuals, but I have to say it now looks particularly obviously like a set. And to be frank, I wasn't keen on his little touches. The ape with the music box getting his human with dwarfism to dance? It might have been a nice touch if the rest of the film was well-handled, but in this film it's just one more groan-worthy element among many.



The big thing to complain about here is the ending, but there's a very simple change which could save the ending. Take General Thade's name off the monument! General Thade is the big villain in the film and at the end of the story the apes are nowhere near mastering advanced human technology like computers and Thade is pretty much traumatised by his misuse of a ray gun. The idea that Thade could have flown a spacecraft in his lifetime (never mind all the other stuff that we are expected to believe he could have done to make the ending possible) is ridiculous. But the idea that apes could eventually master these things is perfectly reasonable. And you've got to give Tim Burton some credit in that, regardless of how little sense it makes, the ending IS a powerful visual. I immediately wanted to see the original movies to understand what it all meant.



Talk about unnecessary remakes... I mean, frankly ALL remakes and reboots are unnecessary until the point where they turn out to be good. And it turns out that Tim Burton's remake is frikkin' appalling.

E-

7. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)



It's confusing how so many of the Planet of the Apes movies have low age ratings. Admittedly the UK rating wasn't quite so confusing. Planet of the Apes was given an "A" for 'adult' (which meant children might need adult supervision). But in the US the movie had a 'G' rating. This low age rating wasn't consistent though. Somehow 'Beneath', in spite of moments of pure nightmare fuel, still kept the G rating and it wasn't until, Conquest, the movie preceeding Battle, that the rating finally went up to PG. But with Battle the rating went right back down again.



The reasoning was that the series had always been aimed at children and Battle was supposed to mark the end of the movies and the beginning of the tv series. So as a result, Battle, a film which really ought to feature a big violent conflict, is far tamer than Conquest before it. The budget also seems to reflect the tv quality that would come later.



All this being said, there's a reason why I prefer this to Tim Burton's remake. Burton's movie might be prettier, but Battle still has Roddy McDowall playing the character of Caesar and the characters still feel endearing. Battle retains the heart of the series, even if it lacks the excitement and the brains. I would argue that "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" owes a lot to the basic set-up provided here.



With all that being said, let me just make clear that "Battle" is a load of rubbish. But endearing rubbish. It's a terrible way to end the initial 5 movie series, but as a low point in a series now spanning 8 movies, it's not all that shameful.

D+

Click here to read the rest of my rankings for the "Planet of the Apes" series... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Ten years have passed since Caesar led an ape exodus out of San Francisco into the sanctuary of a redwood forest. The group of apes he united from an ape sanctuary and a medical testing facility are now living in peace within a forest. The society has been mostly isolated from human beings, since they've been far too busy dying off after ill-effects from the same virally-transmitted treatment which made the apes so smart in the first place.



The apes now all communicate through sign language, but Caesar occasionally emphasises points by saying key phrases out loud. Speaking out loud seems to take special effort, but clearly this ability is part of what marks Caesar out as the leader, albeit along with a reputation for wisdom.



However, his closest friend no longer appears to be Maurice, the circus orangutan (whose sign language ability was remarkably strong even before receiving the brain-enhancing treatment). Now Caesar appears to be very close friends with Koba, who we'll all remember from the previous movie as the ape covered in scars from medical testing.



A new character to appear here is Blue Eyes, Caesar's son, who finds himself receiving somewhat conflicting advice over the course of the movie from Caesar and Koba, particularly when the ape settlement is visited by a group of humans who are armed with guns...


Click here to read the full review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

A quick lesson in the philosophy of language.


The big name in philosophy of language is Ludwig Wittgenstein. His insights into language have had implications into pretty much every philosophical field, because whatever the philosophy problem someone is going to need to describe it.

He described the typical understanding of language as the Augustinian view, but it might be more helpful to describe it as the dictionary view. This view is that every word must have a specific corresponding definition, like a dictionary might suggest. On this basis we could form an entire language purely through 'ostensive definitions'. That is, by pointing to things and naming them.



Of course when we use language, pointing and naming will never be enough. For one, what about connective words such as: and, but, as, then? Also the following scenario makes even clearer how poor a tool ostensive definitions are for establishing a language.

The example from Wittgenstein himself is pointing to two nuts. If I point to them and say an unknown word like 'shapistus' what might this strange word mean? Certainly it might mean 'nuts' but it might just as easily mean 'brown' or 'two' or 'food' or perhaps it might even be a question like 'what is this?' Using a word when pointing is not sufficient to establish meaning.



So what does establish meaning? How does language attain meaning? Well Wittgenstein has a phrase which sums it up neatly: 'Meaning is use'.

When we learn a language, pointing to objects might well be helpful, but there's a context involved. And it is the context which enables us to recognise more complex grammar. Language is always fulfilling a role in a social context. Wittgenstein refers to the role of language in a particular context as a 'language game'.

That's why I am left completely perplexed when someone starts discussing football even when I recognise the words being used. I am not familiar with the language game. On the other hand when I discuss movies with friends, some other friends can find it tough to keep up because they don't fully understand the rules of this language game.



It seems that even the languages of isolated communities can be learnt by outsiders through living with them in a social setting. Once again, Wittgenstein has a term for this. He claims that we are able to share common concepts with isolated tribespeople because we are the same 'forms of life'. We have similar needs to them and necessity is the mother of invention. Under such contexts, language inevitably develops to handle those needs.



But if social context is required for language, does that mean we cannot develop a language living on our own? Well technically we can use our pre-existing language and just replace the words, but from scratch? No, we need a community to develop a language. Without a social context, there is no right or wrong way to use a word. On your own you can switch the meanings of words as often as you like and there is no situation where you might fail to convey the meaning to yourself. A language needs correct and incorrect ways of being expressed. A phrase is incorrect when it fails to convey its meaning and that requires more than one language speaker.


(Okay so you actually need to be familiar with Wittgenstein's philosophy to know why I put this image here.)

So why did I write this short introduction to the philosophy of language?

I did it because I had an issue with the use of language in the recent movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes". It's not exactly a major criticism, but the discussion could do with these details being understood first.

Basic gist? The apes now all speak in pigeon English and that annoys me.....


Sometimes pigeon english is entirely appropriate. Ahhh Grimlock, my favourite Transformer, but the way he talks is just daft. Thankfully the development of Dinobot language isn't an important part of the Transformer universe...
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Leviathan (1989)

I hadn't heard many strong recommendations for Leviathan and many seemed to dismiss it as an Alien rip-off. But a few seemed to speak of it fondly.



The big selling point here is Peter Weller. He was awesome as Robocop. Even in the flawed post-apocalyptic killer robot film "Screamers" Weller's central performance kept me remarkably engaged.



Meg Foster also appears here doing her Evil Lyn thing as the company boss. She has.this delicious coldness to her performance which made "Masters of the Universe" such a favourite growing up.



And let's not forget the appearance of Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson.



This is a very engaging cast. Even though we are following a large deep sea drilling group, we can recognise and keep up with every member of that team.
Click here for the rest of the review... )

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philosoraptor42

August 2014

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