Saturday, July 30, 2005

"The Aristocrats" is everywhere!

If you pay any attention at all to the internet and pop culture, you have heard of "The Aristocrats" by now.

It is a movie by Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame) and his film-maker friend Paul Provenza.

I have read about it in no less than three separate media venues in the last four days. First, it was on Entertainment Weekly's website, then on Slate, and since then in an extended Entertainment Weekly article.

It truly seems that this movie is now everywhere. People are even trying to explain why exactly it's so funny.

And that is odd, since it is not a big budget movie, has no real structure, and its content--as every article and review bends over backwards to point out--is constructed from the most hideous and vile comedic performances you could even begin to imagine.

And yet, everyone says that it is simultaneously awful and funny.

I have to admit, it makes me wonder . . .


Blogger David said...

If you need further proof that I am a parent, when I first typed this post I put "The Aristocats" in every instance.

The movie I am discussing has absolutely NOTHING to do with that Disney animated movie.

9:46 AM  
Blogger flipper said...

Ha! That's funny. And yes, I DO need further proof that you're a parent. The actual children just aren't convincing enough.

2:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Warning! Possible Spiderman 3 spoilers contained within

So . . . who is Thomas Hayden Church gonna be in the new Spiderman movie?

How about this guy here?

NOW can I be a bit concerned? Does this villain sound like an A-list villain worthy of the greatest superhero franchise in recent memory?

If you doubt this you can consult here to increase your level of belief.

All of this come from the website Development Hell. On that site it provides some other plot clues and assertions.

[Original story links via EW's Popwatch.]


Blogger Sven Golly said...

This is great!!! Especially

"Due to a serum he ingested, the Chameleon's face is virtually featureless. His skin is malleable and can be reshaped by electrical impulses emitted by devices in his belt."

I need to look further into this genre. I'm also in the market for a belt.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Sven Golly said...

Wow, you are opening doors out of my sheltered, insular wit (re T.H. Church):

"This comes from a VERY reliable source, so we’re saying you can take this to the bank!"

Oh, okay.

10:57 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Monday, July 25, 2005

Jodie Foster . . . seriously?

There are suggestions in the following link that might be considered spoilers . . . so use caution if you want.

Has anyone seen this trailer for the new Jodie Foster movie, Flightplan?

This movie feels like a combination of Air Force One, Panic Room, The Sixth Sense, and that some other movie that was out a while back where the wife was convinced that her son was alive but things were falling apart. It has that actress that had red hair . . . does anyone know what I mean?

It doesn't feel like a decent Jodie Foster movie to me, but then, what was Nell exactly?


Post a Comment

<< Home

Friday, July 22, 2005

He's SPEC-Hubb-ulous

I've only known Spec for a short time. Really known him just since we've started 'visiting' outside during the day. Its our seven minutes away from work that we spend whining about work or chatting about nothing in particular. Sometimes Flipper joins us, making us a little cluster. (Of course our friends hassle us constantly about our visits, but we just ignore them. Poopy on them-they're just jealous cause they're not in our club!).

I have two things to say about Spec...

One, I am going to take this opportunity to admit that Spec is my first...... atheist. Never met one before, as if its a type of food or a place to visit. Now, yes, there are others in our group that claim the title as well. But he was the first one to talk to me about it. Or rather, boldly announce it. The interesting thing to me is that he is more decent than many people i meet, many who even claim to be religious. I guess mostly because our society thinks that being Gay and being Christian is impossible. He doesn't (of course some of that is probably attributed to the fact that he isn't a Christian). Even so, he takes me at face value. He takes everyone at face value. He talks with me, asks questions, gets to know me, and he's not belittling (and I hope he senses the same in me). He sets an example that more people should think about. (YES, I'm talking about the same Spec you all know and love!)


Two, though I find everyone at our lunch table to be witty, the rapport between Spec and Burb is hilarious. As all can attest that they have had me in tears. Spec's outlandish remarks, made at loud volumes, kills me! And the looks from the other tables within earshot - priceless. Burb - who now will spar with you? Who now will say the next logical thing that no one in their right mind would actually utter - except Spec? My Girl says that Spec is my work husband... If that's so, now I'm a widow! bye hubby! take NYC by storm! Wear your coat on cold days, eat good, and carry a large yet cleverly disguised weapon with you at all time so that you stay safe.

I will truly miss you! :(


Post a Comment

<< Home

Ode on a Grecian Spec

He’ll be embarrassed that I told this story, but I first met Spec in the summer of 1980, when we were both on tour with ELO. I was in charge of running the band’s t-shirts through the dryer right before the show to ensure they’d be nice and tight. Spec played piccolo in the actual light orchestra. Normally, performers didn’t mingle with roadies, but I ran out of quarters at the Laundromat right before a show. Spec heard of my plights and gave me a roll of quarters, saving the ELO show in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Because, really, who wants to see Jeff Lynne perform unless he's in a skin-tight t-shirt?

Imagine my surprise when Spec and I met up again twenty-four years later. But fate can be cruel- after a year of rockin’ good times, Spec made the decision to move to the Big Apple (most likely to study early Dutch settlements, knowing him). I know we will always KIT, be BFF, he’s 2 Good 2Be 4Gotten, and I LYLAS, so I’ll try not to be too sad that he’s leaving. But in commemoration of his time in the Midwest, I’d like to share what Spec means to me:

S is for skinny, which he is because he exists solely on movie nachos and fondue
P is for player, as in tennis and ultimate frisbee
E is for engaged, to a woman some say could do better
C is for crass, as everyone within hearing of the lunch table is well aware

J is for the imaginary friend he talks about incessantly
A is for his strange east coast accent (ask him to say the word “terrible”)
G is for the girly drinks consumed during Happy Hour
C is for the fact that he cries a lot (though always alone, to his credit)
T is for twelve, the age he looks
L is for the "upbeat" lesbian music he favors

So there you have it. Spec’s last name has finally been revealed. (Jagctl is the ancient Aztec word for “one who hugs without express permission.")

Now, so that I’m not accused of being insincere, I’d like to share some of my favorite Spec memories. (This sounds uncomfortably like a funeral oration, so I’ll just save the text. Just in case.)

The day I moved to this city, almost a year ago, Jack Thunder and Cordelia were kind enough to help me move into my fab apartment. Cordelia informed me that they would be bringing along a friend, namely Spec, to help. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed to have someone I didn’t even know help me move, but as soon he moved in my first box of books I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. My parents thought he was a fine, upstanding young man as well. Little did they know…

I was one of Spec’s assistants in purchasing an engagement ring for his lovely fiancée. Let’s just say we had fun playing it to the hilt, and the jeweler thought Spec’s “fiancée” was decidedly cold- both toward Spec and the entire experience. (Jeweler: What do you think of the ring? Me (shrugging): It’s alright.) Needless to say, the ring is beautiful and I’m fairly certain Spec’s real fiancée is enthusiastic about the pending nuptials.

Last fall, Spec and I drove to Nelsonville to see Dan Bern at Stuart’s Opera House. Since I don’t usually appreciate singer/songwriters post-1978, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was game due to Spec’s enthusiasm, the chance to hear live music, and the promise of singing protest songs against G. Dubyah. The Opera House was fantastic, the drive was lovely, the music was a call to action, but the company was the best part. Thanks, Spec!

And finally, one of my favorite Spec memories involves driving Upstate with him, Jack Thunder and Cordelia to see Rilo Kiley. Seriously, is there anything better than a music-related roadtrip? Catchy tunes, candy apples, religious cults, and scented candles made it a weekend to remember.

So what does all this blathering mean? It means I’m going to miss Spec something fierce. But to ease the pain, Spec, I promise to send you new music, think of you every time I go to a so-horrible-it’s-good movie, and even read your blog every once in a while. I wish you all the best and get ready to help me move when I eventually join you on the East Coast!


Post a Comment

<< Home

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Potter Placeholder . . .

Raisinette hasn't read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The fact that I placed a really large, extensive review of said book is bothering her and prevents her from visiting this site and contributing to its blogging goodness.

So, to help her out, I decided to put some sort of barrier between her eventual next post and my offensively revealing discussion of Harry.

I hope this helps.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Monday, July 18, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

"It's been like ... like something out of someone else's life, these last few weeks with you," he tells her. "But I can't ... we can't ... I've got things to do alone now."
--Harry Potter to Ginny Weasley (HP and the H-B P)

All I wanted was to tell her how much I loved her. . . . "I want you to know that I will always be there for you--that I will always be your friend."
"Only a friend?"
"That's all that I have to give." Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: 'With great power comes great responsibility.' This is my gift . . . my curse."
--Peter Parker to Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man)

"It's not a question of what I want, don't you see? It's a question of what I am. Part of the problem may be I haven't truly given myself over to my work. . . . [I]n spite of what [he has said] I've never been really convinced I was especially talented. But perhaps I need to dedicate myself, commit myself to being a magician. . . . In my own way, I do love you . . . [b]ut I think I should try to find out about myself before I try to make up my mind about the rest."
--Pug to Princess Carline (Magician)

In the latest Harry Potter book, Harry struggles to confront the truth of his existence--exactly WHAT is he supposed to do with his life? He's been going to school for the past five years, learning more about his magical heritage, learning even more about the perils and pitfalls of celebrity, expectation, and the unknowable question of his own future.

While the first several books were sort of one-offs, existing mostly to introduce the reader to characters, their personality traits, and set the world around them, books 4, 5, and 6 have thickened in spine width and grown a spine in the story as well. The deeper story of Harry's destiny and the future of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world has grown and taken on more weight.

I don't pretend that these books are Milton or anything. In fact, some reviewers protest a bit too much. Heck, I read the 650+ pages of Half-Blood Prince in barely more than a day. You don't even attempt that in serious, "important" works of fiction. These books are fun and intended to draw you in, make you care about the characters. I think this was done very well from book 1 and has continued to the present effort.

I came to the Harry Potter party slightly later than some. It was sometimes after the first one was published and getting a lot of publicity (after 1997 I believe). But, I have a history of loving these kinds of stories. Once I tried the first one, I was hooked. Rowling showed a surprising ability to combine magical, fantasy elements with believable (in a fictional sense) modernity. (As so many reviews have mentioned, the train station that Harry takes to ride the train to Hogwarts is King's Cross . . . the site of one of the all-too-real July 7 terrorist attacks.)

But, as I said, I have a history with these stories--stories where an ordinary, often overlooked boy discovered surprising things about himself, confronts the changes that come from this discovery and makes choices-sometimes hard ones, to protect those around him. Sound familiar? All three quotes above deal with this theme.

Sure, it is highly Romantic and over-blown, but it was an appealing notion to me back when I read Magician. Pug the orphan boy, who discovered he was much more than it first appeared. He wasn't the ordinary kid that no one cared about. He had the ability to do magic that no one had ever seen, and in doing so, he became more than he ever thought possible. He won the affection of his dream girl, but realized that he had to keep his distance for her sake.

Much the same thing occurs in Spider-Man of course. Peter Parker was a nice, ordinary kid, who through a twist of fate/luck became Amazing, Powerful, Important. This allowed him to eventually win the affection of the girl of his dreams . . . but he too realized that her safety was more important than his desire to be with her.

Harry comes to the same conclusion in Half-Blood Prince. While Harry in earlier books thought about girls and his own boyish desires, he was always forced to focus on tasks and trials that were placed in front of him. That, and the fact that he was mostly inept around girls and had no clue how to approach them, except in a purely Platonic sense. In this book, as Harry and his friends turn sixteen, girls take a place in their daily lives that is at least as important as school, though less important than the threat of Lord Voldemort's growing evil influence.

Harry develops a strong infatuation with one of his female friends, and while I thought it was a bit forced at first, Rowling eventuallyvwon me over. He has to turn away from his own wishes in the end, however, forced to accept his growing role as the Chosen One, the person destined by prophesy to confront Voldemort.

H-BP doesn't really propel the overall, seven-book plot much farther. It felt more like a plot expansion. As one review stated it: "In many ways this book has been a mere staging ground for Rowling's final narrative to come. . . . Too much of the book was either a repeat of what we have seen before, or bogged down by Rowling's attempts to maneuver plot lines and characters into position. After a while all magic tricks begin to lose their impact." I agree that there was more references to the past than in any other book before it. And I also agree that a great deal of heavy plot lifting has to get done in the seventh and final book, but I don't think this book suffered greatly for all of that.

All of these books have a common pattern, a very reliable structure. It is interesting that this book ends by hinting that this plot structure will be thrown into a new direction at the end. The expected phases: a) the Dursleys, b) visiting the Weasleys, c) the train to Hogwarts, d) school, sports, mysteries, and then e) the exciting plot resolution might not be there in Year 7.

Yes, someone dies in this book. That has almost come to be expected as the plot thickened from book to book. Cedric Diggory died in book 4, and while the entire 80+ pages that end Goblet of Fire never fails to choke me up, Diggory himself was only a minor character. In book 5, Order of the Phoenix, Harry's godfather Sirius dies at the end. He was more important than Diggory, but had not been a major character from the beginning. In H-B P someone important dies.

This death also matches with the literary/cinematic traditions of my childhood. Pug's mentor Macros the Black had to disappear before Pug could come into his own. Peter Parker's uncle Ben has to die before Spider-Man can accept that responsibility and power are intertwined. Obi-Wan Kenobi knows that Luke won't come into his own until Vader seems to be triumphant. Likewise, Harry must confront the death of those close to him before he can face his future in book 7.

But was this death the result of misinterpretation or was it a chosen fate? Obi-Wan intentionally sacrificed himself to rejoin the Force and guide Luke in different ways. Kenobi didn't misjudge Darth Vader and therefore die a death caused by his own stupidity. Which was the reason for the death in H-B P?

There are other questions raised by the end of H-B P. Harry may be destined to confront Voldemort, but is he truly ready for that and skilled enough to succeed? Whenever he has faced Voldemort in the past, he succeeded through luck and the timely help of others and a bit of deus ex machina. If that is the route for success in book 7, I think it will feel cheap. Harry has to gain some convincing power before I buy the notion that he can defeat the most powerful evil wizard of all time.

And once it's all over . . . what then? Does Harry retire to a life of leisure? Does he marry his postponed love? Does he go back to Hogwarts and teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, a la Tom Cruise in Top Gun?

I don't have the answers to these question, nor to the reason why Malfoy would be so emotionally fragile in H-B P as to seek out the advice of Moaning Myrtle? Does that make sense? But I wonder how things will all end. And while I am excited to know that the end will come and I enjoy reading these books, I regret that I read them so quickly that the original thrill of discovery is gone just as quickly.

But maybe that is another lesson to be learned. Fantasies are just that . . . fantasies. And life's reality doesn't unfold as in Harry Potter, Spider-Man, or Magician. I guess it's best to grab those moments of excitement when they come.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting review. I enjoyed the references to Feist's Pug scenario, as well as Spider-Man, which I had instantly connected. Unfortunately for me, this lessoned the impact of Harry's profession, which seemed to quick and stilted to be sincere, and too much of a borrowed plot device.

A couple of other thoughts, too: I loved this book, many of the same reasons you did. Now, having said that, one gripe: I thought Dumbledore's character was, frankly, too Gandalf-esque to be really inspiring. The way he hunted around for information, all his methods, including the use of fire, just felt too much like Gandalf's methods for hunting down the nature of the One Ring, from interviewing people to his power with fire and such. Now, I know we are dealing with archetypes, but when connections begin to detract, there is a weakness.

Still, she is amazingly fresh in most ways. About page 200 I was really growing frustrated that these kids had not yet had real relationships and weren't even talking about girls/boys, etc. Then it all happened and I was satisfied, though I felt it came late. I'm certain this was a plot device more than anything. Along those lines, and this may be a problem the arises because Rowling as a woman may simply have not thought about how young men feel in this regard, but Ron and Harry are approaching 17 (Ron has his birthday in the book, actually). A major event in young men's lives at this time is beard growth and the desire to feel more adult by starting to shave. Yet that never happens. Perhaps it was too trivial to mention, but she does spend careful attention to these kinds of details. Perhaps they will later?

I have some ideas about the character who dies, but those should probably be discussed and not typed here so as to avoid major plot spoiling.

As for your discussion of the standard story arc she creates, there are major possibilities that, once the summer ends, the arc will no longer follow that pattern. But that is another spoiler issue, so I'll leave it at that.


11:06 AM  
Blogger David said...

I also felt Dumbledore came off as very Gandalf-esque--especially in the cave at the end. That entire chapter seemed spiritually connected to the Fellowship's wait outside the Gates of Moria.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Sven Golly said...

Great review! Stories are only stories after all, but the good ones build on archetypes and weave in universal themes, as you point out. While these books might not be "important" works that rank with the Great Books (determined by whom?), they will be important to readers who cut their literary teeth on the bildungsromantic themes Rowling uses. Thanks, I just wanted to use that word.

Literary and Historical Note:
It was on this day in 1954, the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy came out, The Fellowship of the Ring.

11:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Friday, July 15, 2005

Put 'em together

The new iTunes makes Podcasting much easier to access, and allows for losers like me to discover a whole bunch of new aural sensations. Among these are Harry Shearer's pocast le Show, Adam Curry's Podfiner, and the horribly offensive but hilarious Distorted View Daily. All of these are available for free through iTunes or directly through each podcast's website. But the best of all is a Podcast called Mashup. The DJs at Mashup mix together songs and sounds to create a unique "mashed" creation. From such wonders as Kelly Clarkson and the Eagles (which is surprisingly good) to Weezer, Radiohead, and Beck to Eminem and Lawrence Welk, these guys come up with the most random shit. And all of it's good. Check them out through iTunes or by clicking on the above link. It'll change your life forever. Or at least for a few minutes.


Blogger A P said...

Crazy stuff.

I really liked the GnR/Beatles mix.

2:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Daily Show Feng Shui

State's Surfer Girl, Dana Stevens, doesn't like the new Daily Show set.

Do you have a problem with it?

Have you seen the show since they moved into the new set a few days ago? Is this article going to color your opinions of the set if you HAVEN'T seen it?

In an somewhat related note, has anyone else seen the web ad for Tucker Carlson's new MSNBC show "The Situation." While it doesn't use the correct music, it is clearly lifting ideas from The Beastie Boys video "Sabotage." It must be the coolest ad for the lamest show I know I'll never watch. (I couldn't find a separate link to the advertisement, but if you load Slate enough times, it'll show up in the top right corner of the white section.)

And, to extend this post a bit further, did anyone else know what I was talking about when I suggested that Lulu's new boy Mark have the middle name Tanqueray. If not, check out this.


Blogger Sven Golly said...

This old white dude prefers Gordon's with his tonic between Memorial Day and Labor Day - Beefeater if I'm feeling flush. Not sure I would be influenced by Tanqueray's desperate bid for urban popularity, even if I watched the channels they sponsor. And don't forget the lime.

Maybe if they promised longevity, I'd buy their brand.

3:15 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hey Jack, I can tape for you and bring tapes in each week. Cordelia will have to be the "Daily Show tape mule," but I hope she won't mind so much. We can make a short story about her experiences.

I don't have a convincing reason about why I stopped distributing it a while back, but I'll try to get back in the swing.

Oh, and I'll take um . . . The New Yorker? Is that me? (Probably Rolling Stone is more me, but it's just too BIG. Maybe Film Comment? Oh, heck, I'll let you define me. Speaking of second hand magazines, are you still subscribing to Entertainment Weekly? Cause with Spec heading to the Media Capital, he won't need mine any more. They are up for grabs.

4:49 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

More on classic (?) movies

I added another post to the ongoing discussion of movies, classics, and movie classics. So scroll down to read the latest comment or use this link to get there now.

Why don't I just provide the link here?

Don't know.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Monday, July 11, 2005

To Kill a Mockingbird

I read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird this weekend and discovered two things:

1. This is a great book! I know . . . "duh", right? I had never read it (or seen the movie), and was impressed and positively engrossed.

2. "Harper" is now my girl's name-of-choice. But if the baby is a girl, and I'm going to name her after writers, what other woman author do I choose as a namesake? (By the way, Kevin is not sold on Harper, but I told him he may have to acquiesce on this one.) My favorite author in the whole wide world is Barbara Kingsolver, but I don't care for "Barbara" and "Harper Kingsolver Mc" might be a bit much.



Blogger Sven Golly said...

Well I started out trying to think of other female writers' names, wracked my brain until I finally found Mary Oliver (probably not the name you're looking for) and this poem (what can I say?):

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver. Online Source

4:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I, Sideways

Well, I finally did it.

I watched Sideways. And not only that, I watched I, Robot as well.

So, what did I glean from these movies? I think the descriptions on the back of the packaging handles it best.

"One the eve of the largest robot rollout in history, two men who are struggling with a mid-life crisis decide to take a once-in-a-lifetime road trip through California's wine country to determine if the machines are a threat to humanity!"


But really . . . I, Robot was better than I was prepared for. It looked very satisfying and while I know it had very little to do with Asimov's actual books, it still told an engaging story in an way that kept you interested. While that is pretty much the minimum for movies you hand over money for, at least I ended my viewing experience happily.

Sideways was also very good. I liked the way it ended without telling you if Miles would find Mia at the apartment or whether she had already left that place and moved somewhere else that he could not find. Either scenario would be equally plausible. It was good to see that before we made our own trip to wine country. Not that we'll be tooling into any old winery we see. It made me realize that we should investigate the logistics of those days a bit more carefully, to see if we need to make reservations or anything before we arrive. And, I promise not to drink any %^$##*ing merlot while we are there.

I liked both movies. It makes me consider renting movies again sometime.


Blogger lulu said...

I'm sure you know this, but there are Sideways tours of wine country, and the spots featured in the movie are wildly popular now. Beware, traveler.

Also, don't even TRY to buy a Raven map now! They can't keep them in stock!

10:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Movies for the Ages

In reference to the post a coupla doors down, let's compile our own list of Movies for the Ages. The only "rule", if approved, would be that these need to be movies made during the last . . . 10 years? 20 years? The Newsweek guy asked if 'anyone was making movies that we would watch in 50 years', and included a list of rather cheesy but modern stars, which makes me think that he's talking about the last decade, maybe two.

Disagreements? Work 'em out.

So should we try to make such a list? Why not? We could all use a diversion now and then, and I'm all pissy today and need something to take my mind off W.

Before I throw out a few titles for you jackals to rip apart, I'd like to say this: What old movies still get watched today? Why do so many assume that old movies are "classics" even though they're often plagued by bad, bad acting and vapid lines, and new movies are crap? What an annoying question! Wizard of Oz kinda sucks, if you ask me, though the whole "gold standard" issue is pretty interesting, AND, if I was younger, I'd be all about getting high and watching it with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon playing in the background. Gone With the Wind is awful--it's racist, there's a rape scene, yuck. One old movie that I really love is All About Eve--it's really witty, scathing, good story, good acting . . . but there are movies like that today. I immediately thought of As Good As It Gets, which is a really good movie about strong, if "flawed", human relationships.

Anyway, on with the list of modern classics.

1. I nominate Election. The hypocrisy of modern (and ancient?) politics boiled down to a high-school student body election with 4 main characters. Very well acted, extremely funny, achingly real.

2. Heeellllllooooo?! Ever heard of a little group of movies called Lord of the Rings?

3. and 4. If people of the future aren't watching Coen Brothers movies, then I have no sympathy when they find themselves Bladerunner-less and being knocked off by replicants. I nominate Raising Arizona and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

5. Finally, I recommend Goodfellas. Hellava good piece of storytelling.


Blogger Sven Golly said...

Two words: John Sayles

In no particular order, Return of the Secaucus Seven, Brother from Another Planet, Matewan, Passion Fish, Eight Men Out, and Lone Star are well-written, convincingly acted, character-driven movies loaded with class conflict, political insight, regional history and culture, and humor. The intergenerational and social themes are timeless. Hint: will NEVER be widely recognized because he and Maggie Renzi and their crew work outside the Hollywood studio big-money corporate system. ROCK-ON, JOHN!

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Sven - Though I celebrate that Sayles did it in spite of the corporate monsters, I don't think movies that most people have never heard of are going to be "classics." They've got to be known in the first place to be played later....

11:13 AM  
Blogger David said...

The only one I am convinced of is "The Graduate." The movie and the music was completely a reflection of its time, but for that reason it will remain important in the future.

Other than that, well . . . there's so many ordinary movies out there--big budget blockbusters. Will ID4 or something like it be the "GWTW" of our age?

There are certainly good movies outh there, but are they important? And for what reason? Is "Star Wars" important because it reshaped the system, introduced new technology. But it's not a GREAT movie. "Memento" is a great movie, but will anyone remember it later--except possibly for gimmickry?

So, what about "Shawshank Redemption." Not mind-blowing or anything, but a solid, well constructed story with good acting?

So many movies I think of are glitzy and crap-filled (because I have no critical censor and go see mainstream junk.).

11:16 AM  
Blogger lulu said...

Burb! I'm surprised! You can't think of any others? The Graduate is, indeed, great, but it's pretty old--outside of the boundaries of MY rules. ; )

Where's your Top Ten Movies list from so long ago?

Also, I think we're holding today's movies to a slightly unfair standard. It's sort of like British rock bands a few decades ago--everyone raved about how great they were and what crap we produced, but it was only the BEST British rock bands who really made it across the pond. There was plenty of crap that we never heard of.

Much like movies. First of all, movies back in the day didn't have as many competitors, meaning the chance of busting into "classic" country was much greater than for today's great movies. It was also easier for a movie to be "known" than it is now. (Remember that Wizard of Oz was a flop.) There was plenty of crap back then, too--but it didn't translate well into today's age.

Likewise, I can only hope that the ruthless bitch-goddess Time will erase the hideous, ultra-marketed, big budget crap of today and allow the Matewans and the Elections and the whatever-is-on-jack-thunder's-lists to surface and shine. This will only happen if the people of the future are smarter than we are, and actually provide a market for the many, many great movies our short attention span compatriots let rot on the vine. So they can go watch Jackie Chan. And complain about "'s TOO LONG!" Pathetic.

And, yes, Star Wars is an enduring classic AND a great movie with a great story, if not particularly well acted!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Sven Golly said...

Given that 'classic' is synonymous with 'popular', I withdraw my nomination. Commercial success defines artistic quality. But I'm not bitter or anything.

4:44 PM  
Blogger David said...

This artice ( from the Entertainment Weekly blog gives an interesting new spin on this discussion.

11:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

This site is right up the alley of some of ya'll.

(Click on the post title to access the site. From there you can search for bands, etc.)


Blogger lulu said...

Cool site! Thanks, burb.

9:09 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Bore of the Worlds

As is evident by the above title, I was far from pleased with the new Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise alien vehicle. I must admit that, going in, I didn’t give the movie much of a chance. Having read the original novel by H.G. Wells, I saw from the movie previews that the story had been changed significantly.
The first problem with the liberal translation of the book is the way that the Martians come down to earth. In the novel, the alien creatures have been watching earth and planning an attack. They send an army of aliens and machinery to our planet in what looks like a meteor shower. The aliens are encased in metal spheres that crash into the earth. From there they emerge, slow and heavy under the stress of earth’s heavy gravity. They are slightly awkward and slow-moving, but are able to build about a dozen huge fighting machines that tear through England (the only place where the creatures land). In the movie, which is set in northern Jersey, the aliens come to earth riding bolts of lightning. The lightning shoots them into the ground where lie, apparently unobserved by humanity, the large fighting machines. I had a big problem with this change and saw no reason for it, other than a chance to show something bursting out of the street.
Ignoring the method of arrival for a while, let’s focus on what happens when the aliens get there. The destruction of small English countryside towns is matched by the destruction of New Jersey suburbs, expect for the way in which the aliens destroy things. In the book they are armed with two distinct weapons: a Heat Ray and Black Smoke. The latter is a toxic gas that kills people immediately. It is the main reason why the aliens in the book are able to kill as many as they do. It doesn’t appear at all in the movie. The Heat Ray is a powerful gun that burns anything and everything in its path. It seems like an ultra powerful flame-thrower. The narrator of the book describes the damage the Heat Ray does, from burnt trees and houses on fire to blackened and charred bodies. In the movie, however, the Heat Ray is replaced by an odd laser that seems to disintegrate anything it touches. People don’t burn and melt when struck, they burst into clouds of whitish gray dust. This dust, which is clearly supposed to echo the odd hanging dust over NYC after 9/11 falls all over Tom Cruise’s character. He looks at himself in a mirror, covered by the human powder, and freaks out (understandably). But do we really need a 9/11 homage here? Another related thing is when Tom and his kids are running from the aliens his daughter (played hauntingly by Dakota Fanning) asks “Is it the terrorists?”.
Speaking of Tom and his kids, his character is very different from the narrator of the book. Tom is a divorced father of two kids who hate him. He works on the harbor as a crane operator. The character in the book is married, has no children, and is a philosopher who writes and researches for a living. Not even remotely connected. I hate that films feel that they have to justify emotional characters by giving them kids. The narrator of the book is very emotional and doesn’t need children to get there.
Moving past the differences with the book (they don’t end there but I’m boring even myself), I’ll share my problems with the movie itself. In classic disaster movie turn of events, everything seems to go right with Tom and his family. They are able to find the only car that still runs in the neighborhood, they are able to drive through mountains of debris and jagged metal in a minivan without getting a flat tire or breaking down. They are able to drive from Jersey to Connecticut without stopping for gas. These things I hate, but will allow because they are somewhat necessary for the progress of the plot.
The aliens themselves are very odd looking and not anything like Wells describes them. They are also in mass numbers while the book suggests that only a handful of spheres crashed onto earth. The aliens in the movies, meanwhile, seem to have obtained some of the characteristics of Velociraptors. They walk and move similar to dinosaurs, but have fully functional arms and hands. Tom encounters them in the basement of a house owned by a very creepy, very overweight Tim Robbins. Robbins’ character is a meshing of two characters from the book (a brave artilleryman and an insane curate). He plays the part perfectly and is, by far, the best thing about the movie. Sadly he is only onscreen for about 15 minutes.
My last complaint is the lack of explanation of a lot of the alien activities in the film. When the lightning bolts (all 26 of them according to Tom’s astute son) deliver the aliens to earth, Tom investigates the sight. He picks up a piece of asphalt or rock and holds it gingerly in his hands. “Is it hot?” someone asks. “No, it’s freezing,” replies Tom. He then slips the rock into his jacket pocket. That is the last we see or hear about it. What was it? Why was it cold? Why did he keep it? Where did it go?
Also, had I not originally read the book, I would have had no clue what the long, red-vined plants that appear after the aliens land were. They are spreading rapidly all around Tom in Tim Robbins’ basement. He picks one up and his hand is covered in a red liquid, blood I would assume if I knew no better. Nothing is ever said about the plants, except when they are dying and Tom picks one up and it crumbles underneath his fingers. There were some other continuity problems that I had trouble with but I won’t mention them here because it would give the ending away. Needless to say, as you can tell from this (overly) long post, I was very disappointed with the movie. Go see it if you must, but I’d recommend reading the book instead.


Blogger Sven Golly said...

What? And miss another epic performance by that heir to the mantel of Barrymore, Olivier, and Bruce Willis? I can only say, from your description, Spielberg makes movies the way Chevy sells cars and the RNC sells candidates. Having kids MAKES you a kind-hearted human being. Evoking 9/11 MAKES you heroic. I think I'm gonna barf now. But thanks for the warning.

3:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A good movie question--updated with a new link!

David Ansen, the movie critic at Newsweek posed an interesting question in this week's issue: "Is anybody making movie's we'll actually watch in 50 years?"

You can read the entire article via this link.

I am also adding a related link to this Newsweek article via the new Entertainment Weekly blog, "Popwatch."

I just know that some of you readers out there have opinions on this topic.

To help fuel the fire more, the print article is accompanied with the following illustrations and captions.

Tom Cruise
  • 26 movies made 26 [this number includes starring roles and significant supporting parts]
  • 8 movies built to last ("War of the Worlds" "Collateral" "Magnolia" "Jerry Maguire" "Rain Man" "The Color of Money" "Top Gun" "Risky Business"
  • .308 batting average
Julia Roberts
  • 28 movies made
  • 4 movies built to last
  • "Erin Brockovich" "Notting Hill" "My Best Friend's Wedding" "Pretty Woman"
  • .143 batting average
Russell Crowe
  • 13 U.S. movies made
  • 4 movies built to last
  • "A Beautiful Mind" "Gladiator" "The Insider" "L.A. Confidential"
  • .308 batting average
Johnny Depp
  • 26 movies made
  • 6 movies built to last
  • "Pirates of the Caribbean" "Donnie Brasco" "Ed Wood" "Gilbert Grape" "Edward Scissorhands" "Nightmare on Elm Street"
  • .231 batting average
Brad Pitt
  • 22 movies made
  • 3 movies built to last
  • "Ocean's Eleven" "Fight Club" "Thelma and Louise"
  • .136 batting average
Nicole Kidman
  • 23 U.S. movies made
  • 1 movie built to last
  • "Moulin Rouge"
  • .043 batting average
Betty Grable
  • 29 movies made
  • 0 movies built to last
  • .000 batting average
Cary Grant
  • 54 movies made
  • 24 movies built to last
  • "North by Northwest" "An Affair to Remember" "Notorious" "The Philadelphia Story" "Bringing up Baby" "Awful Truth" et. al.
  • .444 batting average
James Dean
  • 3 movies made
  • 3 movies built to last
  • "Giant" "Rebel Without a Cause" "East of Eden"
  • 1.000 batting average
Now, I don't claim to know much about the last three people mentioned, but, I don't disagree with most of the rest of these--except for the Johnny Depp inclusion of "Pirates of the Caribbean." IT'S BASED ON A THEME PARK RIDE PEOPLE!!!!!! Sure, Depp "took a risk" (I guess) and I don't deny that the movie is enjoyable and fun to watch, but what exactly makes it pantheon worthy? And "Nightmare on Elm Street"? Really? Because you have to include a horror film? Can I get a ruling here?


Blogger lulu said...

You can get a witness here, Burb.

I didn't like "Moulin Rouge". I would put "To Die For" on the list either alongside or in place of. Actually, the movie itself is not stellar, but she did a great job.

Pretty Woman, Notting Hill and Best Friend's Wedding are all commercial crap, probably the modern equivalent of Bringing Up Baby, though I can't be sure. However, Erin B. should be there--it's very good and she did a heck of a job.

I don't want to take a lot of time on this, but if "Top Gun" is a movie for the ages, our ages suck.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Sven Golly said...

Let's quibble about the details. Add "A River Runs Through It" for cute, bad Brad; add "The Hours" for dour, brooding Nicole; subtract pouting puppydog Julia period; subtract the medical expert Dr. Tom Cruise (except "Rain Man" on Dustin Hoffman's coattails).

This is a fun diversion, mainly for the chance to put the above pretenders in their place (so there!) while admitting that even Bogart made some stinkers. A little like asking if Shaq would score a single basket against Bill Russell (no), or if Mike Tyson would look silly against Ali (yes). But I wonder what Meryl Steep's batting average is, or Gary Cooper's.

I beg to differ from the Newsweek article: most of Harrison Ford's work is forgettably cute; Cruise only succeeds in the role of an egomaniacal jerk (hint: he's NOT ACTING).

11:07 AM  
Blogger lulu said...

Good points, JT and SG. Perhaps we should start a list of Movies for the Ages of our own. To hell with Newsweek.

9:12 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home