Knee-jerk review: "Prometheus"

1. Not exactly "knee-jerk."  We've been mulling this over for a week now, trying to figure it out.  Trying to understand how we feel about it.
2. We went in with high hopes, but must admit the film was a letdown.  It falls a bit flat overall.
3. There are some great elements.  It just doesn't gel together.
4. When you have to spend several hours scouring the internet message boards to try and understand key sequences, that's probably a bad sign.
5. Ambiguity is okay.  We like ambiguity.  What we don't like is confusion and vagaries and sloppy, lazy execution, which is what we have here.  
6. Some dots just need connecting, Sir Ridley.
7. Charlize Theron is ridiculously attractive.  It's almost criminal.
8. That weird opening sequence by the waterfall.  That's earth, people.  We didn't get it.  But we have an inside source that confirms it to be so.
9. That's a pretty big leap in logic, captain, when you suddenly understand what your crew is dealing with.  How'd you figure that out?  Other than the screenwriter telling you.
10. Cool red laser mapping robot thingys.
11. Yes yes, Michael Fassbender is excellent as the android David.  But Lawrence of Arabia?  Seriously?
12. Some very interesting subtext parallels involving parents and children, whether it's aliens who maybe created mankind or an android and his (its?) scientist creator or just ordinary human parents and children.
13. Very cool sandstorm bit.
14. If you believe what the message boards suggest, there's some really out-there theories about why the alien race suddenly decided to destroy earth.  It involves a certain someone who met a grisly end 2000 years ago.  Yeah, that guy.  Crazy.
15. A lot of grumbling out there about the open, sequel-friendly ending.  But we liked it.  It was satisfying.
16. But the boyfriend scientist (played by Logan Marshall-Green)?  What an annoying drip.
17. You just don't see a lot of flamethrowers these days, do you?
18. The arrival on the alien planet is spooky and ethereal, just what you would expect if you were someone setting foot for the first time on a strange new world.
19. Bonus points for not playing the self-destruct-sequence card.
20. How exactly the black goo works remains unclear.  Your guess is as good as ours... or anybody else's.
21. For the record, Aliens is the best of the bunch for obvious reasons.  One of the most exciting action movies ever made, a master class in script structure and editing.  Alien is a close second, a game changer that innovated a blend of science fiction and horror.  A slow, long burn.  Some people hate Alien Resurrection, but we liked it.  What we didn't like was Alien 3, if only because it so callously killed off two of the survivors of Aliens.  We cannot forgive that.  This one falls right behind Alien, though we know the producers keep trying to tell us "it's not technically a prequel." Whatever.  It's a prequel!  It's an Alien movie!
22. Worth a look, but be prepared for frustration.


Knee-jerk review: "Safety Not Guaranteed"

1. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. And that's really all you need to know. Indie sensibility, quirky tone, low budget, dry humor, lots of charm.
2. In a word, cute.
3. Simple premise, which always helps. Man places classified ad seeking a time travel partner. Is he crazy or does he really have a time machine? That's the question our heroine faces as she starts to fall for him.
4. By the end of the movie, we were definitely rooting for the want-ad placer to really have invented a time machine. We didn't want him to be crazy.
5. As fans of the Fox sitcom New Girl, we are big fans of actor Jake Johnson. He's always interesting, often hilarious.
6. The two leads - Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza - aren't necessarily unattractive, but there's also not the typical sleekly good-looking actors you usually see in movies. They're a bit off kilter. Which is nice.
7. "Stormtroopers are blue collar."
8. In a way, we were more interested in the high-school-girlfriend B-story, not the time-travel A-story. Either way, we appreciate how both plotlines explore in different ways the same theme of going back and fixing old mistakes. That's something we can all appreciate.
9. Zither scene is a quirky Sundance-style touch. Who plays a zither? Characters in Sundance movies. 10. The film is based on a supposedly fake want ad place in something called the "Backwoods Home Magazine" in 1997, though it also apparently appeared in The Copenhagen Times. Weird.
11. It's true. Like Johnson's character says, you are only 21 once. And it's completely wasted on 21-year-olds. Which can lead to drinking and smoking and crying on go-carts, as is portrayed here.
12. The two cackling women sitting down the aisle from us certainly loved it.
13. Like we said. Cute.


Office place neuroses

These are the kinds of problems we have at work.

* We have a co-worker who doesn't know our name.  He thinks our name is Jeff, which is incorrect.  It's not like we work with this person on a daily basis.  His cubicle is a few doors down from ours.  It's more like a work acquaintance.  We could see him every day or a week or more could go by before we see him next.  The problem is that we've let the mistake go on for so long that it now seems impossible to correct.  The first time he called us "Jeff," we shrugged it off.  He must have gotten confused and misspoke, right?  He was preoccupied that day.  But no.  A few weeks later it happened again.  We again said nothing.  If it's just a "Hey, Jeff" as he's briskly walking past, it seems odd to stop him in his tracks to explain his mistake.  By the time our brain registers that he did it again, he's already getting on the elevator or closing the bathroom stall door.  Weeks will go by where he doesn't call us any name at all.  So that lulls us into thinking he's been set straight somehow.  But then he'll drop the "Jeff" again.  Now, all these many months later, how could we possibly correct him without seeming incredibly weird to have let it go on so long?  Wouldn't any normal, sane person have corrected him immediately and nipped this strange problem in the bud?

* When does a man use an umbrella?  This is something they don't teach you in school.  It's a tricky line to walk.  If you extend an umbrella in drizzly, misting precipitation, you look like a precocious dandy.  You just don't look cool.  Real men don't care if they're spritzed by a little dampness: "Why is that guy using his umbrella?"  But where's the cutoff?  At what point does the rain get real enough and heavy enough to force an umbrella extension?  We need some kind of umbrella-to-rain differential equation.  Because if you're walking around in the pouring gale-force rain carrying an umbrella in your hand, well then you just look ridiculous: "Why isn't that guy using his umbrella?"

* What are the protocols for greeting a coworker in a long hallway where both of you are approaching from more than 20 feet?  Do you shout "hello" and wave as soon as you see them?  Or do you wait until you're closer for a cool-cat head nod or friendly smile?  And if you do wait, what do you do with yourself?  He sees you, you see him.  Then what?  Do you keep staring at the other person like a mental patient waiting for him to come in range, do you refer to the blank pages you're carrying as if you must commit them to memory, do you try and look elsewhere to kill time until the other person gets closer?  Our workplace is full of these sorts of long encounter traps.  We hate it.