Sunday, December 17, 2006
But that’s not what the movie is. And it took me a night’s rest to figure out how much I loved it because of that.
The movie is about a girl, Ofelia, who goes with her mother to live with a Captain of the Spanish army soon after Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War. Her mother married the Captain after her father died in order to better support the both of them. Ofelia doesn’t like her new home, or the Captain, and as an escape she invents (or does she?) an entire fantasy world in which she is a princess trying to get back to her kingdom.
I’m not going to tell you any more than that, but it’s very, very atypical of the fantasy genre that’s been present in America since Fellowship of the Ring, in that it’s hardly an escape. It’s also much better than any fantasy film at least since Fellowship, and it affirms Guillermo Del Toro (better know for directing Blade 2 and Hellboy) as not just a great genre guy, but a truly great storyteller with a better understanding of his craft than so, so many higher-profile directors.
The real world plays just as large a role, if not larger, and is just as compelling. And it’s that real world where most of its well-earned, R-rated violence comes from (I’ll be going back to this when it comes out December 29, and I really hope parents don’t bring their kids, expecting Narnia). The plot that takes place in the fascist regime of this small, rural fortress of sorts could make a whole movie all on its own.
But it’s the fantasy that elevates Labyrinth to capital-G Greatness. There’s so much imagination in these parts, not just visually (and oh…the visuals), but especially in how the story reflects what’s going on in the real world. It’s a fairy tale for adults, but it succeeds because it elevates the mood and atmosphere to give us all the same feelings that those simpler fairy tales gave us as kids (remember how scary those Disney movies could be sometimes?). Don’t watch the trailer, if only so you’ll be blown away by the appearance of the Pale Man; I’d seen the trailer, and that scene was still frightening.
Even the end at once defies the sort of end we expect from fairy tales. And by “fairy tales” I mean both Disney movies or the original Grimm stories. It changes all the rules of the happy ending, and made me question which one this truly is (I lean towards happy). It feels like there’s so much to the movie I haven’t totally figured out yet, and I can’t wait to see it again.
Friday, December 15, 2006
well, here are the very good ones, let me know if you think I'm missing something:
TV on the Radio
Yo La Tengo
the hold steady
band of horses
peter and the wolf
margot and the nucs (rerelease tho it still got shit for coverage)
six organs of admittance
tarkio (shut up I'm counting it)
belle and sebastian
bonnie 'prince' billy
built to spill
...and you will know us by the trail of our dead (big)
the flaming lips (very big)
cat power (eh)
things I haven't listened to yet from this year but should (because one might be that great album that never came out this year):
neil young (well, I pretty much saw him perform it, sans 100 gospel choir)
mission of burma
my brightest diamond
horse feathers (portland! a kid younger than us!)
yeah yeah yeahs
bob dylan (i've had this forever but have no desire to hear it)
peter bjorn and john
and I don't know for sure but I'm assuming thanksgiving put out at least three records
a lot of these we have up at the station, i just need a bigger harddrive. there's only some much death cab a man can delete. that was a joke. but seriously.
Next year promises to be bigger, what with these established kids releasing albums that I'm looking forward to:
arcade fire, deerhoof, clap your hands, apples in stereo, explosions in the sky, ted leo, architecture in helsinki, dinosaur jr., the go! team, interpol, magnetic fields, pornos, pixies, wilco, andrew bird, british sea power, bloc party, spoon, modest mouse, radiohead, wrens, shins, etc/ the link has some definite dates
and the odds that some great new thing will have to come around seeing as nothing that fantastic showed up this year.
vote for your favorite though if you please, i'm kind of curious (no the avalanche does not count. no. no it doesn't. because it doesn't, okay?)
yeah, i can't sleep. my body apparantly hates me
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The basic plot is this peaceful Mayan village is ravaged, and everyone in it is either kidnapped or killed. Except this guy Jaguar Paw hides his wife and child in a pit before being taken away himself. So then it becomes an effort for him to get back and save them. Along the way…well, there’s an amazing part in the Mayan city. If you at all dig huge, elaborate sets that recreate a lost piece of history…this is all over that. GREAT costuming and make-up here, as is true throughout.
But anyway, the movie REALLY picks up once Jaguar Paw escapes. From there, it’s a relentless chase through the jungle where pretty much everything you’d want to see happen to people in a jungle happens (a jaguar chews a guy’s face off…for example). There’s almost no dialogue in this section, which is pretty sweet.
Speaking of dialogue, it is all in Mayan, but I think it works (note…I thought the Latin in The Passion worked in favor of that movie as well, so do with that what you will). A lot of the dialogue would come of pretty frickin’ cheesy in English, and actually I think it would’ve worked just fine without subtitles, as there’s almost no vital information communicated in the dialogue. And like I said, it’s not a very talky movie; most of it’s people running and beating the crap out of each other.
My biggest problem with the movie is a screenplay issue, because they (Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia) really make Jaguar Paw the luckiest man alive. While he does take care of his own share of business, there are two major times when he is clearly screwed when he is saved in the most ridiculous ways, and many more when he’s saved by slightly more believable means that are still lucky as hell.
But that’s kind of a small quibble, ‘cause the movie as a whole definitely works. At least, if you’re looking for balls-to-the-wall, savage violence (oh, yeah, forgot to mention…the movie’s gory as hell…not one, but TWO people get their hearts ripped out).
Friday, December 08, 2006
The central story is that Djimon Hounsou (who was the MAN in Amistad and In America) is torn away from his family by a bunch of rebels making money on the diamond black market. He’s forced into working for them, where he comes across a massive diamond, worth millions alone. So he decides to steal it and hide it, despite having seen a fellow worker shot on the spot for doing just that a few days back. There are a couple of problems here – first, the guy who was shot for doing that was spotted doing so by a guy…I dunno, a hundred yards away? Two hundred? And that one was tiny. Second, he hides it between his toes, and the guy who searches him (Djimon gets excused so he can take a crap) looks in his mouth and ears and nose and pockets…but not his feet? Third, when Leo finds out about this diamond and forces Djimon to take him to it, Djimon never really presents all that much interest in keeping it for himself, which brings into question all kinds of things about why he risked his life in the first place.
It’s these kinds of leaps in logic that keep Blood Diamond from being as real as it should (although it is violent as shit – so if that counts for realism, you’re in luck), never mind the multiple instances of high tension that are broken by large groups of people with guns coming in and shooting the crap out of everything (except the three leads, which is a convention I’ve just come to accept).
There’s also a lotta awkward shifts in the film. Mere seconds after laughing off Connelly opening up, telling her that Americans (DiCaprio is supposed to be South African, but the accent’s a bit of a stretch) put too much emphasis on feelings (which I thought was a pretty strange stereotype to begin with), he breaks down over the loss of his parents and the current state of Africa. Wouldn’t have minded it so much if it had anything to do with his character at all, or if it somehow lent itself to some sort of payoff; I would’ve even settled for Leo and Jenny to hop into bed, but it really is just there to make him seem a little more friendly.
It’s hardly the worst you can do at the movies right now, but for what it aims to be (a serious examination of the effects of global trade), it just doesn’t reach there. The best parts of the movie are these really small bits that comprise…I dunno, ten minutes worth of screen time that involve training children to be a part of the rebellion. It’s really frightening stuff, and you really hate the hell out of the militia group for it, but it’s too bad that the rest of the film couldn’t find that same tension and be as interesting.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
But THE PICK OF DESTINY is the real thing.
It's nonstop rock (nay, RAWK!) from the start to the finish at its 93-minute mark. It's a stoner comedy that blasted Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell all night long while barreling down road at 120 miles per hour and lived to tell the tale.
The central yarn revolves Jack Black and Kyle Gass' quest to find the mythical pick of destiny, which would allow them to rock as hard as the legends and thus pay their rent. There's a kick-ass break-in scene, an awesome car chase, and a showdown with the devil himself (played by non other than Foo Fighter's leading man David Grohl). It's a funny movie, but only a comedy by default. It is, above all else...a ROCK movie.
It you love rock n' roll (and by rock I mean ROCK...I'm talkin' Queen, Dio, Zeppelin, Meat Loaf, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Guns n' Roses, KISS, AC/DC), THE PICK OF DESTINY was crafted in the fires of Hell for you and your legions. Go...and know its glory.
Also, any movie that has Meat Loaf in it is automatically in the running for greatest motion picture of all time.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I like this band, but I could never get too into them. I think it was the lack of choruses. Seeing them live put a whole new perspective on it. Chin Up Chin Up is an instrumental band- one that happens to sing. They don't have a great (or even mediocre to be honest) vocalist, so they don't force something that wouldn't work well: where a normal band would put a chorus, these guys step away from the mic and let the audience hear the great melodies they put together and the way all the band members interact with each other. In that manner they're kind of like Built to Spill. This was the last show of their tour to support their new album This Harness Can't Ride Anything (MmGravy) and they were playing to a small crowd in a shitty venue. But they played like they loved their songs and they had everyone dancing.
I guess art pop is their most common description, but I don't like it. They're a rock band that plays guitar almost exclusively on the high frets, has a very active bass (but one that is mixed low, which I like), a keyboardist who fills in the spaces, and a drummer who does a great job sequencing with the guitars, kicks off all the songs really well, and unobtrusively drives the band. All this makes the sound energetic and easy on the ears, but it was clear watching them that this was rock sounding poppy rather than pop made to sound like rock. They hit three choruses all night long; all were guttural, authentic, and satisfying pieces of their songs. My friend calls it sissy indie which I think may be a contradiction in terms
The setlist was tight, there wasn't a ton of banter, and there was no encore.
I met their bass player (he owns the record label my friend works for) and my friends and I took him up to the station for an interview/plug. He stole one of the posters for the show on his way down the staircase. He reminded me of Mr. Daley.
If you have the chance to see them, please do so. This was a very good example of how seeing a band live can increase your love of them and their music, which is tough when you're just playing them out of your computer speakers. Take the opportunity and you'll be dancing and humming afterwards.
Its a good thing I wasn't reviewing concerts before, I would have always been gushing seeing as how I didn't have a bank with which to compare shows. That said something tells me shows will almost always have higher rating than their respective albums.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
While I am a big fan of Ben's rating system, I'm not gonna use it. It's sort of a mental thing where it suddenly becomes a competition for every movie ("If I gave Movie X a 75, is Movie Y really an 80? It is...but it's not REALLY better than Movie X..."). It's totally my own insanity, but what'll you do.
STRANGER THAN FICTION - The kind of movie that gets the film geek inside of me all happy - a director (Marc Forster, Finding Neverland) putting out yet another very fresh film from a completely original script by a first-time screenwriter (Zach Helm, who has a very bright future) with a cast you would never otherwise see together (when else would Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, and Queen Latifah have cause to join together?). Will Ferrell's fantastic in it.
HARSH TIMES - The movie, which mostly deals with the psychological scars left by military life, is only slightly above average. Christian Bale's performance, however, is incredible, and the movie's entertaining enough. Definitely a dude flick.
FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS - One of those difficult movies that's really well made, but is just too weird for most people (me, I just didn't care for it).
CASINO ROYALE - It's damn good, if a little long for its own good, and Daniel Craig is a great James Bond, but the best Bond movie ever? Hardly. I'll take Goldeneye any day.
OLD JOY - Hey, look, a true indie movie shot in Oregon! And it really made me miss home, but not because there's a shot outside the Franz bread company on 12th, but because it really evokes that "Portland vibe."
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION - New movie by Christopher Guest and company (the guys who did Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind), and the first 2/3rds really feel like it. Then the final act starts and it just gets...sad...but not in a good way. At all.
DEJA VU - I love time travel movies, I really do. And while this isn't anywhere near the glory of Primer, it's pretty damn great and pretty damn geeky. There's a car chase sequence that's unlike anything ever done that'll cement this movie in history.
This week, I'm seeing Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (SO EXCITED!), Blood Diamond, and The Nativity Story. Then next weekend, Apocalypto comes out (which by all accounts is going to be incredible), along with some movie called Fuck that's basically a documentary about the word. I'm going for the portions of the an interview with the late Hunter S. Thompson. And because it's a fun word. Also, The Holiday comes out, but I'd rather see that right before Christmas (girls, wait for me to get home, I really want to see it with you).
Made this album:
I wish I could insert an internet mirror here.
After a short intro, Malajube hits you with "Montréal -40°C", a song that goes from dance to twee to some delicious combo. "Pâte Filo" is great energetic pop followed by "Le Crabe", by which point you wonder if Malajube has discovered a melody mine where they go, dig these suckers up, and then proceed to stuff like ten in per song, like they don't plan to make another album. "La Monogamie" is another strong cut, followed by "Ton Plat Favori" which is the soundtrack to going to the carnival on uppers I think.
They start to lose a little creativity (but never spunk) on "La Russe" and "Fille À Plumes", after which the record takes a decidedly different turn. "Casse-Cou" alternates between calm pop and metal freakout, setting you up for my favorite track on the record, "Étienne D'août". I guess the band found one hook they could all agree on -and you'll hear why- and built a five and a half minute song around it. It rises and falls beautifully, and in general reminds me Slowdive. This should have been the end of the album (which would make it a concise 35 minutes, just about right for a pop album) but they tack on "St-Fortunat", a throwaway, and "La Fin", almost eleven minutes long-45 seconds of instrumental, eight minutes of silence-and a nice little minute and a half of a sketch of a song. Pointless and stupid.
So if you want some energetic disco rock where you never know what's coming next (e.g. they actually try rapping at one point), or just want to hear men singing in French (you know who you are), there are a few of the songs in the link, as well as some that aren't on this album (their first). If you're a big Unicorns/Islands fan, give it a shot.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I read this book in about 36 hours. I'm not saying that to be impressive, its a short book replete with sketches. But it ate me alive like nothing has since Slaughterhouse-Five this summer. Since I picked it up, I have avoided all work, skipped a biology lab, and was thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. I just saw a clip of Vonnegut on the Jon Stewart show. He has a new book out and is still is not missing a beat. I don't know much about the man factually, but I feel like I understand him very well from the way he writes. This book is him, poured out, to the point where he literally writes himself in near the end. I did a little research and it turns out this is the book he created after he wrote Slaughterhouse-Five and said he would never write a book again. Shakeer or Ian could tell you more. A plot summary would have very limited worth. This is an anti-novel. Vonnegut tears down everything and then for a moment he puts it back together -such a moment!- and it echoes on until the end, where he just shatters it. I'm reeling.
I know I wasn't the same after Slaughterhouse-Five. Its Top Five for me. I think its perfect. This book might not be perfect, but it will take six or seven hours of your time and that my friends is a worthwhile investment. You might be offended at some points, you'll surely feel fucking awful for much of it, but its absolutely worth it. Now I have Cat's Cradle and Welcome to the Monkey House for this weekend.
Rating (the act of rating this is a sin I'm very certain, especially with our system. Wait, he'd actually like the system):
Now read it.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Beast Moans is a fluid, calm album; a dense soundscape of a record where eventually you hear everything including the kitchen sink. While there are plenty of different things going on musically, none of it is jarring. And jarring is kind of what I expected given that Swan Lake is these three Canucks, from left: Spencer Krug a la Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown (and occassionally Frog Eyes I guess), Casey Mercer the lead man from Frog Eyes, and Dan Bejar AKA Destroyer, also known for our favorites the New Pornographers.
While these three do pull out pretty much every trick they know, the fundamentals are keyboards and piano, acoustic and distorted electric guitars (which sometimes feel like an afterthought), synths, some very creative percussion (when its there), and constantly shifting vocal duties and backup methods. The first three songs are pretty unremarkable, and the fourth seems destined to sink with its promising but frustratingly quiet and weak melody until Dan chants "a venue called rubella" forever as the piano rises behind him, which oddly enough makes the song. Next up is the only potential mixtape track, "All Fires" which I have listened to over twenty times in the last two days. Its not outstanding, but its the most straightforward acoustic ballad and has a way of digging in and not letting go.
The rest is a cohesive, lowkey mix of stuff, much of which is put together by Mercer who seems to be taking this opportunity to test what else he can do. It's Sunset Rubdown without the electro-glitch, Wolf Parade without the anthem, Frog Eyes without the guts/insanity, and Destroyer without the, well actually some of these are pretty much Destroyer songs. "Freedom", in particular, has stolen a vocal melody from one of his New Pornographers songs (I'm nearly certain but I can't place which one) and a structure and production that would place it on his last record Destroyer's Rubies. Its really good. The other almost great track is "Are You Swimming In Her Pools?", a Spencer-led number that has some really cool shifts in tempo and volume and is the most reminiscent of Wolf Parade. If you're a lyrics kind of person you might find more to dive into on this album seeing as how these are three very talented songwriters, but the "band" (this is probably a one-off) doesn't put the words center-stage acoustically so I myself don't feel guilty about not concentrating on them, even though I probably should. On the other hand, if you're a verse-chorus type person you should probably keep your distance.
In the end, I was disappointed because my hopes were very high and it just felt a little uninspired. But this is a good record with no bad songs and four very good ones, one which feels complete of itself even if I want it to be more. I suspect it will grow on me.
Because I want to get this off on the right foot, I've linked a place where you can grab this, until it hits the street of course after which you would be obligated to purchase it. (I think/hope the download has a glitch on "Petersburg, Liberty Theater, 1914")
Rating: mMmGravy (75%)
yeah, I invented a rating system. Gravy is worth forty. An M is worth twenty. an m before the M is ten and after the M is five. Hence that 75%. 55% is tricky. I guess it will be mmGravy and we'll just hafta remember that one. Hmm, there's no way to tell between 45% and 50%. Until further notice, nothing can be 45%. If its worse than a 40, you get to describe what kind of nasty gravy it is. Maybe it has boogers in it!
When you read the rating, you MUST say it out loud.
The rating system is obviously open to input/innovation/overhaul.
post post script
And if anyone wants to review anything else, I don't know, maybe you somehow got your hands on the new Shins album super-early or something, for example, that would be, as they say here in South Bend, cool. Until then, I'm here with you Scott. The Alfalfa to your Spanky. Er. Yeah.
post post post script
I think this should be our new blog tagline:
All aboard the Gravy Train! er, Boat!
Monday, November 20, 2006
I’ve been going to them as far back as I can remember. I’ve seen hundreds, probably even thousands of films over the course of my life, but I have never been to anything like what writer/director Darren Aronofsky has created here. Talk is already forming comparing it to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but this is not that. This is a whole other film, and it has a poetry, elegance, grace, and flow unlike any film I can recall. The best description I can think of came from Aronofsky's account of what his producer told him after reading the first draft of the film - a love poem to death. I know I post mostly positive reviews, largely because I go in with varying expectations and most of the movies I see at least meet those. But I had enormous expectations for this, beyond any I’ve had before any film before, and it exceeded them even further.
This film impacted me so profoundly; I won’t be able to really get a grasp on how strongly I feel about it for a long time and after several viewings. It would kill me to spoil a second of its beauty to you all, but I had to post something to get everyone to see it. Not only because years, maybe even decades from now, it’ll be a classic, and not only because I really can’t wait to talk about it, and not only because it’ll be one of those great movies the Oscars won’t pick up on, but because it’s just a movie that needs to be seen. Not just seen to be believed, but it just pours its heart and soul out with every passing frame, and the idea that there wouldn’t even be people to listen just kills me.
By the end of it, you might not even like it. I say this only because there are reviews from people who didn’t*. I don't understand many of the criticisms, which mostly revolve around confusion over the plot and the very questions that make the film so intriguing. Usually, with the films I really fall for, I can find the things that really only work for a select crowd that I just happen to be a part of. Not so here (but then again, I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a film I’ve loved so much, certainly not on first viewing). It does ask you to take a leap on a number of levels, its narrative, which is complex but not overly complicated, being the least yet most immediate. I pieced it together a few hours after walking out, which I don’t point to as a sign of my intelligence but rather that all the clues are really there for you; just don’t expect them all right away, and they may not hit you until hours after. But I don’t really think you should fault a film for asking you to focus, and to trust it. If you’re willing to take that leap, I guarantee you will be rewarded exponentially.
I’ve read that part of the reason it hasn’t worked for some audiences is that it deals with its theme and emotions and ideas so sincerely and straightforward, but its plot not so much, that it’s too much of a reverse from what we’re used to (straightforward plot, lesser emphasis on emotion). It earnestly tackles huge ideas and feelings of life, love, immortality, eternity, mortality, and ultimately death, and it succeeds in the span of only 98 minutes. And don't worry, even though the film deals predominantly and extensively with death, it’s done with a sort of grace and reverence and beauty. Never once is it depressing; sad at times, sure (I came about as close to crying as I am capable), but by the end I was left totally speechless, greatly moved, but also very much at peace.
“What is it about?” I’ve been telling lots of people to go see this, and every time I get that question I’m never really sure how to answer it, at least without spoiling anything. But here’s what I can give you, because it’s also pretty much covered in the trailer. In 16th century Spain, a conquistador (Hugh Jackman) is sent by his queen (Rachel Weisz) to search for the mythical tree of life, which she believes carries the secret to eternal life. In the present, a scientist (Jackman) is working overtime to develop a cure for cancer while his wife (Weisz) is dying of it. In the 26th century, an astronaut of sorts (Jackman) is traveling through space, haunted by the past. And don’t worry, this will all make sense in the end, but it should go without saying that everything is connected and everything matters.
The visuals are just stunning, and those are what will stand out to you the most when you first see it (although before very long, you’ll figure out how much the sound design plays into the film). If you come away with nothing else, you’ll at least have seen a beautiful array of visuals and sounds that is, on a purely technical level, one of the most perfect films ever made. Most amazing, the space sequence utilized almost no computer-generated imagery (CGI), only using it as a touch-up or to combine elements. Instead, it was all created in Petri dishes using microscopic chemical reactions. They filmed those, and blew them up. And that’s their outer space. Not only does it look spectacular, but it’s what’ll go into making the film a classic – the effects are timeless. As great as King Kong (2005) looks now, in five years even it will look dated. The Fountain won’t. Aronofsky recognizes that special effects are so often used for mere spectacle, and instead uses them to another end—grace. Grace is hard to find in films, from the biggest of the blockbusters to the smallest of the independents. And yet here it is.
But all would be for naught without Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. Jackman especially…we’ve never seen him like this before, and I wonder if, had he never done this, we would have ever found out how truly talented he is. Not only did he finally make me forget Wolverine. It’s the best performance of the year, easily, and it’s just thrilling, heartbreaking, and exhilarating to watch him. He achieves a depth and vulnerability many actors dare not reach for. He plays three different characters (sort of), each distinctly defined both in the writing and in Jackman’s performance. In the 16th century, he’s a Spanish conquistador searching for the secret to eternal life. In the present, he’s a scientist searching for a cure for cancer. In the future, he’s…well, to say anything of the future would be telling. But it ends up being a lot of people’s favorite part of the film, and it’s the part that relies most on Jackman. And wow, does he bring it home.
Weisz is also very good as the woman who drives him to do everything he does, not quite up there with her revelatory work in criminally underrated The Constant Gardener, but she plays a lot of small, yet distinct notes really, really well. She conveys more with her eyes than most actresses out there, and it’s really exciting to watch both her and Hugh come into their own with this. Together, they and Aronofsky form this wonderfully touching, tragic, heartfelt love story that’s at the center of an epic tale spanning a thousand years. Not a romance story; there’s not a lot, if any, of those “cutesy” moments that you can watch and say, “yeah, me and this girl were just like that.” This is a LOVE story in the biggest, most profoundly personal sense of the word.
It’s been almost a week, and I still haven’t totally shaken this film. Little moments keep coming back to me, lines and imagery and sounds and feelings and I’ve listened to this one song from the soundtrack every day since and even that just brings back the rush of emotions I had going during the film (and the score as a whole is a brilliant piece of work…just beautiful).
I don’t tell you guys to go see many films. I recommend a fair share, usually with some provisions, but mostly I leave you to gather what you will from what I write. But this is one that’s just too good. It’s not just the best film of the year, it’s the best film that’s come along in…I don’t even know. Might be the best I’ve ever seen. So I’m telling you—see this film. If you’re not willing to take the leap, I guess don’t bother. Nothing I can do to help you. But I really do believe you’ll all enjoy the film if you open your mind and your heart to it. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, spiritual, and transcendent, and unlike any other movie I have ever seen. And it reminds me not only of why I go to movies, but of what film, and in a larger sense stories themselves, are capable of accomplishing.
The Fountain opens nationwide on Wednesday, November 22nd, and despite what the trailer and some other ads have said, is rated PG-13.
The link at the title will take you to the film's trailer, which you should only watch if you need further convincing. If this article was enough, you're better off knowing as little as possible.
*And yes, as of this writing, The Fountain is not in good standing at Rotten Tomatoes, but it would hardly be the first time that some critics were unprepared for a piece of groundbreaking cinema. And it's worth noting that it received ten-minute standing ovations during screenings that were open to the public, or the average audience.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The song "The Ballad of the Sekti" deviates from Tastee Fish!'s previous release "Tommy" which I know some of you have heard, and steps away from the comedic & completely inappropriate and takes on a new Dark & Creepy feel. That is why we were hopeing to release it close to Halloween, but as it is--I was busy fighting Ninjas (see related post on Xan Directive). So here it is finally.
As of right now at this exact moment for somereason or another "Ballad of the Sekti" is not wanting to completely load on the Tastee Fish! profile but it does play as soon as it is added as someones profile song. We are attempting to figure out why and correct the problem, so forgive me if you visit and it is not playing. It can be heard on my profile which is linked on the Tastee Fish! profile as well. And Tommy is having no problems if you have not yet heard this (just don't play it around your little sister).
I hope eveyone gets a chance to enjoy it, both Shawn and I put in a lot of hard work into this trying to make it as creepy and enjoyable as possible, so please do just that...enjoy.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Funniest f-ing movie I’ve seen in years. The most I’ve laughed since at least the Dodgeball/Anchorman days. Sure, this isn’t exactly for the crowd that’s easily offended by…anything (really, name it, every hot-, or even warm-button issue is hit), but for how smart the comedy is, it’s pretty accessible. You don’t have to watch CNN regularly to “get it.” Think of it as South Park meets Jackass meets Andy Kaufman (yeah, bonus points for recognizing that last reference), and if any of those tickle your fancy (I’m not a big Jackass fan), you’ll go nuts for this.
Annnnnnnd on the opposite end of the spectrum. I walked past an issue of Entertainment Weekly at the library today (which was gone and replace by the time I came back to it not an hour later…fast-moving environment) that called it the dark horse of this year, which I’m inclined to agree with. It’s not being totally ignored, but I wasn’t really looking forward to it that much when I went to see it, despite the huge reviews it was getting. But it is, hands down, the best work Brad Pitt’s done in years, maybe in his career (okay, it’s no Tyler Durden), and some of Cate Blanchett’s finer work (which is a surprise if someone read her role to you in a sentence). The rest of the cast is mostly unknown (that dude from Science of Sleep is in here, and I was glad to find I didn’t wanna punch him in the face this time around). The movie just moves, moves, moves, and even the almost inconsequential story about a deaf-mute Japanese girl resonates pretty strongly.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Yeah so now I think I have a Lex Luthor and may have narrowly avoided death, or at least getting my football tickets stolen.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I have almost nothing to say about this movie, because if I start into it I may get into spoiler territory very, very fast. If anyone who’s seen the movie wants to discuss it, I'm game. But if you have any desire to see this (and you should), see it SOON. It’s a movie with twist upon twist upon twist, which can either work to great effect (Memento, The Usual Suspects) or fail (The Village). But even twist isn’t the right word…more like reversals. You know the SPY VS. SPY comics in MAD MAGAZINE? Imagine that, but totally serious and deadly and stretched for just over two hours. For me, it worked…I think the stuff towards the end might be a bit much for some people…it gets ridiculous, but you know what else it gets? Fucking awesome.
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are both awesome, which should surprise no one (Jackman especially though is really just getting better and better…ARGH I need to see The Fountain). I only wish they had more scenes together. Michael Caine is also fantastic, but he was even good in Bewitched, so he can pretty much do no wrong. Director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins) also finds the best use anyone’s had for Scarlett Johansson in the last couple years, which is basically a pretty face. David Bowie (I know, Bowie!) and Andy Serkis (Gollum) are also in here, and kick ass.
And that’s as much as I’ll say. But go see it, and as with any twist movie, don’t TRY to guess the end. You’ll have more fun. It’s my new favorite Christopher Nolan movie for the time being, and given my love for Memento, that should say something.
FAST FOOD NATION
I had hoped I’d have more to say about this, but I just don’t. Look, I love meat, I love fast food, and this film didn’t change it, but honestly that part of it isn’t what stood out to me (though it stood out like hell to the meat haters in the audience). What works best for me is the ensemble cast and the themes of sacrifice and compromise we all have to go through for a thousand different reasons. It’s a very effective piece of drama, and the entire cast brings their A-game, no matter the size of their role (Ethan Hawke has an especially great part for as little screen time as he has).
The movie comes out sometime in mid-November, and while I would hardly recommend against it, I saw it…five days ago, and I can’t say it’s stuck with me to any great degree.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I’m going to try to distance myself from the three-page rants that befell Elizabethtown (I still stand by every word), mostly because I want you to stay as surprised and elated as I was for every second. It starts out very powerfully though, I’ll just say that, and lets you know that although this is a costume drama set at an important time in French history, it knows how to party. Because that’s basically what the movie’s about…the party. It never ventures outside of Marie Antoinette’s worldview, but through the magic director Sofia Coppola wields, you understand the larger issues at play here.
And what magic…look, I LOVE Sofia Coppola. The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, the only other two movies she’s ever made, are two of my all-time favorites. Lost in Translation especially… I wrote a huge, almost three-page piece on it, but I lost it when my computer crashed, but basically…that movie saved my life in a lot of ways. I have huge, immense respect and affection for it, and it’s probably the deepest and most profound impact any single piece of art has ever had on my life. Sofia Coppola could do a movie on dung beetles and I’d still be first in line.
Then of course, Kirsten Dunst, who Sofia Coppola made me fall in love with after seeing The Virgin Suicides. I’m totally serious when I say she’s my favorite actress working today. Not the best by any stretch, but she has an energy and a magnetic quality that extends beyond being a total babe. This film puts her in a new league. Even her harshest critics would have a hard time denouncing such a total portrayal of a person. She handles innocence, heartbreak, confusion joy, seduction, and a thousand other things beautifully. She and Coppola and a huge cast really convey the insanity and ridiculous formality of being in Versailles at the time.
That she’s backed up by Jason Schwartzman, one of the best young actors, only adds to the film. Schwartzman has VERY few lines in this movie, and you couldn’t find a character more distant from Rushmore’s Max Fisher or Huckabees’ Albert Markovski or Shopgirl’s Jeremy Kraft (all of whom are, in their own right, totally different from each other), but it’s just stunning, often hilarious work.
Sofia Coppola’s created something very different from her previous two films, but thematically similar (in that it dealt with young women in huge transition phases trying to find themselves in an increasingly crazy world). It’s almost intangible, but I think it’s largely that it tells a more complete story. It’s certainly more ambitious, but it succeeds just as well. Marie is her most beautiful film to date, with a huge part due to its costumes and sets (I believe they were the only film ever allowed to shoot IN Versailles, and if not it’s one of few). And I swear they could have taken out all the dialogue and the story would still be told. A lot of films look good, and they’re getting a lot better at it every day. But few filmmakers have figured out how to communicate almost entirely through pictures. To me, the only people who really ever knew how to do it have been Stanley Kubrick (who did 2001, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and a dozen others you should really see) and Terrence Malick (who did The New World and The Thin Red Line), and this film confirms what I’ve been secretly believing for three years now – Sofia Coppola is the most important filmmaker of her generation. There, I said it. She’s doing incredible, original work with some very talented people, and the result is being shown on screens across the nation.
As a final note, the soundtrack kicks ass right from the beginning. This is probably the element that’ll make the film connect completely with the young audience it’s aiming for, and it’s handled in a beautiful way that I can’t believe is getting so much crap. It’s blasting through my headphones right now, and I have a feeling I’ll be listening to this for weeks.
Did I mention I love this movie? Hopefully.
EDIT: I should mention that this movie has no aims of historical accuracy, and stays entirely within the grounds of Versailles (besides a quick trip to Paris). Most of you know I have a HUGE problem with people going to movies expecting them to be slaves to history and to try to teach us something, so if that's what you want, The History Channel's doing fantastic work. But if you want to see a movie with emotions and beauty and depth and fun...step right up.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Which is a film I’d loved to have seen, but that’s not what this is. It starts out more along those lines; Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) hits the campaign trail, trying to set himself up as a serious candidate who discusses the issues without so much as a joke. By the time he hits the debates, he comes to realize why the people asked him to run in the first place, and does some pretty fantastic criticisms of the people running against him, and of the political process in general (this whole bit acts sort of as the Cliff Notes version of the last few years of The Daily Show and Real Time with Bill Maher). And all through this, I loved it.
Then somewhere around the middle it goes into full-out John Grisham thriller mode. Seriously. I could hardly believe it either. And it wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the thriller elements weren’t so much less interesting than the Dobbs campaign. Where do the thrills stem from, you ask? Laura Linney plays Eleanor Green, an employee of Delacroy, the fictional company that makes its fortune by manufacturing a computerized voting system. Problem is, the voting system is faulty (any of this sound vaguely familiar?), and Eleanor is the one who discovers it. So the rest of the film becomes about the company trying to silence her so they can keep their fortunes.
It’s not a political story, but a morality tale. I’m not going to spoil the plot any further, but it does take some pretty solid turns from there, and by the end I found myself liking it well enough.
I don’t like putting my expectations first and foremost when I see a movie, but it’s tough not to. In the end, a movie is usually only as great as you expected it not to be. The higher the expectations, the more chance there is that you’ll be disappointed. It’s why I can still look back fondly on the Fantastic Four movie (which should have been steaming crap), often forget I even saw V for Vendetta (which I've come to regard as lightweight political commentary), and still be amazed by The New World (which I expected to be great, and was even greater). But in this case, all expectations were sort of thrown out the window as soon as Jeff Goldblum said “I can make a phone call…” is that creepy hit man sort of way.
Well, this was a garbled review. Lesse…Robin Williams is pretty great (a lot of people are fed up with him, but I’m not among them). Christopher Walken and Lewis Black are largely wasted, but are entertaining enough actors on their own. Laura Linney still annoys me. And like I said, by the end I did enjoy myself, but it’s not something I’d rush out and see. It is a solid watch though, so wait ‘til it’s on TV and it’s late and you’re bored. You’ll enjoy it more knowing you didn’t spend money on it (I guess…I don’t know, I’ve never walked out of a movie and cursed myself for spending eight bucks to see it, and I did see The Village in theaters).
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Scott, you are our god! We will have your BABIES, both of us (1120). This pass entitles you to one free 3some. WE LOVE YOU GOD
The second note came later.
Scott, you are my God. I will have your babies any day of the week! Let's get it on sometime soon. I'm squirming in anticipation. - Nicole
Now, aside from the random hallway "hello," I have no real preexisting relationship with these kind people. I'm not even entirely sure I know Nicole, although there are a number of the Frosh population I know but whose names were never given. What could have prompted them to post such flattering notes upon my otherwise-empty door?
I'll tell you what.
See, I had TiVo all set to go in my room before I was informed that splitting my broadband connection was a violation of Emerson policy, and I could very well be kicked off the network. But instead of letting God's own device go to waste in my room, I set it up in the common room. I expected a positive reaction, but nothing like this. I post not to say that I am at all superior, but rather to let you know just how powerful TiVo's hold is over us all.
P.S. I posted this here rather than The Rail because The Rail is automatically posted to Facebook, and the last thing I need is anyone at Emerson getting the wrong idea about the post. My buddy Aaron already exclaimed in front of several girls "Dude, you TOTALLY did this to get laid!"
Monday, October 09, 2006
Saturday, September 30, 2006
This shot is a bit cooler, but we didn't actually fire either the shotgun or the carbine:
Some people were a little too happy with the whole experience:
But basically, there were three tables like this:
So what did I do to deserve this amazing adventure? I simply enrolled in Hist 371: World War II in Europe. Sure, you'll have to sit through lectures where the professor spends more time talking about Darfur than World War II, but except for Pat, when is the last time any of us has spent any time with O'Brad? Needless to say, the professor is absolutely nuts. The midterm is due on one's birthday, every assignment is optional but the final, they can only help your grade, and above all, there is the small arms demonstration in late September. Basically, he thought it is a good idea that his students should have some idea what it is like to actually fire the guns that were used in WWII. (We mostly shot an M-1 Garand) So he got this military buff guy (like Hahn, but significantly less scary) to bring his gun collection and give us a demonstration. Then he cooked us turkey. Oh yeah, he also had us shoot at water jugs with pictures of Omar al-Bashir (the ruler of Sudan) on them, and he videotaped it, and is going to put the video on the web, or something... not quite sure... but a little creeped out by it... Oh well, it was fun, even if I do get assasinated by the Sudanese government.
PS: You know what this means, don't you? Y'all have to transfer to Cornell and take this class.
PSS: The rest of the pictures are on facebook. There are some good ones I didn't post here.
Friday, September 22, 2006
First, know two things – I love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the film Michel Gondry made before this. It’s not my favorite flick Charlie Kaufman’s written (Being John Malkovich is), and it’s not one I watch a lot, but I have a lot of respect for it and it really did hit me when it first came out. That respect comes largely out of Gondry’s heavy use of practical effects (effects created on the set as opposed to being added digitally), and making an effective love story out of a pretty cool science fiction idea.
The second thing to know is I love watching stuff that is clearly a director’s vision in its purest form. Those projects where a director works purely off instinct. The films are often quite pure, if not always perfect. Elizabethtown is a perfect example of this, as is King Kong, as is Star Wars, as is Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, as is The Science of Sleep. Half of it does come from reading interviews with the director, but I also think you can kinda sense it a bit. At least I can. Not that I’m any better for it, that’s actually a little sad, but what’ll ya do.
So in the same way I have respect for the way Gondry made Eternal Sunshine, I have a lotta respect for the way he made this. There’s a lot of practical effects, a lot of stop-motion animation, and a lot of imagination. Visually, it’s spectacular. The dream sequences especially are so fantastically realized and so well put-together that it really is disappointing when I sat there at the end just not caring. See, it lacks the crucial ingredients of a coherent story and a strong leading character. There are a lot of really great scenes in here, none of which add up to a real story. It’s not just that the story that’s there is bad, it’s that there isn’t really a story. And I’m fine if the movie only works on a visual level, but if that’s the case it better as hell use its images to make me think (2001: A Space Odyssey), move me (The New World), or entertain me (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).
As for the main character…the best I can come up with is watching him is like listening to emo music. It just makes me want to kick him in the nads and say “man up!” I have no problem with shy characters, or guys who are afraid to take control of their life. I have a problem with characters who whine. Not complain, or voice their emotions…I mean characters who whine. They bitch and bitch and never do anything to make anything better. As supporting characters they annoy me, but as a main character it’s just infuriating to watch. And by the end, he’s a little bit of an asshole to boot. I’m not asking for flawless characters, just compelling ones. Tony Soprano kills people for a living, but damn if I don’t care about that guy.
So the good news for me is that I have an art-house movie to point to that’s all flashy effects with no compelling story or characters the next time I hear crap because I love Armageddon.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
As it turns out Apple has once again screwed up. The new iTunes program that they have developed to replace the exsisting one is complete with new features as well as old problems. When you install the new iTunes it will try to compress your files, unfortunatly a common result of this compression is the complete destruction of your music library. This has happened to me, as well as countless others around the country. What happens is that when it compresses the files, the sound quality is destroyed and the resulting music sounds staticy, scratchy, and it will occasionally skip as well. I visited the Mac Store to see if there was some way to correct the problem, the employee I spoke to said this: "No." She then told me the only way to correct the probelem is to completely redownload and reburn all your CDs that you downloaded to, because apparently there is no way to uncompress the music files. Not even uninstalling the program and installing the old version, because the damage has already been done. This is why she has not yet downloaded the new version, apparently the employees all knew that there was a possiblilty for error, and therefor Mac's own people are not downloading the new versions. Unfortunatly they did not share that with the rest of us. So now my entire library of well over 1500 songs is completely gone, irretrevable to my knowledge and unbareable to listen to. The Mac store employee said there is a possibilty that Apple will create a patch to correct the problem, but she said it is unlikely.
If you somehow know of a way to fix this problem, please let me know! I really dont want to redownload all my music and recopy all my cd's. Thank you.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
En mass, we began walking around to the front of the door...to discoveran ugly cloud of black smoke billowing from one of the first floor windows...just a few rooms down from my own. As it turns out, a curtain in one of my friend's rooms was sucked into a window fan and locked the blades from spinning, which caused the motor to overheat, which caused the curtain to catch fire, which melted the fan to the window and in-general began causing things in the room to go up in flames. He returned from studying over an hour later (around the same time we were let back in to the dorm) to discover the charred remains of those items that had been close to the window along with all of their possessions covered in a layer of ugly black soot. Luckily, it seems both the computers in the room will survive (though the campus IT department hasn't issued the final word).
But our common room once again has a couple of homeless vagrants in it, and we've all learned a valuable lesson about fans and curtains. And our hideous cinderblocks proved themselves as a great material for containing fire.
so i love you wikipedia, and what do you do? you fucking spit in my face.
yeah, so what if i wikipediaed hope? it's 3:30, i can't concentrate on studying, and i learned all there was to know about saved by the bell, what else was i supposed to do? well, aside from admitting defeat and going to bed.
in other news 'ten things i hate about you' and 'she's all that' are pretty much the same movie.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – We’ve been pretty lucky with comedies this summer. They’ve been mostly hilarious, and also very, very diverse. And that’s probably the best news about Little Miss Sunshine; it’s an indie-film concept that looked like it would be sporadically funny but take itself way, way too seriously, but ended up consistently hilarious. Steve Carrell and Greg Kinnear are pretty great, but it’s Alan Arkin’s grandfather and Paul Dano’s teenager taking a vow of silence that steal the show.
SNAKES ON A PLANE – What can I say? It’s an awful movie with low production value, no concept of character development, a ridiculous premise, and horrible dialogue. But God damn if it isn’t the best theatrical experience I’ve ever had. If you weren’t there, you’ll never know, but those who were will hold onto it dearly.
WORLD TRADE CENTER – A difficult movie to discuss, but I found that it simply got overly sentimental. The first half-hour or so is fantastic as the rescue workers head to the scene, but the rest of the film spends its time cutting between their wives waiting for any word of hope and the rescue workers trapped in the wreckage, which slows the pace tremendously from the exhilarating start.
THE ILLUSIONIST – I knew as soon as I saw it that it would be unfortunate that so many people will let this pass them by. Don’t. It’s a truly compelling mystery film with some outstanding performances from Paul Giamatti, Edward Norton, and (yes, it’s true) Jessica Biel.
TRUST THE MAN – It’s not really anything special; an above-average romantic comedy that largely works because it went out of its way to create four characters you care equally about. What makes it work especially well are the performances, especially David Duchoveny ("The X-Files") and Billy Crudup (Russell Hammond from Almost Famous), who is a consistently engaging screen actor. Also, it’s pretty damn funny.
BEERFEST – Wow. When I first heard about this, I thought it’d be the dumbest movie of the year. And to call it smart might be going too far, but it is very, very funny. Highly recommended.
FACTOTUM – Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it. It’s a tiny movie starring Matt Dillon (Crash), based on a book by Charles Bukowski. Its plot (or the closest thing to a plot it has) is best summed up by its tagline – “A man who never had a job he liked, and never kept a job he had.” Throw in a lot of booze and cigarettes, and you have the basics. The good news is it’s pretty damn fantastic if you’re into the slice-of-life, working-man story.
CRANK – Holy crap. Wasn’t expecting that one. This is probably the first great film to come from the video game generation – you can smell the hours of Grand Theft Auto the filmmakers had to have played to even think of half the shit that goes down in this, but unlike so many films that draw similar inspiration, this is pretty freaking fantastic. It’s shot with a style unlike anything I’ve really seen before (Tony Scott’s recent work with Domino, another underrated flick, is probably the closest comparison), and never lets up. The movie starts right off with a drug injected into Jason Statham’s body that will kill him unless he keeps his adrenaline up. Then he rampages all over Los Angeles to find and kill the guy who injected him. The movie only gets more and more absurd as it goes on (including the most ridiculous, but most hilarious, sex scene I’ve ever seen in any film ever). Jason Statham’s fantastic in a crazy performance that won’t get the attention it deserves, if only for the sheer physical commitment to the role.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST - I don't care what anyone says, this was pound for pound a better movie than the first one. The action was better staged, the stakes were higher, there was a romance the audience gave a damn about, and more importantly, there was more than one interesting character. Jack Sparrow was improved on, but Davey Jones was a fantastic villain, Bootstrap Bill was fantastically tragic, and Elizabeth Swan had a personality. Imagine that. Best of all was Commodore Norrington, who was taken in directions nobody thought possible. Action, adventure, romance, mysticism, and a three-way swordfight atop a wheel. The best "summer movie" of the summer.
CLERKS II - Wanna see a movie tonight? Haven't seen this? See this. It's the funniest movie to come out all year. Kevin Smith's best movie that isn't Chasing Amy, and isn't Rosario Dawson the coolest actress ever? And any opportunity to put Jay and Silent Bob onscreen should be seized.
A SCANNER DARKLY - Probably the best adaptation of anything Philip K. Dick has written, besides perhaps Blade Runner. It's completely different from anything you could possibly expect, and most importantly, the animation isn't just there to look cool. Though it serves that function as well. Fantastic cast including Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, and Robert Downey, Jr. (go see Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang for a fantastic performance by that guy).
MONSTER HOUSE - Not terribly memorable, but way better than any other kid flick this year (certainly lightyears beyond Cars).
MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND - The best party movie since You Got Served. Probably even better. Get the right group for it and you'll swear it's the best damn thing you've ever seen.
TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE LEGEND OF RICKY BOBBY - Incredibly disappointing. It was pretty funny, even hilarious at times, but this is from the same guys who made ANCHORMAN? You wouldn't know it watching it. And if "shake and bake" becomes some new hilarious catchphrase around school, I may leap from my 11th-story dorm room.
SCOOP - Woody Allen's latest isn't always funny, but it is consistantly amusing and entertaining, which is hard enough in and of itself, never mind when you're doing a mystery comedy involving the supernatural. Also great to see Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, and Ian McShane cast completely against type.
MIAMI VICE - If you only watched the first half hour and the last forty minutes, not only would you think it kicked ass, but you wouldn't feel like you missed any of the plot. Unfortunately, I was there for everything in between.
I should be much more on top of the review thing...certainly once school gets going, but probably even in those weeks when almost no one else is around. I made my working list of the stuff I wanna see that's coming out between now and year's end, and it's...extensive.
Monday, August 14, 2006
But every now and again, I’m reminded that it’s still possible for a bunch of friends, or even one person, with a vision to produce something truly original with almost no money and get it out there. Really make it happen. And build a whole career that all started with a tiny independent effort. The most recent shot at it was Shane Carruth’s Primer (2004), which is what you should be watching right now instead of doing whatever else you had planned for the evening, and I can only hope he’s following the trail of his predecessors. Richard Linklater did it with Slacker (1991), Robert Rodriguez with El Mariachi (1992), Kevin Smith with Clerks, Wes Anderson with Bottle Rocket (1996). Jay and Mark Duplass have done it with The Puffy Chair, a movie made for $15,000 and being shown right now only in Portland (represent!) and New York. It’s traveling around the U.S., but you should check it out now while you can.
Essentially, it’s about a guy, his girlfriend, and his brother traveling to pick up a purple LazyBoy he bought for his father on eBay, then to deliver it to his father for his birthday. It’s a road trip movie, and for 85 minutes it feels damn leisurely, as any road trip should. But plot is besides the point, it’s the characters here that make it. It’s one thing to have good characters. A lot of movies have good characters. But it’s pretty damn rare, even more for a first-time writing/directing team, to develop great characters. Characters with a depth that isn’t necessarily spoken aloud, and who have as many interesting negative traits as they do positive. And then it’s a whole other issue to find actors to make them watchable. Nobody wants to watch people with too many flaws, but these three actors are all fantastic. I’d watch any of them in any other movie in a heartbeat. They’re funny, nuanced, and unbelievably engaging performers. Most movies are lucky to get one actor or actress as instantly engaging as these three are. Put them together in a room, it’s no surprise the end result is as good as this film is. I don't know if they improvised their dialogue, but it comes off extemely natural, relatable, and once again...engaging and interesting. I'll be quoting "I brought my own nutsack"...well, until I get sick of it at least.
I have big problems with the end of the film, which I won’t discuss here for all the obvious reasons. But thinking it over, the 83 minutes that preceded it were so much better than a lot of the stuff that’s come out this year, that it’s an easy recommendation, as my only trepidations with the ending are personal (please forgive me if I completely misused "trepidations").
I’ve kinda slowed on the reviews, partly because it’s been awhile since there’s been something to really encourage you guys to go see (aside from Clerks II, which I regret not writing about...oh, and I probably should've written that you shouldn't see Talladega Nights), so take this as a huge encouragement. It’s worth seeking out truly good movies, but it’s especially worth the effort when you’re not sure what their shelf life will be (though the fact that part of its theatrical distribution was financed through Netflix is encouraging). Independent cinema lives.
Friday, August 11, 2006
To fix this, download the patches by running the Windows Update program or going to update.microsoft.com.
Monday, July 31, 2006
hey mike, i talked to a girl on the gravy rangers on the bus today. she goes to u of o. who is it?
we should have a quiz mike thing everyday on here. or not, whichever. ha, our friend joe aka fugue was in her dorm.
i went to the csny concert with my dad and brothers friday. it was for father's day. it was my idea.
[when i realized it was on the same weekend as the pitchfork music festival in chicago i went quite awhile without mentioning it. but then shakeer couldn't go, and my dj friend from nd couldn't. and even fucking awesome events like that lose a lot of their fun without someone to share it with, which i learned at sasquatch. it wouldn't be worth the roughly four hundred i'd spend to see it, was my logic. i decided to get the video ipod instead. just yesterday i recalculated how much i'd have made over the summer and came up with an extra three fifty. that kinda blew. its probably the strongest gathering of musicians yet assembled during my lifetime. end longest brackets ever.]
csny were pretty much my dad's favorite music group growing up, and he'd never seen them live. it was tim's first concert too. the first third was mainly off neil young's new anti-war album. without the hundred person gospel choir it lost some of the little punch it had. it was okay. after intermission they played almost exclusively old stuff. highlights for me were ohio, for what it's worth, and a nearly twenty minute rockin' in the free world that fucking destroyed. neil young, i think the coolest man on the planet, broke a guitar string at i think the fourteen minute mark. stephen stills is a sick guitar player too. crosby is a has-been and i have a sneaking suspicion that nash was always a poser.
saturday during the day i headed over to the pdx pop now festival to see thanksgiving. it was at the loveland, about a mile and a half upriver from omsi. it's a very cool place. i wish i would have brought my camera. pictures always make blog posts better. anyway he's this skinny kid hardly older than us, from portland, and he performed with two drummers, a guitarist, a bassist, a trombone player, a trumpet player, and a tambourine girl with a handkerchief over her face. it was a great show. phil elvrum (microphones, mount eerie, etc.) has said "the best songs ever written are being written right now by adrian orange (thanksgiving)." he's like a mentor i hear. i'm not so sure, but i think i'll buy as many of his records as i can find. the show was not nearly long enough, but not because he didn't want to play his entire catalog.
sunday i went on a bike ride along the esplanade and over along this big connected walkway for the riverfront condos after crossing the fremont bridge. then thru the pearl. i guess i hadn't been to the pearl yet. i don't have an inclination to go back. then along the waterfront past the brewersfest and back home over the hawthorne. we should have a bike ride soon.
zoobombing was on globe trekker.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
We built some stuff. It looked like this. Actually the majority of my work (spent welding outside in the lovely Kentucky weather) is unseen, as we built a fly system for those painted drops, where there was nothing 3 weeks earlier.
And now Blogger is being a bitch and won'tlet me post pictures where i want. On the whole, I really enjoyed my time there...yeah the work was incredibly tiring (I've found that just standing up and walking around an outdoor shop for a few hours just drains you) but the people who worked with me made it worthwhile. So, if you have any interest in an outdoor theatre, Louisville Kentucky, kinda internship, I've got your connection.
I miss you guys and I will be home August 11th. I WILL see you then.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
July 29, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Damn, that's a bad picture:
Friday, July 14, 2006
Thursday, July 13, 2006
1: Under no circumstances may two men share an umbrella.
2: It is OK for a man to cry ONLY under the following circumstances:
(a) When a heroic dog dies to save its master.
(b) The moment Angelina Jolie starts unbuttoning her blouse.
(c) After wrecking your boss' car.
(d) One hour, 12 minutes, 37 seconds into "The Crying Game".
(e) When she is using her teeth.
3: Any Man who brings a camera to a bachelor party may be legally killed and eaten by his buddies.
4: 4: Unless he murdered someone in your family, had sex with your sister/mother or ran over your dog on purpose, you must bail a friend out of jail within 12 hours.
5: If you've known a guy for more than 24 hours, his sister is off limits forever unless you actually marry her.
6: Moaning about the brand of free beer in a buddy's fridge is forbidden. However complain at will if the temperature is unsuitable.
7: No man shall ever be required to buy a birthday present for another man. In fact, even remembering your buddy's birthday is strictly optional. At that point, you must celebrate at a strip bar of the birthday boy's choice.
8: On a road trip, the strongest bladder determines pit stops, not the weakest.
9: When stumbling upon other guys watching a sporting event, you may ask the score of the game in progress, but you may never ask who's playing.
10: You may flatulate in front of a woman only after you have brought her to climax. If you trap her head under the covers for the purpose of flatulent entertainment, she's officially your girlfriend.
11: It is permissible to drink a fruity alcohol drink only when you're sunning on a tropical beach ... and it's delivered by a topless model and only when it's free.
12: Only in situations of moral and/or physical peril are you allowed to kick another guy in the nuts.
13: Unless you're in prison, never fight naked.
14: Friends don't let friends wear Speedos. Ever. Issue closed.
15: If a man's fly is down, that's his problem, you didn't see anything.
16: Women who claim they "love to watch sports" must be treated as spies until they demonstrate knowledge of the game and the ability to drink as much as the other sports watchers.
17: A man in the company of a hot, suggestively dressed woman must remain sober enough to fight.
18: Never hesitate to reach for the last beer or the last slice of pizza, but not both, that's just greedy.
19: If you compliment a guy on his six-pack, you'd better be talking about his choice of beer.
20: Never join your girlfriend or wife in discussing a friend of yours, except if she's withholding sex pending your response.
21: Phrases that may NOT be uttered to another man while lifting weights:
(a) Yeah, Baby, Push it!
(b) C'mon, give me one more! Harder!
(c) Another set and we can hit the showers!
22: Never talk to a man in a bathroom unless you are on equal footing: i.e., both urinating, both waiting in line, etc. For all other situations, an almost imperceptible nod is all the conversation you need.
22a. Always follow the public urinal bylaws;
i. When multiple urinals are open, never take one next to another male
ii. When available, always take a urinal next to a wall or stall to minimize proximity, unless violating Rule 22a-i.
iii. Alway choose the urinal with the greatest distance from another user(s)
23: Never allow a telephone conversation with a woman to go on longer than you are able to have sex with her. Keep a stopwatch by the phone. Hang up if necessary.
24: The morning after you and a girl who was formerly "just a friend" have carnal, drunken monkey sex, the fact that you're feeling weird and guilty is no reason for you not to nail each other again before the discussion about what a big mistake it was occurs.
25: It is acceptable for you to drive her car. It is not acceptable for her to drive yours.
26: Thou shalt not buy a car in the colors of brown, pink, lime green, orange or sky blue.
27: The girl who replies to the question "What do you want for Christmas?" with "If you loved me, you'd know what I want!" gets an Xbox. End of story.
28: There is no reason for guys to watch Ice Skating or Men's Gymnastics. Ever.
29: Pull out
We've all heard about people having guts or balls. But do you really know the difference between them? In an effort to keep you informed, the definition of each is listed below.
"GUTS" is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to say, "are you still cleaning or are you flying somewhere?"
"BALLS" is coming home late after a night out with the guys smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the ass and having the balls to say, "You're next!"
We hope this clears up any confusion.
The International Council of Manhood, Ltd
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
oh ha, this wasn't it, but Hot Nurse said it was okay and happened to lots of guys. ha, i love Hot Nurse.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Friday, June 30, 2006
“Clark Kent wears glasses. Superman doesn’t.”
If this explanation is at all bothering or troublesome, Superman Returns is not the movie for you. It’s a movie that gives completely into its classic superhero vibe and sticks to that groove. Whereas so many superhero films in recent years have tried to make their heroes as gritty and realistic as possible, Superman Returns takes the path of fantasy and reminds us what makes superheroes larger than life.
I love Superman. Always have. The idea of an all-powerful hero never seemed lame to me. It was primarily inspiring because in spite of his awesome power, Superman always did the right thing. He never used his powers for selfish means, and viewed them as a gift not just for himself, but for all of mankind, a people he was never truly one of but felt the need to give back.
Was I predisposed to love the movie? Not at all. If anything, I was scared they’d screw it all up and I’d forever have to explain that Superman really is a great character (such is my eternal task with Daredevil, the Hulk, and Cyclops). I was afraid they’d try to make him too cool, too edgy, and take away all the stuff that makes him a classic. Look, Superman isn’t a cool character. There’s no cool factor to him. Batman is cool; he’s got the gadgets and an awesome car and he runs around kicking ass. At the center of the Batman/Superman difference is their central missions. Batman’s really is to rid Gotham City of crime, which means going out and finding crime and seeing that it’s (non-lethally) disposed of. On the contrary, Superman’s mission is a protector; he helps people. If that means putting the hurt on a bad guy, then so be it. But if you notice throughout the entire course of the film, as I recall, Superman never directly FIGHTS anybody. There are fantastic action sequences, but none of them involve a fight scene, which I think is pretty remarkable in modern action filmmaking.
Not that Superman Returns is really an action movie anyway. As I said, the action sequences are unbelievable (Superman rescuing the plane will forever be at hand as soon as this hits DVD), but they are few an far between. This is the next step in superhero films, where the special effects are big but the story isn’t focused on a bad guy and a good guy. The core story of Superman Returns is actually more like Casablanca than anything else. It’s about old loves coming back into your life.
And it is beautiful. I’ve seen the movie twice now, both times in digital (my continued love/hate relationship with Bridgeport every time my brother insists we go there), and wow…it’s just about the best looking film I’ve ever seen. Every shot is a work of art. Batman Begins made an important first step in establishing an artistic style in superhero films, but Superman Returns takes it a step further. Metropolis finally feels like a real city, instead of simply a stand-in for New York.
But getting back to the fantasy elements, they are really strong in this. Like I said, if the central premise of glasses as a disguise has always been a problem for you, you’re not the audience for Superman, as there are any number of logical or scientific flaws in the story. There is almost no conceivable way for Lex Luthor’s plan to work, and the fact that the basics of it is explained purely by the fact that the crystals are alien makes me smile. It just gets more complicated from there (like Lois could really come out okay being thrown around in that plane), but this is one of the few times I’ll say it – it’s a comic book. Hang back and enjoy it.
One aspect in the Superman/Lex storyline I did enjoy (which was by and large badly edited; they lost a lot of momentum with me in the early cuts between what Superman was doing and what Lex was doing) was that it was structured very different from every modern superhero film. Every one of those, be it Batman or Spider-Man or ¬X-Men or Daredevil will have the hero and villain do two to four battles before some sort of final showdown in which it’s all put on the line, after which all must be resolved. In Superman Returns, there’s like one showdown. Sort of. And like I said, it’s not really a fight. And after it all, everything is not okay, and Singer and company do a fantastic job of really bringing out the heroic aspect of Superman during it all (and they get major props for frequent and awesome use of heat vision).
It’s the same reason the plane sequence works – Superman doesn’t succeed with his idea of how to stop it from falling right away. He makes some mistakes. In these instances, and in one big moment towards the end of the film, we’re reminded that Superman is only human. Metaphorically anyway.
The thing in the film I feared the most is the presence of Lois’ son, Jason. I’m not going to spoil anything, but for my money they really nailed it. My only fear now is I can’t see any direction for them to go with that story in a sequel without making the worst film ever, but you shouldn’t judge a film by how well it sets up the next I suppose.
The cast is spectacular almost all around, Brandon Routh especially. I’m a HUGE fan of Christopher Reeve’s performance as Superman and Clark Kent. It’s one of my favorites of any film. But Routh finds a way to hit the key notes of what makes Superman, but there were only a couple moments that reminded me of Reeve. He also plays the difference between Clark and Superman a little more subtly than Reeve did. Until seeing the movie, I was unconvinced he could pull off the role, as he didn’t particularly look like Superman. But seeing him onscreen, and especially hearing him, I was blown away. I never thought anyone could ever really BE Superman again, but here he is.
Kevin Spacey’s great, what else is new? He also has one of the best entrances of a villain in cinema history. Frank Lengella is fantastic as Perry White. And Sam Huntington cracked me up every time as Jimmy Olsen; I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen the character portrayed as well as he is here. Kate Bosworth’s Lois Lane is a different story altogether. They’ve yet to really craft a great Lois onscreen (watch the animated series for that), but we’re getting there. Bosworth plays Lois’ vulnerabilities just fine, but her strengths poorly. And more than anything else, Lois has to come off as a strong character, and she just doesn’t.
However, the real revelation to me in this movie was James Marsden as Richard White, Lois’ fiancée. His performance in the film makes it all the more upsetting that Bryan Singer didn’t know what to do with him in the first two X-Men films, because he is fantastic here, especially considering his role could have easily been reduced to Mary Jane’s astronaut-boyfriend in Spider-Man 2. If ever there was a man who could compete with Superman, Marsden’s Richard would be him.
Anyway, I loved the movie, even more the second time now that I was done comparing it to my expectations, and just to stuff I wanted to see. I might even end up liking it more than Spider-Man 2 (which is still the most excited I’ve ever been coming out of a movie). The first time though (at Cinetopia) had the best damn audience anywhere. When people cheer in recognition of the opening credits, patterned after Superman: The Movie, I know I’m with my people. And especially when the in the back yelled “Go Brandon!” when Routh’s name came onscreen, it really reminded me of how much we (the geeks) had riding on this, and how much we wanted it, and especially him, to succeed. And to my everlasting joy, they did.