Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I actually have come to the conclusion that the golden rule — at least when summarized as “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” — is part of the problem with religion, and is a bad rule that should be thrown out.

Do unto others as others as I would have others do unto me?

What if I enjoy being whipped? Does that mean I should whip others?
Or, closer to home, most Christians would love someone coming to their door to talk to them about God, therefore, the golden rule dictates they should go to other people’s doors to talk about god. After all, if I want my soul saved, I should want your soul saved.

Funk dat! The golden rule operates under the idea that symmetrical reciprosity is some great ethical ideal… But really that’s just simplistic thinking. Christian Scientists not allowing their child medical care are, after all, operating under the golden rule: They don’t want their souls to go to hell by using Evil Science, so they are treating others — their children — the same way.

The golden rule is full of flaws; I’ll leave it to the commentators to come up with other examples against it. (But it only takes one.)

I’ll take the pagan “An’ it harm none, do what ye will”, over the Chrsitian golden rule any day…. In order to not harm someone, sometimes you have to treat them differently than you would want to be treated. It’s a much more nuanced and realistlic ethical soundbite.

And yet another way in which Pagans > Christians. But then the Christians killed and forcefully converted them all. After all, they were just treating them the way they’d want to be treated: Led to the Proper God.

[NOTE: I didn’t quite have the wording of the rule right, so I updated it based on comments. However, it doesn’t change my stance on it.] (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] [Wikipedia page] [article about the Bunny Man legend and where to go in Virginia to be somewhere the Bunny Man has been sighted] I was quite disappointed with this movie when I first saw it. It’s rated on IMDB as the 129th best film ever. I Still gave it 3/5 stars on Netflix for keeping me entertained, but my hopes were the extra 20 minutes (and other changes) in the Director’s Cut would help reduce the negative issues I associated with this film. They definitely did. I pretty consistently like all director’s cuts better than all original cuts. The director tends to know best. Especially when he’s also the writer.

HAIKU REVIEW (by Carolyn): Men in bunny suits
Can look and sound psychotic…
Are you that crazy?

PEOPLE: Directed and written by Richard Kelly. Starring Jake (and Maggie) Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone (also in Life As A House). With Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, and Seth Rogan (barely recognizable in a minor non-comedic role; this was his film feature debut).

QUIRKS: Time travel, tangent (alternate) universes, sacrifice, teenage love, social awkwardness, mental psychosis, surrealism, confusingness, motivational speakers, social outcasts, Virginia.

VISUALS: Lots of surreal visual effects. No cavalcade of special effects, but simply a good visual style to support the twisted movie.

MORALS: There is definitely a powerful message to be made about self-sacrifice.

BAD STUFF: Well: I kind of didn’t really like it that much the first time around. I was very disappointed by the confusing ending, which made total sense this time. Was it simply that this was my 2nd time, or did the Director’s Cut changes change the feel of the movie? I’m going to have to go with a little bit from column A, and a little bit from column B.

SOUNDTRACK: A good soundtrack full of lots of 1980s songs that we know and are fans of. The movie takes place in 1988, and the music really helps set the stage for the time it’s filmed in.

DIRECTOR’S CUT ISSUES: (see “alternate versions” IMDB section)

1) The Watership Down scenes were cut in the original theatrical release. Apparently Frank the “Bunny Man” is more about Watership Down than the local Bunny Man Virginia legend. There is a huge quote (listed in the IMDB quotes section) that shows us even more of Donnie’s personality. There’s really no reason to hide this scene from us. Especially where they compare Fiver (the rabbit)’s visions to Donnie’s visions. Having just recently re-watched Watership Down, this is of course an important parallel!

2) The opening song is changed from Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” (which I don’t know or care for) to INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart”. The reason? Intellectual property laws and the RIAA’s insane greed. The director couldn’t afford the song he wanted, so a different song was used. Echo & The Bunnymen for a movie involving a Bunny Man is appropriate on paper, but I know when me & Carolyn broke out singing “Never Tear Us Apart” — a song I actually own — that this was a better song. Especially if it was the writer/director’s intention all along.

In fact, intellectual property laws changed a lot of subtle things in this movie. Donnie was supposed to talk about masturbating to Alyssa Milano, but instead had to use Christina Applegate, because they could not “secure the rights to reference her that way”. Uh…. Huh? I need rights to talk about a public figure? I need rights to talk about a private figure? I can talk about masturbating to whoever the hell I want — why would it being a film change that at all? Applegate’s way hotter than Milano anyway.

Similarly, at the movie theatre they were supposed to see C.H.U.D., but couldn’t secure the rights. Sam Raimi stepped in and let them use The Evil Dead free of charge. Is it any coincidence that I think Applegate>Milano, and Evil Dead>C.H.U.D.? Maybe I’m just drawn towards creations of people who aren’t intellectual property assholes.

Or maybe not: The Dance Routine was performed to Pet Shop Boys’s “West End Girls” — the first song I ever heard on a Walkman in my life. But they had to replace it with a shitty Duran Duran song instead.

3) Another good song removed from the original movie: The Church‘s “Under The Milky Way” being played on the radio as Donnie rides with his dad. His dad flips it off, Donnie flips it back on. Another incredible song from that era that captures Donnie’s personality and feeling quite well. I know, because I was a fan of that song by 1990. I’ve seen The Church in concert, including in 2009 a few months after watching this movie!

4) Donnie’s poem about Frank was removed from the original, as were the police checking his name off as a suspect.

5) All the excerpts from “The Philosophy Of Time Travel” are back in the movie. These were missing, greatly lending to just how confusing the movie is. This helps make it clear that time travel is truly the central theme of this movie. Tangent universes, manipulated dead, manipulated living, artifacts — nothing is directly explained in the original, leaving the viewer to guess unnecessarily, turning mythos into mystery. No doubt this makes people who understood it the first time feel more special, but obfuscation is always lost on those who aren’t technically advanced in a subject.

6) More characterization of Donnie’s parents. The dinner scene where they joke about being divorced.

7) The revelation that Donnie’s medicine [highlight for spoilers] is actually just a placebo. You see, he’s not really crazy. The pills don’t do anything. He sees his visions for a reason. A valid reason. What happened in the movie is “real”. Mythos, not mystery….

8) The entire ending chapter. You see all the manipulated living waking up from the dream of the tangent universe. The child molester is crying. Gretchen now seems to recognize Donnie’s mom even though they [now] never met. Even if what happened ended up not happening, it still happend. It was real. Paradoxes occur with time travel. Deal with it.

9) According to sources, the sound mix is much improved in the director’s cut as well. Which is great, because I have to turn movies up very loud to be able to understand them anyway.

CONCLUSION: I rated the original cut 3/5 stars on Netflix, and a charitable 6/10 on IMDB (a “generic pass”). Watching this director’s cut has elevated my rating to 4 stars (4.5 really), and 8/10 (8.5 really) on IMDB. It’s tempting to round up and rate this 5 stars and 9/10 on IMDB.

Best of all, this movie finally lives up to all the recommendations given to me to watch it. I had several disparate people specifically tell me that *I* would particularly like this movie. I was disappointed when this wasn’t the truth. But now, it is totally redeemed!

RECOMMENDATION: Definitely check out the director’s cut! It’s soooooooooooooooooooooo much better!

1) Frank: 28 days… 6 hours… 42 minutes… 12 seconds. That… is when the world… will end.

2) Gretchen: My mom had to get a restraining order against my stepdad. He has emotional problems.
Donnie: Oh, I have those too! What kind of emotional problems does your dad have?
Gretchen: He stabbed my mom four times in the chest.
Donnie: Oh.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: A lot of people did not rate both versions. Parthena loved the director’s cut. Christian, Becky S, Benj, and Tatiana loved both cuts. Ian loved the original cut but only liked the director’s cut. Susan & Christie loved the normal cut. Jordan really liked both cuts. Scott and Eric M really liked the director’s cut. Nobody rated either cut below 3 stars, and most people rated this 4-5 stars. (more…)