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4/13/2015

'Lost River' Review





For quite awhile I was eagerly awaiting a day when I would drag all my friends to the movies to see the movie  Lost River which was directed by Hollywood hunk Ryan Gosling and features the acting talent of none other than the Doctor himself, Matt Smith.  The Cannes film festival unfortunately changed all that. The film was mercilessly attacked by critics. So much hate was directed at it that theaters all across America decided not to release it. Today I finally got the opportunity to watch on pay per view.
  Lost River is not a simple movie. Perhaps this is why so many simple minded critics did not find it to their liking. This movie is about the struggle to survive and to develop a new identity. It's about the predator and the prey and trying to find out which one you are. It's about control and weakness and how hard it can be living in a world that would like very much to see you tear yourself apart for its viewing pleasure.
   Now that I've touched on some of the themes I should probably address the actual plot of the movie. According to IMDb in Lost River  "a single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town." This led me to believe for quite some time that I was going to be watching something with strong elements of a traditional fantasy film.  To clarify this film is about a woman (Christina Hendricks)  and her two sons who are struggling to keep their house. The woman is offered a job working at a nightclub for fetishists. She accepts the offer and begins doing performances where she appears to mutilate herself onstage. Her oldest son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) breaks into abandoned homes to take copper wiring. This lands him in trouble with Bully (played by Matt Smith) who has claimed the city as his own and protects his claim with extreme violence.  The city itself is called Lost River because of the nearby river which was created by  literally sinking a town.
 I'll admit that as a huge Matt Smith fan I'm already predisposed to having a positive view of anything he's in but I assure you that even though Smith's character is vital to the plot the movie has a lot more to offer than just him. The cinematography is beautiful. Every shot feels like a work of art. The character Rat (Saoirse Ronan)  remarks at one point that the whole town feels like its underwater. As a viewer I can attest that is true. Theirs a heavy, dark and sort of breathless atmosphere.
The character of Bully is a very relatable young man. He wants to help his mother by providing for his family. At the same time he feels resentful of her for not being able to hold everything together. He's desperate to find some way to fix things and prove that he's a man. His friend and love interest Rat is a bit of a wiser counterpart to him. She knows about the town's past from her grandmother and she can think on her feet. Rat's called rat because of her pet rat Nick, Without giving too much away let me just say that there is a very darkly sexual scene between Matt Smith's character and Nick.
   The mother in this movie is a complicated character as well. She wants to what's right for her children and she's willing to sacrifice a lot to make that happen. At the same time she wants to preserve the past. She fights to fights to keep her family in a dilapidated home surrounded by what can only be called ruins. Even as the world around her crumbles apart she refuses to admit that there's really nothing she can do. This is where Dave the banker (Ben Mendelsohn) comes in. Dave offers her work at a nightclub for fetishists which he started. He tells her its' good money so she takes the offer. Let me just say that this does not turn out great. There's a dancing scene later in the film which is very reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs.
  Bully (Matt Smith) is one fucked up motherfucker. He's equal parts Alex from A Clockwork Orange, Tyler Durden from Fight Club and every schoolyard bully from an eighties movie. Whether he's shouting about his muscles or breaking someone's neck he's fun to watch every second. Bully is a villain's villain. He serves as a metaphor for corruption and cruelty which can come when even small amounts of power are left unchecked. Bully is a king. His thrown is a cheap blue chair mounted to his car.
   Speaking of the similarities between Matt Smith's character and Alex from A Clockwork Orange, the two films have something else in common. They both have really haunting and beautiful soundtracks. Lost River is filled with ominous and powerful instrumentals and Rat (Saoirse Ronan) has a fantastic singing voice. The music only adds to the overall enjoyableness of the film.
       I would like to summarize by saying Lost River is a complex and enjoyable film which is often dark and creepy. It has a lot to say about society and what people will do to get by. It's an awesome movie and the critics can suck Matt Smith's dick. I hope to see Ryan Gosling continue directing in the future. 
           For anyone who may be interested, here are Matt Smith's muscles.

4/09/2015

13 Steps to Building a Better Blog






   Greetings my fellow internet person. It's good to figuratively see you again. As you may well know, I am a relatively successful blogger. Today I would just like to talk for a little bit about how one such as yourself could create a cool blog or in fact build a better blog. Let me take you through thirteen possible ideas for improving your blog. The Doctors (William Hartnell through Peter Capaldi) will be helping. I understand that if you have no interest in Doctor Who or blogging this post is unlikely to appeal to you. Here's a link to another post.
http://nosaelg.blogspot.com/







1. Have a clear idea in mind.





   When I started Sick Sentience (which was called When You Give a Slug a Lobotomy) I really knew only one thing. That is that I wanted to have a blog. I didn't really have a clear picture in m head as to how I wanted this blog to be. All I wanted was to write and be read. This was not smart thinking on my part. Yes it should all come down to passion but we need a roadmap if we're going to get anywhere.



  Throughout the early days of this blog there was a massive shift in quality between posts and the focus was completely unclear. We had stuff about cowboys and poetry alongside the general nerdy stuff we are known for. I don't mean to say that this writing was  bad but it definitely wasn't relevant. If you want people to read your blog you have to provide some kind of consistency. Like An Unearthly Child set the stage for all that would follow you must create somethingn which is unique and then more or less stick to the formula. You may deviate occasionally. What's important is that your audience has a clear idea about what they are getting from you.













2. Mix things up a bit.





     When after three years William Hartnell left the role of the Doctor it was Patrick Troughton who was called upon to replace him. You may be wondering how this is relevant to blogging. The answer is simple. As a blogger you have only one fundamental. You must keep your readers interested. While it is certainly important to have some vision for how your blog will always be it is arguably equally important to mix things up every now and then. This could mean doing interviews or posting web comics. This could even mean a new posting schedule. Whatever it is, it should be done in such a way to keep the interest of longtime readers and make your blog more accessible to new ones.











3. Get help.





The internet is a big place. It's hard to get much done without help. While I'm not saying it's impossible to find a large audience without reaching out I can quite confidently say it is improbable. A great tool for any blogger is the internet's ability to connect people. You can use this to your advantage by asking friends to share your blog through social media or even hiring a company to help market your writing. Much like the third Doctor working with UNIT you can greatly benefit from these relationships. After all you don't have a working TARDIS.













4. Be different.





 Tom Baker is to this day consistently at or near the top of lists ranking the Doctors. This is largely because of two facts. These are his long tenure as the Doctor and his Doctor's sheer eccentric charm. A few of the most notable things about this Doctor were his wide eyes, thick curly hair and long and colorful scarf. He marked a major change from the previous three Doctor who (though they were each unique) seemed to be cut out of the same old man cloth.  It's because Tom Baker's weirdness that he is remembered. If you want to gain any kind of following you must be remembered.  To do this you need to find your own unique and use it. When you really stand out in a positive way people will start to take note. Now go grab a jelly baby and get writing.










  5. Be passionate.









 In the multi Doctor short "Time Crash" David Tennant's "tenth" Doctor remarks that Peter Davison's fifth Doctor was the first young Doctor. On the face of it this a simple fact. Davison was the youngest actor to play the Doctor until Matt Smith's casting. But the fifth Doctor didn't just appear young physically. He had a largely youthful and heroic attitude which was very different from those who went before him. This Doctor was about adventure and a love of little beautiful moments. If you're going to stick with your blog and make it better you need to be passionate and dedicated to what you're doing. You can help to grow your readership by posting high quality pieces frequently and if at all possible on a schedule.  If worst come to worst to worst you can just eat your celery and die while the camera focuses in on boobs.






6. Don't...................






    I'm not going to get into the sixth Doctor having a heart of gold or how he's been great in Big Finish of how awesome "Vengeance on Varos" is. It's a well established fact that Colin Baker is the least popular Doctor. The following is a list of things not to do.


1. Don't write posts full of random popular search terms.

2 Don't write a whole post just to tell a stupid joke that isn't very funny.

3 Don't publish stuff that's completely unrelated to  your niche.

4 Don't forget to post for long periods of time.

5 Don't post  many posts that are just about your blog.

6 Don't engage in arguments in your comments section.

7 Don't publish posts that have no meat to them.


7. Keep them interested.






Once you've gotten your readers attention the real challenge is keeping it. Sylvester McCoy took over when Doctor Who was less popular than it had ever been before. His Doctor tried to escape the unpleasant shadow of the Colin Baker years by reintroducing and expanding on the dark mystery of the Doctor. While you don't necessarily need to blow up any planets in order to keep your readers you do need to stay interesting. To do this you've got to provide high quality content which appeals to the people already reading your blog. To do this you should look at your most popular posts and try to produce more of the same ilk while at the same time seeking to retain originality and the element of surprise.










8. Make a strong impression.









    Paul McGann's originally a ninety six minute movie to show what he could do as the Doctor. In the end he would get another seven minutes on screen and countless audio stories to expand his take on the character. Still the public remembers him most for his first appearance. When you're running a blog what you need to remember is that you are not writing a book. Every post you write may be the first post someone reads. You've got to hook them and get them wanting more. You can't rely elements like nostalgia. You have to be fresh and in their face.









 9. Look through old posts.






 The war Doctor was retroactively introduced as the ninth incarnation of the character. His role was ultimately of vital importance. What you can take from this is that sometimes when moving forward it can be helpful to look back. You can edit old post to make them better and share posts which have gained a new relevance due to recent events.







10.  Reaffirm your identity.





  I've mentioned above that you need to stick to a core niche and structure for your blog. When you deviate you should immediately either remove the new material or publish a post which is more what your audience has come to expect. You need to constantly work to create a recognizable "brand."







11. Leave them wanting more.




  The key is to get them hooked, present what you want to tell them and then to rap things up without wasting too many words. This will leave them wanting more and make it more likely for them to return. This works particularly well when you are writing a series of posts.








   12. Be cool.





When I say "cool" I mean it in the social sense. Many large blogs have thriving communities which have grown up around them. In order to help encourage and accelerate this growth you can try to start conversations with your readers and ask that they comment their opinions. It might help to  think of yourself as a very groovy host. Bowties always help.






13. Fix typos.



Nobogy wunts to reed something that disnt make any cents. You should to try to present ideas as clearly as possible. This means spelling things correctly and the correct use of capitalization and punctuation. Everybody makes mistakes. I do so way more than I like to admit. The key is to try to produce typo free posts and then to correct any typos which have made it past publication.


  If you follow all this advice you  may very well have a much more successful blog than I do. I'm a lazy sixteen year old geek.



  Feel free to leave any of your thoughts in the comments and to follow this blog in order to see future posts. You can also like Sick Sentience on Facebook.





4/05/2015

Extraordinary Gentlemen and Invisible Rapists


  Our lives are collections of memories which shape our perception of reality and create who we are. Much of our understanding of self comes from our understanding of the world. We have ideas about what kind of people are good people and what kind of people are bad people. We have  preferred foods and sexual partners. These preferences sometimes go by the name of bias. To quote the late great  Terry Pratchett "TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED." This is a quote from his fantasy book The Hogfather. In this book he argues that human ideas about reality may not necessarily be true but are still valid and important. Fiction is key to living with reality.

  I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I've recently been reading the first graphic novel in Alan Moore's series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I have for years been a fan of the film adaption (which stars Sean Connery).  Let me be clear. The book is definitely in this case far better than movie. It's not just that certain details were omitted in the film. The movie and book are fundamentally different. The primary change I wish to focus on today is the fact that the invisible man in the original comic is not so much the likable criminal that I saw in the movie but more of a shallow, rapist type. Yep I said rapist. Within two pages of his introduction it had already been established that he had raped at least five young women under the guise of "The Holy Spirit."


    My point here is that we take in these perceptions of how things are and we internalize them into our worldview. When things suddenly change it creates confusion and it can come as a bit of a shock. Whether its Bill Cosby or the Invisible Man these things have a very similar effect. Growing up is seeing things that were hidden behind invisible doors. There is more to our world than meets the eye and as the reality in which we live is revealed the reality in which we think we live changes.