Blackfish: Seaworld vs Wildlife

Hello everybody! Today we have the controversial film about Sea World Blackfish.

BLACKFISH

DIRECTOR: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

GENRE: Documentary

YEAR: 2013

COUNTRY: United States

Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.

Blackfish is definitely one of the more controversial documentaries (that doesn’t have to do with war) that I have seen in the past year. I didn’t know that animals were treated so little/badly when kept in captivity. This treatment adjusts their attitude and habits which can cause them to be much more aggressive. What I really liked about Blackfish is that it focused on only one main target, instead of attacking the company on different points and spreading themselves too thin. Also the pacing is very well done, as it spread from attack to attack almost flawlessly.

Blackfish, while one of the better documentaries I have seen this year, still has plenty of drawbacks. I felt that some of the interviewees were not experts at what they were talking about, and I felt it damaged their credibility. At least some of them were experienced enough as former Sea World trainers so they had first hand observation to the conditions the whales were being kept in. Why don’t they just retire Tilikum before he strikes again? They can’t retire him because he is their most profitable male whale (currently having 11 spawns) that’s why.

PROS:

  • Address an important problem.
  • Pacing
  • Structure

CONS:

  • Some of the interviewees had no knowledge of previous attacks.
  • Small amount of actual experts.

SCORE: 8.0 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music for me to review, drop me a comment! Remember: Like Media In Review @ https://www.facebook.com/MediaInReview?ref=hl Follow Media in Review @ https://twitter.com/Media_In_Review.

The Real Meaning of Rocky Horror Picture Show

This is a repost of an article I was sent by an avid reader. I loved it so much I just had to repost it! The original article was written by Emily Asher-Perrin and can be found here:

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/10/the-astonishingly-sensical-plot-of-the-rocky-horror-picture-show

You can find my full review of Rocky Horror Picture Show here. 

It’s all haunted mansions and secret labs, corsets and glitter, sex and the destruction of (arguably pretty boring) innocence—but what are you supposed to get out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show besides a really good time? The midnight showings are legend, the Time Warp is played at practically every prom and wedding you go to, yet it’s hard to find the meaning of this musical outside of outrageousness for outrageousness’ sake. Plus an homage to 50s rock and old science fiction cinema. The first time I watched it as a teenager (at the behest of a more mature friend, isn’t that always the way?) my reaction boiled down to “…hablahlawhut?”

But taken in context with when it was originally produced, the themes of Rocky Horror begin to coalesce. The first stage show production was in 1973, with the film released two years later, toward the tail end of the glam rock movement. And Doctor Frank-N-Furter’s journey heavily mirrors the politics and taboos explored during those years.

Take Frank-N-Furter on his own: he is an all-singing, all-vamping, bisexual transvestite from another planet. He is trying to create the perfect man for himself, a man mainly conceived as the ultimate eye candy. He laughs off the wide-eyed Brad and Janet, enjoying their squirmish induction into his cadre of all-night partying Transylvanians. This persona borrows heavily from David Bowie’s creation of Ziggy Stardust, a rock and roll god sent from another planet to bring us music from the stars.

Bowie claimed to be bisexual early in that decade, and this element was folded into the Ziggy mythos with songs that contained telling imagery or outright spoke the message, such as “Width of a Circle” and “John, I’m Only Dancing.” Though the Ziggy figure was fond of jumpsuits, 1970-71 saw Bowie in long dresses with tresses down past his shoulder blades, so having Frank in a corset and stockings is not much of a logic leap. Though the glam rock movement was popular and fierce while it lasted, it wasn’t long before it went out of fashion, the eyeliner and androgyny traded for safety pins and slam dancing as punk emerged a few years later.

It gives Rocky Horror a layer of allegory that isn’t necessarily prevalent on the first viewing. It’s easy to spot the shout outs to Golden Age sci-fi and monster flicks (Frank’s insistence that he wants to be dressed like Fay Wray, the heroine of King Kong, also mentioned in the opening number “Science Fiction Double Feature”), it’s easy to hear the 50s pop musical influences in the soundtrack, but the idea that real-world cultural thoughts are actually being explored in this romp seems completely at odds with the tone of the whole experience. Of course, if we take a closer peek….

After Rocky’s creation, the audience is introduced to Eddie, a former lover of both Frank and Columbia, who has had half of his brain cut out in sacrifice to the doctor’s new Charles Atlas. Eddie’s song “Hot Patootie — Bless My Soul” harkens back to the beginning of rock’n’roll, sock hops and greased hair and poodle skirts in abundance. Eddie’s nostalgia makes him seem innocent, a sweet soul caught in his long-abandoned era, and that innocence is given over to Rocky via transplant, humanizing what could have been just a very well-toned monster.

Then Dr. Frank takes up an axe and hunts Eddie down in front of the house guests.

In case that wasn’t clear: alien science cut up milkshakes and burgers, proud sexual exploration laid waste to fumblings in the back of cars, and glam justflat-out murdered good ol’ fashioned rock’n’roll.

The creation of Rocky is a perfect metaphor for what glam was all about; the sincerity of rock at its inception—provided or, perhaps you might say,stolen from Eddie—combined with an admiration for youthful human beauty and a preoccupation with sexual desire. As Frank says to Rocky after Eddie is dead, “Don’t be upset. It was a mercy killing! He had a certain naive charm, but no… muscle.” Without that muscle, glam doesn’t play. It was about the music, yes, but about physical expressions of identity just as much.

Yet what powers this lifestyle is also what sabotages it, as we see Frank-N-Furter ruin any Leave It To Beaver notions that Brad and Janet may have had about their lives. He seduces both of them successfully, encouraging the adventurousness that the glam era touted loud. But opening Janet’s mind to new experiences burns the doctor when she ends up showing Rocky what she’s learned (it is notable that in the stage show Janet enters the fling inrevenge on Frank and Brad for sleeping together). Frank-N-Furter is supposed to be in charge of the evening’s proceedings, but things quickly get well out of hand.

In congruence, Ziggy Stardust (and the more American version of the persona, Aladdin Sane,) quickly became too much for David Bowie to handle, and he dropped the character in 1973, unable to keep up with the demand Ziggy made on his time and his life. He lost control of it, similar to the way that Frank loses it in the show’s latter half, when he ends up forcing everyone under his control for one final performance. “The Floor Show” might seem the most avant-garde aspect of Rocky Horror, but it actually might be the most straightforward piece of the whole story—Frank-N-Furter’s affect on everyone is entirely sexual and nothing more, and the only person who sees through his “liberating” act is Columbia, heartbroken over the loss of the more genuine Eddie. Columbia’s title in the script is “a groupie,” with all the weight that entails, and her disillusionment coming before anyone else’s is a telling harbinger; Frank loses “the faithful” first. Rocky now only trusts lust, Brad is awash in a newfound feeling of sexiness, and Janet is enjoying the sincerity that Frank’s desires allow them all.

It is left to Riff-Raff and Magenta to break up the party, and do what should have been done from the start: call quits on their alien mission and take Frank back to Transylvania (the planet). As Riff tells him, “Frank-N-Furter, it’s all over / your mission is a failure / your lifestyle’s too extreme.” The metaphor comes clear—it’s the vote of extremism that really was the nail in the coffin for this artistic era; though glam may have preached new ideas and identities to a generation of young people, it couldn’t sustain itself. It was too much exploration all at once, and was destined to fade away. At the end of the play, we see Brad and Janet attempting to piece together what happened that night in the song “Superheroes,” to determine what it all means, but they don’t come close to managing it. They are left changed but confused, uncertain if the experience has any bearing on their future. And the audience feels much the same.

It makes a bit more sense of the somber note the play ends on—the Criminologist (named so perhaps because he is someone fit to judge the crimes committed?) has a message for us all in the final moments, that humans are “lost in time / lost in space / and meaning.” He is pointing out our failings, but maybe also applauding our need to understand and explore all the same.

I’m not saying that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is pure art and allegory, and that every future viewing demands reverence and careful dissection. It is also a musical primarily centered around fun, around ostentatiousness and madness and good times for all. But if anyone ever asks you what on earth the whole thing means, then maybe this could prove a useful footnote. It’s a fiasco of homage, one of the most successful examples I can think of, and as such, deserves to be picked apart one delicious piece at a time.

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music for me to review, drop me a comment! Remember: Like Media In Review @ https://www.facebook.com/MediaInReview?ref=hl Follow Media in Review @ https://twitter.com/Media_In_Review.

Minority Report: The Future of Police Work

Hello everybody, today we have the dystopian police film Minority Report.

MINORITY REPORT

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

STARRING:  Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow

GENRE: Neo-Noir, Science Fiction

YEAR: 2002

COUNTRY: United States

In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad “Precrime”. They use three gifted humans (called “Pre-Cogs”) with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand. John Anderton heads Precrime and believes the system’s flawlessness steadfastly. However one day the Pre-Cogs predict that Anderton will commit a murder himself in the next 36 hours. Worse, Anderton doesn’t even know the victim. He decides to get to the mystery’s core by finding out the ‘minority report’ which means the prediction of the female Pre-Cog Agatha that “might” tell a different story and prove Anderton innocent.

Let me just say this right now, Tom Cruise is a great action star (most of the time). Minority Report is an interesting dystopian future where the police force has “oracles” that can predict future crimes. This allows police to arrest perpetrators for future crimes. Tom Cruise does a decent job as a futuristic cop, even though his character seems quite similar to his Ethan Hunt character from the Mission:Impossible series. The setting and general theme is appealing to me too, which I am happy about. I have seen too many dystopian future films to be disappointed by one of the supposed better ones. It definitely wasn’t too poorly written and that was a major plus!

The problem I have with these kinds of films is that they hardly ever actually play by their own rules. Besides all of the various glaring plot holes, Minority Report constantly breaks its own rules that it created. For instance, the film makes it clear that since Pre-Crime was instituted 6 years ago, there has been a 90 percent drop in murder. Five minutes later a cop turns around and says that there hasn’t been a murder in 6 years. What happened to that 10 percent?? Director Steven Spielberg’s strength, beyond his amazing showmanship, has always been his ability to cut straight to the heart of his characters and his audience. Many of his characters are very poorly developed, which is quite unfortunate.

PROS:

  • Dystopian future done right.
  • Decently written.
  • Tom Cruise performance.

CONS:

  • Plot holes.
  • Breaks rules of its own universe.
  • Lack of Steven Spielberg soul.
  • Poor character development.

SCORE: 7.2 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music for me to review, drop me a comment! Remember: Like Media In Review @ https://www.facebook.com/MediaInReview?ref=hl Follow Media in Review @ https://twitter.com/Media_In_Review.