The plural of octopus is octopuses. It’s a pseudo-Latin word, which means it was a word made up to sound like it was Latin, but it’s really English.
Wait. That’s not what this post is about.
A Facebook conversation between Kessel Junkie, Jason (Facebook friend), and I led to a discussion of octophilia (is that a thing?), which in turn led to a recommendation of My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. I gave it a watch. The bad news is that this documentary is narrated by a guy whose voice is completely monotone. There’s no inflection in it, even when he’s upset. Make sure to have a cup of coffee or some Mountain Dew handy. Even just 90 minutes of that voice could put you to sleep.
The good news is that this is a neat story of how this guy found and kept track of a skittish, female octopus (as Jason put it, he became an “underwater ranger”), then convinced it that he wasn’t a threat. He chronicled the relationship and the life of this octopus over the course of about a year, and how that relationship changed him.
But to answer the film-maker’s burning question is: Yes, it was your fault. You were no longer studying behavior; you were forming a relationship. You wouldn’t allow your cat or dog to be injured, would you, dipshit?
If you’re at all into nature and can somehow stay awake through this guy’s droning, you may, like I, find this to be interesting. As always, YMMV.
Don’t bother. This was dumb. Really dumb. Trite, monotonous, unrealistic. If I had a thesaurus handy, I’d be here all day. “A night at a 1980s heavy metal concert [has] new friends … in the middle of a satanic murder spree.” Sure. Great. There are only seven different stories, but most films give us at least a tiny bit of new material; that is, a new spin on an old story. Not this one. This added nothing to the mix. I have no idea why I watched this.
Although I rarely succumb to it myself, most of us treat actors (and athletes, politicians, or otherwise famous people) like heroes when their acting really speaks to us. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t succumb to that often because I’m more concerned with who someone is (i.e., their character) than what someone is (i.e., their job description). I’m not going to adore someone who could turn out to be a real jackass, and I wouldn’t know whether the were without meeting them. However, even if I knew for a fact that an actor was a jackass, and I’d never want to meet them, I could still speak highly of their work (see, e.g., Manny Patinkin, Wizards of the Coast as an entity, Russell Crowe). That’s because, like most (if not all) of you, an actor’s work can really strike a chord and speak to me in ways the actor his/herself couldn’t necessarily have precisely anticipated. Neither the feat nor the effect should be understated.
Building a Foundation
But that’s only one side of the equation, isn’t it? While someone has to go out there and actually act the part, they can’t do that without the foundation provided by the writing. Off the top of my head, I could rattle off the names of a number of actors that should be considered “forgettable” but can’t name more than a couple of screenwriters who deserve to be household names. This is so despite how important they are, and despite how huge of an emotional impact their writing has had on me. They’re not in the forefront, so you can’t use their faces as mnemonic devices to remember their names. The only credit writers get are in, well, the credits, and no one reads those. Even if there are mid- or post-credit scenes, we just turn to our cell phones while waiting for them to cue up.
Kessel Junkie and I were lamenting over the cancellation of Mindhunter by Netflix. My attempt at consoling him fell terribly short of the mark.
Sure, we can see the actors we like in a lot of different things, but a show’s fundamental basis is its script. Once that’s gone, we lose something that’s sometimes irreplaceable.
In the music world, this problem isn’t as great because, for example, Neil Peart was not only a lyricist but also the drummer. He wore two hats analogous to both a writer and an actor. You were going to know who he was and never forget him. But there are plenty of songwriters, especially from prior generations, who never got their due, so the medium is hardly immune to this effect.
. . . And the Rest
And yes, the directors and many others are important too. There are a lot of moving parts in film-making. This isn’t about them. I can name a bunch of directors, and with all due respect, there are several other jobs that people do that anyone could do if they put their minds to it. The reason I’m focusing on the writers is because they more often combine these three elements: They’re important, have a highly specialized skill set not anyone could do even with training, and often get far less recognition from the average person than they deserve.
Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’s using Deepfake to swap the Original Series actors into 2009+ Star Trek.
As I recently mentioned, Bloodline was a suggestion from an internet article to fans of Ozark. I’ve learned not to take those suggestions (or ones directly from Netflix) seriously, but some further research disclosed an incredible cast. I had to give it a watch.
First off, Ben Mendelsohn gets better every time I see him. Rogue One is my favorite Star Wars movie, but Director Orson Krennic was fairly straightforward; dare I say one-dimensional. His portrayal of Danny Rayburn stole the show and won him an Emmy. Mendelsohn wasn’t the only actor to put on a memorable performance. Linda Cardellini, Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Jacinda Barrett, Sam Shepard, Norbert Leo Butz, and Chloë Sevigny all put in solid (or better) performances.
My problem with the show is, as I explainedyesterday, that there was too much content within the season. When I binge a show, I’m looking to get through it fairly quickly; otherwise, I’d be watching network TV (which, of course, I still do). When the first season is 13 episodes of at least 50 minutes each, that drags for me. The more I’m forced to watch, the more I identify certain scenes as disposable, making it even worse. This doesn’t seem like a fair criticism. The creators are trying to give me my money’s worth, which I appreciate, but it just doesn’t work for me under the circumstances. Season one ended with a cliffhanger that isn’t enough of a hook to get me to keep watching. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but there are many other shows I want to watch, so this has slid to the bottom of my list of priorities.
Ultimately, it was a good show oftenwith great acting; just one that doesn’t motivate me to keep watching. As always, YMMV.
This is the second post in a row where I just yell at the clouds.
They were both inspired by my watching of season one of Bloodline on Netflix (more on that tomorrow). Again, I must warn you that I’ve been thinking.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I enjoy binging shows where each episode is 30 minutes or less. Longer episodes aren’t a deal breaker — just try to pry me away from an episode of Star Trek — but it’s easier to fit a short episode into my schedule. In the case of a 20-minute or less show (e.g., The IT Crowd, Aqua Teen Hunger Force), I can even watch an episode while I’m eating breakfast before heading to work.
The downside is that the collection isn’t as good for telling a story common among all episodes. In other words, that works well for sitcoms, but not so much for dramas. So, sometimes I have to accept that there have to be 60-minute episodes so that a complete thought can be expressed by that episode. If that’s the case, then they need to keep the number of episodes relatively short (8-10 episodes). If the story plays out over 12 or more episodes, it risks overstaying its welcome despite otherwise good writing and a remarkable cast.
I should add a category to this blog’s menu for Old Man Yells at Clouds. Here I go again, speculating about how my age is affecting my perception. I started watching Bloodline on Netflix (more on that soon). I was urged to watch it by an article I read that said fans of Ozark would love Bloodline, but once I researched it more, I was convinced to watch it by yet another incredible array of actors starring in it. Unfortunately, that got me thinking.
It seems like there are a lot of shows that have rock-solid casts from head to toe. Why would such accomplished actors take television roles when they could be making huge dollars in the movies? It’s not like they’re making Citizen Kane (thankfully) for the small screen. These are bit parts that won’t have a huge impact.
Maybe I don’t appreciate how much Netflix, Hulu, etc. are paying. After all, the big stars are certainly getting paid. On the other hand, maybe the actors simply can’t make huge dollars in the movies anymore. Maybe I think they’re great, so by definition the younger generation doesn’t, so they’re not the draw I think they are despite their clear talent. Or maybe I’m overthinking things.
How convenient that tharalon radiation is green. The Romulan Empire has always been assigned a green motif.
Oh, crap. Denna Troi is going to cry again.
Considering that Romulan ale is illegal, it sure pops up a lot among Federation personnel.
I guess Worf has been studying up on ancient Earth composers since the last mission.
Worf is a prude.
“You have the bridge . . . Mr. Troi.”
Why didn’t they catch shit for this line?
I feel for Picard here. I plan to buy a Jeep Wrangler next month.
We’re within several kilometers of the signals.
That’s not very precise.
It appears that B-4’s clothing is actually a part of him rather than something he wears.
Suddenly they can pinpoint the signal to within a few meters?
There’s no way that jeep would make that jump. It’s too far.
So much for the Prime Directive.
The Enterprise is always the closest ship.
There’s no way the Federation flagship goes to Romulus unescorted. Many episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation made mention of how the Romulans were going to capture the Enterprise and dismantle it to learn its technological secrets. Going in alone seems naive.
So Data no longer uses his emotion chip?
Considering how strong B-4 is, it was rather reckless to assemble him. They didn’t need him to be assembled in order to speak with him.
They’ve been waiting for 17 hours? That seems like a waste of time, and not just for the Enterprise. As we eventually see (SPOILER ALERT!), Shinzon is in a time crunch.
Is Ron Perlman in every movie?
It’s not dark enough that Picard shouldn’t already recognize Shinzon.
They should have known he was evil the second they saw he was Bane.
Was Picard always bald?
The busted lip and crooked teeth are a nice touch. They’re subtle and non-distracting, yet hint that he’s lived a rough life.
Oh, Dina Meyer. Even as a Romulan . . . .
The Romulans must be thinking, “Out of the frying pan; into the fire.” That’s assuming they fry food. Who knows?
Picard’s clone was intended to be the perfect nemesis (get it?!) for Picard in order to relive the magic of the Wrath of Khan. They didn’t quite achieve that. Shinzon’s statement of motivation later in the film isn’t as convincing.
When I saw this dinner scene, I knew Tom Hardy would be something special.
Shinzon’s backstory is some kind of rough.
A Starfleet captain standing in the Romulan Senate!
Well, only Nixon could go to China.
This scene with Picard and Crusher in the ready room reminds me of a strange, human (American?) custom. We often sit on desks. Think about how rude that is.
The whole psychic sex thing is stupid. What was the point? Was it just a set up to explain (SPOILER ALERT!) how they eventually pierce the cloak? All that dumb for just a single photon torpedo. Why not use what they did in Star Trek VI?
So Shinzon also prefers hot tea. Does that mean genetics determines what you drink. Am I a Picard?
Worf! Shields up!
Because you don’t want there to be any chance of getting Picard back? No wonder you haven’t gotten a command yet, Riker. Someone inform Starfleet command before he takes command of the Titan!
I always noted that for a Reman, no/stop was accompanied by the color purple, and okay/yes by the color yellow (unlike humans, that use red and green). Of course you should expect those differences to exist from culture to culture, but not all shows appreciate that kind of detail.
Picard gets to pilot another vehicle unsafely.
Good thing those hallways are Original Series level of stupidly big. Otherwise, they could never have flown that ship through the hallways.
Leave it to Dina Meyer to be the ethical Romulan.
I guess it makes sense that a Romulan ship can now fire while cloaked, but that’s a big ship expending huge amounts of energy on weapons and shields.
Now that Shinzon is in the final stages of his genetic breakdown, his complexion is now identical to that of a Reman.
The Scimitar’s bridge has even more wasted space than the hallways.
*sigh* Here we go. We have to give Riker his moment of glory. I never liked the character.
What the hell? A character that never had a speaking role and we’d never seen before this movie gets killed off? I never saw that coming. The poor guy doesn’t even have a picture on IMDB.com. Here you go, buddy.
Ramming speed! Everyone talks about it; only Picard has ever actually done it, and it was pretty cool. The look of confusion on the Reman helmsman’s face at 1:28:33 was priceless.
I have a lot of respect for psychologists, but the day one is put in command of a naval vessel is the day that navy loses the war.
Why doesn’t Data use his super-strength to screw with the ship’s arms. According to Geordi’s analysis, mess up just one arm, and the thalaron weapon may not work.
I’ve seen people on social media ask, “Do you think you could beat up your younger self?” Picard gets to find out, though he has an added advantage. Shinzon is a bit sick.
I don’t buy Shinzon’s death here. He could just stop running forward and not get stabbed. Plus, that bar had a blunt end. It wouldn’t have stabbed him. Maybe it would have busted a rib or something.
Like Khan, Shinzon assumes he’s killed his nemesis (get it?!). He dies before he realizes that Picard escapes.
Wait. Why is Worf still on the ship? Why isn’t he on his way back to Deep Space 9? Is the Enterprise just going to drop him off like a taxi? I think they have actual space taxis for that.
I also like the ending music that segues into the Original Series theme, and then ending with the Next Generation theme.
Maybe they should have done the same signature thing that they did with the end of The Undiscovered Country. If Avengers: Endgamecould steal it, why couldn’t Star Trek steal it from themselves? It seems the appropriate thing to do.
And that concludes my viewing notes for Star Trek X: The Search for Data.
Data shouldn’t have lost control like this, but sometimes the writers don’t know how else to get the story started.
Does this personal cloaking technology, which we’ve never seen before despite its incredible usefulness, violate the treat with the Romulans?
It doesn’t seem like this medical procedure uses any anesthetics.
We know that Troi and Riker get married in the next movie. Is the basis of their rekindled relationship the effect of the Briar Patch? It certainly appears so (despite Worf’s later save).
Another excuse for Patrick Stewart to sing. 😐 Anyway, why should Worf, a Klingon, be expected to know who Gilbert and Sullivan are?
If the away team is going to draw phasers the moment you they arrive, why aren’t they drawn before they beam down?
Boom-chicka-wow-wow! Doc Ock wouldn’t be pleased with Picard honing in on his wife.
Admirals really like to hang up on people. Hold on. Do you kids even know what “hang up” means?
What I need I can’t get from Dr. Crusher.
Don’t be so sure, Riker.
Why does that caterpillar have humanoid eyes?
If she really couldn’t swim, she’d be dead already.
The Briar Patch gets Geordi new eyes and everyone else laid. Except Worf. He gets a pimple.
Apprenticing for 30 years seems tedious. Besides, nothing takes that long to become a professional. For example, it doesn’t matter how far engineering progresses, you still need no more than a four-year degree to reach the minimum level to be a professional.
In 300 years, you never learned how to swim.
Exactly my thought.
We are betraying the principles on which the Federation was founded.
No, actually, you aren’t. As Admiral Dougherty points out, the Prime Directive doesn’t apply. Picard engages in some Captain America-level of naïve bullshit. If one person (Vision) is willing to sacrifice himself for trillions of lives, you let him. Same thing here. I don’t know exactly where the line is drawn, but trading the (unnatural) convenience of 600 for the health of billions is a fair trade, especially where the 600 settled on a world that was already Federation property. “But . . . but . . . but the kid and his caterpillar!” He’ll get over it, and so should you. Sure, the script turns the Son’a into murderers, but that’s so you can see them as the bad guys and justify some silly “principles.”
No, seriously. How the hell are you doing that? A time stop spell? It makes no sense.
I’ll be in engineering.
Why weren’t you there in the first place, Geordi. Haven’t you been chief engineer since season 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Why are you at navigation?
If the ensign isn’t good enough to work navigation, he should be at navigation on the Federation’s flagship. The captain shouldn’t do everything. Maybe Riker would be a captain by now if he understood that.
And now he’s using a joystick to run the entire ship. Is there any doubt as to why this is my least favorite Star Trek movie?
So, the kid runs back to find his caterpillar thing, and not a single adult stops him?
Why would a medical chair have a locking mechanism on it? When I was younger, I was told to sit on my hands during a medical procedure, but that’s the only constraint I’ve ever had that I recall.
So, the Captain’s chair on a Son’a ship is a gaudy, 1970s couch?
Good trick to fool the Son’a.
But I have 318 days of shore leave coming, and I intend to use them.
With whom, Picard? Anij? Nella? Vash? Until we have resolution for any of these relationships, I’m assuming each one gets 106 days with him. Maybe 104. He probably needs some alone time on his vacation.
Wait a second. I don’t think Picard actually had sex with Anji. Bummer for him.
Finally, some Romulan . . . . Oh. No. It’s just a reference to their existence. No Romulan threats in this one either. When am I going to get my damn Romulans?!?! (In two days, actually.)
If Starfleet sees Picard as a potential ally to the Borg, then why is he still captain of the most important ship in the fleet?
Considering the urgency, Data’s delivery of “to Hell with our orders” was too slow.
Despite not being able to act drunk (neither could Marina Sirtis), James Cromwell played a great version of Zefram Cochrane. Sometimes history forgets the bad parts of a character, remembering only the good parts. Some think that’s a bad thing; I don’t. However, I believe we should remember that these heroes of history were ultimately just humans. They were as flawed as the rest of us.
The Enterprise’s internal sensors suck. How did they not know the Borg transported over?
The song playing in the bar is stupid.
Alfre Woodard can’t play a “tough guy.” It’s just not believable.
And you people, you’re all . . . astronauts. On some kind of star trek.
The idea of a Borg queen completely undoes the meaning of the Borg. It didn’t ruin things for me — not even close — but I didn’t like it.
And now we’re back to not having money in the 24th century. Amazing how that goes back and forth.
Phasers don’t work, but a tommy gun does.
“Taking a leak” has lost all meaning. Nice touch.
I liked how the script had somewhere to go after Data installed the emotion chip, focusing on touch. And the callback to Data’s line to Tasha Yar before bumping uglies was a good bit of nostalgia. However, I didn’t need to see robots making out. Not hot.
Stunning may not hurt, but the fall you take after being stunned probably does. You could also drown if you wind up face first in a creek.
Worf saves the day!
Who the hell has Moby Dick memorized? I’m sure some people do. I know a part of Rime of the Ancient Mariner that’s just as long because I listen to Iron Maiden, but if someone randomly mentioned a book, I wouldn’t be able to quote it. Picard’s knowledge base was always unrealistically broad. He also speaks fluent Latin. I call bullshit.
Overall, this movie seems to be a bit overrated. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it was nothing more than the best of the Next Generation crew’s films. For me, that places it behind most of Kirk’s films. I do like the soundtrack, but I like all the Star Trek soundtracks, so that’s a low bar.