Thursday, February 25, 2021

Kevinography, part 10: Thirteen Days (2000)

This is part 3 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Synopsis: In 1962, the Soviet Union secretly deployed nuclear missiles to Cuba. When the US found out, a deadly game of cat and mouse started as the US administration tried to find a course of action not drawing the world into nuclear war. While the military tries to goad the cabinet into war, Kenneth O'Donnel (Costner), Special Assistant to the President, is among those trying to find a political solution. But events take on a dynamic of their own, and it seems like the world will soon bust in flames...
Analysis: We're moving solidly into Second-Phase Costner. While he certainly is the biggest star in the ensemble and something like the main character, this is not a high-profile movie. The content is engaging enough: The Cuban Missile Crisis is the moment the world came as close to nuclear war as never before.
The problem is that the material is not especially conductive to film. There are a lot of persons, most of which are introduced only by a title card ("Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense"), so if you don't know who these people are, they're just different sizes of suits.
This is even true when it comes to O'Donnel, played by Costner, who is the only one to get something approaching a character. All the others are functions, and their character traits are discussed only as far as their functions are concerned. Even Costner isn't safe from this, as we meet a very run-of-the-mill American family and he declares his undying loyalty for the Kennedys.
That's normal for the genre, of course. This is in effect a visualized history book. But if you didn't read the history book before, you will be hard pressed putting all that happens in context. The major events are all there, but they're referencing stuff that is taken for granted. For example, there's a monologue by Bobby Kennedy in which he complains about his reputation, but his reputation never came up in the movie before - it is entirely at odds with what we've seen before. That makes sense; Bobby was Attorney General, and he's heavily involved in the crisis because he's Jack's brother, not because Attorney Generals are great foreign policy experts.
Many of the characters therefore just stand in conference rooms or war rooms relaying exposition. The movie does its best to spice things up with scenes "from the ground", showing the destroyers enforcing the blockade, the pilots taking pictures over Cuba, but in the end, while this does create some more palpable tension, it can't save you if you don't know the events already.
Another problem is that the events don't form a neat arc. There are some ebbs and flows, with the crisis becoming worse and alleviating several times, and there's no rhyme or rhythm to it because reality seldom has - but that doesn't necessarily make for good storytelling.
The movie also presents a very glorified version of the Kennedy administration, making them into the heroes of the story unapologetically. The only perspective we get is the one of the Kennedys and O'Donnel; the Soviet side is completely invisible, and the generals and admirals as well as the press are mostly shown reacting as doubters.
It's a saving grace that the Kennedys themselves as well as O'Donnel are wrong on the issues as well sometimes. This is a movie about a team, and defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis is a team effort. This doesn't really cover the fact that the historical accuracy suffers a lot, presenting something like an official American version of events that does not stand up to a historian's scrutiny.
Before we close this off, one word on Costner's acting. The man is going for a heavy Irish accent in this movie, and I mean HEAVY. Why? He couldn't be bothered to even try for British Englisch when he played Robin Hood, but the personal assistant to the president needs to speak like fresh from the pub because he's got an Irish surname? It's not much better for the Kennedys; I think actors and director both erred on the side of flavor here.
Verdict: You can watch it if you want some images in your head to go with the history of the crisis, but it's not a good source to learn said history from or as a movie on its own terms.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Kevinography, part 9: Testament (1983)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 9 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: In the spring of 1983, the United States are suffering a nuclear attack. The eastern seaboard is immediately blown to pieces, as are most major cities. The citizens of the small suburban town of Hamlin, California, experience the apocalypse as an incremental breakdown. They try to preserve as much of their previous life-styles as possible, but resources dwindle and the body-count ever increases. We follow the fate of a young family through these travails. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Kevinography, part 8: Field of Dreams (1989)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 8 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: Ray (Kevin Costner) is an amateur farmer in Iowa who, out in the fields, hears a voice telling him to "build it" and that "he will come". Ray is instinctively sure that he's supposed to build a baseball field and that Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), who died in 1951, will then come. He does so, and indeed, Jackson's ghost appears. This strangeness is only the beginning. The rest of the White Socks also appear, and Ray gets a new message that gets him into contact with writer Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones). Together, the two of them go on a quest chasing ghosts of the past, while the farm is in danger of being foreclosed...

Friday, January 8, 2021

Kevinography, part 7: The Bodyguard (1992)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 7 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is a professional bodyguard. Reluctantly, he takes the job to protect the pop singer and actress Rachel Marran (Whitney Houston) who, her manager believes, is in danger from some obsessive fan. Said manager keeps the news from her, and unsurprisingly, she's in no mood to cooperate. This changes after Farmer protects her in a club, and she falls in love with him. Belatedly he realizes it interferes with the job, they seperate and later reunite, all the while a dangerous killer is on the loose. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Kevinography, part 6: The Postman (1997)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 6 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: In the distant post-apocalyptic future of 2013, a man (Kevin Costner) wanders around rural America with his ass (not Kevin Costner). He shuns civilization, but he's in need of food, and so he makes a living by performing a crude version of Shakespeare in the villages. He gets swept up by the evil General Bethlehem (Will Patton), who recruits him into his army. The man manages to escape and stumbles on the remains of a postman. He opts for a desperate gambit, pretending to be a postman of the "Restored United States" to get some food. It works way better than intended, and soon a fan founds a copycat enterprise that starts a revolution against Bethlehem, drafting the wayward Postman into it as a leading figure...

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Kevinography, part 5: Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves (1991)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 5 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: During the crusades, spoiled aristocrat Robin of Locksley gets captured and tortured by Saracens. During a break-out, he teams up with moor Azeem (Morgan Freeman) with whom he returns home to England, only to find out that the evil Sheriff of Notthingham (an absolutely scene-stealing Alan Rickman) burned down his home and killed his family. Trying to make good on his promise to protect the Lady Marian, he is driven into Sherwood Forest by the sherrif's goons. In the forest, he teams up with a band of outlaws and forges them into a fighting force that carries the fight back to the sheriff....

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Kevinography, part 4: "Waterworld" (1995)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 4 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: After the polar ice caps melted, the whole world is covered in water. The few survivors roughly divide between the inhabitants of artificial atolls, the nomadic Drifters and the ravenous Smokers. The unnamed Mariner, played by Costner, arrives at an Atoll only to be found out as a mutant who can breathe under water. His execution is short-circuited by an attack of the Smokers, who want to get their hands on a girl on whose back there's a tattoo allegedly showing the path to the fabled Dryland. Against his preferences, the lonely Mariner comes to care for the girl and her adoptive mom and protects them against the Smokers. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Kevinography, part 3: "Dances with Wolves" (1990)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 3 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: John Dunbar wants to see the West "before it's gone" and gets an assigment on the edge of nowhere. Arriving at his post, he has to realize no one is there. He settles into a life of solitude that gets disrupted by first contact with the local Sioux tribe. Dunbar tries to get to know them, and after initial hesitation, their medicine man "Kicking Bird" is also curious. Both sides come closer, leading to Dunbar essentially joining the tribe and marrying Kicking Bird's adopted daughter Stands-with-a-fist. The harmony is disturbed violently when the army comes back, incarcerating Dunbar for treason.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Kevinography, part 2: A Perfect World (1993)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 2 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Kevinography, part 1: "Open Range" (2003)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 1 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Rewatching Terminator

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

Together with my wife, I rewatched all three Terminator movies (and isn't it really sad that they never made any more of these?). These are pretty old now. The first Terminator came out in 1984, the second in 1991 and the third in 2003. By the way, isn't it fascinating how much space lies between these? Unimaginable in the Hollywood of today, leaving a brand laying around like that. Aaaanywyay.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Dark Guide to Germany, season 3

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!
And for the final season of Netflix' Dark, I'll continue writing about stuff that seems to be typically German or somehow noteworthy in that context. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Activism in the 70s through the prism of prestige TV

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

A month ago, Hulu's miniseries "Mrs America" about the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment concluded. To give a quick synopsis, in the 1970s, 35 of 38 states needed ratified the ERA so it could become part of the constitution and guarantee equal rights to women. The ratification seemed like a surefire process, but right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly more or less single-handedly turned the issue in a nasty partisan fight, a development that culminated in Ronald Reagan's election, the "conservative revolution" and a large backlash against liberal causes that arguably lasted until the Obama years.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Why you should watch Booksmart

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!
I'm not exactly the target audience when it comes to highschool comedies. I abhor American Pie, Road Trip, 10 Things I Hate About You and these kinds of movies, and the fact that I'm referencing the late 1990s should tell you everything you need to know. That's basically the last time I watched those. Even back then, as a horny teenager, I didn't get the appeal of this genre.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Joker analysis

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!
I finally got around to watching "Joker". I hadn't been keen on seeing it when it came out due to two reasons. One was that the trailers left me utterly cold, and then, after they hit, there was this instantly toxic discourse about it sparked by the director himself in a vainglorious attempt of self-aggrandizing and sparking a sales-boosting controversy. He succeeded in that, I am sad to report. But my wife was in cinema back then and liked the movie, and so we've taken the DVD release as an occasion for a movie night so she can show me the thing.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Tyrion and Cersei, parent ersatz

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!
Another thing that came to me while listening to NotACast's disection of ACOK Sansa III was the question of how the hell Joffrey could be reigned in by the two misfit siblings if they had actually had more ability for self-reflection and cooperation. It's a long shot, I know, but it reminds me of my BLAP about Tyrion and Tywin getting along. Yes, unlikely, and yes, it would be a different story, but how could they actually go about it if they were so inclined? 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Robb Stark attacks through the Ardennes with elephants

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Otfried Preußler's time capsule of the "Little Ghost"

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

When I was a kid, I grew up with the children books by German author Otfried Preußler, particularily "The Little Witch", the "Highwayman Hotzenplotz" saga, "Krabat" and "The Little Ghost". These works were written and published mostly in the 1950s to 1970s, so it's safe to assume that my parents grew up with them as well. "The Little Witch" fell out of favor since, but the stories of the highwayman Hotzenplotz and the Little Ghost enjoy a remarkable longevity, spawning reboots even to this day, although they're firmly consigned to kindergarten and lower elementary school kids.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Locke&Key Review

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

Back in December, I wrote a primer on the Locke&Key graphic novels when it was announced that they'd be made into a Netflix series. Said series has no aired in its full batch of 10 episodes, as is custom on Netflix. I watched it completely, and so I feel uniquely qualified to give you a spoiler-free review of it, burning with anticipation as you are. That sentence contained two exaggerations, for those keeping count.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hyper-capitalism in gaming: a case stuy

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

Some of you may be aware that I'm an avid player of the miniature games "X-Wing" and "Armada", both set in the Star Wars universe, produced by Fantasy Flight Games, and a lot of the board games of the same company as well. The company, founded by Christian T. Petersen in the late 90s, is one of the big success stories of the hobby market and grew into a multi-branched, highly polished operation that brought out great games, had a widely famed consumer service and boosted the hobby market by giving special deals to brick-and-mortar stores at the expense of online distribution and to foster a healthy community and tournament scene. Accordingly, it grew to fascinating size.