In the last few days the weather has forced me to fall back in like with indoor training, so I’m joining Schmalz in blogging the last bits of my winter training, accompanied by Netflix’s limited instant streaming catalog.
Like Schmalz, I’m using ithlete (I bought mine, told him about it, they sent him one for free), and on this morning I logged one of my higher scores (which is still a bad day by Schmalz standards), and I painlessly flew through the 102 minutes of this ride. The first part of the ride was spent on gathering data for my TruTrainer review, and resembled a mini Conconi of increasing one minute intervals. Once that was done with I spun away until the movie ended.
For me, a good movie for the rollers isn’t necessarily a good movie. I’m looking for something that’s interesting enough to make me forget that I’m miserable, and easy enough to follow even if I can’t devote my complete attention to it. In other words, something with a little action, an interesting plot, and not too cerebral. Because I have a taste for sick Japanese and Korean movies, one of my Netflix recommendations was ‘Antichrist’. The poster looked intriguing, the length was just right, so off I went.
As soon as the film started the name Lars von Trier popped up and I realized I was fucked. This was to be no mindless distraction. Straight away a baby falls to his death while his parents have graphic sex (read: porn body double penetration closeups). Now I’m hoping my wife doesn’t walk by and think I’m training to porn.
The rest of the film deals with the husband (Willem Dafoe), a therapist, arrogantly attempting to treat his wife’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) grief. Before long things get weird and then the torture and self mutilation starts.
I imagine this must’ve been a polarizing movie, people probably found it either brilliant or walked out in horror. I found it difficult to take but very interesting, and the time flew by. DaFoe and Gainsbourg were beyond courageous and the imagery was unforgettable. But I can’t declare it a good roller movie ‘cause graphic sex and mutilation is just too heavy for rollers, and it’s a film that deserves the viewer’s undivided attention. And no way can you watch this if you have kids that might walk by – there isn’t enough therapy for the trauma.
2/11/13 Boarding Gate
I lost the weekend to sledding and tennis, so I regained the 8 ithlete points I lost from Friday’s ride. The goal today was to ride hard enough to drop the score again and earn an easy day Tuesday. I randomly assigned myself two five minute intervals followed by two two minute intervals, then spun away the rest of the movie. Another 82 minutes.
I have to confess that I chose this movie because Asia Argento is on the poster in lingerie, heels, and holding a gun, but it turned out to be super lame. All sorts of intrigue is hinted at, but nothing’s connected and there’s no payoff. It’s like a box of jigsaw pieces culled from a bunch of different puzzles. There’s lots of stuff going on but nothing is related and all the plotlines are dead ends.
<spoiler>The movie is about a girlfriend/prostitute of an American businessman in Paris who may or may not love him but she might really be in love with a Chinese businessman and then someone gets killed and the girl has to run away to Hong Kong but the people that were supposed to help her might want to kill her but they might want to help her again and what the fuck the lady from Sonic Youth speaks Cantonese and holy shit it’s the end what just happened we hardly spent any time at a boarding gate.</spoiler>
The lack of a coherent plot would be ok if there was more character development, but Michael Madsen plays the same Michael Madsen character he always plays, and Asia Argento is much better but she’s the noble prostitute who doesn’t want money and come on guys how many times are we going to do this. There are French and Chinese characters as well but their dialogue isn’t subtitled so maybe they were talking about Tim Tebow’s next move.
Time passed quickly enough for me. I kept thinking I was watching a thriller so I hung on for things to resolve and by the time I realized they wouldn’t the ride was over. It doesn’t hurt that Argento is eminently watchable.
2/12/13 13 Assassins
Yesterday’s ride must’ve been pretty good ‘cause I dropped 17 points, so today’s plan was to ride easily for two hours, the length of 13 Assassins. At this point Schmalz would add that you can’t spell assassins without ass and more ass.
13 Assassins is directed by the sick and demented Takashi Miike, and if you don’t believe me go watch ‘Audition’ and ‘Ichi the Killer’ and then curl up in a ball. I wasn’t sure what to expect but 13 Assassins turned out to be a straight up samurai action flick.
Structurally it’s quite similar to Seven Samurai: a villain is identified, a hero is enlisted, the hero recruits a team, a clown wannabe samurai is the last to join, the team travels to the battle site and prepares, the enemy arrives and there’s a showdown. In this case a sadistic warlord (Naritsugu) is on the verge of attaining too much power and a samurai (Shinzaemon) is asked to assassinate him as he embarks on a journey home.
<spoiler>Now I have to go off on a rant. The best thing about the battle scenes in the Seven Samurai is that a clear strategy is laid out in advance. The lead samurai draws a map of the village showing where the confrontations will take place, and keeps a running headcount of the bandits they pick off. They engage in little skirmishes until the numbers are manageable, and then they lure the enemy in for one final showdown. By the time the battle is won it’s perfectly clear why they triumphed.
13 Assassins proceeds this way for a while. Shinzaemon skillfully diverts the traveling party until they have no choice but to pass through a town, then lays traps throughout the town. Once Naritsugu’s party arrives they ambush them with explosives, flaming bulls (no joke), and arrows from rooftops. But just when you think they’re going to do the job with superior smarts and strategy, they drop their bows and jump down to fight with swords, even though they have plenty of arrows left and they’re still outnumbered 10 to 1.
The rest of the action falls into typical action movie clichés. The good guys fight ten bad guys at once, and the bad guy standing directly behind the good guy never does anything, and when one of the good guys bites it everyone calls timeout so he can die melodramatically while making soulful eye contact with a compatriot. When they finally win (duh) there’s no reason for it other than the fact that good guys always kill 20 or 30 bad guys with ease in action movies.</spoiler>
The first hour of this movie is pretty slow moving. The team isn’t assembled until the 50 minute mark, and the recruiting scenes aren’t very interesting at all (the recruiting process in the Seven Samurai is every bit as compelling as the final battle). The final battle kicks off with 45 minutes to go and it gets easier to watch, though the final showdown starts with 15 minutes to go and I couldn’t help but wonder how they were going to drag the inevitable out for sooooo long.
Outdoor riding today. I got 12 ithlete points back for staying under 200 watts yesterday, so I flogged myself as well as I could with four five minute intervals and two one minute all out efforts. We’ll see how many points I drop tomorrow.
Got movie suggestions? It has to be on Netflix's instant stream service. Let me know.