65 (a quick story analysis)
I was curious why 65 has a low 35% score at Rotten Tomatoes. So, I watched it to see what had gone wrong.
In a nutshell, there’s too much going on. There are so many superfluous story elements and not enough time to explore them: the over-played daughter father bond, time travel (or not), humans landing on Earth 65 million years ago, a dinosaur shoot ’em up, and a planetary extinction event posed by the meteorite that killed off the dinosaurs. You can hear the movie pitch – it’s Jurassic Park with space travel and a heart warming parent/guardian child relationship.
The problem is that this turns out to be a cocktail with so many ingredients that there is no time to explore anything beyond cliché. To make everything infinitely worse, the protagonist and girl don’t speak the same language.
The girl goes from being an annoying hapless female character (emotional, useless, and constantly getting into trouble) into a cliché of the strong female character. There’s no learning curve. She never earns her power. The male guardian is no hero either – he’s bordering on the stereotypical hapless female character himself… falling over, falling out of trees, falling unconscious. You get the picture.
65 is an example of a story with too much going on, and the dangers of trying to fuse deep emotional meaning into a mindless action story.
Saudi Arabia’s Neom project
The Neom project is straight out of science fiction. The Line, which is part of the Neom project, is a linear city 170 kilometres long, 200 metres wide, and 500 metres high. Discovery UK made a documentary about it, The Line: Saudi Arabia’s City of the Future in Neom (YouTube). In another YouTube video This City Concept Breaks Architecture (The Line), Dami Lee points out the poor track record of cities built along a straight line.
The Line is incredibly ambitious. The project reminds me of Dubai’s Palm Islands – a statement that fuses power and vision with money and real estate. As a social experiment, it references the 15 Minute City concept, a city with no cars. On a darker note it conjures up the psycho-geography of J G Ballard’s novel High Rise. The big question is — how much of The Line’s 170 kilometres will ever be built?
- Hugh Howey on Silo (YouTube). I had a few misgivings about season one, but it redeemed itself with the last episode. It’s not up there with Severance in my view, but it’s watchable. Hugh Howey mentions that the TV series will deviate from the books, which could make things more interesting for those of us who’ve read them.
- Meanwhile… the upcoming Dune: Part Two has a trailer.
- Looking for photos with German street photographer Siegfried Hansen (YouTube).
- The truth about the Wuhan lab leak (The Times podcast) – part one & part two.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1 was funny, comfort viewing. It was familiar and yet a bit different. Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 was pretty much meh. Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 is more meh. For some, more of the same might be exactly what they were after, but for me it felt lifeless, like it was going through the motions.
- Paul Schrader’s Master Gardner is a low budget film about redemption and second chances. It’s slow paced (and skims over the darker aspects of the backstory), but it’s still an enjoyable watch.
- Julian Barnes Through the Window: Seventeen Essays (and One Short Story) is, as one might expect for this kind of thing, something of a lucky dip. My favourite essay was the first one, the one about Penelope Fitzgerald. She came across as a real character and, an inspiration to the unpublished many. Her first novel was published at 58.
- David Smith wrote an interesting article about the direction Hollywood is heading in – ‘it’s unsustainable’: can Hollywood survive without transformation? (The Guardian). The prognoses is that Hollywood could end up being gutted, much like the newspaper industry. Maybe there’s a deeper problem, the American story itself. The question is, do we still believe in it? Having said this… Hollywood is often on the rocks one year and then it has a bumper year the next. Is streaming and AI a fundamental threat to the industry (like the VHS, home viewing video market was once deemed to be), or will the film industry adapt like it’s always done?
- Jonathan Freedland and Amanda Marcotte ask, why do Republicans hate the Barbie movie? (The Guardian). Clearly it’s a belief that the film promotes a ‘woke’ view of the world. I haven’t seen Barbie, but I have seen The Little Mermaid (another film that sparked so much critical ire), and its only real crime was its excessive length. Either way, where’s the fun in a world where everything is over-politicised?
- Kingsley Amis’ Memoirs reads better than Martin Amis’ Inside Story. It feels more cohesive, less angry strangely enough, and less eager to impress. Martin Amis is a Mannerist version of his father’s work. But, Memoirs is a document of its time. The chapter adulating Margaret Thatcher is bizarre, like satire, except that it isn’t. There’s a sad twist at the end, which concludes with the poem, Instead of an Epilogue, dedicated to his first wife.
- After reading Memoirs, I thought I’d give Kingsley Amis’ novels a go. I tried Girl, 20, Lucky Jim, and The Old Devils… and they were all DNFs.
- There’s a lot to like about The Foundation (Season 2), but it’s held back by the interesting characters being the baddies (who we aren’t supposed to empathise with), and the good characters (who we are supposed to empathise with) being cardboard cutouts. Continually switching between the storylines doesn’t help much either.
- Naomi Klein talks AI (The Guardian) – and she might well end up being right.
- Gareth Roberts asks, will we even notice if AI replaces screenwriters? (The Spectator)
- The Critical Drinker and woke tropes in Hollywood. I don’t always agree with The Critical Drinker but is there anything more annoying than the hero of a story finding out that he’s in someone else’s story? Is there anything more irritating than having irrelevant characters crash your beloved character’s film? Have so-called woke and Feminist tropes gone to far? In these two YouTube videos, why modern movies suck (they hate men) and why modern movies suck (the strong female character), he argues that woke tropes are destroying Hollywood. Sadly, today’s progressive storytelling can’t match classic progressive Hollywood. Those old classics had great characters and human centred stories. So-called woke storytelling is all about the message. It doesn’t have fascinating new characters or compelling ideas. Instead, it hijacks existing franchises, speeding up their demise. Can today’s progressive Hollywood give us anything as poignant and witty as It’s a Wonderful Life, or as frighteningly incisive as In the Heat of the Night?
- Podcast: The Economist’s Checks and Balance: The heat is on, explores global-warming, and air-conditioning.