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Movies! (Violence For Money Edition)

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie: I keep stumbling upon new-to-me Ghost in the Shell material. There are perfectly reasonable explanations for this, but I choose to believe it's due to a side effect of the virus lodged in the e-brain the virus is designed to keep me from knowing I have. I also choose to believe the Ghost in the Shell memeplex is the slowly complexifying digital incarnation of an asymptotic attractor in techno-psychological phase space. Motoko Aramaki doesn't need to be real, in any sense, in order to engineer herself into existing; she is inevitable.

About the movie itself: a competent, enjoyable episode during the Major's time between Unit 501 and Section 9. I very much like how she set her unit on her own — it's *her* private army, and will remain so even after it nominally gets to work for Aramaki. It makes her post-Puppeteer an even smoother continuation of her usual MO.

Line Walker: Hong Kong thriller movie that follows up a TV series of the same name I'm currently wondering if I'm too spoiled for to watch. Like many of its type, it's basically it's own AO3 section. I enjoyed it.

John Wick: A rewatch. I fast-forwarded past the dog thing. The movie's not as spare as I remembered it (you mostly remember the gun kata, of course), but not without some other touches of inspiration. The way the revenge is motivated is sheer genius — revenge for the death of, say, her spouse, would've have been the same. Marcus' character played a larger role than I remembered (his relationship with John is one of the deliberately unexplored but load-bearing aspects of the world), and Viggo's attempts to deal with the whole thing don't lack reasonableness and a certain level of pathos. Part of you can't but sympathize with the guy.

Whatever range might Reeves' acting skills span, this movie lives right in the middle of it.

All in all, I understand why they chose to explore the world of The Continental to a larger degree in the sequel, but it cost the movie some of its forward movement. In anything, the first movie had slightly too much backstory, even if it was much less than usual. A John Wick we don't learn much about because the surviving people who know would rather not remember, much less speak of it, is much more interesting. Plot-wise, John Wick 2 was a step backwards, IMHO, as much as I love the enormous, steampunky, historical AU potential of The Continental's back-office.

I mean, having met and fought the original Assassins, the Templars couldn't avoid being intrigued by the business model... The gold coin thing is probably an historical artifact, and — and this is the part I love the most — how would an order originally dedicated to protecting and hosting travelers base itself in the contemporary world but as a chain of high-end luxury hotels, catering particularly to the profession?

In short: some of the Templars back from the Middle East decided assassination as a service was going to be the second most popular cultural import after putting spices on everything, so they cornered the market of supporting functions.

Another random post

It struck me yesterday that the John Wick style of gun kata would be a fantastic way of illustrating the core ideas of Mushashi's The Book of Five Rings. I'm thinking in particular of this:

The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him.

Every single action Wick does during a fight is the one most likely to kill the most dangerous opponent in his immediate environment. He doesn't hold people down unless it's the only way to take a kill shot either at them or at somebody else, he doesn't shoot people in non-fatal spots unless it's the only way to take a kill shot either at them or at somebody else, and he never not shoots if there's an opponent alive within shooting range. They have to throw ludicrous amounts of people at him, or equally skilled ones, because otherwise things get solved awfully fast. And rightfully so: he's not fighting you, he's killing you as quickly as possible.

That's pretty much Mushashi's idea, mutatis mutandis.

By the way, I had a notion that he was the equivalent of a gun-totting Jedi, but that's wrong. Equilibrium's gun kata is Jedi gun fighting: quick movements, tactically slow, very showy. Knights, yes, pilots, sure, and I suppose they'd be good in an Special Forces role (but not against other Force sensitives, and leaving behind those damn lightsabers, unless you don't care about deniability). Not that they are ever used like that; for some damn reason the Republic deployed them in *command* roles, which is so medieval it hurts to think about. Nothing, ever, at any point in any of the movies, gives us the slightest reason to imagine Jedi have good strategic skills.

Or political abilities. Or an understanding of logistics. Or a workable intelligence system. Or are good at managing people. Or can use their precognitive and telepathic abilities worth a tactical damn beyond having good reflexes and (a couple of times) long-range communication.

Bloody plodding, obsolete religious military order of mystical metahumans. I think the Empire and the First Order are evil, and I don't approve of Order 66, but, really, let Luke or Ben be the damn last Jedi, and good riddance to the self-important wankers.

(I don't know why I went pseudo-British there. There's something about annoyed, layered insults against upper classes that just feels better that way.)



cass, can you not

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