30 Days – Minimum Wage

Morgan Spurlock is back after the Oscars with a new project called 30 Days on the FX Network. He has taken the 30 days on McDonald’s food and transfered the idea to 30 days in various other situations. The first episode is about living for 30 days on minimum wage in Columbus, Ohio.

Morgan Splurlock said he wanted to change reality TV into what it truly is: the documentary. I hate reality TV, and I avoid it as much as possible, but if reality TV turned into true documentaries than reality TV will gain one more viewer. I am glad the FX Network is willing to support documentary work on television.

The first episode features Morgan Spurlock and his fiancée living for one month on minimum wage in Columbus, Ohio. I expected Morgan to complain about how he could not do the fun things any more, but I was wrong. With both of them working above minimum wage jobs they came out of the 30 days with more than negative $600 in debt. It was heartbreaking to watch the other people in Columbus struggling to get by. If Morgan had a hard time with just him and his fiancée just think what it is like to have kids in a similar situation.

The low income meant they were unable to buy anything extra beyond the basics. They were never able to go out and have fun because most fun things cost money. For the first ten days or so they had no furniture in their apartment. Their financial situation caused tension and anger, and after two trips to the hospital they no longer had any control of their finances.

The show really opened my eyes (and hopefully the eyes of congress) to the problem of such a low minimum wage in this country. Supersize Me was good, but 30 Days: Minimum Wage was better. It was not as entertaining but it did a much better job of showing the problem from a minimum wage worker’s perspective. Without living the problem it would be hard to convince people there was such a serious one. Good job Morgan, keep up the good work.

War of the Worlds

Two movie companies, one of the best known Directors and best known Actor combine forces for a modern remake of Orson Wells War of the Worlds. I did not initially know what to expect after hearing reviews both pan the movie and reviews that said it is Spielberg’s greatest masterpiece. The only way to find out was to watch it myself.

The special effects in War of the Worlds were, for the most part, amazing. The external and internal locations were also excellent; nothing seemed thrown together or overly digital. I did feel the alien tripod vehicles were at least a partial rip off of Half Life 2’s Stryders, or perhaps Half Life 2 ripped them off from the original War of the Worlds? Either way you can’t deny the fact that Speilberg’s War of the Worlds had the booming horn noise which was prominently used in Half Life 2 when the stryders show up. It is not a big deal, I just thought they could have come up with something different to avoid seeming to similar to the HL2 story and visuals.

Continue reading “War of the Worlds”

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

This violent romantic comedy stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie playing Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Two assassins, with their marriage on the rocks, look to save it by going to a marriage counselor. The problem is they don’t know their spouse is also an assassin. Their jobs, families and even cooking are all a lie setting the stage for some serious-non-serious domestic violence.

I enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Smith as brainless entertainment. The filmmakers took a standard romantic comedy and dumped some violence on top of it. Unlike most romatic comedies the movie brushes over how the relationship started and throws the audience into the relationship five years later. The characters are faced with making what started as a spur of the moment encounter into a life-long relationship.

There is a lot of subtle comedy, especially between the couple, which helps make a somewhat serious subject (marital problems) lighter. Brad Pitt plays a slightly-too-sure of himself assassin who is cavalier in his actions and decisions at times, but still seems to get the job done. Angelina Jolie’s character is much more calculating and careful creating friction between the two, but more importantly helping eliminate the dull married life they had lived before.

Vince Vaughn adds comic relief, but his character seems to burn out and nearly disappears by the end of the movie. I like Vaughn in similar supporting roles such as Old School, but I wouldn’t have missed him or his mother’s jokes if they weren’t in the movie. Speaking of the end of the movie, it had a “what do we do next” feel to it. I get the sense there was something else, maybe even a less uplifting ending that was left out leaving the movie to end with mild fluff and little flare.

Despite the weak ending and predictable story it moved fast, was enjoyable, and easy to sit through.

The Machinist

The Machinist stars Christian Bale’s skeleton as Trevor Reznik. Trevor hasn’t truly slept in over a year, and from the looks of it, has hardly eaten too. Bale dropped his weight down to about 120lbs for this role, and apparently wanted to get thinner but the movie people wouldn’t let him. Unless you are an Olson twin, Hilton or other anorexic/bulimic nimrod, you’ll agree with them after watching this movie. Bale spends a lot of time without his shirt on, so you have ample time to make sure he has all his ribs that his spine has the correct shape and curve to it. Reznik works as a machinist in some factory – I don’t recall what they are making, but it isn’t terribly important. His social life consists of visits to a prostitute played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and visiting an airport diner where he orders pie and coffee but apparently doesn’t eat them. He doesn’t really get along with the people at work, and an accident on the job only strains his relationship with coworkers even more. Reznik is walking around with something very heavy on his shoulders, and he apparently has no idea what it is. Continue reading “The Machinist”