Saturday, April 29, 2006
So, if you want to see more, there is a link on the sidebar. I'll probably be posting a new picture about once a week, depending on how busy I am this summer.
the link should open up a "windows media player" if it does not work the url is this:
Wow. I thought I had steeled myself for it. I thought I was somehow ready, perhaps even read too much and would be numb to the experience. Not even close. United 93 is one of the most visceral, frightening, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, powerful film I’ve seen in awhile, if not the most.
I can only speak in my own personal opinion, but not a second felt exploitive. To me, it feels like there’s been so much talk and theory and speculation and analysis put into the events of that day that we forget what it was like. I know I do; I think of it from time to time, and honestly my time spent at college has brought it to my attention more than ever, but it’s pretty rare that I truly remember the fear and confusion we all felt that day.
I’m not gonna go into a whole thing about where I was when I first heard about it, because more or less we all have the same story. The story none of us have is the story that United 93 tells at its core, and for that reason I think it’s a film worth making. You can read any number of reports that will tell you all the information they have on what definitely happened on that flight, but what none of those reports will convey is what it felt like. Anyone could imagine it, but what United 93 does, as any great film will, is it puts you right there. I’ve heard the story of the flight many times, as have I’m sure we all, but I was nearly in tears listening to the passengers call their loved ones to say goodbye, and I was inspired by and just as anxious as the passengers who banded together to retake the plane.
There’s more going on in the film, though, as it also explores what it was like for the air traffic controllers and military personnel (largely portrayed by people who do those same jobs, and in a few cases, such as FAA Operations Manager Ben Sliney, are portrayed by the very people who were doing those jobs that day). Those scenes are incredibly tense, which might be surprising as much of it is spent trying to figure out something we as an audience already know all about.
And that’s probably the greatest testament to the film, as it goes with any historically-based story – everyone knows the outcome, but we experience it as though we don’t. It’s a very intense film, difficult to sit through at times (I’d estimate around thirty people walked out), but by the time it gets to the passenger uprising when they attempt to retake control of the plane, I was captivated. Some people in the theater even cheered at this (at the end, nearly the whole audience erupted in applause).
This is not a “larger picture” film. There are no big statements, no long speeches, not even a mention of “Osama” or “Bush” or anything. And that’s what I probably love most about it, is that it sticks with its characters. Those characters are largely unnamed, and if they are it’s in passing, which is something I’m almost always opposed to in films. I often chalk it up to lazy screenwriting, and it tells me that if the screenwriter doesn’t truly care for his characters, why should I? But sometimes, it works. Here, it works because hardly anyone knew anybody on the flight. They were all just people caught in this situation who suddenly had to band together, and that’s how they’re presented to us.
I have a whole defense in my head about why I feel the complaints about big budget Hollywood cashing in on tragedy are misguided and uninformed, but that’s not my job in a review. If you think it’s too soon for the film, I would recommend against seeing it. No matter what, you won’t be ready for what you see, but if it’s an experience you feel you’re ready for, you won’t find a better movie in theaters right now, and you’re unlikely to for some time.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Last night I walked down to the First Unitarian Church with a friend and her friend from Missoula who smoked at least 3 ciggarettes before we finally saw Islands. We got to the church and found a long trail of indie kids wrapping around the building. It's really interesting how all indie kids look alike. After waiting for about an hour after the show was supposed to start, they let us in. The first opening band was Snowden who wasn't bad except for the fact that all of their songs consisted of one line that was repeated over and over again. It was fun watching the singer swing his sweaty hair around to the beat because sometimes he'd get off beat and he'd have to stop for a second to get back on track. Anyway, the second opener was Cadence Weapon who rapped and probably only got to perform because he's the guy who raps in Where There's a Will There's a Whalebone. We sat outside for that set and amused ourselves by personifying this pretty white flower amongst the dirt and other coarse plants. It kept getting blown violently in the wind and Kim (the one who smokes) kept making distressful flower noises whenever this happened and I really don't know why we found that so funny but anyway back to the show. Why? played next and had a pretty big following. I could have sworn all of their songs were about sex but I could be wrong. Aaand after much waiting around Islands came on stage.
(this is Phil)
Despite some bad sound quality, Islands were really great. Especially since there are two stereotypical asian guys in the band playing the violin and various other instruments. During one song, one of them played the violin like a guitar. They started their set with Volcanoes and the crowd ate it up, although it might have been because they were on ecstasy. I say this because the group of people in front of us were off the wall. They kept jumping around and swaying and doing strange dances and being generally rowdy but Islands just kept playing unfazed. Someone also managed to crowd surf...That bunch certainly loosened up the audience but after a while they just got annoying. When Islands finished, they walked off stage over to a side door which led to an open room, flipped the lights on and just stood around drinking water and beer while the audience cheered them back on stage by chanting "U-S-A." But when that didn't work they chanted "Canada." It reminded me of Gus and Shakeer and Jack and whoever else was a part of that back in high school. They played Swans and something else. I'm pretty sure it was all just an act, but when the show was really over they just hung out in the same place. I'm really surprised no one went over to talk to them. I kind of wanted to ask Nick Thorburn if he would reveal what was under his long bangs. And compliment the show of course, maybe get an autograph.
Overall I thought I had the most fun at this concert than any others I’ve been to because everyone was so engaged with music and freely clapped and sang along. I only wish bands wouldn't take so long to get started. I'm also wondering how a church turned into a concert venue.
I saw Wolf Parade a couple weeks ago too, except in a far more grungy/clove smoking venue. They sounded fantastic live. Every one of the members had a bottle of Heineken and in the keyboardists' case, a very large towel. Spencer Krug (the guitarist/singer) was also smoking something when he wasn't singing. Even while doing all that they managed to play almost all of their songs perfectly, with some slight variations of course. They ended with I'll Believe in Anything and played Dinner Bells during the encore performance.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
Such is my feelings on the film (see what I just did there? I took a bit of the film and used it as a larger example of the film in general...that's professional stuff there baby). I don’t particularly like it, but it is a fun watch. I don’t like because, for a comedy, it’s not especially funny, and for a satire, it’s not especially smart or with anything to really SAY. But it is very easy to watch, and there is enough stuff in there that makes it a pretty enjoyable watch, just not for any of the reasons you’d really expect (unless you're all about really obvious jokes about the intellect of a Southern president and the nature of what kind of star a show like American Idol will make of you, which is totally cool).
The cast is really good, it’s just a shame that largely they have nothing to do. Dennis Quaid does especially good work as President Staton, who is pretty much a view on President Bush through and through. But despite the fun pokes at him, there’s a really great character in there, and there was a scene that got a huge sympathetic reaction from the audience. A Boston audience at that (in case you haven’t heard, this town is liberal as hell).
But besides that, Hugh Grant’s Martin Tweed, the host and judge of American Dreamz (the show) isn’t particularly interesting, though Grant tries his hardest. Same goes for Mandy Moore’s Sally Kendoo (which really sounds like the name of an adorable little kid somewhere), the rising star of the show, and…well, really the rest of the cast. When Willem Dafoe and Judy Greer (a name you may not recognize, but she’s a fantastic actress on many levels; she was Orlando Bloom’s sister in Elizabethtown, though her best work is as Jeffrey Tambor’s secretary on Arrested Development) can’t even make their characters interesting, you might be in trouble. Seth Meyers (who did John Kerry on SNL) is in it, though, as Mandy Moore’s agent, and he’s fantastic.
But largely, sooooo many of the jokes just fall flat, relying mostly on its premise to amuse people (and it is a damn good premise). And there are any number of characters that will just piss you off (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just wanted to take Omer’s gay cousin and pour molten lava on him).
So should you see it? No. Find Brick or Thank You For Smoking or Inside Man (in that order), all of which are spectacular. And I’ll be seeing The Sentinel pretty soon (the one with Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas in the CIA), which seems like one of those movies you’ll have kinda figured out by now whether or not you want to see.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
1. The Boondocks, by Aaron "Heavily Oppressed" MacGruder
2. Doonesbury, by Garry "I Never Actually *Draw* the President So Technically I Could Be Describing Something Else" Trudeau
3. Dilbert, by Scott Adams (a nod from the Daily Sun to Cornell engineers who don't work in cubicles and thus can't really relate to the strip at all)
4. (some other, forgettable strip?)
5 and most importantly!. Mr. Gnu, by Travis Dandro. Sometimes including Read It And Weep, also by Travis Dandro.
There's a fairly obvious political slant here, but that doesn't really bother me. I've already been indoctrinated into Ivory Tower liberalism and I don't notice it anymore. What *does* bother me, more than basically anything else in my life right now, is the continued publication of Mr. Gnu and Read It. Thus, the quick question I wanted to ask: have you guys even heard of this? Is Mr. Gnu a nationwide waste of trees that would have better served us by continuing to produce oxygen, or does he exist only at Cornell? (If you haven't seen it, the title links to an example strip. Ha ha! The meats are escaping! Thanks Travis.) Meanwhile, Read It And Weep is the same frame of a sad boy and squirrel staring at each other, following the format: Frame 1. Boy says something depressing. Frame 2. No words. Same picture. Frame 3. Squirrel says something equally depressing, or on good days, identical to Frame 2. I didn't link a comic because I don't want you to see it. Anyway, I used to complain back home that Grand Avenue or Garfield were among the worst comic strips I could even conceive of, but I guess college really expands your horizons. Travis Dandro is probably the reason my school has that reputation for depressed kids--visitors read the Sun and extrapolate.
End Note: By the way, if you're also procrastinating, feel free to post your comic lineup too, because I'm pretty curious, and it might take the edge off this bitterness. In fact I kind of wish people who haven't posted for a while would just check in and say how they're doing because I haven't heard from a bunch of you in months. Ken out.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Sunday, April 09, 2006
So I went to my second concert of my college career (the first was a Sister Hazel concert, my roommates bought me a ticket for my birthday and didn’t tell me where we were going until we got in the car…I was very impressed, seeing as I’d only known these girls for about a month and they pulled this whole thing off for me) this last Friday night, and it was awesome. We had great seats, 12th row from the stage on the floor, so we could see everything, and by the time Franz Ferdinand hit the stage, Cameron was packed.
The show opened with The Cribs, a band from
Franz Ferdinand was next, and they were excellent. I hadn’t heard that much of Franz Ferdinand beyond “Take Me Out” (which, when they played, made the stadium ERUPT and almost everyone was singing along and jumping) and “40 Feet”, both of which they played, but after hearing more, I think I want to download more of their music. Unfortunately, the lead singer’s thick Scottish accent made it tough to understand him when he was talking, so I hope he wasn’t making a lot of jokes, because then he would feel bad when nobody laughed cuz we didn’t know what he was saying.
I think more people came for Death Cab than for Franz Ferdinand though, because when Franz Ferdinand left the stage, I saw a lot more people coming and not many people leaving. Death Cab was incredible, of course, and I enjoyed it a lot more this time seeing as I’d heard more of their music by now (when I saw them the first time, I’d only heard “Passenger Seat”). While they mostly played music from their new album Plans, they alsoplayed a great mix of songs from different albums, from Transatlantacism, to The Photo Album to We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes. It was very funny, though, when they would play slower, more intense songs like “What Sarah Said” (if you haven’t heard it, its on Plans, and I think it’s really sad and beautiful), people starting using their cell phones instead of lighters, waving them back and forth…they looked like fireflies, but at the same time, I got really excited when people pulled out actual lighters and waved them instead. The cell phone just doesn’t seem right somehow.
One of my favorite parts though was the types of people who were there, and what a random odd assortment of people came for this concert…you had the stereotypical people at an “emo/indie” concert, with the tight jeans (especially on the guys) and black band t-shirts to match their black converses, but then there were duke preps with their popped collars who you suspect are only here because they heard Death Cab one time on The O.C., junior-high aged kids that make you hate them for their superior music taste at that age (admit it, you were listening to Backstreet Boys, too, it's okay, we all went through it), adults our parents age…these bands have a big audience. For anyone else going to this tour, get excited, I really enjoyed it…except for the two sets of ridiculously strange 15-year old couples standing right in front of Emily and I, who continued to make out during the concert…so unnecessary. The only high lights were when one girl attempted to jump on her bf (…? Yeah, I dunno.) and they both fell over and Emily and I could not stop laughing, and then another time, when we were making fun of them, right when Emily turns to me and goes “oh my god, wanna make out?”, the song stopped and it was really quiet so it was really loud and I laughed really hard. Yes for awkwardness.
I’m excited to see y’all. I miss my
Friday, April 07, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I don't really have any great pictures on hand. In other news, Ben Folds, Talib Kweli, and Acceptance are headlining Slope Day this year... Should be pretty sweet. (Anyone heard of the latter two?) It's hard to express how excited I am. Also, the Waiters concert is next Friday, if anyone is going to be in Ithaca anyway you might as well come. I'll buy your ticket!