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5/26/2005

 

prevents AIDS and freezer burn



planned parenthood's 8th grade sex education curriculum recommends that junior wrap his rascal in saran wrap before engaging in oral or anal sex.

i'll repeat that: planned parenthood is telling your 8th grader to seal in that extra fresh flavor--among other things--with saran wrap, then poke little suzy (or billy) next door in the butt.

presumably this advice is intended to serve in the absence of condoms, but, well, do i really need to say it? this is insanity. first off, it's insane that 8th graders should be exposed to this filth at all, but beyond that, would any sane adult consider saran wrap adequate defense against pregnancy or AIDS?

don't you get it, folks? planned parenthood wants your kids having sex. the absolute worst thing that could happen to them would be for kids to begin behaving responsibly in this country once more. and i say "once more" because until fringe leftist groups like planned parenthood began attacking the judeo-Christian foundation of this country, we never had much of a problem with teenage sexuality.

and please, don't give me that crap about how kids were always doing it. of course a certain segment of the juvenile population has always been sexually active, and guess what: they used to be frowned upon by society. peer pressure worked against sexual experimentation. but in this era, it's a much larger percentage of kids who are going at it while MTV and their health teachers are cheering them on. exploding teenage pregnancy and STD transmission figures are all the proof you should need.

common sense sex education would be focused on abstinence, then perhaps maybe possibly condoms, then, if there are no condoms, more abstinence. instead we've got condoms, condoms, and then, if there are no condoms, saran wrap, and this while planned parenthood describes increased funding for abstinence-only programs as "dangerous." why not buy the kids a bottle of champagne, some marvin gaye cds and a box of cigarettes? sorry, abstinence-only did a fine job in this nation right up until we abandoned it in favor of tacitly encouraging kids to engage in risky sexual behavior--as if they need any prodding.

locdog thinks the prodding should be left to the experts, baby




5/24/2005

 

locdog movie review: revenge of the sith



i've done a few of these amateur reviews now, and i've got to admit that star wars episode iii: revenge of the sith will be the toughest. the movie defies summary judgment. does one focus on the scenes where ian mcdiarmid's performance seems oscar-worthy, for instance, or the ones where it degenerates into high camp? do you praise the special effects as the unique technical achievement they represent, or chide their cold sterility? will you rejoice at finally seeing something interesting on the screen, or wonder why it took two bad films and about a third of a decent one to get there?

the film certainly starts off with a bang, with ewan mcgregor's obi wan kenobi and hayden christensen's anakin skywalker weaving their fighters in and out of an impossibly dense dog fight in the stars. who's fighting and why? it's clones vs. droids, and the why of it, after the previous two films' seemingly endless twaddle on trade disputes and separatists and whatnot, boils down to a plot by ian mcdiarmid's chancellor palpatine to vest himself with emergency powers as a prelude to empire. the opening battle reminds me of two things that have been missing from the latest star wars films: stars and war. we're two thirds of the way done with this thing and we're just now getting to our first real space battle?

obi wan and anakin board the command ship of the droid army's general, fail in an assassination attempt, and return to the jedi council for further instruction. obi wan is sent to pursue the droid general, a sort of half biological, half mechanical thing named grievous who hacks and wheezes like a consumptive from a dostoyevsky novel, while anakin is told to cool his heels, an order that disagrees with him to no small extent. it seems that anakin has been made a member of the jedi council due to his friendship with chancellor palpatine, but he has been denied the rank of jedi master and believes his promotion to council member is cover for the council to use him as a spy. he's quite bitter about it.

anakin is also being tormented by dreams. he senses that his wife padme, played by natalie portman, is going to die giving birth to the babies that will grow up to become luke and leia in the original films. promising him the power to save his wife and the greatness the jedi council is denying him, palpatine, aka darth sidious, aka the emperor, turns anakin to the dark side, and sends him off to destroy the jedi. inevitably, this leads to the climactic confrontation between anakin and obi wan.

on balance, i though the writing and acting in sith was the strongest of the three prequels--which isn't saying a whole lot. still, there are some downright impressive performances. anakin's seduction is drawn out over a series of encounters with palpatine, and mcdiarmid's dizzying cocktail of flattery and cynicism goes down like fine wine. it would be good acting by the standards of any movie and was a genuine pleasure to watch. ewan mcgregor turns in his strongest performance as obi wan yet, seemingly much more comfortable now in alec guinness' shoes. christopher lee is once more under-utilized as count dooku, and the miscast samuel l. jackson is basically taking up space as mace windu. yoda is quite a technical feat, but frank oz’s dialogue seems stilted and forced--even for a star wars movie. the writers are trying to hard to cram in his characteristic dyslexic speech patterns and it's noticeable. and now for poor natalie portman: she's terrible. awful. cringingly bad. but it's really not her fault. i've seen enough of natalie elsewhere to know that she's a pretty good actress when she doesn't have to deliver clunker lines like "anakin, you're breaking my heart!" and stand there looking fragile for two and a half hours.

so how was hayden christensen? surprisingly, he was good enough. his dominant trait in episode ii was whiny, bratty petulance--a far cry from the cold, calculating evil of lord vader. and it's not like he was suffering from a surplus of screen presence, either. he's grown up a bit for episode iii, his anger is a bit more seasoned now. his character is an idealist blinded by pride and deceived by the devil, and christensen manages to keep you pitying him while he slides further and father into darkness. he's also quite creepy with his sadistic glare and yellowish eye make-up. when he strides into a room full of "younglings," toddler-aged jedi apprentices, and sparks his lightsaber, you know for sure that things aren't going to end well. that palpable menace had been all but non-existent in his episode ii performance, and it was a welcome addition here. he still has his share of lousy lines and clumsy deliveries, but yes, i could see this guy becoming darth vader.

as with this film's two predecessors, episode iii is a feast for the eyes. the costumes, environments, space ships, creatures, all of it is so painstakingly and loving rendered that you almost feel obligated to be impressed. lucas knows how compose a shot. the special effects are equally dazzling, but the whole visual package wrapped up together left me feeling a bit hollow. several times during the film i thought to myself "that's very impressive," but the admiration was totally abstract. the effects did nothing to draw you into the story, and most of the time they served little purpose beyond distracting you from what was really important on screen: the characters and their interactions. go back and watch the original star wars from the seventies and you'll see that, despite what you may recall, this was not an effects-driven film. it was driven by 1. interesting characters, 2. a memorable story, and 3. a cast with chemistry enough to easily exceed the sum of its parts. it's a strange feeling to watch a film and on the one hand think that you're seeing some of the most amazing images ever to grace the screen and on the other hand to find yourself wishing for that quiet desert hovel where that crazy old hermit ben kenobi first introduced luke skywalker to his father's lightsaber. all that having been said, anakin and obi wan's final duel is a gem--it's perhaps the only time in this latter-day trilogy that lucas' techno-wizardry succeeds in its repeated attempts at overwhelming the effects-jaded moviegoer.

parents be warned: your kids will want to see this one, but in this case PG-13 means PG-13. most of the violence is the standard star wars laser blaster/lightsaber fare, but a few scenes are gruesome enough to unsettle all but the most desensitized of sever-year-olds. you'll probably want to see it before you make up your minds on taking the kids.

while i studiously avoided exposure to all things episode iii prior to seeing it, you couldn't miss the talk of political subtexts running through the film. everybody's got their own opinion on this one, but if you want my $0.02, then trust me, they're in there. there are points in the movie where anakin parrots famous dubya lines almost word for word. for instance,

anakin: ...i have brought peace, justice, freedom and security to my new empire.

obi wan: anakin, my allegiance is to the republic, to democracy.

anakin: if you're not with me, you're my enemy.

obi wan: only a sith lord deals in absolutes.

i mean come on people. if you're not with me, you're my enemy? that's the freakin' bush doctrine and this movie is comparing it to sith dogma.

it's not a huge deal. i'd have to take lucas seriously as a director before i take him seriously as a political pundit, and unless he magically rediscovers his american graffiti form, i don't see that happening any time soon.

the first two prequels, to be blunt, were uneccessary. everything that matters, everything that all but the geekiest of geeks cared about concerning the star wars back story, happens here. but how does lucas as a writer manage to keep interest in a story that everyone already knows? the whole thing has a rosencrantz and guildenstern quality to it, just ticking off the plot points en route to a predetermined fate that everyone is aware of (and, indeed, the uber-nerds at wikipedia maintain that tom stoppard worked on some of the dialogue.) i think the increased gore and the unprecedented-for-the-franchise PG-13 rating are part of lucas' attempt to keep audiences engaged, but there's more to it. this film is actually interesting. for the first time in the trilogy, i found myself caring about what happens to the people on screen, and this in spite of the fact that i already knew what that was going to be. and, really, is that such a handicap? we as savvy audience members know what's going to happen in movies 95% of the time.

did in enjoy this final star wars romp? yes, absolutely. would i call it a good movie? a better question, i think, is whether it's a good movie with significant flaws or a bad movie with moments of inspiration. the first two clearly fell into the latter camp, but this one is different. i think fans will like more than they dislike, and in the final estimation, that's what really matters. that and the fact that jar jar binks was no where to be seen.

locdog's next review might be spielberg's upcoming war of the worlds remake