there’s no one in here but the fighters

This weekend media blow drew the black marble:

Battlestar Galactica: I have been greatly impressed by the depth of writing this season. You can always count on BSG to throw in plot twists and sudden traumatic developments. That doesn’t take much in the way of skill. But the last couple of episodes – particularly “Escape Velocity” and “Faith” – have really floored me. Little details, like the offhand mention of the “Mithras cult” in the former or the understated symbolism with Anders in the latter, show me that the writers know what they’re doing.

The Office: Back up to speed in a strong way. I’m pretty happy with them. “… and then you said, Pam, Pam, Pam, and then you sneezed in my tea, but you said not to worry because it was just allergies.”

30 Rock: I think the shortened season hurt these guys more than anyone else I watch regularly. The last few episodes I saw seemed rushed and heavy on exposition. The penultimate episode – with the mystery sandwich shop, and Floyd’s random visits – felt so weak I worried that I’d recorded the wrong show. But the season finale won me over again. “There’s not actually a leak. We’ve done a study.”

Redbelt: So a David Mamet movie about jiu-jitsu instructors draws me in like black tar heroin, and I fulfilled my obligation this weekend. As with all Mamet movies, you get the impression that the intricately constructed ride would fall apart if it went off-road: one plot twist too many. Also, as usual, the lone women in this script must pay for the sins of their entire race in Mamet’s eyes, leaving only the steadfast men to defend principles, yadda yadda. That being acknowledged, Redbelt still shines better than any other movie you’ll see about martial arts, sports or Hollywood this year.

Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) owns a small jiu-jitsu dojo in southern Los Angeles. A chance encounter in a bar results in him saving the life of drunken action movie star Chet Frank (Tim Allen). This earns him an invitation into the world of high-budget movie production. The movie parallels the glamorous world of mixed martial arts tournaments – a world from which Terry deliberately abstains, despite much enticement – and the quiet tradition of self-defense, exemplified in Terry’s instruction of the timid and high-strung Laura (Emily Mortimer).

I may discuss some spoilers for all of the above in the comments, so: proceed with caution.

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3 Responses

  1. I didn’t know Redbelt was about jiu jitsu! That makes me potentially interested in seeing it. You recommend? Is it full of senseless gratuitous violence? ‘Cause I usually don’t like that.

  2. Katie – like most Mamet films, Redbelt is primarily about people scamming each other. The jiu-jitsu’s almost incidental – it makes more exciting stakes than financial management (The Spanish Prisoner) or real estate leads (Glengarry Glen Ross). It’s no more violent than the Tuesday night class, so you’ll be fine.

  3. I enjoyed this movie and felt the overall theme was refreshing. A real hero without the vices of most our modern day movie heros…
    I felt the martial art of jiu jitsu was a good way to portray the character’s strong sense of honor.

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