Archive for July, 2020

Review: The Get Rich and Become God Method

July 17th, 2020

If you’ve ever spent time in the self-help section of a bookstore, you’ve probably noticed they’re two types of books in the category: specific subjects and general subjects. Specific self-help books might be something about playing the stock market or an introduction to chardonnay tasting. Those are fine, though the audience is going to be fairly limited. On the other hand the general self-help books cover a broad topic anyone might find appealing, the most well known of which is “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” The downside to these general self-help books is they’re so generic you’ve almost certainly heard all of the advice in the book long before you read it. 

The new self-help e-book from internet persona Dril takes the general subject self-help book in a different direction. In The Get Rich and Become God Method you’ll learn… well, nothing really. Or to put it another way, it’s a satire — but also just as effective as the genre it’s mocking.

Before getting into the book I think it’s worth addressing the character writing it. Dril writes with the voice of someone who’s talking down to you, yet has no clue what’s going on. His main concern in life seems to involve getting trolled online, which fills him with an impotent rage. He’s both a grizzled old man and obsessed with video games. 

The book’s title is an acronym; each letter stands for a step to follow as part of the process. For example, the first “E” in the word “Become” stands for “E-mails.” The book is divided into sections based on these steps, though the content is often entirely unrelated to the section’s theme.

Obviously the book, which is allegedly sponsored by the frozen pretzel brand SuperPretzel, doesn’t teach you how to get rich or become “the supreme ruler of heaven and Earth.” Or anything else, really. Some of the advice seems to be rather specifically aimed at Dril himself.

Dril’s online lore is present throughout the book. His frenemy Digitmon Otis gets some words in about the future, as well as the obscure Bandai WonderSwan handheld game console. We also learn Dril still has a beef with user beavis_sinatra, who “terrorizes” him with photos of cups too close to the edge of tables.

The graphic design and illustration look like something a ten year old would have made on GeoCities in the mid 90’s, and the text has typos to match the aesthetic. Many sections are challenging to read due to the formatting. 

I don’t want to spoil too much of this book, but some of the advice includes:

  • Demanding the toilet be removed from your home so you can wear diapers.
  • The key to getting rich turns out to be quite simple: money. Several tips for making money are included, such as betting on dog racing.
  • Playing video games to train for real life. Not owning every gaming console is compared to missing vital organs in your body.

Some of the more random sections of the book include:

  • A review of a game called “Racism Simulator 2007.”
  • Newspaper clippings that include, among other things, a review of a garbage dump.
  • A defense of wearing blackface… on your penis.
  • A tragic tale about how Dril was bullied by a car dealer into purchasing a horrible car filled with boiling grease.

My recommendation: If you find this sort of odd anecdotal humor as funny as I do, you’ll get a kick out of The Get Rich and Become God Method. It’s available as a PDF and can be purchased here.

Recent movie review round-up (first half of 2020)

July 4th, 2020

It certainly hasn’t been a great year for movies with the global pandemic so a handful of these are from last year. What can I say, it’s been a good year for streaming and catching up on good movies we missed in theaters.

The order here is disjointed just like last time. Whatever, roll with it.

 

Spaceship Earth

This documentary looks back at Biosphere 2. For those unfamiliar, Biosphere 2 was an experiment where a group of eight people lived in a large greenhouse with an airtight seal for two years starting in 1991. Ostensibly the goal was to attempt to live as though they were on the moon or another planet. (Biosphere 1 being the planet Earth.) The project was largely met with skepticism from scientists and created a media sensation.

The movie starts when everyone involved met in the 1960’s in San Francisco and formed a theater company that sailed around the world. After returning to the US, the group moved to Arizona and got started on their new project: Biosphere 2. It doesn’t go into the personality clashes or the tourism aspects very much — but it does contain a lot of footage from inside Biosphere 2 and interviews with the various participants you won’t see anywhere else. 

Oh, and it does cover the part where a certain Wall Street guy named Steve Bannon got involved, tossed out all the data, and tried to use it to “disprove” climate change.

Like a lot of documentaries, Spaceship Earth covers an interesting topic broadly, though barely scratches the surface of any of the questions it answers. It’s also remarkably non-critical of the inherent problems with Biosphere 2. I think it would have been better as a miniseries where each episode takes a deep dive into each of the questions it’s asking about the project and the group (or cult?) that was behind it.

Best moment: Let’s just say it’s an oddly fitting movie to watch during a pandemic when we’re all sealed off from the outside world.

Rating: 5/10

 

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Somehow I missed this one when it was in theaters — a big mistake on my part. The story centers on a young Black man named Jimmie living with his friend Mont in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. A bit of an outcast, Jimmie’s obsessed with the Victorian home he grew up in in the Fillmore neighborhood. When the current owners get kicked out of the home, Jimmie and Mont squat the place.

This is one of those rare low-budget indie films where everything from the writing to the performances are completely perfect. But this movie has another trick up its sleeve; it depicts San Francisco as a real place with real people instead of some postcard idealist fantasy.

From its heartfelt message to its philosophical moments, this is the kind of movie that would win an Oscar in an alternate universe. 

Best moment: The skateboarding scenes, especially the long one near the beginning. These add a sense of scale and space to the movie that I suspect would simply come across as padding in the hands of a lesser filmmaker.

Rating: 10/10

 

The Vast of Night

Framed as an episode of a Twilight Zone style TV show, this indie sci-fi film tells the story of a small town in the southwestern United States in the 1950’s where a teenage switchboard operator and her friend at a nearby radio station investigate a mysterious electronic signal.

Despite an unoriginal concept the storytelling is more gripping than one would expect. The nearly unknown cast pull off excellent performances.

I think this film would have benefited from a theatrical release at art house theaters. Due to COVID-19 it’s streaming exclusively on Amazon instead and their clumsy marketing department didn’t do this one any favors.

Best moment: For a low budget flick I was really wowed by the cinematography, particularly the moment where the camera goes through a basketball game at a gym, exits out the back window, and then continues down the street.

Rating: 7/10

 

The Lighthouse

In the late 19th century a young man named Winslow (Robert Pattinson) accepts a job at a decrepit lighthouse and has to put up with poor working conditions — especially the longtime lighthouse keeper (Willem Dafoe), a demanding and potentially insane man who speaks like a Moby Dick character. 

Winslow quickly begins going mad himself while trapped in the remote location, a process that accelerates when the two start drinking together and a massive storm arrives. In a twist of fate this makes the movie perfectly suited for sheltering in place.

I don’t want to give away much else as this psychological thriller is best watched fresh. 

My only issue with this movie is there’s a lengthy stretch before the end where it becomes repetitive. I do realize it’s an intentional choice to serve the story’s mood, though it’s edited in such a way that makes it feel more dull than I think was intended. There’s a nearly perfect ~90 minute movie in here somewhere.

Best moment: Willem Dafoe’s unhinged monologues are all absolutely golden.

Rating: 6/10

 

Cat Video Fest 2020

People have been filming their pets for as long as home video has been around. The yearly Cat Video Fest is devoted to new and classic cat videos. As expected there’s a lot of things being knocked off shelves, harassment of dogs, and generally odd feline thinking.

This “film festival” raises money for cat rescue organizations, including Give Me Shelter in San Francisco. 

Rating: I’m not sure how to rate this one as it’s not a typical film at all. I’ll just say if you like watching cat videos on YouTube or TikTok, it’s for you. That said, humorous content is best watched with an audience — and this was the last movie I was able to see in theaters so far this year.

 

Color Out of Space

In an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, Nathan Gardener (Nic Cage) moved his family to an old house in the middle of a forest to run a small alpaca farm. A wise but eccentric old hippie (Tommy Chong) squats in a nearby shack.

A meteorite crashes just outside the house, and after it gets repeatedly hit by lightning everything goes bonkers.  The town’s hydrologist warns them not to drink the water from their well though it’s far too late — unusual plants grow, insects and animals mutate, everyone slowly goes crazy, and even reality itself collapses into psychedelic madness.

The film comes across as more uneven than unsettling, careening between 1980’s throwback sci-fi horror to outlandish comedy. Which isn’t to say a film has to be one thing, it just tends to work better if it has a central foundation other than “weird.” What does work very well in the film’s favor is the vibrant cinematography, especially for a story that seems unfilmable. “It’s just a color, but it burns.”

Best moment: There are many “Nic Cage dialed up to 11” moments in this film it’s a challenge to pick just one, but I’ll have to go with Nathan (Cage) shouting at his older son to “get the alpacas back in the barn by ten” as he’s preparing to take his wife to the hospital.

Rating: 8/10