It says “Twinkles Pony Star” on the sign-in sheet. Is that your legal name?
Miss, this is a pretty small office, but I was able to fit two chairs in here, so if you wouldn’t mind sitting in one and not dangling from the window ledge. The breeze is really nice, but, it’s just, we’re on the fourth floor and the wind keeps blowing the papers off my desk, so… thank you.
Do you have ID? I’ll just copy your name down from there. OK… Jennifer, ha, right, I figured “Twinkles” was a joke, but you don’t want to assume things. Yesterday I had a woman in here named Candance and I figured the second “n” was a typo but it WASN’T! A lot of this is pretty self-explanatory, we’ll get you out of here lickety-split.
Are you filing as married or single?… I’m not hitting on you, no, the government makes us ask that, it’s a big deal on these forms. So… single? No, I don’t think they care if it’s just “single” or “always single and completely available.” I’m just checking off the box here.
Let’s take a look at your finances. I see you have a folder there, do you have any W-2s? Thanks. You’re handing me The Joshua Tree and Zooropa? Oh… ha… DOUBLE U2, yeah, ha. I don’t think the IRS is going to accept this.
What I’m asking is, were you employed this year? I just need some documentation regarding how much income you may have earned.
I’m sorry, what? You sold cupcakes to kittens? That’s a pretty specific niche. Did the owners pay you? OK, so, instead of money, one of the kittens let you live in the family’s tree house out back? I’m going to list that as an “in-kind” donation. Is that it? Did you do any other work this year? That flowing skirt looks kind of expensive. I’ve never noticed a cashmere crop top sweater at Walmart. Do you want to declare any major gifts, or maybe gambling winnings?… So the clothes are hand me downs from your grandmother who raised you because your own parents were too busy and this interfered with your ability to trust and form normal attachments?
Yeah, I don’t think the government needs to know any of this. I’m just going to mark you down here as “self-employed.” The good news is, since you own your own business, we can take out some deductions for any expenses you might have encountered. Oh, are those receipts in your pocket—HEY WHAT THE HELL?! STOP THROWING ALL THAT GLITTER! MY OFFICE LOOKS LIKE A STRIP CLUB TERRORIST ACT!
I’m sorry, no, you’re right, I shouldn’t yell, you just surprised me. Don’t cry. I’m not angry. Do you need a tissue? Plese don’t hide under my sport coat.
Hey, look at me, you’re right, glitter DOES make this whole experience more magical. I’m just responsible for any non-standard cleaning in here. This whole job is just contract work through mid-April, you know? They’re really particular about the floors in this building, I just don’t know how this will vacuum. I mean, it’s GREAT—really, I love it. I hope it’s always there, it’ll be like I’m walking on tiny bits of gold that stick to everything and do NOT make me look like I molested an elementary school art class.
I’m going to go ahead and assume you didn’t bring any receipts.
OK, we’re almost done. I know you’re still upset, I really am sorry, please don’t leave. Oh, sure, dancing makes you feel better, that makes sense. Can I just ask you—wow that’s a lot of twirling!
I just have a few more questions. This is probably a dumb one, but do you have any major investments or own a home or—right, right, ownership is a silly idea, of course, “we all just have love.” I guess I can write that on here, but, you know, what number would I place as the relative value? Pretty deep, right?
See, I can be interesting too. One time I told my boss I had to pick up some antihistamines at the pharmacy but instead I snuck out to go get a latte on Starbucks “free coffee” day—I don’t even have allergies!
I think we’re all done here. Actually, I think I’m done here as well. Being a part-time contract accountant was never my dream. You helped me see that, Jennifer.
This might sound crazy, but with you beside me, eating food off strangers’ plates, wearing inappropriate outfits, and running away from responsibility, I feel like I could finally, truly be ME. I want to become a conceptual yodel artist, I always have. It’s been my secret dream. Help me make it come true! Let’s run away together, or at least for a few months until I realize that I like being on time for things and being an emotionally responsible person. Oh I’m just teasing, I’ll never realize that! Not before you leave me at least! Grab your Hello Kitty backpack, we’ll climb out the window, you can teach me how!
Oh, but yes, you do need to sign here first. The IRS is pretty strict about that sort of thing.
This is news worth working on a weekend for. Firaxis have announced Civilization: Beyond Earth, a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. There’s an announcement trailer below, which doesn’t show any of the game but does set the scene. (The scene is of me, rubbing my thighs at all the spaceships). Also, it’s due out this “Fall/Autumn” which i) is not far away at all and ii) it’s nice that they wrote both Fall and Autumn because it makes me feel included as a non-American.
When I am in one of my more positive frames of mind I like to tell myself to focus on how remarkable it is that Eels have actually been able to be as big as they are rather than wondering what it says about the world that they aren't bigger. Either way, I am glad they're still at it. Sometimes just sticking around is a victory. Enjoy. [Via]
Screen: BBC America
Okay, so maybe this ended up being less of a Marathon Diary than a 5K Diary, but we all have to start somewhere. And even if Orphan Black's ten episodes weren't exactly a test of endurance, you know that bends-like feeling when your binge-watch catches up with real time? I'm soaking in it just as hard.
On the other hand, I'm also congratulating myself for having paused at what was clearly the season's turning point, where Sarah's MO began to shift from conning and fooling people to beginning to let them in. Her come-to-Jesus confrontation with Paul obviously didn't go the way she planned, but it worked out for the best. After Paul forced Sarah to confess that she isn't really Beth, and Sarah in turn got Paul to confess that he wasn't really Beth's boyfriend, Sarah found herself with a valuable ally. And then confidante. And then real boyfriend of her own.
After that worked out so well in her favor, it's not entirely surprising that she started sharing more with others. Mrs. S. was soon brought into the inner circle, and Sarah was clearly about to spill everything to Detective Art in that interrogation room until the lawyer showed up. I was suspecting during the first half of the season that this might end up being Sarah's coming-of-age story, but I didn't expect it to happen so quickly. Sarah's multiple crises are beginning to bring out the best in her, and not just her best hustling skills like we saw early on. Our little guttersnipe/fuck-up is growing up, and fast.
Also growing quickly? The cast. It's nice to see Sarah's fellow clones developing compelling arcs of their own, complete with supporting characters. I was getting frustrated with Cosima being confined to a Skype window and relegated to the thankless role of Science Officer, and clearly so was she. Good thing, too. Her relationship with Delphine may have been ill-advised (and literally advised-against, by Sarah), but it led to what may well be the head of the whole conspiracy, which we'll come back to in a minute. Also, there's an interesting conversation to be had about the fact that the clones have different sexual orientations. Something tells me "Born This Way" isn't on many of Cosima's playlists.
And whoa, check out Alison. Obviously she was wound way too tight for way too long, and girlfriend is coming uncoiled. She's taken over from Sarah in the field of impulsive, rash, and mostly irreversible decisions. First she decided husband Donnie was her watcher and started playing Jack Bauer with him when she was supposed to be playing Martha Stewart for the neighborhood potluck (not that it wasn't a lot of fun to see Sarah try return a favor by impersonating Alison). Then Alison decided it was her best friend Aynsley, whose husband she soon revenge-screwed in public before later standing by and watching Aynsley perish in a freak garbage-disposal accident. Not that Aynsley wasn't a dick, but Alison's face is going to be pretty red when she learns, like we already have, that Donnie is her monitor after all. Between her recent unpredictability, her increasingly frequent stress-benders, and her burgeoning friendship with Felix, Alison may be the most entertaining clone to watch. Loose cannons generally are.
But Alison is the Maginot Line compared to Helena. We've learned a lot more about the Angry Angel's backstory, including that despite being so far outside the clone-spiracy that she's been working against it, she is actually Sarah's twin. There was an uneasy truce between the two for a while, but given Helena's penchant for moves like taking Kira for walks that end in the latter getting flattened by a car, and later kidnapping and killing the woman purported to be their surrogate birth mother, that truce was obviously doomed. But is Helena? Sure, Sarah shot her and left her for dead after that last stunt, and I haven't seen Helena in the promos for next season, but I won't be convinced she's out of the picture until I see a body and a sequenced genome. I kind of hope I'm wrong, though; the dentist's drill that features prominently in the musical score every time Helena writhes onto the screen is something I could live without indefinitely.
One frequent problem with conspiracy-based shows (yes, I'm looking at you, The X-Files, and all of your goddamn clones) is the glacial pace at which we generally learn who and what is behind it all. Not so here. It's entirely possible we've already met the big bad, who was probably birthing clone babies at around the time his portrayer was playing Max Headroom. Matt Frewer's Dr. Aldous Leekie is an evil genius whom one might almost forget is evil. Cadaverous but charismatic, he talks charmingly about wanting to work with Sarah and her "sisters" now that they're "self-aware," and even offers them a generous contract to join the fold. But then you remember that he had one of his own employees killed (not that Olivier would have necessarily wanted to go on after Helena cropped his tail), and you find out that he coded copyright language into the clones' DNA, and he hasn't even withdrawn the monitors like he said he would. Contract or no, it's not clear what leverage he holds given that his whole experiment is illegal, but he's got at least two of clones in his back pocket already: Rachel Duncan, his right-hand clone apparently bred for the purpose; and Alison, who got one last impulsive, rash, and probably irreversible decision in under the wire when she signed that damn contract.
Oh, and it looks like he's maybe got one other thing. All season, Sarah's primary motivation has been her daughter Kira. Alas, most of her efforts to keep Kira out of all this have proved futile. At the same time, we've gotten some clues about Kira's possible significance to the project, like how she's the only natural offspring of any of the clones, and her Slayer-like ability to survive a shoving match with a moving automobile. As desperate as Sarah is to protect her, Leekie would be almost equally desperate to nab Kira if he knew of her existence. So of course the season ends with Sarah showing up at the house to find Kira missing. Worst-case scenario, essentially.
And now, after being able to blithely burn through one episode after another, I'm stuck waiting more than a week to find out what happens next. Not just with Sarah and Kira, but with Alison, with Cosima and Delphine, with Art and his investigation now that he's figured out who Sarah is, with Dr. Leekie and his Dyad Institute, with Felix and whoever his favorite clone is any given week, even with Rachel and her businessbitch haircut that I don't buy for one second. Those of you who've made it almost a year, I salute you. If you all can wait that long, I suppose I can wait this long, yeah?
It's going to be the week between each episode from now on that's going to be the real killer.
Episodes watched: 10
Episodes Remaining: 0
Days Remaining: 8
Cloud To Butt is a Google Chrome web browser extension originally created by technology enthusiast Steven Frank that replaces instances of the phrase “the cloud” with “my butt” for comedic value. Cloud To Butt Plus, which is a fork of the original GitHub project, replaces “cloud” with “butt” in certain appropriate contexts in addition to the regular “the cloud” and “my butt” swaps.
image via Alex Pretzlav
via Ross Doran
Duo The Sons of Mim put out a parody album that puts HBO’s efforts to shame. Coincidentally, it’s called Shame of Tones, and I swear to you, it is not an April Fools’ joke. “Total Eclipse Of House Stark” is actually a song you can listen to in real life. Above is the music video for the Tyrion-themed “Lannista’s Paradise,” which, fair warning, does feature some offensive language. Behind the cut I’ve included the track list for the entire album, which can be downloaded on The Sons of Mims’ Tumblr.
Arya Gonna Make Them Pay
Another Dick on the Wall
Dr****s in Essos
Total Eclipse of House Stark
It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. The Dany-themed “Dr****s in Essos,” a parody of “N****s in Paris,” is splendid, but the lyrics of Pearl Jam parody “Even Flowdor” are inspired. And “Red Wedding.” “Red Wedding.”
Again: Not an April Fools’ joke. You will not download these songs and find that they are all “Never Gonna Give You Up,” I swear to R’hllor. Listen to them now.
Most first world thing ever said?
From the time they take their first steps to the time you send them off on the preschool bus, your life with a toddler is a trip through the looking glass. And just like Alice, you will be confused and confounded by something new every day. If you’ve never been totally in charge of a 2-year-old demon spawn from the pits of hell, you might find this amusing, if a bit incredible. If you’ve actually raised a child through the toddler phase, you will laugh uncontrollably at how spot-on this list really is.
2. THEIR RULES ARE LABYRINTHINE AND INEXPLICABLE
Watching a toddler is like watching an alien creature build some kind of extraterrestrial machine. It’s like watching ritually-peculiar Druid magic, or the interpretive dance of a sentient spam-bot. Our boy-human will put on an Indiana Jones hat and start calling himself “Nemo.” He’ll hand you things and then demand you hold them and if you try to give them back you’ve broken some ancient changeling contract. He’ll require a very particular truck and if you hand him one that is 95% the same truck, he’ll actually hate you — like, maybe literally hate you — for at least two minutes. (Then he’ll forget.) He’ll place things around the room or perform a sequence of events that, for all you know, is meant to unlock some kind of apocalypse. It’s methodical and maddening, like a bird building a nest out of watch parts. Other times? He’s not like that at all.
3. THE WOLVERINE TORNADO
Take a bunch of wolverines. Throw them into a roaring F5 tornado. That’s a toddler. It’ll tear through your home, shrieking and whirling about, scooping things up and depositing them elsewhere. It’ll lose things. It’ll destroy other things. It’ll change direction in the hair’s breadth of a moment — “I’m doing this no now I’m doing this other thing wait what’s that over there.”
Chuck Wendig’s observations as a father include a part about toddlers being “proto-teenagers.” As the parent of several teenagers, I look forward to his analogies when his child reaches that stage of life. And I will laugh then, too. -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Flickr user Janet McKnight)
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Remember when you were little and you relied on friends or music videos to learn the latest dance moves? You couldn't rewind MTV to break down the steps, and you might look a fool for sashaying left instead of right, or whatnot. This is the beauty of the GIF, a motion suspended in looped animation that allows you all the time in the world to get that shimmy down. SXSW was full of crazy dance moves and we had Adam Kissick capture five worth emulating. See a gallery of his beautiful photos here and follow us on Flickr for much, much more.
Future Islands' Samuel Herring demonstrates the Buck-Up Bronco.
Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR
One of Big Freedia's dancers gives us a Haters to the Left (or right, depending on your viewpoint).
Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR
In which St. Vincent's Annie Clark does the Minimalist Marionette.
Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR
Lee Spielman's Dead Weight is not so much a dance move but rather a mosh pit tactic when he's not terrorizing the Trash Talk crowd.
Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR
We don't really know what Kristina Hanses (of Swedish performance art duo Kristal and Jonny Boy) is doing is here, but let's call it the Flower Flashdance.
Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR
Body mutilation can be rewarding.
It's so easy to find things wrong with 1994's Street Fighter movie, I thought that Chris Plante's epic feature about the flick wouldn't have any surprises. But it's wonderfully well-written, and packed with all sorts of morbid detail. Moroever, I feel like I understand something important about the mad thinking behind that whole early wave of Hollywood game-films, right down to the overpolished "blue steel" aesthetic they had.
Van Damme is shooting guns, causing all sorts of mayhem, and he shouts to Chun-Li and Balrog: "Go, go, I'll catch you later." Here's what Van Damme said the first time: "Go, go, I'll catch you later — cut, cut, cut!"
It's unusual for an actor to call cut; that's the director's role, but Van Damme was sure he'd said "ladder" instead of "later" and he demanded they do it over. [Director Steven E.] De Souza, stunned, noted the crew would need to rematch the bullet holes, rerig the actors who fell from catwalks back on their wires, clean off the costume and replace the blood packs. But Van Damme ordered another take. While the crew reset everything, Van Damme listened to the audio and realized he'd had it right. De Souza — vindicated, albeit after losing time and resources — decided to shoot the scene again for backup. Van Damme got in position. De Souza called action.
"Go, go," shouted Van Damme, "I'll catch you ladder!"
So much went wrong that it's a credit to De Souza that he managed to make it to the end. Even so, the palpable disinterest in the source material starts at the very beginning. Days into filming, the director and his stars stand around and realize that no-one on set, least of all themselves, know how to pronounce the name "Ryu."
You're keeping in stepJust who is Reznor talking two? He's not laying the blame at the feet of any one actor, any single person or group who deserves the credit for the debacle of the Bush years. In the chorus, he asks the listener,
In the line.
Got your chin held high and you feel just fine
Cause you do
What you're told
But inside your heart it is black and it's hollow and it's cold.
Just how deep do you believe?He's talking here about the ways in which faith can be used as a tool by unscrupulous operators to manipulate the masses (an easy enough theme of the period), but also the ways in which faith becomes a most convenient pretext for self-delusion. It's common knowledge that Bush's most fervent base was the evangelical right, a highly motivated interest group who the Bush team was happy to placate with nine years' worth of subtle and not-so-subtle dog whistles in the direction of exceedingly conservative social policy. But it's also true that any examination of the record will show that for all the bluster of the right during the Bush years, Bush himself really was not the fire-breathing culture-warrior his most rabid followers believed him to be. Sure, he surrounded himself with people who could talk the talk, but when push came to shove Bush himself really was hesitant put his weight behind intervening in too many divisive social policy issues. (Do you remember his comical Solomonian pre-9/11 compromise on stem cell research regulations?) Sure, he put two conservative (although not as conservative as he probably believed at the time) judges on the Supreme Court and stacked the federal bench, but even there it's easy to overestimate the effect of his appointments in the context of a historical moment that was on the verge of a hard leftward shift, at least in terms of social (if sadly not foreign, economic, or military) policy.
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?
What if this whole crusade'sTwo disastrous wars in two far-off Muslim countries - often referred too either accusingly or triumphantly as "a crusade" - were conceptualized by their detractors as wars of blood for oil (oil which has, of course, failed to ever arrive). But instead of simply casting blame on the usual suspects, Reznor is careful to lay the blame precisely where it belongs: "we," those of us (all of us) who profit either enthusiastically or tacitly from the flexing of American military might and coercive foreign policy across the planet. We're all culpable here.
And behind it all there's a price to be paid
For the blood
On which we dine
Justified in the name of the holy and the divine.
Just look at it. (Sugary sweet J-pop goes death metal) (via Mefi)
The Ladybird Book line still exists, but in the traditional sense, the name refers to a line of British children’s books that were published from the 1940s through 1970s. The had a standardized format including a listing of key vocabulary words on each page.
Miriam Elia, a writer and artist, has released the book We Go to the Gallery. It's a satire on modern art that in the form of a fake Ladybird book:
“I thought it would be humorous to see Mummy, Peter and Jane going to a really nihilistic modern art exhibition”, she says. Among the works confronted by the trio on their cultural outing are pastiches of Emin, Creed and Koons, through which they learn about sex, death, nothingness “and all of the debilitating, middle-class self-hatred contained in the artworks.”
You can see more a few more pages at The Independent.
-via American Digest
by Chris Klimek
Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a Detroit cop brought back from the brink of death — as a cyborg supercop built for reducing crime and increasing profit.
The Retouchables is a column examining the recycling of pop-cultural properties. Future installments will discuss remakes in development, or that should be, or that were made but should not have been, or for which I have written several script treatments. Did you not get them? Call me.
Our inaugural dispatch deconstructs a long-in-development remake that has finally come to semi-sweet fruition.
The Past Of The Future Of Law Enforcement
"It takes money to make money," one sadistic but enterprising outlaw tells another early in Paul Verhoeven's answer to Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, the pungent 1987 sci-fi satire RoboCop.
That's certainly the rationale behind the long-threatened, oft-delayed remake, which finally opened last week. Adjusting for inflation, RoboCop Redux cost between four and five times what Verhoeven's scrappy American debut did, and lavish visual effects and geek-baiting A-list cast aside, it's between one-fourth and one-fifth as inspired.
Even though the original got more out of its premise than anyone could've reasonably expected — even the studio, Orion Pictures, thought themselves generally above this sort of thing, at least until James Cameron's The Terminator became the picture that kept them solvent — a RoboCop remake was probably as inevitable as Judgment Day.
Briefly: RoboCop 2 (written by the hottest guy in comics at the time, Frank Miller, and directed by Irvin Kershner, who'd made a little sci-fi movie called The Empire Strikes Back that did okay) reprised the original's gruesome bloodletting and sardonic humor but underperformed, mostly because it was terrible. Next, a foundering Orion Pictures decreed that RoboCop 3 would be a kid-friendly picture, thereby insuring no kid would ever want to see it. It sat in the can for two years, was dumped in theatres in 1993, and tanked.
The rusted-out RoboCop brand sputtered on in a bizarre series of cartoons and made-for-TV — Canadian TV! — miniseries. The parent-approved tone of the early spinoffs was such an affront to my tween dignity that I swore off any and all non-theatrical RoboCop exports. However, noted critic and "filmatist" Outlaw Vern — author of the best and only critical study of the Steven Seagal ouvré — has been doing a very deep, very funny dive into the more outré corners of the Robo-verse with his RoboCop History Week posts.
José Padilha, the Brazilian director of the documentary Bus 174 and the pair of Elite Squad action pictures, was a sound choice to revive RoboCop on paper: He's made a string of arresting, controversial pictures outside of the U.S., and now he wants to crack the English-language market. That's precisely where the Dutch provocateur Verhoeven was a generation ago.
But now there's just too much money at stake for RoboCop '14 to be permitted an R rating or an actual point of view — two key assets Verhoeven had in abundance. (Depending on which report you believe, Verhoeven had to submit between six and 11 edits of RoboCop to the MPAA before the watchdog group would let it off with an R rating. That's what I mean when I say its R was "abundant." Verhoeven's preferred, unrated cut is the one the Criterion Collection issued on DVD, splattery ultraviolence intact.)
Part Man. Part Machine. All Cop.
The new movie isn't a insult to those of us who like this stuff, like the 2012 PG-13 remake of Verhoeven's follow-up R-rated sci-fi, Total Recall, was. It's just inert. It feels like what happens when someone with a conventionally melodic singing voice covers a song by Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan – it's sensually nicer than the original, but less expressive.
Padilha's movie does time-strapped viewers a favor, I guess, by putting its best scene right at the top. The cold open is a televised op-ed from right-wing demagogue "Pat Novak" (Samuel L. Jackson) about the infallibility of the robots that've made possible the glorious U.S. occupation of Tehran, without a single American casualty! Shouldn't we deploy them at home, too?
We see civilians forcibly subjected to airport-style body scans in the street by towering Transformers, while an Army General — I forget his name, but it's probably Ripper or Kilgore or something like that — proffers the Cheneyesque opinion that "the honest ones" are grateful for this violation.
Then the suicide bombers, whom we're told in hedge-betting subtitles want to kill no one but themselves, show up and blow up, and a little boy "threatens" a truck-sized Armybot with a knife. It's all tense and chaotic and committed, and it primes us to expect an argumentative movie that never arrives.
There're a pair of other early scenes that manage to one-up the operatic quality of Verhoeven's original. When Murphy, the cop who gets robo-ed — in this telling, he remembers his human past the moment he wakes up in the lab — has a panic attack and runs out of the plant where they've built him, which turns out to be in the middle of a rice field in China. We see everything that remains of his organic body: His head, his right hand (the same one Clarence Boddicker shot off of him way back when, trainspotters!) and a pulsing, dewy, pink pair of lungs. That's the last inventive or surprising thing that happens, and there are still 75 minutes of movie left to go.
There are a handful of nods to the original that the diehards will laugh at, rather too loudly and knowingly, and no one else will notice.
This movie relates to the original RoboCop in the same way the Christopher Nolan Batman pictures relate to the Tim Burton Batman pictures (though it's not nearly as weird or personal a vision as either iteration of Batman): There's a sincere, honorable attempt by screenwriter Joshua Zetumer to make everything at least sort of plausible, which takes away the fever-dream quality that made the original so memorable.
For example: The RoboCop looking ahead from 1987 cannily avoided telling us what year it was taking place, though we can infer it was probably supposed to be earlier than 2014. The scenes of Murphy's transformation — resurrection, to use Verhoeven's word — are all shown from his POV, a sort of primitive version of Google Glass, as the development team tinkers with him. He's in and out consciousness, and he doesn't know how much time is passing, so we don't get to know.
But unless your name is Christopher Nolan, a nine-figure budget permits no such ambiguity. Test audiences do not like to be confused! Not for one minute! Even though confusing the audience for a brief spell is a fair and useful storytelling tool! So it's 2028 in this movie. The distance between one scene and the next is exactly THREE MONTHS LATER, the title cards reassure us. A shot of the U.S. Capitol is accompanied by the onscreen legend, WASHINGTON, DC. Thanks, movie.
The same goes for the performances: Yes, they're more naturalistic than the stylized, quotable, all-exclamation-points line readings the original gave us. There is crying in this one, and it's very believable crying. That's an improvement? Says you.
OmniConsumer products' hostile takeover of the Detroit Police Department has been dropped. OCP is now a robotics company, instead of an outfit that seems to dabble in everything (it's in the name, people!) that develops a cyborg marshal seemingly on a lark. Although they lie about to what extent he is or isn't a slave to his programming, they never deny that their new device is Alex Murphy, the policeman critically injured in the line of duty and whom they've outfitted with an advanced prosthetic body, instead of simply not addressing whose face they've just grafted onto their new machine. It all more or less makes sense, which blunts its effect as satire.
It's unclear if the filmmakers even wanted this film have a sardonic edge. It seems like an element they were forced to incorporate because it's part of the RoboCop brand.
RoboCop was far ahead of its time, but the times caught up and kept right on going. The sour subversion that seemed so unpredictable and dangerous in 1987 is ubiquitous now.
And save only for cyborg lawmen, everything it foretold has come to pass. Private contractors and unmanned drones fight our wars for us. We never go anywhere without our smartphones within reach. A generation of war veterans relies on advanced prosthetics made of strong, lightweight metals. People are on waiting lists to test Google glass. The physical transformation from man to machine that RoboCop '87 regarded with operatic horror now seems almost desirable.
The new RoboCop also succumbs to contemporary action-picture fashion by ending, and then ending some more, and then ending again. (When James Cameron's pre-Titanic movies did this, it was like a calling card, and each ending really was progressively more thrilling. But then James Cameron won an Oscar and went diving for 10 years, and everyone else in Hollywood tried to become his replacement.)
The original RoboCop has one of the punchiest, pithiest kickers ever: The Old Man fires evil schemer Dick Jones, Robo shoots Jones two or three or twelve times, exeunt Jones pursued by glass shards of what was the 80th-story window. The Old Man congratulates Robo on his marksmanship and asks his name.
"Murphy," says our guy, cracking a faint smile. Love that guy. Blackout. Credits.
It always reminded me of the ending of Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot, when Jack Lemmon-in-drag finally confesses to his admirer that he's a man. "Nobody's perfect," the guy shrugs. Well, not always. But once I saw Some Like It Hot, some years after my 25th or 30th VHS viewing of RoboCop, it reminded me.
SPOILER: The end titles of feature The Clash's cover of "I Fought the Law." It seems subversive and cheeky because, hey, it's that band that wrote that M.I.A. song! Then you remember that cover was already a decade old when the original film came out. It was written when President Eisenhower was in office, the very guy who warned us in his farewell address that we should never, ever hand over control of of our public institutions to companies that build armed robots.
There is a punk-rock RoboCop out there, though, a film that speaks to the trepidation the prospect of tinkering with a classic has inspired in enterprising geeks everywhere. It's called Our RoboCop Remake, it's a fan-made scene-by-scene retelling by about 50 teams of filmmakers connected via the Channel 101 network, it runs just a hair longer than the original movie, it probably counts as Fair Use, and it's streaming right here.
Even the tagline is perfect: If anyone's going to ruin RoboCop, it's going to be us.
Phil Toledano for The Atlantic magazine.
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
"The Dark Power of Fraternities" [The Atlantic]