Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lo, how the never-actually-mighty have fallen.

I finally got the computer shipped out for repairs, I think I even did it when I said I would, which would make it last Saturday.

Since then I've dug through the junk pile that once was my family room to access information on a desktop that stopped working right years ago.  My current primary computer is a laptop that'll fry my legs if I put it on top of my lap and doesn't have enough memory to ... you know, run.  Also no sound, in or out.  It lacks the hardware so even if I attach external speakers (I'm counting headphones in that category) it can't do anything with them.  There may be a software only version of a sound card but given how badly it does ordinary tasks there's no way I'm going to ask it to try emulation.

Secondary works well enough considering when it was made except for the fact that it will just blink out of existence without notice and with no predictability.

It did pretty well before blinking out the last time, might have been up for a full hour.  It finished restarting while I was writing this.  Right here.  Well actually after the first sentence of the next paragraph, but things would be really disjointed if I didn't go back to insert this one but instead wrote it after that.  So, it started, it made the "I'm on, you can use me," sound it immediately crashed.  Full power down instantaneously.  Not even a blue screen of death.  We now return to your regularly scheduled post, already in progress.

And yesterday I watched a movie on tape.  Yeah, tape.  VHS.  All shall fear me because I have '90s tech.  And by '90s I mean '80s.  And by '80s I mean late '70s.  But the film was from the 90s.  1991, Rutger Hauer, Mimi Rodgers, Joan Chen:
In the prison of
the future, criminal
justice will have
a deadly twist.
No bars.
No walls.
No chance of escape.

[secondary just crashed again, damn it I could really use a computer with sound right now]

Anyway, it's not a bad movie, though it would have been nice if there were better acting in it.  I didn't remember that the nerdy guy whose security pass they stole in Sneakers was the warden, he did a pretty good job but the other bad guys he spent much of his time interacting with really,really sucked at the whole acting thing

Hauer, for hist part, was stuck having most of his scenes be about the novelty factor of the premise, very little time for actual ... you know, movie.

"Because Plot" actually tends to leave you with not much in the way of plot.

Still, the premise can be exploited well.  In Swordfish a variation was used to devastating effect, but as a tool rather than a premise.  The Transporter 3 based an entire movie on basically the same idea.

[and secondary failed again]

The movie deserves to be remade in some fashion, just not by ANY of the people who are remaking movies these days.

Probably one of the best parts of the movie was Stephen Tobolowsky (he'll always be Werner Brandes to me, his voice is his passport, verify me) explaining to Rutger Hauer that the reason the prison doesn't need walls and only requires a bare minimum of guards isn't the devices that exist to blow the heads off escaping prisoners, it's paranoia.  Since the devices are linked in pairs (if one goes, they both do) and no prisoner knows who their "partner" is any time that any prisoner tries to escape it's potentially a death sentence for each of the other prisoners.

Anyone who doesn't want to lose their head to a small explosive secured around their neck has to do everything in their power to keep the other prisoners from escaping.

But ... plot.

Very little of the movie takes place at the prison so we never see this dynamic in play.

While there are multiple female actresses, only two really rise to the level of character and that's a damn shame.

And the black guy dies first.  And second.  And fourth.  I wasn't keeping count, but that might have been all of the black guys in the movie.

It's because of these reasons and more that the film deserves a remake, there is potential in there, but there's also loads of crap smothering it.  Unfortunately it deserves a remake by people better at making remakes (or indeed original films) than our current generation of film makers.

But all of this is a tangent, the point is that I watched a film on VHS.  Twice.  Just yesterday.

Part of me wants to say, "Don't fuck with me or I'll break out the Betamax," part of me is wondering if I should plug in the record player, part of me is wondering where all those reel to reels got to (the player is actually already plugged in, down stairs), part of me is going, "What the fuck?  At this time last week I was compiling my own personal cut of a movie from a Blu-ray disc," and part of me is just waiting to get back to the copy of Spirited Away I've gotten my hands on.  It's subtitled, not dubbed, which is annoying because my eyes like to wander, but beggars (and I'm totally one of those, that donate button isn't just for show and the reason I have multiple broken computers lying around is because I can't afford to throw out broken shit, I need to be able to use that shit when the non-broken stuff breaks) can't always be choosers.

Though sometimes beggar s do need to choose.  They say not to look a gift horse in the mouth but horses are expensive and require a lot of care and the gift could bankrupt you and AT THE VERY LEAST you should rap on the belly to see if it's hollow because you don't want a bunch of Greeks bursting out of there after you've gone to sleep and killing off your entire town.

Finally, why is "beggars" spelled with an "a'"?


  1. Original title "Wedlock" (note all the talk about "wedlock partners" in the script), I don't know why it was changed for some releases. It's surprisingly good, considering, but one does have to consider.

    Of course, the devices are merely linked in pairs rather than also tied to a central transmitter because, well, plot. It's an excuse for all that "don't get too far away" action that makes up the middle section of the film. The Running Man, four years earlier, just had the central transmitter, not the pairing thing, but then you don't get the paranoia. And these days you could have collars smart enough to choose a random other prisoner.

    1. They called them wedlock collars in the film, which was part of the way the warden liked to play with words. He named the prison camp after himself. If his last name were different there would be no joke ("Camp Anderson" wouldn't throw anyone as a name for a prison) but since he was named Holiday the resulting Camp Holiday sounded like a vacation spot.

      I think that could have worked well in any movie. It's a character quirk. Warden Holiday is playful when it comes to naming deadly serious things. It even gives a pretty much one dimensional character some depth.*

      If the movie had been designed as farce (and some scenes felt like they were) then it would have worked much better when Mimi Rodgers was trying to explain to the cops taking her down the express elevator that they had to wait because she was a prisoner from Camp Holiday wedlocked to Rutgur Hauer and if she got to far away ... boom, and the cops completely misinterpreted the words.

      Anyway, I assume that the reason the name was changed is because "Wedlock" sounds like a movie about marriage.


      There really wasn't a need for a central transmitter in the movie because Warden Holiday could remote detonate any collar he wanted. He just didn't tell the prisoners that because he wanted them to be afraid of each other rather than afraid of him.

      The only reason the escape in the movie works at all is because the guy in charge was orchestrating it in hopes of following Hauer back to the loot. Even then he only went with an escape when plans A and B failed.

      (Plan A: Torture the answer out of Hauer using "the floaters")
      (Plan B: Get Hauer to reveal the plan to the informer, that plan almost worked.)

      So in terms of premise/plot holes I think the movie holds up pretty well. And I agree entirely:
      It's surprisingly good, considering, but one does have to consider.


      * Actually he's pretty good on having a character compared to a lot of villains.

      He gives the initial appearance of being a mild straight laced person.

      He clearly isn't because he thought up and implemented a system where those who follow the rules will be gruesomely killed if other people break them. He did this to implement paranoia as a weapon to be used against prisoners.

      The above could just be someone who is Lawful-Draconian (Draco's law system, from which the word is derived, is remembered for being death penalty heavy) but it turns out that beneath that he's also corrupt. He tortures an innocent (in that Hauer hasn't committed a crime or broken a rule since being sent to prison) and, once he decides to go with the "Let them escape and then follow" plan, is planning on double homicide.

      In addition, he like horticulture and word play.

      Compare that to, say, the Emperor from Star Wars who is evil because Evulz, and has basically no characterization beyond that.

  2. I have several shelves of VHS cassettes. And two shelves of audio cassettes. And appropriate kinds of players/recorders for them, still in working condition. So all shall fear me too, I guess.