Dune: A Good, But Boring, Movie

by Shelt Garner

I liked the newest attempt to film the Dune novel, but I found it boring as hell. I kept waiting for something to happen. It did finally happen, but for some reason, it didn’t feel like a big enough pay off for all the time I spent rolling my eyes and checking the clock on my phone.

Dune / From the Internet

It definitely was gorgeous to look at. And there were moments when it was engaging and it felt like just another big budget scifi movie. But then there was all the other time when nothing happened. There was a lot of exposition and build up….and you just felt restless.

But, for some reason, over all it was a good movie. I just wish they had played with the source material more. I wish they had juiced the story up so it had a lot more action and lot more there there.

And, yet, having said all that, I’m looking forward to a sequel. Hopefully, it will be more interesting. There is some sense from how Dune ended that any sequel would have a lot more going on.

And Dune universe is so huge — and so much actual action goes on within in — that I look forward to a Dune cinematic universe.

The Hollywood Dog That Isn’t Barking — Where’s Our Second Civil War Disaster Movie, Roland Emmerich?

by Shelt Garner

Movies are meant to be a representation of the collective unconscious. At least, that’s the theory. As such, it seems pretty obvious that if you produced a big budget Hollywood movie about a Second American Civil War that it would be really popular.

But there are also some pretty obvious problems with that idea.

One is, given that you would have to make an editorial decision as to who the good guys were, it probably is doomed to failure. You can’t make it the Blue States because the movie probably would appeal to Red States more and you can’t make it Red States because the liberal media would put the movie in the “Left Behind” genre of content.

The only way to solve such a problem is to make the point of the movie that there would be no winners in a Second Civil War. You would have to “both sides” the conflict to such an extent that there would be no good guys and no bad guys.

This would leave us with a movie that lacked any creative vision and was nothing more than yet another excuse to see notable American landmarks be blown up in a rather dramatic fashion.

[Spoilers] The Third Act of ‘No Time To Die’ & The Potential Influence Of Phoebe Waller-Bridge On The Screenplay

by Shelt Garner

I really liked No Time To Die. I only rolled my eyes a few times and checked my watch a few more. And I only once felt the need to think about leaving the theatre in mid-film. For me, a person who walks out of movies constantly, that’s a big deal.

But it’s the third act of the movie I want to talk about.

It’s in the third act that the stakes are raised and a child’s life — Bond’s daughter — is put in harm’s way.

It’s in the third act when something about how unfocused the movie is becomes clear. Somewhere in the movie’s nearly three-hour run time was an even better movie, waiting to come out. The emotional highs and lows of the movie were blunted by how muddled it all was.

I think it was so muddled because that is the point of a Bond movie. You go to a Bond movie to have a good time, not to really get your emotions played with. But had they wanted to make not just a Bond movie but a Bond “film” they could have focused a lot more on the implications of Bond having a family for once in his life and what he was willing to do to save them.

As it is, we’re introduced to his daughter as a plot point, she’s put in danger and then…she escapes because she bit the finger of the villain? What the what? It was a huge letdown.

You have something unique in the Bond franchise — he has a family to protect — and in the end the whole thing is dismissed in a rather ham-handed manner. There was not nearly the emotional pay off that it could have had.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Maybe I’m seeing the influence of Phoebe Waller-Bridge? But because she was just punching the screenplay up and wasn’t the main screenwriter, we just saw glimpses of the far more powerful movie that could have been? I dunno. But it definitely is weird that something so potentially powerful — Bond with family — was introduced and then not a lot was done with it.

As I mentioned, I think some of what I’m noticing is just something that is basic to the Bond movies on an existential basis. We don’t really expect them to be No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood. There’s just a fun way to entertain yourself for a few hours.

The Celebrity Social Media Consumption Conundrum

by Shelt Garner

Let me begin by saying as I grow older — and get ever closer to finishing four novels — the less I care about celebrities. I’m a celebrity in my own mind, if you will — the main character in my own life journey — and the idea of caring if a celebrity notices me or not is beginning to leave me cold.

I just don’t care.

Something about caring if someone who is famous gives you some attention is just so…ugh. I’ve been “famous” (in the Seoul expat community) and I know it can fucking suck. There’s a reason why famous people can lose their minds — being famous is pretty destabilizing to your sense of self.

I know it was, for me, at least.

The magazine that made me famous in Seoul a long, long time ago.

I figure there are two types of celebrity social media use. There are the people too busy doing “dope shit” to care about social media and there are the ones who are so insecure, so thinned skinned that they’re obsessed with what people say about them online.

One reason why I even mention this, is sometimes….I wonder. I wonder if all my ranting about on social media ever catches a name brand person’s attention. I find it amusing that that is, in fact, possible. I have, in the past, had a knack for meeting famous people.

In the 50s, I would have been a pretty aggressive signature seeker, probably.

Anyway, having said all that, it sure would help my serotonin levels if a celebrity would give me a shout out. My life is pretty dull at the moment.

The Reason Why Olivia Rodrigo Wore That Dress

by Shelt Garner

While everyone is busy clutching their pearls that a gorgeous bombshell like Olivia Rodrigo might wear a stunning dress at just 18, they’re all missing the point: that girl wants to star in Hollywood movies.

The reason why I say this — to what event did she wear a dress that was sure to catch a significant amount of attention? The opening of the Academy Museum. So, spare me all your anguish over how reveling the dress was. Ms. Rodrigo knew what she was doing.

The Dress had a number of purposes. One was to just catch people’s attention. Another was to suggest, in a meta-way, that she is a grown up now and prepared to perform adult roles in major Hollywood movies. She probably is well aware that Dua Lipa is set to start in a major movie soon and she wants to be nipping at her heels, careerwise.

Anyway, what do I know.

Movie Scenario: China Using ‘Inception’ Technology To Avoid The Thucydides Trap

by Shelt Garner

Before you call the dudes with the butterfly nets on me — I’m just running a scenario. I’m kind of crashing after writing and developing on four novels all day and I have some nice whiskey next to me so you get a post like this. I do not think any of this is happening now, but think of this as wargaming a potential way that China could become a hyperpower like the USA without firing a shot.

I once read a book called “Brothers” when I was young which was so fucked up that it really did a number on my wee little mind. And, yet, that book was so out there and so wild in its conceit that I often find myself thinking about it whenever I come up with some wild plot point for the four novels I’m working on. I think to myself, “Well, if people bought the premise of THAT book, they’ll be cool with this…”

Anyway, something eerie happened recently to me that is difficult for me to explain. You see, I was really thinking about how I need a second creative track. The four novels I’m developing and writing are going really well — if slow — and I just need something to turn my attention to when I get burnt out with writing.

Then something weird happen.

I started to get pushed videos on my Tik-Tok FYP about how to shoot really cool pictures. I didn’t think anything about it until at some point things came to a head and I was like, “Huh, I think I’m going to save up the money to buy a really nice Nikon camera and see about becoming a fashion photographer.”

Then it hit me — something about the lead up to this “ah-ha!” moment felt…unnatural. As I was being gently guided towards that decision. Again, I’m just letting off some steam by saying that. That is such an abstract observation that there are many, many no-Inception-necessary that would easily explain it.

In other words, it’s bullshit to think Tik-Tok using real-life Inception technology was fucking with me.

But, having said that, let’s run that scenario. What if the next war isn’t a cyber war but a Singularity War. And it would be a war that we didn’t even know was being waged against us.

Here’s my bonkers scenario. China is a rising power. We’re rushing towards the Singularity. Let’s propose that in dribs and drabs Big Tech in both the United States and China have figured out not just Digital Telepathy, but fucking Inception.

They’re not just eaves dropping on our minds, they’re actually implanting concepts into our minds in some way. It’s easy to imagine China, not wanting to blow the world up, begins to, at some point, wage Singularity War against the West to the point that we never have a direct conflict with them because, lulz, strangely, things keep breaking the Chinese’s way at critical junctures

Again, I’m just running a scenario. I don’t believe this is happening. This is way too bonkers for even me to believe in anyway. Think of this is a free Hollywood movie concept, if you will. I’m dropping more log lines than truth bombs. At least in my own mind.

Or, put another way, if I was the Chinese leadership, that’s how I would do it. I would have something akin to Digital Telepathy Manhattan Project where I threw a $1 trillion at weaponizing the technology so I could avoid the Thucydides Trap.

Thankfully, no one listens to me. I’m just relaxing by doing some brain dead writing. Lulz.

Burn Hollywood Burn: Somebody Put Emily Ratajkowski in A Remake of ’10’

by Shelt Garner

I’ve written about this before, but I feel like ranting about it again — we’ve been through Covid, we deserve to see Emily Ratajkowski play the Bo Derek role in a remake of the Dudley Moore classic “10.” The two women are both stunning and both of them have the, “What, you think I’m hot?” type personality that audiences love.

I’m not saying she can act — we have proof that she’s not all that great in “Gone Girl.” But I’d pay $10 bucks to see her ask Seth Rogen, “Have you ever done it to Bolero?” It’s the part she was born to play. She’s extremely laid back and extremely sex-positive — just like Bo Derek — so Ms. Ratajkowski could knock this specific role out of the park.

Double dees, double dees, as they once said on SNL.

9/11, Negative Polarization & Why Superhero Movies Continue To Be Popular

by Shelt Garner

Traditionally, at least within my own mind, superhero movies have been popular the last 20 years because of the lingering collective trauma of 9/11. We all just want a superhero to save the day that fateful moment in time and make the bad memories go away.

Given that it’s been 20 years since 9/11 now, I think it’s time to move on. And, yet, superhero movies now play a different roll — their value free nature make them the perfect tentpole move. Negative polarization has so consumed every aspect of American life that the idea of watching a movie that doesn’t preach to us and simply tells the story of a bunch of caped crusaders is very appealing to average person.

At the moment, it seems as though you have big tentpole movies and little woke movies that make you feel bad for not being progressive enough. (I still can’t get over being shamed into seeing Booksmart. I still fucking hate that fucking movie. Give me Heathers instead, any day.)

But, what sucks is we’re kind of stuck in a cultural holding pattern now. It does make you wonder what will come next. I honestly don’t know. I would like to think that at some point a random movie will be a huge hit — like The Matrix way back when — and that, in itself, will herald a New Age of movies that don’t involve people wearing masks and running around in Spandex.

Reboot The ‘Escape From’ Franchise With Jennifer Lawrence

by Shelt Garner

The thing about the Escape From movies is they are much beloved, but they’re also ripe for a reboot. As I recall, at the end of Escape From LA, the world came to an end, so, lulz.

So, I would take the general conceit of the movies and make the first movie in a new franchise — staring Jennifer Lawrence as a female Snake Plissken, natch — would be Escape From America. In this movie, Trump finally got his fucking wall — a real wall, not the dumb fence he wanted to call a wall — and our intrepid protagonist has to escape from the United States by getting over the wall.

It would be so cool!

You could have all the guards and maintenance crew of the wall be Mexican. You could root around in the practical implications of such a fucking dumb idea becoming reality.

Burn Hollywood, Burn: My Hot Take On The ‘Death Of Movies’ Discourse

by Shelt Garner

There’s a lot of buzz of late about the “death of movies.” And, sadly, I fear some of it may be right. American culture is facing something of an existential crisis because the very idea of any sort of “mainstream” is now beginning to melt away. Identity politics is now so absolute that the legitimacy of any heteronormative story is up for debate in the overwrought conversations of Twitter.

I know I sound a little too Joe Rogan with the above, but it comes from a place of love — a love of movies as an art form.

You know it.

Here’s what I think is going to happen — movies are going to continue to drift into culture insignificance until one of a few things happen. If we stop being force fed movies about people running around in capes, then, maybe people might sit up and take notice. But this is unlikely to happen because you can make a shit ton of money with movies like that, so, lulz.

Another way to “fix Hollywood” would be to end “Woke Hollywood.” Instead of trying to make us more woke, tell us a good story. Don’t worry about identity politics — tell a good story. I want less Beanie Feldstein screeching about lesbian sex positions to a Plain Jane lead in Book Smart and more, I don’t know anything. I only keep ranting about how much I fucking hated Book Smart because I was shamed into seeing it by my center-Left echo chamber and the movie is the epitome of preaching to the audience about how being woke is so important.

But, as I always say whenever Book Smart is brought up — I wasn’t the audience. So if you’re a bi-curious high school girl in the suburbs of LA, you probably loved that movie.

Yet another way that movies may come roaring back is because of technology. It could be that once we fully transition to MX (VR and AR) or, hell, even some sort of Strange Days-like MindCap technology, that movies will, like vinyl, make a big comeback as young people grow disillusioned with immersive media.

The crux of the Hollywood’s current problem is a combination of industry dynamics and the need for it to suck its own cock when it comes to there being a “message” in movies. America is so tightly wound at the moment, that a huge segment of the potential viewing audience is turned off with Woke Hollywood, hence the popularity of message-free MCU movies.

I only get a little upset about this specific issue because I love movies. It’s not that hard to tell a great story in a movie. Hell, *I* want to tell a few of those great stories so bad that I recently bought Final Draft. So, lulz.

But are movies dead? Yes, in the short term. Long term, however, I believe they’ll turn out just fine. We just need a New Era of story telling that harkens back to the early 70s.