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2019-12-26 Sex and The Expanse

I’m somewhere in the middle of season two of The Expanse and it continues to be very American: a lot of shooting but no nipples. This value system continues to amaze me because here in Switzerland practically everybody I know has had sex and nobody has experienced gun violence.

I don’t want to argue that I need to see more sex on the screen, I’m just amazed whenever I see how the material actively tries to avoid it – while showing gun violence, brutality, torture (cruel punishments, forced confessions and the like). That’s the part I don’t get. Maybe I’m a snowflake. Or perhaps the others are psychopaths without empathy, who knows. Anyway, in a way that too is discourse and that too shifts what is publicly acceptable.

I’m not sure where the exact lines are drawn. Is it the rating system? What European nations use the same rating system as the US?

I liked the earlier episodes better because I like space stations and ships and grime and all that. And I still like it! Really, the only thing that I keep returning to every now and then is how it feels like a very US product with all the torture and violence. Ugh. As so often is the case, we can do unspeakable things to the human body, as long as it is clothed. 🤢

Oh, and when I tried to buy the first season on Amazon they wouldn’t let me because I’m in Switzerland and they are in Germany.


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2019-11-15 The Century of the Self

I’ve started watching The Century of the Self, Part 1. There are four parts.

I found a copy on YouTube at the time and downloaded it in 2018 after reading a discussion online. [1] It’s also available from the Internet Archive. [2] [3] [4] [5]

A few minutes in: Using propaganda for peace! Renaming propaganda to council on public relations… I’m liking this documentary already!

A bit later, the first experiment: convincing women to smoke in public. WTF this callousness is what creates evil in the world. 🤮

The idea that somebody had to discover a way to turn objects like cigarettes into a way to make a statement (”torches of freedom” and all the cigarette ads ever that followed), and that many other people were willing to come along, and benefit from the manipulation of their fellow humans… The disgust still lingers when people talk about marketing, when they work in marketing.

Did I think my stance against consumerism was a kind of hidden knowledge and nobody else had studied it? Or had the noise drained out all the truth from advertising? When I look at this documentary and hear bankers say we need to change society from a needs culture to a culture of desires, that people must be trained to desire new things before having used up the old, it’s as if somebody had removed my earplugs and said: yo, you’re not alone. We all know this! We’ve been doing it for years.

@technomancy asked me whether it was for a mature audience. Hah, I wouldn’t dare tell an American what to show or what not to show to their kids. The Atlantic is a cultural gulf we all try to ignore. I’m 24 minutes in and I’ve seen pictures of the first world war, but no corpses; I’ve seen women smoke but nobody was naked; there was no cruelty or torture. After all, it was shown on British television. If you’re watching it with kids ten or twelve years old and talk to them about advertising, you’re going to be fine. Also, I have no kids. 😃

This four part series looks like a must-see.


Comments on 2019-11-15 The Century of the Self

Thanks for recommending these! I watched them the other night and thought they were great.

I’ve seen another documentary by Adam Curtis called HyperNormalisation that I liked too, will have to go through his whole filmography.

– rjt 2019-11-20 11:09 UTC

You are welcome! 🙂

On Mastodon, I also saw the following recommendations:

@clew said: “There’s a book called No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart that’s good on that. Tom Slee. Not especially about Walmart, as it happens.”

@dredmorbius also recommended HyperNormalisation, and The Loving Trap.

@ludibrium recommended Noam Chomsky - Manufacturing consent (1992).

@krozruch said: “I’ve been going through all of Adam Curtis’ documentaries recently. The Mayfair Set most recently - which is more relevant to Brexit than I may have realised. All of them have something to say. I first watched a handful of them (The Power of Nightmares, The Century of the Self, and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace) as they came out and talked about them a lot. I’m working on reviews of a few of them now. Great stuff!”

So I guess you’re not alone.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-11-20 17:33 UTC

Adding his blog (which was last updated in 2016) to this little shrine to A. Curtis.

Seriously though, we seem to be victims of our circumstances and free will is a necessary illusion so that we can face ourselves in the mirror.

AlokSingh 2019-11-29 14:21 UTC

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2019-07-23 Medium old movies

I don’t really go out to see many movies any more. We used to go a lot more! And yet, when @ajroach42 asked for non-American movies, I had some recommendations.

This trio of samurai movies by Yōji Yamada comes to mind:

  • Twilight Samurai (2002)
  • The Hidden Blade (2004)
  • Love and Honor (2006)

I also love Wong Kar-wai. The the last one is particularly good. Ashes of Time is a long and dream-like Chinese wuxia movie.

  • As Tears Go By (1988)
  • Days of Being Wild (1991)
  • Chungking Express (1994)
  • Ashes of Time (1994)
  • Fallen Angels (1995)
  • In the Mood for Love (2000)

Some European movies:

  • The City of Lost Children (1995)
  • Savage Nights (1992)
  • The Cuckoo (2002)
  • Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

I was also seeing a comment by @ohyran and was reminded of Swedish movies I liked...

  • Jalla! Jalla! (2000) was funny
  • Fucking Amal (2000) might have been the first queer movie I saw?
  • Tillsammans (2000) somehow remained stuck in my memory

I think Fucking Amal was the best. Weird how it seems that I only watched Swedish movies in 2000. 🤔

Now that I’m thinking about Scandinavia... I was very impressed by this one:

  • Festen, aka The Celebration (1998), a Danish movie.


Comments on 2019-07-23 Medium old movies

I really need to subscribe to the newsletters of a few cinemas in order to create some enthusiasm for myself.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-07-23 20:06 UTC

As for American movies... the one I keep mentioning is Moon (2009).

I recently saw Winter’s Bone (2010) again. Magnificent.

I reminded me of Wind River (2017) which I also loved.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-10-04 12:33 UTC

How could I forget Romeo + Juliet (1996).

– Alex Schroeder 2019-10-09 10:17 UTC

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

– Alex Schroeder 2019-10-09 10:21 UTC

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2017-11-23 Thor

I recently saw the third Thor movie (Ragnarok, 2017), and then I decided to get the first (2011) and second (The Dark World, 2013) movies as well and watched them over the weekend. I liked the third one the best. It took all the elements I liked about the first two and skipped the boring parts.

I never thought I would like superhero movies since I’ve spent my youth with Franco-Belgian comics, Lucky Luke, Asterix, the Adventures of Tintin. But when I saw the visuals of Jupiter Ascending (the story was weak but the space ships were fantastic), and then Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I discovered that I liked this baroque style. (Wikipedia: “exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur”)

This is what my high level D&D campaign should be about! And I feel vindicated for using Norse mythology as the cosmology for my campaigns. In the Halberds and Helmets Referee Guide, there are three pages on Gods and Demons, talking about it.


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2015-07-30 Hayao Miyazaki

Das Filmpodium zeigt gerade alle Filme von Hayao Miyazaki.

Was ich bis jetzt gesehen habe:

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro war lustig. So viele Geheimtüren. So viel Unterwelt. Der Hauptperson gelingt es nicht, zu ihrer Liebe zu stehen. Eine durchgeknallte Agentin ist auch mit dabei. Der Hintergrund sieht sehr nach Schweiz oder Liechtenstein aus.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind war schön und unheimlich. Es gibt jede Menge Frauen in starken Rollen. Interessanterweise ist keiner so wirklich grausam böse sondern die bösen Taten ergeben sich einfach aus Positionen und Interessen der Personen. Mich hat fasziniert, mit welcher Ausdauer Nausicaä für friedliche Lösungen auf jeder Ebene kämpft und wie einfach es allen fällt, zur Gewalt zu greifen.

Kiki’s Delivery Service ist schön, ein wahrer Gutmenschenfilm. Das Mädchen hat Mut, ist unabhängig, findet Freunde, findet Lösungen. Einfach nur positiv.

Porco Rosso romantisiert die Geschichte, Piraten, Freiheitskämpfer, Beziehungen – zeigt im Hintergrund aber eine faschistische Welt und wieder mal einen Protagonisten, der nicht zu seiner Liebe stehen kann. Was ausgezeichnet funktioniert hat, ist die fehlende Auflösung. Woher der Fluch? Wie endet alles? Es bleibt offen. Die beiden Frauen werden Freunde, heisst es am Ende. Eine Firma wird ausgebaut und hat Erfolg. Die Männer haben die Action, die Prügel, enden als Hollywood Stars oder verschwinden.

My Neighbor Totoro hat sehr schöne und fantastische Momente, Freundschaft unter Kindern, Erwachsene, die sich helfen, doch im Hintergrund zeigt sich ein Haus, das verfällt, eine Mutter, die lange krank ist, und so drängt sich die Frage auf, ob die fantastischen Momente die Kompensation der Kinder auf das Elend der Gegenwart ist. Den Kindern im Publikum haben die fantastischen Moment sehr gefallen. Mir selber lastete eine dunkle Vorahnung auf den Schultern. Erst als im Abspann gezeigt wurde, wie die Mutter aus einem Taxi steigt und willkommen geheissen wird, hat sich das etwas gelöst. Auch wenn ich The Scary Theory That Totoro Is The God of Death nicht teile, so verstehe ich doch den emotionalen Kontext. Im Film rennt Satsuki und ist so ausdauernd, und so verzweifelt, und alles ist so chancenlos, und doch gibt man nicht auf, ich fühlte mich an vergessene Alpträume erinnert, an schreckliche Momente einer Kindheit, die ich verdrängt hatte. Nicht an die Schrecken selber, sondern an die Möglichkeit, dass sie echt sein könnten.

Ich freue mich auf alle Fälle auf die restlichen Filme!


Comments on 2015-07-30 Hayao Miyazaki

Meine Lieblingsfilme sind (unter anderem) TOTORO und WHISPER OF THE HEART. Ich habe sie oft gesehen; mag sie sehr, sehr. Bin immer wieder ueberrascht, wie wenig “Story” ein guter Film braucht.

Gruesse, aus Okinawa!

Chris 2015-08-02 12:19 UTC

Einige dieser Filme - Porco Rosso, Nausicaa und Totoro - kenne ich auch. Die sind grossartig und Deine Besprechung derer, die ich noch nicht kenne, hat definitiv mein Interesse geweckt! Danke!

– Johannes 2015-08-02 20:15 UTC

Gaaah, und ich habe Laputa: Castle in the Sky im Kino verpasst.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-08-03 06:40 UTC

Das Schloss des Cagliostro ist wohl einer von Steven Spielbergs Lieblingsfimen.

Mit dem Film Nausicaä bin ich nicht warmgeworden. Aber das lag daran, dass ich den Manga vorher gelesen hatte. Hayao Miyazakis Nausicaä aus dem Tal der Winde (Carlsen) ist eine epische Fantasy-Saga, deren organische Schraffur-Zeichentechnik vor allem Fans des frühen Moebius ansprechen sollte. Der Manga ist so schön, dass ich mir manchmal wünsche, Miyazaki-sensei hätte nicht Studio Ghibli gegründet und stattdessen weitere Mangas gezeichnet! Ja, uns wären viele exzellente Filme entgangen, aber so frage ich mich, auf wie viele noch viel exzellente Mangas wir so verzichten mussten...

Wenn du die Vielschichtigkeit der Motivationen der Protagonisten in Nausicaä beeindruckend fandest, dann schau dir Prinzessin Mononoke an - das ist in meinen Augen Ghiblis Meisterwerk.

Und Kikis kleiner Lieferservice ist einer meiner meistgesehenen Animes überhaupt. Der wird nie langweilig und immer besser, je öfter man ihn sieht.

Dirk R. 2015-08-07 14:25 UTC

Der Manga ist mir nun schon mehrmals empfohlen worden. Den werde ich mir mal organisieren! Danke für den Tipp. Prinzessin Mononoke habe ich schon zwei Mal gesehen und hat mir sehr gefallen. Ist mal für Sonntag den 16. vorgesehen. :)

– Alex Schroeder 2015-08-08 14:52 UTC

Bald muss ich eine weitere Seite zum Thema schreiben. Nur kurz: From up on Poppy Hill und Whisper of the Heart kommen gänzlich ohne fantastische Elemente aus und sind herzerwärmende Teenager Liebesgeschichten, die mir sehr gefallen haben.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-08-18 08:51 UTC

The Wind Rises. Eine Liebesgeschichte, ein Mann, der in seiner Arbeit auf geht, eine Frau, die Tuberkulose hat, der zweite Weltkrieg. Ohne fantastic he Elemente aber mit ein paar Traumsequenzenen. Sehr schön. Ein Blick Weg vom politischen. Beeindruckend: das Erdbeben und das Feuer.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-09-05 19:53 UTC

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2015-03-08 Jupiter Ascending

The action scenes were long and the end involved a lot of woman-as-victim, the biology was crazy (speaking as a zoologist, here) — but the visual design was marvelous, the soundtrack worked for me, the sets, the costumes, the masks, all of it wonderful. I liked it!

Much better than Pacific Rim.


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2014-05-16 Movies

Captain Phillips. I liked this movie about Somalian pirates and international waters.

The Hobbit parts 1 & 2. I could watch Jackson’s Middle Earth for days.

On May the Fourth I watched Star Wars Episodes 1–6.

Tracks. Makes me want to visit Australia.

Snowpiercer. Not so good.

Tempo Girl. Not so good. Includes an abortion.


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2014-02-12 Red Cliff

I enjoyed Red Cliff (2008) even though it contained far more battle than I cared for. I liked Tony Leung. I kept thinking about the Three Kingdoms Book I started to read and the episodes of the Chinese History Podcast on the end of the Han, the Three Kingdoms Period, Daoism, the huge ships and formidable weapons the Chinese had.

☆ ☆ ☆ – I’d recommend it to anybody who likes the genre


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2013-07-19 Pacific Rim

I felt about 25 years too old for Pacific Rim. It was a tiny bit better than Transformers. No quiet moments and insights like in Blade Runner. No mystic undercurrents like in Neon Genesis Evangelion. No character interplay like in Mass Effect. No singing and romance like in Robotech. No strangeness like in Akira. I did like the visuals of Hong Kong, the huge halls à la Star Wars. I find that good movies have me thinking back, recalling scenes, mulling the justifications and consequences of actions. This movie won’t be requiring much thinking back. It has giant robots and kaiju monsters. They fight. The solution to the problem is—as is often the case—a nuke. I expected as much but went anyway, willing to let myself be convinced. Oh well.


Comments on 2013-07-19 Pacific Rim

I felt exactly the same way. Guillermo del Toro’s other movies are action-packed, but also quite thoughtful. Disappointing.

Eugene Eric Kim 2013-07-20 00:13 UTC

Yeah. Pan's Labyrinth was great visually and it had a disturbing plot. A haunting movie and no comparison. And I’m saying that even though I felt Pan’s Labyrinth was too bleak. I felt punched afterwards. As one should feel considering a civil war I fear.

AlexSchroeder 2013-07-20 05:14 UTC

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2013-07-15 Nighttrain to Lisbon

I watched Nighttrain to Lisbon (mostly because I learned that my stepbrother was involved in one of the songs via Trio Fado) which had some nice pictures of Lisbon and some interesting aspects of living under the fascist regime of Salazar and his secret police. A terrible thing. The aspects I did not like about the movie:

The Swiss and the Portuguese speak English—and just recently having seen La grande vadrouille where you need to understand French, German and English in order to get all the jokes, this pained me. I felt the Portuguese names were getting butchered. Why did they not use local actors and provide subtitles?

I felt the movie failed the Bechdel test: The women seemed to be either objects in the possession of men—to be fought over—or listening to the men in rapt attention with an appropriately bent neck.

I also haven’t read the book.

In short, if you want to see some pictures of Lisbon and get an idea of the fascist regime in Portugal at the time, I recommend the movie.


Comments on 2013-07-15 Nighttrain to Lisbon

I haven’t seen the movie, but read the book. It’s great. And even though it’s centered around the fascism in Portugal it’s more about the inner working of it’s protagonists (the teacher and the author), one looking at the stories from outside, one writing it’s own diary. Maybe that’s where that objectifying of women vibe comes from (one being old and afraid of death and the other living in a very reactionary society), this introspective probably doesn’t translate too well to the medium. And I read it 5 years ago, so take this with a grain of salt...

rorschachhamster 2013-07-15 08:29 UTC

I have the book lying around somewhere, so perhaps I will pick it up even though the movie did a bad job advertising it. I guess the occasional quotes from Amadeu de Prado’s book are supposed to invoke these moments of introspection. The cutting was too eager for this to work, I think. Compare this to how Wong Kar Wai and Christopher Doyle generate introspection in movies like In the Mood for Love or Ashes of Time, with long takes, smoke, shadows, patterns, repetitive movements, an unflinching gaze...

AlexSchroeder 2013-07-15 08:48 UTC

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