Back to School Part II #22: Three O’Clock High (dir by Phil Joanou)


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For the next entry in my back to school series of reviews, I want to say a few words about the 1987 comedy, Three O’Clock High.

I have no idea how Three O’Clock High did when it was originally released into theaters.  I know, I know — I could just look it up on Wikipedia or the imdb but I’m lazy and, besides, I hate that whole idea that box office success is somehow synonymous with quality.  That said, Three O’Clock High is one of those films that seems to be in a permanent cable rotation (seriously, it always seems to be playing somewhere and there’s always a few people on twitter talking about how excited they are about coming across it) and I kind of hope that it did well when it was originally released.  It’s an entertaining and genuinely funny little high school comedy.

Three O’Clock High tells the story of Jerry (Casey Siemaszko).  Jerry is a high school student, one of those kids who is a bit anonymous.  He’s kind of a nerd but so much of a nerd that he painfully sticks out of the crowd at this school.

You know who does stick out of the crowd?  Buddy Revell (Richard Tyson).  Buddy is the new kid at school.  He’s a big, hulking, and rather intimidating figure and he comes with quite a fearsome repuations.  All anyone can talk about are the stories that they’ve heard about Buddy’s dangerous past.  The one thing that the rumors all have in common is that Buddy does not like to be touched.  In fact, it appears that his aversion to being touched has made him the most dangerous high school student in the country.

The first hour of Jerry’s school day is spent working at the school newspaper and, of course, his teacher has a bright idea.  Why not welcome Buddy to the school by interviewing him!?  Sure, why not!?  Everyone loves to be interviewed!  And why not get Jerry to do the interview?

The problem is that Buddy doesn’t want to be interviewed.  And, once he realizes that Buddy not only doesn’t want to talk to him but is actually getting rather annoyed with him (this may be because Jerry chooses to approach Buddy in the boy’s bathroom), Jerry asks Buddy to forget that he even bothered him and then reaches over and punches him on the arm.

Of course, this leads to Buddy announcing that he and Jerry are going to have a fight.  At 3 pm.  In the school parking lot…

The rest of the film plays out like a surrealistic, teen-centered parody of High Noon, with Jerry desperately trying to figure out a way to avoid the fight.  He tries to frame Buddy by placing a switchblade in his locker, just to have Buddy use the knife to disable his car, effectively trapping Jerry at the school.  He tries to help Buddy cheat on a test.  He tries to get the principal to kick him out of school.  He even tries bribery!

But ultimately, three o’clock arrives and Jerry must face his destiny…

Three O’Clock High is cheerfully cartoonish and rather entertaining little film.  Director Phil Joanou pays homage to a countless number of other films, often framing the high school action like a Spaghetti western stand-off and, when the final fight arrives, it’s just as wonderfully over-the-top and silly as you could hope for.  Casey Siemaszko, who was also in Secret Admirer, is perfectly cast as Jerry and Richard Tyson is both funny and intimidating as Buddy.  Meanwhile, ineffectual adults are played by everyone from Philip Baker Hall to Jeffrey Tambor to Mitch Pileggi.  There’s a not a subtle moment to be found in Three O’Clock High but the relentless stylization definitely works to the film’s advantage.

I’d keep an eye out for the next time that Three O’Clock High shows up on Showtime.  It’s an entertaining film about teens doing what teens have to do.

Back to School Part II #21: Brotherhood of Justice (dir by Charles Braverman)


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For my next back to school review, I want to take a look at one of the best films that you’ve probably never heard of, the 1986 made-for-TV film Brotherhood Justice!

Brotherhood of Justice takes place at a California high school.  It’s a school that is pretty much ruled by the football team and the divide between the children of the upper and the working class is often violently apparent.  After several acts of violence, drug dealing, and vandalism, the school’s principal (Joe Spano) is left with a choice.  He can either hire full-time security guards and turn his school into an armed camp or he can meet with the most popular seniors and ask them to do their part to maintain order at the school.

He goes with the latter option.

At first, quarterback Derek (Keanu Reeves) is excited about doing his part to make the school a better place.  He and his friends quickly form the Brotherhood of Justice and make out a list of trouble makers.  At first, Derek and his friends are just roughing up drug dealers and demanding that all students show some school pride.  (In order to maintain their anonymity, they all wear masks to hide their faces.  However, no effort is made to disguise anyone’s voice, which means that this film takes place in a world where no one can recognize the voice of Keanu Reeves.)  However, things quickly escalate.  One member of the Brotherhood — Les (Billy Zane) — is especially enthusiastic and he has a thing for knives.

Meanwhile, Derek is having issues with his girlfriend, Christie (Lori Loughlin).  Christie, who is apparently incapable of recognizing her boyfriend’s voice whenever he’s wearing a mask, thinks that the Brotherhood is idiotic.  Christie also has a new job as a waitress and one of her co-workers is Victor (Kiefer Sutherland).  Victor obviously likes Christie and he also bravely stands up to the Brotherhood when they try to harass a student who is named Pasty.  (I kid you not.)

When Derek grows disillusioned with the Brotherhood, they decide that the situation with Christie must be distracting him.  So, they decide to blow up Victor’s car…

It’s all in the name of justice!

Obviously, one of the best things about Brotherhood of Justice is that it’s a chance to see Neo and Jack Bauer compete over Aunt Becky while Cal Hockley plays with a switch blade in the background.  (Oddly enough, Derek’s younger brother is played by Danny Nucci, who later appeared with Zane in Titanic.)  But there’s more to Brotherhood of Justice than just the curiosity value of the cast.

That plot hole about the voices aside, Brotherhood of Justice is actually a really good movie and one that everyone should watch.  If anything, it’s even more relevant today than it probably was when it was originally made.  It’s easy to be dismissive of the self-righteous and judgmental Brotherhood but actually, how different are they from the outrage brigade who show up everyday on twitter?  When the Brotherhood demands that everyone follow the rules and love their school, how different are they from those assholes who, today, claim that anyone who disagrees with the president or questions the moral authority of the government is somehow guilty of treason?  If the Brotherhood existed today, they would be cyberbullying and doxxing anyone who they felt had failed to say or think the right thing.

Let’s face it — we currently live in a fascist culture.  In its own modest but important way, Brotherhood of Justice is one of those films that can tell us why.

And you can watch it below!

 

Stranger Things- Season 1 Episode 5- The Flea and The Acrobat; ALT Title: Hop is my Spirit Animal.


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Cold Open:

Evil Modine’s Government Facility: Hop is being a total badass and sneaks into the facility. He sneaks around the facility and hides in rooms as evil scientists go by in the halls.  He goes through biohazard plastic and is about to head to the entrance to find Will.  Hop runs into the shittiest security chief ever and kicks his ass and the ass of a Military Policeman. Hop – you win the badass award of 1983.

Joyce’s house: Lonnie is getting Joyce liquored up and generally trying to take over her life. Lonnie – who might be one of the earliest Mansplainers – tries to convince Joyce that all of this in her head.  This show is really good at showing people’s reaction to grief and potential mental illness. The people are marginalized, ignored, and bossed around. It’s especially poignant because the show is postmodern gothic horror and the way “normal characters” deal with the people they can’t understand is truly medieval.  

Evil Modine’s Government Facility:  Hop continues to search for Will.  He finds a room with a kid-sized bed and a drawing of two stick figures and a cat- a call back to where Evil Modine tried to harness El’s powers to diminish the local feline population.  Hop’s face is cool rage.  He’s certain that they have Will.

The director intercuts the boys’ discussion and Hop’s search for Will. The intercut between the boys’ discussion and Hop’s search is truly gooseflesh inducing. El is completely drained.  The boys are going over what was said on the AV equipment.  Lucas emotes that he is really tired of this shit.  Hop has his pistol drawn and is being pursued by Evil Modine’s goons.  The boy’s describe the World of the veil of shadows.  Hop finds the elevator that leads down to the gate to the shadow world.  Hop enters a hallway that the boys describe as – out of phase.  There is evil snow coming down around Hop.  Hop enters the room with the main portal to the shadow world and is grabbed and drugged.  This story really grabs at the ancient themes of storytelling- Hop is the sullied knight on Crusade looking for redemption and he plays it perfectly!  Fade to Black.

Roll Credits:

Joyce’s House:  Creeper arrives home to see his Mom drinking and generally hanging out with Lonnie.  Poor Creeper.

Funeral:  Lonnie holds Court and shakes a lot of hands as if he is the man of the family and not a human-turd.

Hop’s Home:  Hop wakes with sweat stains and surrounded by pills and booze.  Hop tears his place apart like he’s looking for Rebel Plans of the Death Star.  After much destruction, Hop finds what he’s been looking for- a listening device in his light fixture.

Evil Modine’s Government Facility:  Evil Modine has decided that the monster is hanging around Will’s home.

Post Funeral:  Nancy and Creeper are making plans to hunt down and kill the Monster.  He gets a pistol out of his father’s glove box.

High school: A fake AV Club Repairman investigates the equipment that was fried by El.

The Wake:  The boys go up to Mr. Clark and they have him lay some science down on them.  Are there alternative universes? You bet! Does Mr. Clark know about Dungeons and Dragons? Right again!  Does he explain that someone would have to create immense power to create a tear into another dimension much like the plot of Bioshock Infinite? OH YEAH!!!  BTW, this tear could destroy us all and wonks up compasses as well.

Hop’s House:  The deputies arrive and talk to Hop.  They think he’s a bit nutty and we find out that Barb’s car was found at a bus station.

Joyce’s House:  Lonnie talks about the Statler Corporation and how they need to be held accountable as he does some pretty shitty home repair.  This gives Joyce a moment of clarity that perhaps Lonnie is infact a dirtbag.

Mike’s House:  Dustin is experimenting with the compasses.  He explains to his friends that the compass is not facing True North; instead, they must be pointing to the Evil Gate.

Joyce’s House:  While Lonnie is showering, Joyce snoops in Lonnie’s stuff and discovers a personal injury attorney’s flyer.

Mike’s House: Nancy talks to Steve.  It’s boring.

Joyce’s House:  Joyce fights with Lonnie and tosses his ass out of her house.

Hop’s House: Hop is exhausted and calls his estranged wife.  We learn that after their child’s death, she left, and now has a new family.  Poor Hop.

The boys are trying to get to the portal via the local railroad tracks.  El flashes to Evil Modine.  He has her focus on a Commie.  To accomplish this task, she must get into a scary bathtub with a helmet on her.  Huh? The boys notice that El is acting stranger.

 Nancy and Creeper are walking through the woods hunting for the Monster.  They argue about her and Steve. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Joyce’s House:  Joyce hears banging at her door and thinks it’s Lonnie.  In fact, it’s Hop holding up a sign for her to be quiet.  He looks at all of the lights that are up in her home that he must now check for listening devices and says, “Oh Jesus”.  I have had to inspect Christmas Lights a time or two and it is a pain in the ass!

Junkyard:  Dustin realizes the compasses are not leading them to the gate.  Lucas discerns that it was El misleading them using her powers, discovering fresh nose-blood on her sleeve.  She explains that [the gate] is not safe.

Joyce’s House:  Hop’s finished checking the lights.  He explains to Joyce that they bugged his place, they took Will, Will’s body was a fake, and she was right all along.

Lucas emotes that El likely opened the gate and that she might be the monster!  Lucas and Mike fight and El launches Lucas into the air.  El flashes to the evil bathtub.  She goes to a totally black room with water in it that looks identical to the kill room in “Under the Skin”.  Under the Skin is a must watch!  She hears the commie talking and goes up to him.  He can’t see her.  While she is broadcasting the commie’s speech, she hears something horrible.  A monster using sonar.  She flees.  We return to the Junkyard and Lucas comes to and storms off.  El has also disappeared.

The Woods:  Nancy and Creeper come upon a dying deer.  They decide to put it down.  In an act of knight-like chivalry (AHEM), Creeper attempts to shoot the deer.  It is pulled into the darkness.  Creeper and Nancy split up to look for the deer.  Nancy sees a hole in a tree that is covered with evil slime and decides to go inside it alone and without any weapons because she’s really really smart.  Nancy enters the shadow world and sees the Monster crouched and feeding on the deer.  She attempts to back away and crushes a branch. The Monster turns and it’s face opens in four quadrants to reveal nothing but teeth and rage!

Roll Credits!

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Film Review: Kidz in the Wood (1996, dir. Neal Israel)


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I don’t know how I come across these things. This was a Disney Channel movie that was filmed in 1994, but aired in 1996 starring Dave Thomas. It also has Candace Cameron before the Bure. The quality is low because somebody filmed this off their TV. Luckily they did a great job. It looks decent and sounded just fine.

Dave Thomas plays a teacher who works at every troubled school from every 90s movie ever. You know this immediately because of the gang stereotypes that walk over.

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That’s the big problem with this movie: stereotypes. They are all over this thing. That, and Dave Thomas whipping a Native American. The drug trip is a little weird too.

We meet some of our other main characters such as one played by David Lascher who you might recognize from Hey Dude and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. He’s busy sexually harassing a blonde.

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Here’s Candace!

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Ah, 90s! She is a bit of a nymphomaniac in this. I am quite sure that at one point she asks if an egg frying on her tongue will turn on a guy. She’ll turn on a dime too once she gets a talking to by a female teacher who gives her horrible advice.

Next we get a guy who is a hypochondriac played by Alfonso Ribeiro.

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Bill Clinton then rears his head.

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Dave Thomas makes an attempt to connect with his students about history. This includes trying to get the students to remember Robert E. Lee because they have seen The Crow (1994) with Brandon Lee.

Next we meet the 90s strong female stereotype named Ms. Duffy.

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Two actors from Stargate SG-1 are in here too, but what it comes down to is that Dave Thomas wants to take his kids on an Oregon Trail type trip. When I was a kid we just had a computer game that did it for us. The principal tells Ms. Duffy (Julia Duffy) to go with them and record Dave Thomas screwing up so they can fire him despite his tenure. There we have our movie.

At the end of the day, these three are the best part of the movie other than the Native American they travel with during part of the film.

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They will say every single 90s saying you can imagine. I’m shocked they missed “that’s the way I like it” or “homie don’t play that.”

It’s off to the woods for these kidz. But first we get the mandatory hanging the kid out of the bus window bit.

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In my day, we just held up signs for truckers driving past that said “honk if you’re horny.”

They arrive and we meet the hippest Native American I have ever seen in a movie.

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This guy is awesome. He is played by Byron Chief-Moon.

Then we are off on the trail where Dave Thomas promptly gets himself flung off the wagon.

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During this whole thing we are getting a voiceover narration from Thomas because he has ancestors that are tied to this whole thing. It will barely have anything to do with anything. Then Dave Thomas whips the Indian.

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Now Dave Thomas decides it is time to eat a berry. That berry is a hallucinogen, which immediately sends him on a drug trip.

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He even starts seeing everyone as if they were in old times. This includes the Indian.

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This is immediately followed by morons on the wagon.

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This was made for television.

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Throughout the remainder of the film, the three gang guys think they are going to escape and go to Vegas.

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Around the campfire, Ms. Duffy wants to sing something by Snoop Snoopy Dog.

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She seems to think all rap is about guns and violence when she attempts to rap herself. I’d love to say that kind of thinking is only from the 80s and 90s, but I heard this same nonsense in a “documentary” called The Mask You Live In from 2015 that is currently on Netflix. But enough about propaganda.

Oh, and Candace Cameron is thinking about sex.

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She even gets into Hey Dude’s sleeping bag before he gets there.

vlcsnap-2016-09-04-16h33m41s359The next day Dave Thomas whips the Indian again.

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Then one more time for good measure before he realizes he doesn’t need the whip.

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After one of the wagons goes over in the water, the Indian goes on ahead where they are going to meet up eventually. This is done so that the teachers and the kids have their time to resolve their issues together.

Then Ms. Duffy gives Candace Cameron a sex talk. It amounts to stop being slutty and play hard to get instead. I’m pretty sure she actually uses the word “slutty”. Not exactly the right speech to give this girl. Maybe a simple, he’s obviously not interested, so you might want to move on would have done it. She can explore her sexuality as she pleases. She isn’t putting her or anyone else’s lives in danger.

Since all these people are idiots, they soon get themselves attacked by bees. That means it is time to put horse poop on Ms. Duffy.

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Even a skunk doesn’t want anything to do with her.

As all this goes on you get the typical stuff you would expect as the kids start coming around, the teachers start to like each other, and the three gang guys get scared by a bear.

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This leads right where you expect it to go.

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That’s right. The teachers fly off a cliff leaving the kids to think they are dead. I mean dead dead. They have no reason to believe they are alive. Here’s the cliff to drive home the point.

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Of course they caught a tree. I have to give Kidz in the Wood this.

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I actually believe that Dave Thomas and Julia Duffy are out in nature rather than Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in A Walk In The Woods (2015).

In the midst of all of this, the gang members found a map to hidden treasure, which they promptly light on fire with a magnifying glass.

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I mean a real fire.

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Eventually they all get back together and it all works out for the best. The kids return to class, pass, and graduate.

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Despite some of the inappropriate material and stereotypes, this was actually a reasonably enjoyable one of these kinds of movies. I’d recommend it.

Thank you to whomever this is that filmed their TV.

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Film Review: The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968, dir. Michael Elliott)


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I’m only human. I make mistakes. During the past week or so, Jedadiah has been venturing into the wide world of Internet Archive. I happened to spot “Sex Olympics” as I was glancing through things related to our site. I figured it had to be a movie, and found this one. It turned out that he had reviewed a game, and I had just came across a movie that happened to have “Sex Olympics” in the title. I might as well talk about it.

As is often the case, some things appeared before the title card.

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That’s when they throw the Olympic Rings at you, which turn into male and female gender symbols.

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Apparently, coming sooner than we think is three men for every two women locked together in…I don’t know…an orgy?

It then answers that question with one of the few sexual things you will actually see in this “Sex Olympics” movie.

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These legs belong to two people who are having a sexploitation scene. Soon they and another couple are interrupted because they are on camera. We then go to the main set of the movie: Production Pod.

That’s where we meet our main character.

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I’m sure he has a name, but I am just going with Eyebrows. I could have called him Crazy Eyes since he does those a lot, but that could cause confusion with this lady.

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Then we meet the most important characters in the film: the audience.

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They are not happy with the current programming. After discussing how disgusting the audience is, our crew traps the lady above in an isolation booth so she can do the Sports Sex Presents segment which airs “Tonite And Every Nite”.

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She says stuff that I couldn’t bring myself to care about because I was too distracted by the theme song called The Year of the Sex Olympics.

We are introduced to contestants who are in heats to compete in the Sex Olympics–such as these two.

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The other guy in the Production Pod seems to like what he sees when the sex starts.

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They say things with British accents so I have no real idea except that their program is not selling well with the audience. That’s when The Coordinator comes in and takes Eyebrows somewhere else. They get something phallic to suck on called on a “Brightener”. It is supposed to cancel out your appetite. I assume your appetite for experience rather than your need for food.

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The gist of their conversation is that people like to watch. People are perfectly happy to live vicariously through others. We also get foreshadowing in the form of dystopian talk about removing things like war. I also managed to catch the older guy with this face.

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Now we cut to The Hungry Angry Show.

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Today we just call this Twitter and comments sections.

This scene must have been very difficult. They had to have a Custard Pie Fight Arranger.

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Mr. Peacock also needed five Custard Pie Experts to get it just right.

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It goes without saying that the audience is still not enjoying the programming. Actually, I think they are trying to keep them like that because it keeps them peaceful.

The next important thing is the ArtSex.

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This is as good a time as any other to mention that this was a TV Movie. I say that now because you can see I had to black box her breasts. I guess that means in 1968 the BBC allowed bare breasts on television of some kind. This part lasts seconds as the camera pulls back to show us Auto-Chess that I swear uses the same font as the WOPR computer from WarGames (1983).

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It’s there so we can have the characters discussing philosophical topics. The guy who is standing at the Auto-Chess machine and directs the ArtSex show is getting rebellious. He wants to make images that make people feel again. This leads Eyebrows into a sex scene.

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Then we find out that the other guy’s images are actually stills. I think Eyebrows’ reaction here says it all.

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This is basically the movie. Eyebrows gets more and more convinced that he must have actual experience instead of just delivering “Cool the people. Cool the world” apathy till he does something about it. Here is one of Auto-Chess guy’s pictures.

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Now the big issue is to make them laugh, so we go to a sad food fight. No luck. The audience still doesn’t change from their apathy. That is, till this happens to the Auto-Chess guy.

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The Coordinator thinks they have had a breakthrough, but Eyebrows wonders if that means they are going to kill someone every night. Once again, Eyebrows provides us with great reactions shots.

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Then Eyebrows comes up with the idea of doing the TV Show Survivor. He doesn’t actually call it that, but that’s what it is. He, a woman, and a kid are going to go to what I swear is the set of Man of Aran (1934) to live a “real” life.

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It feels like it takes them forever to finally get to the island. They call it The Live-Life Show, which will air 24/7.

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Here is our set.

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Despite the idea being that they are supposed to be trying to survive alone, two people do show up. The Production Pod says something has to happen, so they made sure there would be a story of some sort in the way of challenges.

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Been too long since a reaction shot from Eyebrows, so here you go.

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Of course things go wrong, and we end up with another dead body as well as the woman being dead too.

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The audience loves it!

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The people in the Production Pod also burst into laughter. Roll credits.

There you have The Year of the Sex Olympics. It is a cautionary tale that things like the Olympics and the coming Golden Age of Porn would replace actual experience. In other words, reality television will take over people’s lives, and leave them with nothing but an apathetic existence that may be peaceful, but isn’t life any more. My verdict is that it was surprisingly accurate in its’ prediction of the future of television that expanded to the Internet while not being so predictive of how it affected human behavior. People really haven’t become apathetic, but swung to the opposite with outrage culture and a cacophony of participation/sharing. Sometimes we get outraged over the dumbest things imaginable. During the past year or so my Twitter feed has been filled with people throwing custard pie at each other over a movie about people shooting imaginary things at other imaginary things. However, I never once saw outrage over the poster of God’s Not 2 (2016) equating imaginary persecution of Christians in schools with the Holocaust.

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Still, it is an amazing time to live in.

Feel free to interpret The Year of the Sex Olympics as you see fit. They definitely saw things coming that we have with us today, but there are certainly different ways you can tie it to the current state of the world.

The Year of the Sex Olympics is worth seeing as one of those Twilight Zone type social commentary movies disguised as sci-fi. Just don’t expect any sex. The title is bait.

Music Video of the Day: Hella Good by No Doubt (2002, dir by Mark Romanek)


Hi everyone!  Lisa Marie here!

Val is usually the one who does our music video of the day feature but she’s taking a few very deserved and well-earned days off so, for the next few days, I’m going to be filling in for her!

So, I figured I’d start things off with this 2002 video of No Doubt’s Hella Good!  There’s no big reason behind why I decided to go with this video, beyond the fact that I really love the song and it was directed by one of my favorite filmmakers, Mark Romanek!  This was filmed over three days in Long Beach, California and Romanek based it on a Vogue fashion shoot from the 1990s, one that featured the models on wave runners!

As for me, I’m feeling hella good so let’s just keep on dancing…

View From Window At Le Gras and Boulevard du Temple


I was on vacation all last week and I devoted most of that time to my greatest passion, photography!  While I was studying the history of photography, I came across the oldest surviving photograph of a real-world scene.  This was taken by Nicéphore Niépce, the French inventor who is usually credited as being the father of photography.  View from the Window at Le Gras was taken in either 1826 or 1827, from the window of his country estate.

Here it is:

First Plate

That might not look like much but here’s the enhanced version:

First Photo

If the image looks strange, that’s because it was done with at least an 8 hour exposure, meaning that the sun moved across the sky while the picture was being taken.  (Some historians think that the picture was actually taken over the course of several days.)  This is what most photographic historians think the view actually looked like:

First Scene

Finally, take a look at the picture below.

800px-Boulevard_du_Temple_by_Daguerre

It’s called Boulevard du Temple and it was taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838.  Do you see the two men in the lower corner of the picture?  It’s believed that one man is polishing the boots of another.

800px-Boulevard_du_Temple_by_Daguerre

It’s believed that, even if it was by accident, this is the earliest known photograph to include people!

From these humble beginnings, came everything.