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Ralf Haring
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1,102 followers
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Fiennes steals the show in The Grand Budapest Hotel. He's so wonderfully officious, it's hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. That his surface elegance masks an underlying vulgarity, spewing profanity at every opportunity, makes it all the more hilarious. Even just three years later, I'm not sure folks would be in much of a mood for a screwball farce set against a backdrop of fascism. That it is somehow simultaneously a prison break murder mystery love story with a bobsled chase all wrapped in Anderson's style (and works) is phenomenal. Despite their quirkiness, his films can sometimes feel a bit clinical. This one evinces more heart than most through Zero's relationships with both Agatha and Gustave. It's not overwhelmed so as to seem to be purely an exercise in style.
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Fight Club is a tough movie to rewatch given the past few years. It's still as expertly crafted as ever. Nevertheless, a small set of disaffected, misogynist, homophobic, macho nihilists blowing up a system that has left them feeling adrift and hopeless ... it all seemed a bit more fanciful twenty years ago. I wonder if Palahniuk regrets correctly reading the tea leaves? He even presages "snowflake" as a pejorative. It reminded of nothing so much as how contemporary viewers of Network must have felt watching the media evolve in the decades since.
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I was a lukewarm on Doctor Strange when I first saw it, but a second viewing won me over. Cumberbatch's American accent still sounds off. There's no reason the character couldn't have been British. The Inception-ish special effects with buildings and landscapes folding in on themselves was overwhelming in the theater and worked much better for me on a home-sized screen. The psychedelic effects and the way different dimensions are portrayed are pleasingly appropriate adaptations of Ditko's art. I was quite pleased with the time loop trap, outwitting the enemy instead of winning through some kind of physical confrontation. The story is obviously hampered by being yet another origin story, though if it must be done, transitioning from novice to master in seconds is probably not the way to go. Strange also seemed to get patched up from being stabbed in the heart without any particularly last side effects. I was quite pleased with the motivation given to Mordo going forward and Ejiofor made more of the part than I was expecting. It's remarkable that Marvel's grown to the point of casting ancillary and one-off characters with actors of that calibre (see also Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum in Thor 3).
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I only recently heard of Battle Beast and was initially bemused at their unabashed cheesiness, but couldn't help coming back to their new album's songs. They're just so damn catchy in an 80s heavy rock vibe. #MusicMonday

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More than any other offering so far, the Marvel/Netflix Luke Cage series is suffused with music. The show loses a bit of steam in the back half as Cottonmouth's club becomes a less prominent location. #MusicMonday

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I recently picked up a bunch of Ayreon's early albums, and Into the Electric Castle is the one that most matches my expectations from their more recent ones. Excellent prog concept albums, even if my days of sitting down and reading the lyrics to decipher the story are behind me. #MusicMonday

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Uber is a garbage company. Never use Uber.

"After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR."

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"To younger generations who never had such jobs, who had only the mythology of such jobs (rather a whimsical snapshot of the 1950s frozen in time by America’s ideology) this part of the narrative is clear. America, and perhaps existence itself is a cascade of empty promises and advertisements — that is to say, fantasy worlds, expectations that will never be realized “IRL”, but perhaps consumed briefly in small snatches of commodified pleasure."

"Thus these Trump supporters hold a different sort of ideology, not one of “when will my horse come in”, but a trolling self-effacing, “I know my horse will never come in”. That is to say, younger Trump supporters know they are handing their money to someone who will never place their bets — only his own — because, after all, it’s plain as day there was never any other option."

"In this sense, Trump’s incompetent, variable, and ridiculous behavior is the central pillar upon which his younger support rests. Such an idea — one of utter contemptuous despair — is embodied in one image more than any other, one storied personage who has become a(n) hero to millions, the voice of a generation. I am speaking, of course, of Pepe the Frog."
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"Pepe symbolizes embracing your loserdom, owning it. That is to say, it is what all the millions of forum-goers of 4chan met to commune about. It is, in other words, a value system, one reveling in deplorableness and being pridefully dispossessed. It is a culture of hopelessness, of knowing “the system is rigged”. But instead of fight the response is flight, knowing you’re trapped in your circumstances is cause to celebrate. For these young men, voting Trump is not a solution, but a new spiteful prank."

"We know, by this point, that Trump is funny. Even to us leftists, horrified by his every move, he is hilarious. Someone who is all brash confidence and then outrageously incompetent at everything he does is — from an objective standpoint — comedy gold. Someone who accuses his enemies of the faults he at that very moment is portraying is comedy gold. But, strangely, as the left realized after the election, pointing out Trump was a joke was not helpful. In fact, Trump’s farcical nature didn’t seem to be a liability, rather, to his supporters, it was an asset. All the left’s mockery of Trump served to reinforce his message as not only an outsider, but as an expression of rage, despair, and ultimate pathetic Pepe-style hopelessness."

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I checked out in the 130s when he listed Colin Quinn and Norm Macdonald. That's just silly with so many one-offs and people who never broke out in any way.

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Chew as a concept is an utterly bizarre comic. It's a world where the bird flu killed millions and the FDA is now the paramount federal agency. There are a litany of food-related powers, and Layman revels in creating ever more nonsensical names and niches for them. The main character is a "cibopath" who gets a psychic reading of the history of any object he eats (except beets), making him a natural fit for homicide forensic investigations. His girlfriend is a "saboscrivner" who can write about food so accurately that they feel like they're tasting it, for good or ill. The exaggerated angular art has its own kind of charm, though it can get a bit gory at times. Guillory rewards close attention with lots of background gags and echos of past panel layouts. It shakes up the status quo frequently so the storyline never gets stale or outlives its welcome. There is a good expansion of the secondary characters, even allowing them to sideline the main character for decent chunks while the series continues just fine. Starting in 2009 and ending last year, some kind of adaptation has long been in the works. A Showtime series didn't happen and then Robin Williams' death delayed an upcoming animated movie. It'll be interesting to see if they can translate what made it a success.
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