erik lundegaard

Thursday August 27, 2015

Did Neocons, Gun Nuts, Watch Too Many Cartoons as Kids?

Dick Cheney

At least some Popeye anyway.

The following is from Michael Medved's 1992 book “Hollywood vs. America,” during the discussion (or monologue) on whether what we see is what we do. I.e., Do repeated viewings of violent images, thousands of them in a young life, lead us toward violence ourselves? Or, for some, toward fear and paranoia?

Here's the quote. Or quotes:

“Young viewers who watch a lot of TV are more likely to agree that it is almost always right to hit someone if you are mad at them for a good reason,” Dr. Gerbner reports. ... 

Dr. Thomas Radecki, research director of the National Coalition on Television Violence, points out that the destructive impact of the popular culture is “not just a kids' issue. There is overwhelming evidence that adults as well as children are affected by the glamorization and promotion of violence. TV-watching adults are more likely to purchase handguns, support military solutions to world problems, and overestimate the amount of violence in the real world.”

The oddity of this book is that I agree with a lot of Medved's battles but he's constantly losing the war with me. I do think, for example, that there's too much violence on TV and movie screens. I also agree that movie and TV images are influential. Just like anything in life but moreso. They're viewed, after all, a million times around the world.

I just don't blame Hollywood; I blame us. Generally, if these movies didn't sell, Hollywood wouldn't make them. But they make them because we buy them; because we want them. Thus far, Medved only blames Hollywood. 

More later.

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Posted at 03:19 PM on Aug 27, 2015 in category Books
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If You Google 'Trump Mussolini'...

...on Google images, these are the first two photos you see:

Donald Trump and Benito Mussolini

And they're not together. These are separate images from separate sites. You don't even have to work to make the comparison. Hell, Trump looks more like Mussolini than Mussolini does. 

I get the feeling that as the election season progresses, and if Trump's rhetoric stays at the same inflammatory level while his polls stay at the same high level—that he gets ahead by selling to us the worst in ourselves—you'll be seeing this comparison made more and more. Because #ItCantHappenHere.

Recommended reading:

Donald Trump: Making America grate again.

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Posted at 01:02 PM on Aug 27, 2015 in category Politics
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Movie Review: Copenhagen (2014)

WARNING: SPOILERS

Copenhagen deserves better. 

British actor Gethin Anthony (Renley Baratheon of “Game of Thrones”) plays William, an American who travels to the titular city to: 1) deliver a letter from his now-dead father to his never-seen grandfather, and 2) screw hot girls.

He’s the kind of twentysomething who thinks it’s the height of hilarity to make blow-job motions next to a sleeping man on a train. He thinks it’s his right to keep dinging the bell on the hotel lobby desk even though the concierge is on the phone two feet away. He’s thoughtless, self-centered, and angry that his friend Jeremy (Sebastian Armesto) brought along his girlfriend Jennifer (Olivia Grant). He assumed this was “a guys trip”; he assumed it was all about him. Even with Jennifer, he assumes it’s all about him. “You wanted to fuck me first,” he says to her at the hotel bar. Classy.

Copenhagen movieThe next day she and Jeremy leave. Would that we could. Then William meets a Danish girl, Effy (Frederikke Dahl Hansen), a waitress at the hotel who accidentally spills coffee on the letter he’s supposed to deliver. They argue. She sends him to the wrong place in town. They meet again and argue some more. Then she decides to help.  

So we get it. It’s about an asshole who becomes a better person because of a good woman.

Except she’s not a woman. She’s 14 years old.

Once William finds this out—40 minutes into the 90-minute movie—he backs off, right? Yes and no. Mostly he just gets more petulant. Because he likes her.

But he still backs off, right? Sexually? Right?

Yes and no. They get topless and make out in his hotel room, but he stops there. Hansen was 19 or 20 during filming but I still had to cover my eyes during these scenes. The ick factor was strong. It doesn’t help that we like her but despise him.

Question: How do you make an asshole in a movie sympathetic? Or at least interesting? However you do it, writer-director Mark Raso doesn’t. Is it because Anthony is a Brit doing an American asshole? That he gives us the surface but nothing deeper? That Anthony's a Baratheon? 

All I know is I had zero tolerance for this character. As a result, we’re kind of annoyed that Effy falls for him. And as a result, when William finds out that his grandfather had been a Nazi collaborator during the war, and that he went to prison for it, and that he’s still alive, well, it’s more amusing than dramatic. Serves you right, dickhead.

But of course that’s how William “grows” in the end. Throughout, he’s an angry young man because of daddy issues; after confronting his grandfather, the former Nazi—who should’ve been near 90 but seems like a fit 70-year-old—he realizes his own father’s daddy issues were much, much worse. So he develops a kind of empathy.

Sadly, by this point, we have none for him. Effie is so good she makes William better, but William is so annoying he makes us worse. 

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Posted at 09:19 AM on Aug 27, 2015 in category Movie Reviews - 2014
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Wednesday August 26, 2015

Why the Mariners Should Read 'The Grand Salami'

Safeco Field Seattle

The view from Lookout Landing this afternoon. 

Went to the M's game this afternoon not expecting much and it looked like I was going to get it. I'd barely settled in when Felix Hernandez, the King, with his sparse court wearing yellow in left field, threw the first pitch ... and Oakland A's centerfielder Billy Burns deposited into the stands. One pitch, 1-0, A's.

It might not have happened if Felix, or someone with the M's, read The Grand Salami, the alternative fan magazine. In the “snappy comments” section for the A's lineup in the August issue, it has this to say about Billy Burns:

M's pitchers would be wise to be careful throwing a first-pitch strike to Burns, who hit .475 and slugged .763 in the first half when putting the first pitch in play. 

The next batter, Mark Canha, sent one to the warning track on an 0-2 pitch, and you had to wonder if something was wrong with Felix. Before the All-Star break, his ERA was 2.84. Since? 6.26. Did he injure himself? Is he tipping pitches? Both? I got ready for the worst.

It didn't come. Felix didn't give up another hit until Billy Butler (damned Billys) singled to lead off the 5th. Felix wound up going 8 innings, and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits. Meanwhile, the M's scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st and the A's never got close. We would've scored more but our backup catcher, Jesus Sucre, who recently attained half-Mendoza (hitting over. 100), kept coming up with runners in scoring position. Results:

  • 1st inning: bases loaded, 1 out: popped to third.
  • 3rd inning: first and second, 1 out: grounded into a double play to end inning.
  • 5th inning: bases loaded, 2 out: grounded out to pitcher to end inning. 
  • 7th inning: first and third, 1 out: grounded out to shortstop—but a run scored!

Nine runners stranded in one game, and he never got the ball out of the infield. Poor bastard. Now he's down below .100 again. Heady times while it lasted.  

Still, the M's won 8-2 on a warm, sunny afternoon in late August. Not many of those left.

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Posted at 05:26 PM on Aug 26, 2015 in category Seattle Mariners
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Monday August 24, 2015

The New Clod Worship Isn't New

I read this last night in Michael Medved's “Hollywood vs. America,” from 1992:

“Welcome to the new clod worship, a pop culture deification of the asinine,” writes Jan Stuart in a recent issue of FanFare. “Been to the movies or theater lately? The joint is jumpin' with blowhard anti-role models who combine Trump-size arrogance with the grace of Al Sharpton ... turning the ethos of the jerk inside out until jerkiness becomes a kind of heroism... By and large, that behavior takes as its ideal the iconoclasm and unformed moral code of adolescent boys.”

Meet the new clod worship; same as the old clod worship.   

Here's Evan Osnos on Trump, the GOP frontrunner. (Great illustration, btw, by Christoph Niemann.)

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Posted at 05:42 AM on Aug 24, 2015 in category Culture
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'Erik Lundegaard's Reviews ONLY count...'

I'm not sure when Rotten Tomatoes added the following disclosure, but I noticed it for the first time yesterday:

Rotten Tomatoes disclosure

As opposed to someone like my friend Sean Axmaker, who is a Tomatoes-approved critic

So please keep this in mind as you're skimming the reviews here. Most of these are not Tomatometer-approved. The Tomatometer does not recognize them. The Tomatometer barely recognizes their reviewer. Understandable, given the author photo.

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Posted at 05:32 AM on Aug 24, 2015 in category Movie Reviews
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Sunday August 23, 2015

Box Office: 'Compton' Wins Sleepy Weekend

Does it feel like summer is winding down? It certainly does at the box office.

“Straight Outta Compton” dropped 55% but still retrained the top spot by a long shot. It grossed $26.7 million domestically against the fourth weekend of “M:I –Rogue Nation,” which finished second with $11.7 million. “Compton” has now grossed $111.4 million in only 10 days, which is the second highest total ever for a music biopic, and only $8 mil behind No. 1 “Walk the Line.” Obviously unadjusted. But it does mean we're likely to see more music biopics of hip-hop artists in the near future. 

Did anyone predict these kind of numbers? Here: It might wind up with three times what “Fantastic Four” is grossing. This weekend, the beleaguered Fox/Marvel property earned another $3.6 mil for 10th place and an overall total of $49.6. How bad is that? Only four Marvel movies have done worse: two “Punisher” films ('04 and '08), “Elektra” and “Howard the Duck.” This FF still hasn't grossed what the 2005 Tim Story FFs grossed opening weekend. Again, I didn't think it was that bad. Or at least I thought there were redeeming qualities amid an obvious director-studio battle. 

The movies opening this weekend didn't exactly take off, either. “Sinister 2” finished in third place with $10.6, “Hitman” finished in fourth with $8.2, and “American Ultra,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, which I reviewed for The Seattle Times, and which has its moments, only managed to scrape together $5.5 million for sixth place. 

The best per-theater average went to Lily Tomlin's “Grandma,” which played in only four theaters nationwide and earned $30K per.

Nine days from September now. 

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Posted at 04:29 PM on Aug 23, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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How Long Has It Been Since Your MLB Team Made the Postseason?

Here's a chart detailing how long it's been since each Major League team has been to the postseason, along with (highlighted in green) who would go this year if the season ended today:

Major League Baseball: Years since each team has made the postseason

I'm rooting for the Jays, of course, and not only because I'm an inveterate Yankees hater. It's just good to see new teams in October. 

Once that happens, of course, it means my Seattle Mariners would not only be one of two franchises to never get to the World Series (Expos/Nats), but we would have the longest postseason drought of any MLB team. M's fans knew hope at the beginning of this season, but it's been back to gallows humor ever since. 

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Posted at 07:30 AM on Aug 23, 2015 in category Baseball
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