Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chinese Emperor vs, Crystal Skull, Rick O'Connell vs. Indiana Jones

When you look at IMDb, neither the last Indiana Jones or the last Mummy instalments got a lot of votes. Indiana came in one point ahead of O'Connell, but at 6.8/10 average that's hardly something to crow about.

The main reason for the low rating of either is, I suspect, the viewer's resistance to things changing. Both movies are set a significant time after the 'last' ones; times and technology have changed, making them less romantic in terms of setting; the kids of the main protagonists have grown up; and the stories are kinda hard to write, because you're basically looking for something that is the same, only different. And when that kind of thing gets delivered, everybody either complains about there not being enough of the same or of there not being enough original new things--with 'originality' being an obsession in this day and age, which hungers for the 'new' in a world and time where novelty is actually very hard to come by, and we've been so screwed up and 'new'-habituated by a all-out assault of what's being sold, rightly or not, as 'new', inside and outside of the 'arts'. The irony is, that there actually is very little 'new', but it's all a question of marketing, of course. People are so dumb, honestly! The really 'new' seldom captures wide attention.

Within the context of these issues, follow-ups on former successful movie series (Star Wars is always there as a warning example, with the last ridiculous instalment completely losing the plot by being unafflicted by any human being in sight!) will always have a hard time; be it on TV or the big screen. As for me, I thought they were both good fun.

Bringing back characters from Raiders of the Lost Ark provided a welcome closure to the whole story are, insofar as there was one, and restored a dynamic, at least to some extent, that was completely missing in the second and third Indy Jones movies--which were fun, but lacked something, and it may have been this thing. Unfortunately the movie, in its hunt for the novel and different came up with space-aliens in the von Daniken vein, which really didn't quite work. To my mind it was a writer's copout, because they focused on story and story effects and not on character and character interaction, which was, once the characters were established, completely predictable and lacked something that I couldn't place my finger on until I finally got seeing Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

I know, I know, it was just the previous Mummy instalments set in China, but who cares? It was predictable, but who cares? It didn't even feature Rachel Weisz, whose character in interaction with Brendan Fraser's was kind of integral to the first two. And, yes, there were the usual estrangement issues between father and grown-up son and all that jazz. Nothing new here, really.

But I will eventually buy the DVD, while I won't bother with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and do you know why? Because Mummy 3 had heart, and Indy 4 didn't. Because the Mummy 3 writers and producers (and even the director, though I wouldn't necessarily have expected it from him) obviously understood, intellectually and/or viscerally, that trying to desperately wring 'novelty' out of something that really doesn't require novelty is a fool's game.

OK, so maybe commercially Indy 4 did better than Mymmy 3, but never mind 'commercial'. That's influenced as much, if not more, by marketing and 'star power' and just sheer legend-hype as actual content. And Indy always had a big edge on Rick O'Connell because of Harrison Ford and the whole Indy Jones mythos, harking back to the goold old days of Spielberg and Lucas ruling the Hollywood scene.

When it comes being able to watch something and just enjoying it, Mummy 3 beats Indy 4 hands down though. That is because, even though one will inevitably sit down and start watching it with a sense of "I hope I'm not going to be disappointed", which acts as a terrible detaching influence, in the case of Mummy 3 one is soon immersed in the familiar and utterly predictable. Even the fact that Maria Bello replaced Rachel Weisz ceases to matter after about 5 minutes; or it did for me--because while she isn't Weisz, she is herself, and though she doesn't have Weisz softness, and though nobody would buy her having an Egyptian mother, she has a charm and presence that makes it all not matter--unless someone absolutely wanted to be critical, of course, and there always are those people.

Does it make sense that the Dragon Emperor might conquer the world using his terrcotta army? Of course not, but these things never do, so who cares? What matters is that the grown up son of Rick and Evie is a far more likeable and less cartoonish character than Indy's (Peace, Shia LeBeouf! I think you're very funny and I love seeing you in movies, but this one didn't work.) and that everybody actually seems to care far more about people than about doing adventurous stuff. That's where the heart is, and that's why I'm happy to add Mummy 3 to my 'comfort viewing' list, on which you'll also find the following, which probably pretty much define what kind of a movie watcher I am (and, yes, there are some odd ones in there when it comes to the 'comfort' angle):
  • Mummy 1
  • Mummy 2
  • Stardust
  • Princess Bride
  • The Duellists
  • Tears of the Sun
  • The Italian Job (the remake)
  • You Kill Me
  • King Arthur
  • and, yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark
This list isn't exhaustive, but the ones up there are definitely on it, and I'm adding Mummy 3. If I need to do some stuff that doesn't completely require my attention, like sorting papers and similarly tedious stuff, and I need something more in the background than just music, then these ones tends to come out.

My rating. Indy 4: 6/10, Mummy 3: 9/10.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Before the Law

Sometimes you find more than just Charlie the Unicorn or Beached Whale or End of Ze World or Cereal Bwax on YouTube.

This here is a gem. I've alluded to it before and counsel you to sit through its short duration.

And take it to heart, of course...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Standstill comes to an end

He who keeps danger in mind is he who will rest safe in his seat;
He who keeps ruin in mind is he who will preserve his interests secure;
He who sets the danger of disorder before him is he who will maintain the state of order.
Therefore the superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come;
When in a state of security, he does not forget the possibility of ruin;
When all is in a state of order, he does not forget that disorder may come.
Thus his person is kept safe, and his states and all their clans can be preserved.


These lines are from an English translation of an old book, called the I Ching (Hexagram 12, Line 5), which is often used as an oracle; but this need not be its main purpose, as a random look into it reveals a cornucopia of usually-excellent advice—of which the above is a prime example.

Hexgram 12 isn't particularly cheery, it's title usually translated as 'Standstill' or 'Stagnation', or, in the Alfred Huang translation, as 'Hindrance', which doesn't sound quite as ominous.

Line 5, however, indicates that Standstill finally gives way, and that things change for the better. Still, at the same time there's the admonition cited above, which really needs no explanation.

Why should I bring this up in my last blog before Christmas? Well, mainly because I just happened to have a philosophical moment—I do that occasionally—and randomly poked my nose into the I Ching, as I also sometimes do, almost always with thought-provoking results and often uncanny resonances with whatever might be on my mind at the time. And there was this and it seemed to me that, amidst the usual cheery-and-upbeat-even-if-it-kills-us Christmas spirit, the thoughts expressed above might well represent a ray of seldom-glimpsed profundity and sage advice.

Take them to heart or do not. Ponder them or forget them as quickly as you have read them. Whataver your disposition may be will determine whether this resonates with you or whether you'll consider it all rather too tedious to think about in your eagerness to have a good time. Like everything else it's your choice, and the consequences will be what they are.

And so, in a spirit of pensive gratitude for having my family having gone through another year without major tragedies and disasters, and also very much in the spirit of the I Ching's admonitions above, I wish you a good holiday.

Be safe. Stay healthy. Stay alert.

Best wishes to all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dandies and Balls

One thing I've learned about life is this: nothing is as 'it should be'; or, to put it differently, as we have construed that it should be; or 'ought to' be; or would 'sensibly' be...this way or that, depending on our varied preconceptions of what all this is all about. Most 'things', objects, aren't; and even less so are people; and even less so are the myriad ways in which contingency screws around with our plans--benignly, on occasion; vexatiously disturbing the desired course of events, for the most.

There's only one sensible way to deal with this: roll with the punches. And, one might add, never give up; certainly not because things appear to be at odds with your well-laid plans and schemes and clever tricks and, not to put too fine a point on it, existential delusions.

What brought this up? Well, today I had one of those days. Trying to do some real productive work and getting the nose to the grindstone. And what did I get as soon as I started this? Network problems! Related to VISTA, of course. What else? I hate network problems. They're like...oh, in 'real life' a bit like plumbing issues, or drainage maybe. Totally boring, probably even for most plumbers, and utterly time-wasting. By the time you've tried all possible and trouble-shooting-advice-gurus' solutions and still it doesn't work, you feel like screaming "Let me out of this!" Surely, somebody will some day delete all network designers and general net-admin nazis, who require these shitty complicated systems; plus, of course, Microsoft engineers, whose skills in practical, functional, helfpul User-Interface design are like ZERO, ZILCH, NADA, NIL, RIEN NE VA F... PLUS! People have flipped for much lesser reasons! The asylums of the western world have to be littered with the debris of minds destroyed by the abomination called 'Windows'. Though I fancy that without the same agency, many psychiatrists would be considerably worse off, and possibly the equivalent of the GDP of small-to-medium-sized third-world nations, would have to be subtracted from the collective income of the profession.

Grrrrr.... Kill kill kill...

But to more lighthearted things. Thought I'd share this idle reflection made by a recent visitor to the Vatican. Apparently, the costumes of the Vatican's Swiss Guard were designed by none less than Michelangelo, though according to Wikipedia this isn't so, but they were designed much later. Whatever the truth may be, the recent visitor to the Vatican commented that surely their creator/designer had been gay. Who else could have come up with...this?



Or maybe the creator was a jester, whose prank on the Catholic church, left it with one of the most excruciatingly tasteless and laughable costumes ever. On the other hand, if you look at the rest of the mummery associated with Catholicism—and most religion, period!—it all fits in perfectly. Ahh, what a strange world we live in.

And here's one for the PC crowd, just to rile you up a bit and maybe perturb your word-view just a tad.

Balls and Brains

Just remember what I wrote at the beginning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quotes or Paraphrases? Tomahto, Potaito?

Sometimes things come back to haunt me. Well, sort of.

A long time ago, 2+ years, I used George Orwell's dictum "We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.", as the title of a blog. Yesterday someone posted a comment, stating that it wasn't Orwell but Churchill, who said that. Further checking up on Wikpedia revealed, as much as Wikipedia may be considered authoritative in that regard, that the quote, insofar as we refer to the version I used, has also been attributed to Churchill. Indeed, Orwell wrote something that stated exactly the same thing, and in a much more cogent and probably less manipulatively-intended context than Churchill, namely an essay on Nationalism; which, by the way, I highly recommend to everybody's reading, because it also contains a very important analysis of the terms 'nationalism' and 'patriotism', two concepts that are habitually conflated in everyday and also academic discourse, resulting in an unjustified tarring-by-conflation of the latter by the former.

The Wikipedia page of misquotations is a small treasure of examples of how things get muddled up, and how little time and degrees of separation it takes to get them muddled up. Maybe the most interesting example is another one of my favorites "Only the dead have seen the end of war," which I also always attributed to Socrates, and even Ridley Scott did when he quoted it in the lead in to Black Hawk Down. It seems—that's according to Wikipedia—that it wasn't Socrates but the Spaniard (claimed also by the US) George Santayana, who wrote these words in his The Life of Reason.

That'll learn me!

On the other hand, does it matter?

Well, yes and no.

It may matter for two possible reasons:
  • Pedantry. Some people can't bear attributive inaccuracies and think they matter. That's fine. If it's your job to be a stickler for historical accuracy, fine. Otherwise...

  • Motivation of the originator. Things are said for different reasons by different people. Anything said by politicians, priests, lawyers, salesmen, ideologues, critics, etc. is immediately suspect by association. Guilty until proven innocent beyond reasonable doubt. Churchill making any pronouncement is a completely different thing, and has completely different implications and associations, than Orwell doing it.
On the other hand, such sayings can be disembodied, disconnected from their originators. Forget about who said it, but look at what is expressed in the statement and see if it resonates with one's own perception of what's what; if it triggers an insight into something that had been elusive until then; whether it brings disparate and hitherto apparently unconnected strands of 'fact'together; whether it stimulates new thoughts that may lead to new insights...

It's difficult to say which is the 'correct' way of looking at this, or whether there is a 'correct way'; which, I suspect there isn't. As usual it's context and the individual in question.

As for me, I don't give a rat's ass whether it was Edmund Burke who said/wrote "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." It contains a profound truth that should trouble all who hear this and have the courage to think about it. And maybe I should add that it is symptomatic of the deficiencies of Wikipedia that the section about this particular saying completely misrepresents what it tries to express--in the form and wording which has become popularly known. If really it was derived from the Edmund Burke passage "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." then the person who rephrased it saw something in it that goes far beyond anything political. For the way we know it now, the aphorism says nothing at all about 'association', but about the issue of what a 'good' man is; how he reacts to the presence of evil; what sacrifices he's willing to bring to his life and his 'goodness' alike; whether he uses his goodness as a cause for denial of the need for action or even the acknowledgment of the existence of evil; and so on.

Bottom line: a quote should be attributed if possible, but if it's a case of "I don't really know who said it but..." then that's fine, too. Sometimes ignoring the origin isn't only OK, but better, because it defocuses attention from the 'authority', or lack thereof, of the one who originated the statement. That's usually a good thing, because ultimately there is no real authority in such matters but oneself.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Mill of Rumor and BHG (Basic Human Gullibility)

I recommend thearticle below for your reading. It is a valuable guide to checking yourself before you believe anything anyone tells you.

I know: you wouldn't fall victim to such trash. Right?

Yeah, right...

The 8½ Laws of Rumor Spread

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

AUSTRALIA - The Movie (The Real One)

OK, so I got to see it, and it's been a while since I just enjoyed a movie quite as much. I also understand more why those who trash it—Australians and non-Australians alike; but excluding 'critics', professional and self-styled, who are just assholes—think about it as they do.

It's just the kind of movie you either 'get' or you don't. There is, I think, no happy medium. We're talking two distincly different types of people. I obviously belong to this one, not that. So, from the point of view of this side, here's what I would like to say; avoiding synopsis and all that crap, which you can read up on somewhere else, and besides it's spoilers.

Above all, as already mentioned, the movie was immensely enjoyable. It was grand, dramatic, theatrical, melodramatic, tragic, funny, sad; with lots of Aussie nudge-nudge-wink-winks and plenty of 'crikey'. It ended as I would have ended it—which is always a cool thing, especially for a story-writer, because it's that very satisfying experience of having one's expectation of what should happen actually happening, and seeing that someone else understood what needed to be done.

There were a lot of facial closeups, and they weren't done with steadycams or just plain handhelds either, all shaky and sometimes even out of focus. Australia's closeup shots were done the old-fashioned way, with precision and tripod-mounted cameras. The term 'old-fashioned' is appropriate for a lot of the movie. Occasionally, or so I suspect, the obvious green-screen effect was deliberately not concealed, to give it that feel of 'old' or just maybe 'stage. It worked like a charm.

Some of the closeups gave us the best kissing scenes I've seen in a long time. As someone very much aware of the importance of kissing—not just in real life, but also in film and literature—I appreciate it when it's done right. Jackman and Kidman could teach many a film maker, as well as a lot of actors, more than just a thing or two. This was serious 'romance', not just mere 'steamy' stuff. All very sexy without taking the movie out of 'family viewing' territory.

I'd see it again tomorrow if I had the time, and I'll certainly get the DVD when it comes out. I could go on berating those benighted ones who just don't 'get' the movie, but I've long given up on trying to beat my head against those walls. They're too damn thick.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

From the Troubling to the Absurd

While I am bothered by the matters mentioned in the previous blog, this here left me with a classic, unvocalized WTF:

Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission pushes for third 'intersex' gender

The Rich and The Poor

It's not like I hadn't suspected this, but to see it confirmed doesn't leave me any less troubled.

Striking differences between brains of rich and poor
by Kate Melville

A new study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, has shown for the first time that the brains of low-income children function differently from the brains of high-income kids. UC Berkeley's Robert Knight says that normal 9 and 10-year-olds differing only in socioeconomic status have detectable differences in the response of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and creativity.

Previous studies have shown a possible link between frontal lobe function and behavioral differences in children from low and high socioeconomic levels, but this new study is the first to directly measure brain activity where there is no issue of task complexity.

Knight's team measured the kids' brain function using an electroencephalograph (EEG) - basically, a cap fitted with electrodes to measure electrical activity in the brain. They found that kids from lower socioeconomic levels showed brain physiology patterns similar to someone who had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult. "We found that kids are more likely to have a low response if they have low socioeconomic status, though not everyone who is poor has low frontal lobe response," remarked Knight.

The study notes that the children had no neural damage, yet the prefrontal cortex was not functioning as efficiently as it should be. The researchers suspect that stressful environments and cognitive impoverishment are to blame, since in animals, stress and environmental deprivation have been shown to affect the prefrontal cortex. UC Berkeley's Marian Diamond, professor emeritus of integrative biology, showed nearly 20 years ago in rats that enrichment thickens the cerebral cortex as it improves test performance.

Co-author W. Thomas Boyce, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of public health, is not surprised by the results. "We know kids growing up in resource-poor environments have more trouble with the kinds of behavioral control that the prefrontal cortex is involved in regulating. But the fact that we see functional differences in prefrontal cortex response in lower socioeconomic status kids is definitive."

"This is a wake-up call," Knight added. "It's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status: fewer books, less reading, fewer games, fewer visits to museums."



From here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Woody Allen: Absurdist

Last week, the presenter of the Australian ABC's 7.30 Report, Kerry O]Brien', showed us an interview he conducted earlier in the day with Woody Allen. I highly recommend that you treat yourself to the 13 minutes of the talk. It kind of fits in with my last two posts on 'Fire Inside'.

I'm not a huge fan of Woody Allen's movies, though sometimes I have a nagging notion that my own little attempt at 'romantic comedy', Dating Blind, had definite Allenesque aspects to it. However, no matter how Woody Allen expresses himself in his chosen medium, ever since I found out that he made the pithy and immensely sound Absurdist/Emortalist quip: "I am not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens." I've known that there's a kindred spirit here. It's also a spirit who definitely still has Fire Inside, despite his deceptively non-fiery demanor.

Anyway, the interview is a treasure of things worthwhile thinking about. Spend the time and enjoy it.

And here's a page with Woody Allen quotes, that should keep one in quotables for a little while.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

No Fire Inside

Good song lyrics make you think about stuff. Life. The Universe. Why you're here. Whether there is a 'why' at all. Where you are going. Why bother. Things like that.

When you come to think about it, the lyrics of that Bob Seger song are pretty grim. Some might say 'morbid'. He's done other stuff like that, of course, so it's par for the course. And it's not like this kind of tone isn't adopted by a gazillion of other poets of the era, or any other era. Still, it's different—at least it sounds like that to me. There's something different about Bob Seger, the poet, that makes me pay attention, where others leave me either yawning, or closing the book of going into another room, so I don't have to listen to their productions.

Maybe it is form. A lot of Seger's 'poetry' is told in the form of stories. Look at his lyrics and you'll know what I mean. Some stories extend over just an evening—like Fire Inside—and others over his favorite time-span, or at least it looks that way, of 20 years (Like a Rock, The Ring, etc).

It might be form, at least for those 'story' type lyrics. But I think it's more than that; in fact I know it is.

For one there's the music. It kind of matters, because we're talking about 'music' here. Might say the same for the likes of Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave and, say, Springsteen, of course; because they, too, 'sing'—in a manner of speaking; and they put their stuff to melodies. Said melodies, this tends to be the trend in music, are usually intended to enhance the lyrics—or, in other cases, the lyrics are something that's supposed to 'go with' the melodies, ot 'tunes'. In the best of cases the two become a synergy of...well, whatever it is that we're hearing...message, story, reflection, musings...and so on. Like a movie and its musical score can become this 'whole' thing that is greater than the mere addition of its parts.

So, music matters, and its integration with the lyrics matters and how they play off each other. But is that all?

Sometimes a musician reveals something of himself—not in terms of personal details, but just about his character and who and what he is—in one of his songs; and methinks that Fire Inside is where Bob Seger does it; where he catches that glimpse inside himself and pulls something out and shows it to us. Never mind that the song is about a girl. It is about all of us—and it's about what some of us have and others don't; or what some once had and don't anymore; and what some never really had, because it was extinguished pretty early in their lives; and what yet others don't have, because their brains—and, yes, it does have to do with their brain structure and chemistry!—just didn't turn out to support this thing...this 'Fire Inside'.

What is it: the 'Fire Inside'? How do you know it's there—in others; in yourself? How do you recognize it? What does it do to people? Is it a good thing? What is its influence on human beings?

I'm still not sure, though I can usually detect its presence by many, sometimes extremely subtle signs.

I can tell you what it is not: the myriad phenomena and characteristics used to conceal its absence. Some of these are often associated with what one might consider very worthy activities, driven by what's commonly seen as 'passion' for this, that or the other. Now, nobody is suggesting that said activities aren't worthy or that they are merely used to conceal the lack of Fire Inside and basically help the general 'denial' process. That's not at all what I'm saying.

No, Fire Inside is something else altogether, though often it does express itself as a form of energy that's directed and mis-directed into pursuits that can create havoc or be beneficent. Fire Inside is neutral, like 'The Force" in Star Wars maybe, though it isn't that either.

It is... well, listen to the Bob Seger Lyrics again and maybe you'll get a hint of it.

"...
No matter what you dream or feel or say
It ends in dust and disarray

Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass
Waves rolling in with the tide
Dreams die hard and we watch them erode
But we cannot be denied
The fire inside..."

Whatever lurks behind those words...that's it.

Think Batty in Bladerunner...



And if you need to know even more, it should be this: Fire Inside is what most people are truly afraid of. It's the thing that occasions a deep sadness, carefully denied, when it has died—and all that's left is the afterglow that sees them through to the point of dying. It's what they killed, but whose extinguishing most will blame on others or circumstances—though for many that is actually true, but maybe not as true as one would think. It's their greatest attribute, and yet it is thrown away and carelessly left to sputter and go out, when all they had to do is tend to the flame and nourish it.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fire Inside

Just going through a Bob Seger phase. Seger, as his aficionados will probably appreciate, is a poet, but he tends to be far less ostentatious about it than others, who shall remain unmentioned, and who have made a killing out of their 'poet songwriter' image.

Here's an oldie, Fire Inside (lyrics), with a very dated video going with it. Like in others of his songs—The Ring, Tightrope and so on—this song is about and almost written from from a female perspective; as much as a male can do such a thing, which isn't easy, as I can attest! I find this interesting in a number of ways; not least because most of the so-called 'poet songwriters', when they write about women, usually write from an explicitly 'male' perspective. So it's either about what effect women have on men, or else just what kind of, usually bad, things men do to women.

Seger appears to have no such inclinations. His songs are more about...well, 'life' and the kinds of things that happen. Some good. Some not do good. Some very good. Some really bad.

I like the guy.




Lyrics | Bob Seger lyrics - Fire Inside lyrics

Monday, December 01, 2008

AUSTRALIA - The Movie

This blog is about the movie, and at the same time it isn't.

It is because it is.

It isn't because I haven't seen the movie yet.

Meaning, it's not a review or commentary or rating. What is is about, is the phenomenon of the movie itself; its existence and context; as well as, and above all, its critics. It seems like Australia brought forth some of the worst of the latter, not only from 'overseas', as seen from my Australian perspective, but also locally.

What I mean by 'the worst' is probably best explained by my own approach to movie and literary criticism, which is is this: If you don't have something good to say about it, just shut up and live with it.

So you chose to go and read/watch it (whatever 'it' is), and you didn't get something you liked. So suck it up and live with it. If you knew it was probably not going to be to your liking, why did you waste your time in the first place, except to find an opportunity to jerk off with some stupid 'criticism'? Not everybody likes everything: hasn't that gotten through to you yet? The world is a varied place, and the sad truth, if only you were able to discern it, is that only assholes really do give a crap about your particular opinion. Great company you're keeping, there!

God, I detest 'critics', so please allow me to rant on for a moment or two or three. Let me delineate a few reasons for my...hmm, let's tone that down and call it 'dislike'.

It is safe to say that critics are probably the lowest form of self-styled 'profession' our civilization has brought forth. I can make this particular generalization without fear of falling into the trap of 'generalizing', because it isn't a generalization at all, but demonstrable fact, that 999/1000 critics have never done anything truly sustainedly creative in their lives. Unless you think 'criticism' is 'creative', of course; and a case might be made for it being that, given the twistedly 'creative' nature of much criticism, which appears to have no relation whatsoever to the item(s) being criticized (or, as polite and PC parlance would have it, 'reviewed').

But if that's 'creative' then so is defecating. You gotta draw the line somewhere, and 'creation' and 'criticism' are two utterly immiscible activities. They require completely different mind sets. Critics are just about as far removed from creative people as an alien from a methane swamp planet would be from your average Earth-human.

Of the remaining 1/1000 of critics (sorry: 'reviewers') about 1/100 (or and even lesser proportion) has done something creative and found him or herself to be wanting. This generates resentment of one's betters--that being those people who either haven't been found wanting, or who have the stamina and passion to persist despite continued failure and lack of social acknowledgment of their labors and talents.

A 'failed' artist who continues at his/her work despite continued 'failure' is worth more than all the 'critics' of this world combined.

The failed-creatives' resentful envy--one of the meanest and most pathetic of emotions which usually occupies and ultimately consumes what's commonly referred to as 'small minds'--produces a mindset equivalent to that possessed by almost all of the 999/1000 main body of critics, which is the desire to get as much effect and exposure with as little effort as possible. The best way to do that is to trash the work of your betters and creatively, imaginatively and probably intellectually superiors. That also gives these wallies a great opportunity to elevate themselves by implication; because if one downs those--like everybody who has worked on a large film project, for example--who have just spent months and sometimes years pouring their passion, hearts, dedication and effort and just life-time, into producing, say, a movie like Australia...this must surely lift oneself up. And, yes, many of these people get paid to do this. Unbe-f..ing-lievable!

Also, we need to realize that, while a novel is usually just the work of one individual, a movie involved hundreds and maybe thousands. And most of these people, though of course they do get 'paid' for their labors, are probably in the industry because they actually like what they're doing in preference to something else (like becoming critics maybe), and most of them will take pride in their work, which invariably involves some form of professional skill.

It's probably too much to expect from the small-minded to take that into account before they start 'trashing' a movie. You see, a movie that was made with all the best of 'artistic' intentions--no matter how flawed--but which hasn't delivered the goods (or maybe it has? just not to you!), should be looked upon not as a thing to be reviled, like a Nazi propaganda film or a porn flick, but as a missed opportunity to have done better. Especially if there were people involved who really, really wanted to make it work and be good and tell the story it was supposed to tell, or whatever...especially then a failed movie should be regarded as an occasion for somber reflection, and maybe for learning lessons from it. Is that really so hard? Does one have to spiteful and mean, just because a given movie or book just happens to appeal to a different group of people than that to which oneself 'belongs'?

But being a critic is simple and makes one feel important, and it takes no work at all. Which is why 'everybody is a critic' may be the truest of all popular sayings.

There are 'amateur critics', of course—who just talk to their friends and acquaintances, but don't habitually rant on at length on internet sites, and who definitely don't get paid!—but they are just...well, 'human' I guess. Many of them, if they sat down for a moment and thought about their dumb-ass clichés—and especially about the one that says that some novel or movie was a lot of clichés in it; which is a truism because every bit of fiction is held up by a framework of 'clichés'!—only that when you call them 'clichés', it really means that they're not your cliches... Well, these people might actually find that they're embarrassed at their own foolishness. However, you'll find no such insights in the body of 'professional' of habitual critics. No, siree! Pompous wankers, the lot.

The bottom line:

I will go and see Australia. Of course, I will. It is likely that I will like it, because looks like my kind of movie. But, hey, I also really liked The Postman! And even if I don't like it, or if it isn't what I would like it to be, or if it ends up just being so-so, I will still remain disgusted with the sight of the dismal bilge denizens it had brought to the light of day. I so wish these slitherfish would remain in their element; but I guess it is in their nature to want the exposure of the bright light of day.

After all, every 'critic' always really only talks about one thing: him or herself. What they criticize is not really at issue. Instead, the targets of their vilifications are like mirrors into the critics' souls—and what we find there occasionally is truly butt-ugly.

Since I don't like to finish on 'down' notes, I'd like to add that a lot of people appear to just love Australia. This is heartening. I like it when I see people enjoying things, and it leaves me with a desire to ensure that whatever story I tell ends up enjoyable for those capable of that emotion. If just a few of them can take that away from my own work—if enough to matter can take that with them—I will consider myself a 'success'.