What I've Been Watching Lately
- Battle Royale II -- Certainly worth seeing if you liked the original (which I did), especially due to the new twists of how the detonating electronic collars were set up. They did some very deliberate Saving-Private-Ryanesque scenes, which, with the new twist (I'm not going to get into spoilers) were quite effective. However, the whole "message" thing got to be quite preachy. In a couple of scenes, they paid a lot of attention to a long list of countries that the United States has bombed in the last 60 years. They started out "Japan. China. North Korea." and went on through Afghanistan. I was like "Hey - Time out!" The whole reason we bombed Japan (BRII is a Japanese movie, in case you didn't know) was that Japan attacked us, and then wouldn't surrender because their emperor was actually God. And as for a Japanese film purporting to criticize any sort of U.S. military action against China... -- Fuck that noise! Somebody needs to read the late Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking and then do a book report for the class. So for BRIII, let's skip the preaching and get back to the Lord of the Flies/Survivor/Most Dangerous Game mashup, and figure out some new angles of complexity to throw into it. (Maybe get some snakes and put them all on a plane together, something like that?)
American Experience:Benjamin Franklin (Not from the American Experience series, I now realize) -- Watched the first half the other day, finishing the second half tonight/tomorrow (I think). Quite clever and thorough. Lots of competent Franklin biographers and Colonial/Revolution historians (including Thomas Fleming, H.W. Brands, and Gordon Wood, among others) sharing comments, interspersed with actors reading historical documents in character.
- American Experience: John and Abigail Adams -- Also quite clever and interesting. Official site here. Portrays them as "The first power couple." Very much worth checking out (along with Franklin) if you are at all interested in the founding.
- Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room -- This documentary, based on the book by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, helped me kind of understand exactly what occured. I think this movie got a little preachy too, in terms of condemning unbridled capitalism. IMHO, the problem with Enron wasn't capitalism, it was that they committed crimes that threw a monkey wrench into capitalism, and bullied other companies into going along with them. Free-market prophet Milton Friedman specifically states that part of what makes capitalism work is the guarantee of protections against fraud. (Get it? "Prophet"?) (Prof. Friedman also points out that the government didn't uncover the Enron scandal, but the market (in the form of one of the competing business-news magazines) did.
The Main Man