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I tried a couple of Mr. Robot episodes, but it didn't grab me.

I'm starting to think that my brain is wired backwards. It seems like I don't like the things that everyone else loves, and I love the things that everyone else hates.

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Yeah, it's a dense show, and the main character's bug eyes bother me.  But I think it's just so well done.

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Question for anyone who watches Black Mirror:

What is your takeaway from the Christmas episode? How do you view the characters and their stories in the episode? My brother and I are having a disagreement about the intended purpose of the episode. I'd say more, but I don't want to sway the conversation. smile

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I have a lot of catching up to do on Black Mirror.  If I catch it, I will let you know.

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Informant wrote:

Question for anyone who watches Black Mirror:

What is your takeaway from the Christmas episode? How do you view the characters and their stories in the episode? My brother and I are having a disagreement about the intended purpose of the episode. I'd say more, but I don't want to sway the conversation. smile

The Christmas episode is my favorite.

I don't really know what you mean by your question, though.  I feel like the intended purpose is the same as every episode - technology drives us further away from each other, and the "god" of technology has his own, twisted version of justice.

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Basically, the question is: How do you view the main characters in the episode, their situations, and the punishment that they face?


The disagreement is in how people are intended to perceive those elements. Is the justice just? Are the characters bad people? Stuff like that. I'll explain it a little bit more later.

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It's been too long since I've seen it to get too specific.

I don't think Jon Hamm's character was a very good person, and I liked the way his punishment fit.  He's a good-looking, charming, and suave guy who can't use any of that anymore.  He used people to get by, and he can't do that anymore.  I know he ends up getting a guy killed, but I thought his treatment of the "cookie" was the most damning to his personality. 

The other dude....I can't remember if he kills his father in law on purpose or accidentally.  But I don't remember thinking his crime was unjust.

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Okay, so the disagreement...

After watching the episode, my brother said that he didn't think that he could watch the rest of the series if that's what the show is like (he's never seen it before). I asked why, and he told me that different countries have fundamentally different views on what justice looks like. He wasn't comfortable with the way Jon Hamm's character was essentially branded like a pedophile because he whispered lines into a guy's ear, or the way the other guy (and his consciousness in the egg) was treated like a stone-cold killer for snapping, after years of having his mind messed with in the worst possible way. He was pretty much given a child, and then had that child taken away from him, all based on the whims of one woman and her technology.

While I agree with my brother that other countries have severe problems with justice and liberty, which many Americans don't notice because we assume that all civilized countries are like our own, I had a very different take on the episode. It might have come from the fact that I have seen the whole series and understand its themes, but I viewed the episode as a techno-horror story. When someone is able to push a button and block you from their world, or when people have the ability to control what information you're allowed to have access to about your own life, the world becomes a twisted and dark place. People become cold and inhuman, treating people the same way they treat tech, and treating tech no thought or care after working to make it believe that it's alive and can feel.

I certainly don't view Hamm's character as entirely sympathetic or good, but the sentence did not fit the crime (which was essentially just not reporting a crime). And the other guy, I actually did feel sympathy for. I think that he was forced to pay for someone else's misdeeds.

Basically, I viewed the episode as a campfire story about the world that we're creating. I didn't view the police in the episode as though they were intended to be the good guys.

My brother saw it as a reflection of the world that we live in, with the assumption that the show works like most shows, and that "justice" prevailed in the mind of the writers.

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Informant wrote:

Basically, I viewed the episode as a campfire story about the world that we're creating. I didn't view the police in the episode as though they were intended to be the good guys.

I'm on your side.  I think it's definitely supposed to be a fear-based (or, at least, a hesitance-based) glance into what our future can be.  It's a "Black Mirror" into the world we envision with further technological advances.  There's only one episode (in season 3) that doesn't really operate that way (it has a positive ending), and only one episode really doesn't work the technology angle as much (the very first episode).

Wouldn't it be great if we could record everything that we see?  Yes!  Except it might drive us crazy and drive away the people in our lives.

Wouldn't it be great if we could preserve people we'd lost prematurely?  Yes!  Except it might creep us the hell out eventually.

Wouldn't it be great if we could punish people with (something technological)?  Yes!  Except it could be abused or lead to unforeseen consequences.

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Exactly. It's taking what we already have with social media, and fast forwarding ten, twenty, or fifty years. (actually, this is technology, so maybe three years)

Ever since American Idol started, I've found it strange and disturbing how they can take someone who is a genuinely good singer, with a great personality, and put them through this machine that changes how they look and how they sing, until they are a more generic pop star. It was interesting to see the Black Mirror take on that reality show culture.


Still, I have to warn people that the first episode is possibly not the best one to watch first. Why would they open with that?! smile

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The first episode is great in a lot of ways, but it's so much different from the rest of the episodes that it's a hard judge of anything.  I guess it's still focusing on technology in the sense that we're so distracted by the news and being grossed out or whatever....and that's what sets up the ending.  But, still, it doesn't even have the same "feel" that pretty much every other episode (even the 3rd season ones) has.

A lot of people didn't like the "bikes" episodes or a couple of the new Season 3 stuff, but I think every episode they've made so far has had merits of one kind or another.

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I'd heard that season 3 was bad, so I was worried going in. I actually didn't dislike it. There was some good stuff in there. I think my least favorite of season 3 was "Men Against Fire". It had some interesting ideas (using technology to distance soldiers from the people they're killing), but it just didn't work for me.

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That one might've been the weakest, but I still thought it had a lot of good things to say.  The end might've been a bit telegraphed, but I still thought it had a powerful message.

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With Disney buying FOX, what does that mean for.....everything?  I know people are excited about Marvel, but what about the entire FOX network?  What about shows like the Simpsons and Gotham and the Orville and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the FX shows?

Are these going away?  Some moved to ABC?  What's going to happen?

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I haven't read the latest, but I think I once heard that the TV network wasn't part of the deal.

Maybe Gotham can move to the CW and be revealed to take place in Earth 2.


To he real about the whole thing... I don't like it. Disney has turned into a soulless plague that is starting to infect everything around it. They don't make good movies anymore. Their Network is a commercial for their movies, which are commercials for their merchandise. The company used to have passion and soul, but not anymore.

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Yeah, the network isn't a part of the deal, but (I think) the TV studio is.  In reading a lot about the television side, the only way these shows make money is if they save money on studio costs (by owning the studio that makes the show).  That's why you always hear "XXXX might be on the cancellation block because they're owned by YYYY studio and so ZZZZ is a cheaper show to keep" at cancellation time.

In that case, *every* show would be owned by another studio since Fox would be a network without a studio.

From what I'm reading, Disney might be inclined to keep shows that work with their "brand" like The Gifted and shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy that are cheap and big moneymakers.  Maybe they could sell off something like Gotham to the CW, but I think that'd kill the feel of that show (you'd probably lose some of the cast and a great deal of the budget).

Apparently this deal might take a year or so to complete, and I feel like Gotham could be ending in the next couple of seasons.  Maybe Disney will let some FOX properties end on their own terms before changing directions.

My worry is about FX - it has produced a ton of stuff in recent years that I've loved, and I don't want Disney to dismantle it.

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Legion will still benefit them, right? So I could see that show sticking around. The Americans is already ending (or over? I'm behind). So there's Fargo to think about, yeah. And I don't expect to see Sterling Archer walking around Disney World, taking pictures with kids.

It's a mess. It shouldn't be happening. It's going to end up sucking for us, either by seeing shows and movies canceled, or watching them turn to crap. You're right about Gotham. They'd probably have to move to Vancouver, which would kill the feel of the show, and probably cost them some actors along the way.

I don't like this. But whatever. Disney doesn't realize that it's pushing the industry closer to the end of the big studio system that has ruled the industry since it began. People don't need them anymore, and if all they're going to produce is hollow, soulless crap, they will go away.

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Where does Gotham film, by the way?

Legion might benefit them, but it's so weird and out there.  I'd suspect, if they're going to reboot the X-Men, they're going to do things their own way and get rid of whatever Fox was doing.  Which sucks because FOX was actually, sorta, figuring out the X-Men universe.  Yeah, the "main" movies suck, but they're actually branching out and doing some cool stuff. Legion is a trippy drama, Deadpool was a crude comedy, Logan was a violent, gritty western, and the New Mutants is a horror movie.  Say what you want about some of the crap they've produced, but some of their new stuff could be moving the superhero genre in new directions.

Americans is done after this next season, and they've already talked about not doing more Fargo.  Existing shows will either wrap up or find a way to work with disney - what I'm more concerned about is the next idea.  Whether its American Horror Story, the OJ miniseries, Fargo, Legion, The Americans, The Shield, Always Sunny, The League, Sons of Anarchy, etc....FX has produced a ton of great TV.  It took chances on some weird concepts by some great artists, and it's paid off.  If Disney is going to kill it, something else needs to step in and take its place for shows that are great but a little out there.  AMC might get to take some of it, but they think they're pretty artsy.

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Yeah, I honestly have no idea what to expect from Disney taking over FX. I think this whole deal is going to be a mess for anyone who enjoys quality TV or movies.

I believe that Gotham films in New York.

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Anyone watched Black Mirror Season 4 yet?

I really liked it.  I found this year's stories to be less dark, especially the endings.  Even when there are episodes where people do really horrible things (episodes 1 and 3, for example), justice is served by the end.

Slight spoilers for the final episode - I'm really hoping that it takes place in some weird continuity and isn't actually an attempted to tie the whole series together.  To me, Black Mirror functions the best when they're showing us a different world each week.  I don't want it to be one universe and I don't want it to be our world.  Just close enough to scare us but just far enough away that we can steer away smile

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I'm currently watching the season, so I'm not at the last ep yet. So far, it's been pretty interesting.


Did anyone catch the Psych Movie a few weeks ago? I just watched it, and I was impressed by how well they jumped back into the characters and the tone of the series. A lot of revivals have a hard time with that. They didn't skip a beat.

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Psych is one of the shows I completely missed when it was on.  I've never seen more than 5 minutes of it.  Seems like something I'd like, but I've never seen it.

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It's a great show. Mostly stand alone stories, so not a lot to keep up with.

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I'm considering doing a YouTube channel or a podcast, discussing movies/TV/etc. (it could help me build a following for my own work, while discussing the things that I end up discussing anyway!) but I haven't been able to work out the details in my head. A name, or a format. My original plan was to just make videos with on-screen graphics and a voiceover. Then I figured that I could just do a podcast, which is the same thing, minus the graphics. Or I could do the podcast, but release it on YouTube with graphics.

But then I started thinking that rather than, say, one long discussion of Man of Steel (or whatever), I could break those long conversations down into more, much shorter episodes that discuss specific topics. The DCEU is probably good for a ton of episodes, so why limit it to five, right? But those shorter episodes would be better on YouTube than a podcast.

It'd probably be better to have a back and forth of some sort, but I'd be doing it solo, so I'd just have to do my best to express the other sides and try to address them in my own way.


But trying to figure out how to do all of this, and do it in a way that isn't totally hokie, has been driving me nuts. So it'll probably never happen. I'd do it all on a blog, but I've always had a hard time keeping up with a blog, along with all of my other writing.

I'm starting to think that I don't fit into this modern internet world. smile

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The hospitals on American medical dramas really give our heathcare system a bad name. I'm trying to watch The Resident on Fox, but they're getting so much wrong. They're having their hospital violate many, many laws, all for the sake of making the healthcare system look bad and create drama.

Trust me when I say, hospitals are not typically this evil.

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I will not watch THE RED PILL. I will not watch any more PROJECT VERITAS videos. I will not read any more Ben Shapiro.

................................................. but I will watch and read and listen to and buy anything Informant produces. God damn it.

Loyalty can be a terrible thing.

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I do appreciate it!

My stuff isn't usually that political, if that helps at all. Freedom/Hate has some politics, I guess, but it's more about an alternate history/what-if story than it is about hardcore political commentary. Half of the stuff that seems really current is based on things that happened in other countries in the past smile

But yeah, if I do any sort of podcast or YouTube channel, it will be more like my posts here where I review/discuss shows and movies, and writing, but probably not too much by way of politics.

And I think most of my ideas for upcoming writing projects are non-political. I have one book that I wrote years ago that I need to get out, but that takes place in the past, so you should be safe. smile

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And... that's it. The world is officially over. Goodnight, everyone. We don't deserve life anymore.


https://youtu.be/doFpACkiZ2Q

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I was just reading about the new Death Wish movie, since I remember my father watching the old series of movies when I was a kid. So I checked out the Rotten Tomatoes page, and the difference between the critics reaction and the audience reaction is pretty hilarious. 14% critic score, 85% audience score. So the question remains, what is the point of a critic is they can't relate to the audience?

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Informant wrote:

I was just reading about the new Death Wish movie, since I remember my father watching the old series of movies when I was a kid. So I checked out the Rotten Tomatoes page, and the difference between the critics reaction and the audience reaction is pretty hilarious. 14% critic score, 85% audience score. So the question remains, what is the point of a critic is they can't relate to the audience?

The audience is self selecting, they go in already liking the kind of film it is.  Most critics try to compare films with others from different genres and styles, to weigh whether a film-goer who doesn't have a predilection for the kind of film it is would enjoy it.

As for Death Wish, the original and all its sequels were awful and wholly undermined the theme of the book.  I imagine the remake will be in a similar vein.

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Maybe. That just doesn't make sense to me. If someone who doesn't like musicals goes to a musical, they will probably not enjoy it. Shouldn't the critics be trying to decide if the movie is a good musical, for the people who may be interested in seeing it?

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Informant wrote:

Maybe. That just doesn't make sense to me. If someone who doesn't like musicals goes to a musical, they will probably not enjoy it. Shouldn't the critics be trying to decide if the movie is a good musical, for the people who may be interested in seeing it?

That was the dynamic that fueled Siskel & Ebert to fame.  Roger tried to judge films by their own standards; if it's a western then how good of a western is it?  Gene looked for movies to transcend their genres; will this western appeal to people who aren't aficionados of westerns?  Both are defensible approaches, IMO.

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Honestly, I think the need for critics like that are over. At this point, we can go online and see hundreds of actual viewers talking about the pros and cons, or we can go on YouTube and get the opinion of a movie reviewer who isn't tied to any big media politics (and I say "politics" in term of the politics within the media itself, not the political views of the media, which would be a whole different discussion)

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I don't think that's true.  I watch a lot of sports, and if I want analysis, I could look at millions of fans' opinions....or I could seek out an expert that either played the game or has studied it for a very long time.  I usually choose the latter.

While I do find it silly that reviewers are forced to take a movie like Dumb and Dumber and somehow put it on the same scale as The Shawshank Redemption....I think critics have a lot that they can offer.  I would just like to see movies judged on their individual merit - Dumb and Dumber can be a 9/10 if it's a movie that tried to be a dumb comedy and succeeded in making me laugh.  A movie that's more serious and classical can be a 4/10 for failing, even if it's a movie that's "better" than Dumb and Dumber.

Because, yes, moviegoers can be more selective.  So critics shouldn't say "go see the Shape of Water because it's a better movie than Super Troopers 2" because some people don't want to make that decision.

Instead, it should be "if you've chosen to go see this movie, here's how it performed."

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The Siskel theory was that if you like westerns you're going to see whatever western comes out regardless of reviews, and thus won't need critical appraisal.  If you hate westerns you won't see it regardless of reviews, and again won't need (or likely bother to read) critical opinion.  He saw his job as informing people who are lukewarm about westerns whether this particular one was worth seeing.  His all time favorite film was Saturday Night Fever, nominally a dance movie but one that transcended the genre to appeal to a broader audience.  I'm not a huge fan of dance films generally, but I agree with him that Saturday Night Fever is worth seeing even if dance films are not usually your thing.

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The Walking Dead / Fear the Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is the #1 show that I claim to "hate watch" - I watch it even though I'm never 100% sure why.  I always kinda dread it coming back because it means I have to add it to my watching schedule even though I sorta hate the premise and hate most of the characters.  But I've lasted longer than most and have put in so much time that I'd feel weird about just abandoning it.  I've become the walking dead....

So when Fear the Walking Dead was announced, I thought it was a good time to remind myself that I don't like this show.  But then they tricked me....it was going to be a prequel.  And since the time right before and right after a zombie apocalypse is the most interesting to me (because of how many things would have to go wrong for it to happen), I was interested.  So I watched.

And then the show did what all zombie media do....it flash forwarded.  Now Fear was just The Walking Dead on the west coast with characters I still didn't love.  I wasn't necessarily hate watching it yet, but I watched because I watched.  The show started to feel a little more fresh because it started to be a little more fast and loose with its premise.  Main characters were able to change and grow, and the show kept me on my toes.

There was talk since the beginning of crossing the two shows over.  The only problem....Fear was still technically a prequel.  It had time jumped, but it hadn't time jumped that much.  So when a crossover was announced, especially around the time that Fear was wrapping up its 3rd season (when the narrative pointed toward a move to Houston), it was assumed that a logical character to cross over would be Abraham Ford.  He was a character on seasons 4-7 of the Walking Dead who was a fan favorite, was dead on the main show, and had a history in Texas.  Adding him to Fear would make sense in the timeline and would add some juice to Fear.

But then they announced that it was...Morgan.  Morgan was certainly a fan favorite, and his past is a little murky.  So even up until the premiere of Fear, the new walking theory (pun included) was that it'd fill in some gaps in Morgan's storyline.  He'd been a bit of a wanderer, and some time spent in Texas might make sense.  Or, of course, having the Fear characters start in Texas and end closer to where Morgan might be could work.

Either way, it was thought that Morgan would die on the Walking Dead so he could live on Fear the Walking Dead.

And then they did something completely different....

He didn't die.  Then started the episode of Fear in the present day with some Walking Dead characters.  Maybe it'd frame his time in Texas as some sort of flashback?  Nope.  It stays in the present day of Walking Dead and has him travel to Texas.  The whole episode is basically a pilot for "The Morgan Show" with all new characters.  Only at the end do we understand what's happened.

Morgan didn't adapt to Fear the Walking Dead.  Fear the Walking Dead adapted for Morgan.  The whole show time-jumped in some weird backdoor pilot for a spinoff of itself. 

And you know what?  It was good!  Morgan makes sense as a character who would wander from one show to another, and now the two shows work hand in hand.  More crossovers are possible, not just from main characters but factions from one show could impact factions from the other show.  And, assuming they stay in their respective places, they're also far enough apart (and transportation slow enough) that they're not going to get lost in a fog of "connected universe problems" where "why didn't that happen?"

I don't know if Morgan was moved to bolster ratings for Fear or if it was done out of story necessity....but whatever they did, it worked. 

For now smile

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Saw the movie "Downsizing" this weekend.

Holy God....this movie was a mess.

When I first saw the trailers, I was fascinated by it because the concept is really amazing.  People voluntarily shrinking themselves, either for selfless (helping to save the planet) or selfish (instantly becoming "rich") reasons.  Then, with the added drama of the wife deciding to opt out at the last minute, leaving the protagonist small and alone in a new world.  There were so many interesting stories to tell in a world like this!

Then the movie came out, and I heard terrible things.  To the point where I read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, decided it wasn't for me, and forgot about it.

But my wife was intrigued, and we decided to watch it.

Two things struck me about the first hour.  The first being that the movie was actually engaging and thought provoking.  The second that it doesn't seem to have been edited at all.  I haven't seen many movies that took the time to go through some many different scenes explaining exactly what's going on.  They have a small scene introducing the scientists that create the process....then a small scene introducing the science to the world....then a small scene of the world reacting, including a minor introduction to the protagonist....then the movie really starts in the present.  But, between each of those scenes, there was a time jump.  One scene happens - 5 years later.  Another scene happens - 10 years later.  There's even another time jump later in the movie.

It reminded me of the movie Surrogates, where they jump ahead year after year to show how we went from life now to life in a world full of Surrogates.  Except instead of a two-minute montage, it was a good 10-15 minutes of scene after scene showing bits and pieces of this new technology.  It was kinda bizarre (but done well).

There were things here and there that they brought up that seemed to be pretty cool.  They talk about Third World Countries using the technology to punish political prisoners.  They talk about how the economy is suffering because so many people are suddenly buying and consuming so much less stuff.  A drunk man confronts the protagonist about whether or not his vote should count as much as a "normal sized person" because he contributes less to the economy and is physically smaller.

All of these things could have been used to make a movie that tells a fantastical story that delves into real-world politics.  Or, if they wanted, they could've simply told a story about a man who makes a decision with his wife, and how her last-minute change of heart changes his life forever.

Instead....the movie decides to tell the story of a man who feels lost in his life, crushed by the weight of choices he's made in the past, who decides to help people.  He meets a housekeeper (from the aforementioned political prisoner story), and he's drawn into her selfless world of helping people.  Along the way, he's introduced to a plan to save humanity by entering an ark in Norway.

What's crazy about the 2nd half of Downsizing is how little it has to do with being small.  Outside of some brief scenes, the movie finishes without any scenes with "normal-sized people" - I could show you a full hour of this movie, and outside of some dialogue here and there and a couple of visual gags, you'd have literally no idea that the movie is about miniaturized people.

Don't get me wrong - the movie tells a (somewhat) compelling story about a man who feels called to his destiny.  About a guy who always wanted to heal people who sorta got swallowed up by life.  A man who takes a few leaps of faith before he's finally able to find contentment helping people.

But the movie is bizarrely structured and handled, as it were two different movies gruesomely sewn together like Frankenstein's monster.  It's like the writer of the film wanted to tell a story about a man who helps a political prisoner in a slum, and he only used the compelling miniaturization storyline to get the movie sold.  Or, like I said, he had half of one movie and half of another and just sewed them together to get a complete movie.

I didn't hate it.  But I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie that could've used its premise to go in a million different ways and decided to (almost) throw away the entire premise to tell such a "normal" story.  As if the movie "Lost in Translation" had an elaborate opening scene that explained the entire movie took place on the first colony on Mars, made to look like Japan.

Has anyone else seen this movie and had the same series of thoughts?

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I liked Downsizing.  Yea, parts of it didn't really work...at all.  But I liked that it was trying to be different.


On another note, this is impressive:

http://www.newsweek.com/expanse-save-am … ans-934620

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I felt weird putting this in the post about his daughter, but I also didn't think it needed it's own page.

I watch Bar Rescue but apparently haven't watched a ton of it recently because Rob Floyd is now a contributor on there.  I watched an episode that he appeared on, and I thought he was great.  He actually seemed a bit nervous/jittery to be on camera, which I found a bit odd.  But he was very charismatic, and it seemed like he did a good job teaching (I don't know how much of it is fake).  It also seemed like he was having a great time.

I wasn't sure if they'd mention it, but they didn't make any reference to his previous acting experience.

190 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2018-05-24 21:22:38)

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It's pretty cool he's been so successful in another industry, and in one that is rather niche (yet he has risen to among the top).