Monday, November 06, 2006
I loved this movie. I laughed all the way through it. It's definately not for anyone who's allergic to the F-word, Robert Downey, Jr., or nudity. However, I'm theoretically allergic to all of these things and I laughed myself silly.
I think I loved the movie so much because I also happen to love pulp fiction. No, not the movie, the actual books. I'm a proud member of the Hard Case Crime Book Club, and I get my two paperback books sent to me once a month. I love 'em and I don't know why. I have theories, though. I might love them because they're mysteries without being another English country weekend murder story. I might love them because I love Humphrey Bogart and Sam Spade and film noir. I might love them because stuff happens and it's not all about feelings and making jam with your grandma. I might love them because I like how quickly I can read them. But, I think I really love them because they're a total and complete escape into a world I will never (hopefully) inhabit. It's a world where I don't have to be paranoid I'll hurt someone's feelings, a place where brutal actions follow quick decisions, where change is quick and twisty and often very very bad. I like this universe. It's someplace I never get to go, what with me being a girl and everything. If I decided to stand flat footed and punch someone in the face, no one would be on my side. But, in pulp-fiction land, everyone is cheering for me.
KISS KISS, BANG BANG is pulp fiction at it's best. It's clever, hysterical, engaging, and I really regret not seeing this film in the theater. If it had made more than $1.50 during it's theaterical release I might have gotten the sequel I now want to see. I loved this film and I'm sorry that Harry and Gay Perry will never again be on the big screen, track suit and all.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Do you have Netflix friends? I do. I actually have seven Netflix friends and I'm quite proud. It's pathetic, of course. I'm certain there are lots of people with lots more friends, in fact I'm certain there's a whole blossoming Netflix community. I'm not a part of that community, but it's really neat I'm sure.
Anyway, I mention it because MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS was recommended to me by a Netflix friend of mine. This particular Netflix friend dosn't enjoy the same sort of film that I do. She is, in fact, only 57% similar. I know this because Netflix told me and Netflix very often neglects to show me the things this particular friend thinks/says/sees because of our dissimilarities.
But, MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS was recommended to me by this friend and so I watched it. It's a cute enough film. Dame Judi is delighful, and the costuming/sets/lighting/overall production values are marvelous. It's a nice movie but I didn't love it. It felt shallow. It felt insincere and trivial and pleasant and meaningless, a pretty little bon-bon of a story. After watching it I assumed that my Netflix friend had only recommended it because it was the only movie she had seen that she could imagine me enjoying as well. She does, after all, tend to prefer films which involve disenchanted priests, people being insular and horrible, or movies with cute kids and puppies in 'em.
I saw this Netflix friend the other day and mentioned this movie. She gushed and I was hard pressed to come up with enough pleasant things to say about it. I'm starting to think that perhaps Netflix is right. Being only 57% similar to someone means their opinion, while well intentioned, is only very occassionally in sympathy with mine.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Hi. I had to use this picture, rather than one of the pink frothy candy-coated pictures of Kirsten Dunst and friends being twee in their panniers and silk because this is the picture that has Jason Schwartzman in it. Let it be known that after seeing this film, I want Jason Schawartzman for Christmas.
Really. I'm not kidding.
It will be perfectly alright. I won't do anything bad to him. I just want him to hang out at my house. I'll read a book or do my laundry or something and occassionally I'll say "Hey, how ya doing over there?" He'll look up with those big brown eyes and say "I'm in the middle of something here" and go back to whatever he was doing. Which will be great 'cause if there's anything to do with Jason Schwartzman it would be hanging out not doing something, together.
Which is exactly like this film. It's a dreamy disconnected confection of a film and we all spent a lot of time not doing anything together. Marie had nothing to do, Louis had nothing to do, I - an audience member - eventually had nothing to do because we all go wrapped up in this strange gilded energy and spent time doing a beautiful nothing.
My hairdresser told me that Sofia Coppola wanted to make a silent film but there's no way the studio would green light it. This makes sense. There is plenty of talking but none of it really communicates what anyone is feeling. This is, after all, the Age of Reason, and if what you are experiencing dosnt' fit into tightly defined social bounds, then it's just not mentioned. The real communication is done by the sountrack, which is exquisite. In fact, just go buy the soundtrack right now. It is the true voice of the film and of Sofia Copola.
Kirstin Dunst is... okay. I think she's something of a brat personally and in the rare unscripted moments of the film you can tell. But, I guess that's Miss Marie Antoinette, anyway, so it's alright. The rest of the cast is surprising as well as excellent. Rip Torn and Molly Shannon aren't the kids you'd immediately think of to put in a costume film but they are wonderful.
Anyway, MARIE ANTOINETTE is gorgeous delicious Gen-X entertainment and I want to see the film about six more times. Jason Schwartzman can come with me.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
It's curious what I choose to watch when my skull is trying to crawl out of my face. One is able to track the progress of my migraine by simply looking at a list of movies. As you can see, I'm not a migrane sufferer who needs silence and darkness. I just need dimness and something to distract me while my head explodes. Below is a list of the things I watched and the things I learned.
Roller Boogie -- Linda Blair has my hair!
Scratch All The Way Live -- the OBEY GIANT guy is cool. So is Mix Master Mike.
The Book of Mormon Movie: Vol. 1. -- It really IS that bad!
Sleepy Hollow -- Johnny Depp can out act the rest of the planet. And I mean that in a good way.
Underworld -- funny how intense pain makes this less scary. Kate Beckinsale rocks.
[insert 15 hour nap here]
Chronicles of Riddick -- I want to shave my head to look just like Karl Urban's.
2 Hours of assorted television -- this stuff is still boring
3 Hours of Hee Haw -- Roy Clark's influence on my early childhood development (my parents wached Hee Haw every week until I was about 7 or so) is reflected in my inordinate love of banjos and chubby sleazy guys. [see: Tom Jones]
Friday, July 21, 2006
My suburban older sister, (the one w/ the kids) told me she hated this movie. "It's stupid!" she said. "All that time and the ending is dumb. Why did we look at that girl for two hours if they wern't going to get together?"
It's an interesting question, and one that can be broken down into two parts -- 1) why did we have to look at that girl (Kate Bosworth) for two hours and 2) what was the point if it's not a straight ahead romance? I, for one, would have been perfectly content to never look at Kate Bosworth again, even though it is mildly entertaining to watch her and wait for her skull to pop out of her face. Thin.
But, skeletons aside, what is the point of this film? I think one of the most important things for any audience member is to realize that this is not an American film. It's a foreign film, and a pretty good one, but it's not the popcorn-y summer blockbuster we expect it to be. And I think SUPERMAN RETURNS will struggle in the box office because of the subtilty of Bryan Singer's "message". Whatever it is he's trying to say, he's saying it quietly and w/ a lot of pauses, and pauses do not blockbusters make. He's also saying it with questionable costuming and mismatched technology. What year is this? No one knows. Why is that woman with the 20 inch hips wearing Katherine Hepburn's clothing when everyone else isn't? Once again, there's no knowing. But here's a better question, why does Lex Luthor wear galoshes? Well, I know that one. It's because he's trying to look like landed British gentry, and Parker Posey goes through every possible sartorial variation of nouveau rich she can. She's hyserical, by the way, as she stomps through scenes with the campy funny delight we expect her to excell at.
I'v read a lot of reviews about SUPERAMAN RETURNS and there have been some really interesting comments. I read that one can track our society's perception of a reporter's role by examining Lois' character. In the 1940's she was Girl Friday and would do anything to get the story. In the 1970's she was post-Watergate committed to truth and the righteousness of her mission to report the truth. In 2006, she's a colorless corporate reporter who could care less about truth, righteousness, or making a name for herself. Pretty sad.
Anyway, it's an interesting movie. View it with an eye towards subtilty and unspoken messages and you'll probably like it.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I loved it. I went w/ my sisters to see it, which was a bit of a challenge 'cause they like to talk through movies. It can be embarrassing when one goes to opening night of a film, sits in a theater packed full of geeks who have waited three years for the majesty that is X Men, and sits next to my sisters who loudly cheer when we are treated to a slow pan of someone's grave. The geeks to the right of me were visibly upset every time my sister expressed how hot Colossus is whenever he was on screen. That my sisters are funny and I agreed with them only made it worse. =)
Anyway, Wolverine does some serious Shatner-esque acting, but I loved it 'cause his shirt was off. Famke Janssen looked amazing, (I think) even though her costumer hated her and she had visible hair dye on her scalp. Iceman's character is LAME, Angel is cool, Juggernaut was a blast, and Beast is The Best Thing Ever. Plus, Magneto finds a pack of tatooed mutants who channel the awesome power of androgny and they hang out while he moves a bridge. Unfortunately Halle Berry is still in the movie and tries to act while wearing a brand-new Tina Turner wig, but you can ignore her fairly well as she's managed to completely free herself from the pinching restraints of Storm's actual personality and isn't even bothering to pretend she's anything other than Halle Berry in a Tina Turner wig.
Basically I loved it and was highly entertained. As I have no moral issues with Cyclops not being in the movie, or any other geek obsession/freak-out, I recommend it for everyone.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I liked it. It was funny. It was also really strange. I don't know it's numbers, how well it did in the theater and how the DVD sales are going but I'm gonna tell my older sister to buy it for her kids. I think they'll like the singing goat and the frantic squirrel and the snowboarding grandma and the hip treat-delivery girl Red. They probably won't be so much into the thespian woodcutter but that's okay, the dective frog makes up for it.
Entertaining, different, and not saccarine. A good film.
Monday, May 15, 2006
BAD SANTA was one of those movies I wanted to see but always forgot about. Fortunately Comedy Central showed it several times yesterday and so I finally remembered to watch it. Well, I watched most of it since the film was edited for content and a majority of the film was silent due to bad language being deleted out. Which was okay 'cause the only reason I watched it was to see Billy Bob Thornton sit around in a Santa suit and drink. If that's the reason you're wanting to watch this movie, then you're in luck 'cause that's practically all he does. Drink and pick up on girls and look sweaty. Fortunately he also manages to crack safes, beat up on skateboard punks, accuse a mall manager of discriminating against his African-American little person partner, and steal a pink elephant. And drink.
It's not exactly heartwarming but I liked it.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The lesson for the weeks is this:
"Release yourself from expectations."
PAHELI was the movie sent to the Academy of Motion Pictures as Bollywood's entry for the "Best Foreign Film" category and I don't know why. I admit that I had high hopes for this film. I came to it expecting it to be good. Anything that India felt would be worth an Oscar should be magical, or at least pack a social punch.
PAHELI completely let me down. It's well shot, has actual special effects, beautiful costumes, nice songs, and is utterly irrevocably shallow. Based on a novel by Vijayadan Detha, it's supposed to be all folk tale and lovely-quaint. Instead it's a Sha Ruk Khan movie. You can tell because he's shirtless. Add a pretty girl with green eyes and a complete lack of moral/emotional depth and it's a hit!
I'm going to go back to high school English here, but isn't drama based on personal growth? Isn't that why we watch it, to experience the struggles of a character's choices and consequences? We enjoy seeing people learn, watching folks make decisions, sitting back and looking at people fight though the mess of their lives, be those lives real or imagined. PAHELI dosn't have any character development. No one learns anything. Really. I would explain the story to you but there's no point.
I do have to admit that if you watched PAHELI fully expecting it to be lousy, you might like it for the oversaturated visual beauty that defines the film. Unfortunately, I couldn't. Next time I will seek to release myself from all expectation and perhaps I'll actually enjoy myself.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
So, random Russian space movie. Apparently the filmmaker watched "2001" right before making SOLARIS and decided that he didn't want something that visually stunning and morally empty. Which was a good decision 'cause the Russian film bureaucrat decided that his budget would be less than half of what they agreed to so there's no way he could have made a movie that was visually stunning and morally empty. Instead SOLARIS is a quiet long study of the morality of science, the bittersweet pleasures of nostalgia, and the unspeakable intricacies of human relationships. It also has practically no special effects, some amazing camera work, a cavalier disregard for traditional narrative form, and a lot of hand-knitted clothing. There is also about five minutes of mind-numbing footage shot in Tokyo of the "City of the Future." Apparently they were allowed to go to Tokyo to shoot this city of the future but they didn't get there in time for the Worlds Fair. (Which would have looked cool.) Instead there was some problem with the visas going through on time so we get five minutes of someone driving around Tokyo to justify the cost of going there in the first place. To westerners it's skull crushingly dull. To Russians, who didn't have overpasses and long tunnells and multi-lane highways in 1970, it was the future. Pretty sad, really.
Anyway, it's an interesting film. I'm becoming more and more accostomed to Russian cinema styles and all of them seem to involve a lot more time, a lot less editing, and a willingness to leave the story up to a series of still-life images. I suppose it's only natural considering the regime these films were made under. Far easier to contine working if one dosn't actually say bad things about the folks currently oppressing you. It's a lot better to imply them with complex symbolism in order to sneak it by the censors.
Apparently there was a remake made starring George Clooney. I can see why he was selected to do the American remake. It's pretty much perfect casting cosidering the original. I'm curious now to see this remake. Will it be as obscure, as opaque, as impossibly confusing as the original? Is that the reason it didn't do so well in the theaters? Americans don't like ambiguity so much and that's all this film is.
It will be interesing to see.
Monday, May 01, 2006
When this movie came out there was some controversy in my office about the casting. Everyone was all up in arms about the (pretty nearly) all Chinese cast of a film about Japan. During the resuting brouhaha, I defended Rob Marshall's decision to cast whomever he wished. After all, movie makers aren't making films just to meet the needs of political correctness. They're making movies people will pay to see. And, since the average cost of seeing a movie, after getting a babysitter, paying for gas, parking, and food, runs around $50 for two adults, you'd better get some sort of star in the picture that the husbands won't mind seeing. Since the three main stars in this film -- Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, and Michelle Yeoh -- are better known for their action films, it makes economic sense. And it shouldn't matter anyway. Actors aren't paid for being themselves. They're paid to portray characters. It shouldn't matter if you are a Chinese woman playing a Japanese woman any more than it matters if you are a straight man playing a gay one.
And then I saw the movie. It wasn't Japanese. Sure it was set in Japan and the girls wore kimono, but it was as Japanese as Luciano Pavarotti singing Schubert. (Which is to say, it isn't.) Everyone talked too much. (WAAAY to much.) Everyone knelt in small rooms and actually looked at each other. (Which is weird.) No one had black laquered teeth. (Which is flatly impossible.) There wern't any spaces, any inferences, any of the
I was disappointed.
Friday, April 28, 2006
This movie has one (1) starlet -- Shirley MacLaine -- and six (6) leading men. It also has a painting monkey, seventy five (75) sets, musical numbers, comedic antics on the therapists couch, and half a million dollars ($500,000) spent on Miss MacLaine's costumes alone. (Edith Head RAWKS!!!!)
It's amazing and Robert Mitchum is the Man. Also the Man is Paul Newman, Dean Martin, and Gene Kelly. Dick Van Dyke, and Robert Cummings are guys who really want to be the Man but don't quite pull it off. The show is funny and bizarre and makes good use of pink paint. Highly recommended.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I can't get enough of these things. They're just like novellas. When they start I'm nonplussed by the poor production values, bad acting, and I have no idea what's going on. By the time they end I'm weepy 'cause the melodrama has gotten to me and it just so sad!
Basically, it's like everything on the Lifetime channel except there's good music.
UMRAO JAAN is the story of a girl who gets abducted from her home at 14, raped, and sold to a bordello. Seeing as how this is before the British invasion and she's living in Muslim-country, she's now permanently a hooker. And, after she becomes a dancer/singer/songwriter/philosopher/poet , she's still a prostitute so nothing good will ever happen to her. Ever. She runs away several times only to be dragged back. She escapes with a bandit who gets shot by the po-po and dies, leaving her with the cops. She gets dumped by her lover for the maid. By the end she gets to go home and hug her mother for a minute or two but then her little brother kicks her out of the house 'cause she's a filthy filthy whore who will bring shame on her family for being abducted when she was 14. 'Cause, as the crabby grandma who couldn't be bothered to wear a skirt said in the beginning of the movie "It's better not to let even the shadow of a whore touch you."
This movie didn't do well in India. They say-- "UMRAO JAAN did not create ripples among most critics when it was made because the storyline revolving around a singer/dancer who sells her body was old hat for most Hindi/Urdu filmgoers."
So that sucks. However, there are some really great songs performed by Rekha, an actress who is the living embodiment of old paintings from northern India. Which is to say she's pretty in a voluptious Muppett sort of way. She also dosn't overact as much as she could, which is nice but dosn't really matter 'cause I'm totally invested in the character by the time she starts to chew the scenery.
There's a remake of this film in production right now which will star Aishwarya Rai. I'll totally see it, even though I expect the story will continue to upset me. I just can't help being so American. I know the PRETTY WOMAN concept is impractical and impossible but I always keep hoping that no matter what, there's some redemption possible, particullarly if you can sing and look that cool in 20 pounds of gold jewelery.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
It's a cute show. Based loosely on the book "True Grit" John Wayne reprises the character from the movie of the same name. I like it. John Wayne looks and acts like my grandpa and Katherine Hepburn, who was about the same size of my grandma, is the only one on the screen who can act. This is the only film starring both of these two Hollywood greats and they loved making it. Ms Hepburn insisted on doing all of her own stunts and while Mr Wayne complained about it, given Ms Hepburn's age and theoretical fraility, he also said she was "quite a woman." A second film was planned after ROOSTER COGBURN did so well but John Wayne died before it could be made. It's a shame because I really like watching them together.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Okay, I like surrealism. And I respect people who give everything up in order to express themselves in non-linear socially-unacceptable ways. The writer/director of this film, Sergei Parajanov, a Georgian-born Armenian (Georgia in Russia not in the U.S.) created a film language so far from the KGB-accepted "Social Realisim" school that he was imprisoned after making this film for 5 years and kept from making films for 15. He was finally allowed to make movies again in the '80's but died after only completing two, his harsh term in Russian prison camps ruining his health. SAYAT NOVA is the story of a an Armenian troubador's life and definately isn't the typical biopic we get from Hollywood. Instead it's the life story of a poet told by poetic images. Poetic Armenian images, images full of the iconography of a civilization at a cultural crossroads for centuries. It's astounding. Parajanov, in an interview, said he had no money, no effects, no budget, and was under serious suspicion from the Russian authorities because of his last film. Therefore the entire movie is shot as a series of moving pictures with a hyper realistic look, because everthing really exists. He found what he could and he put it in the film. Beautifully arranged shots and mystical symbology makes the film feel like and hour and a half of still lifes telling you a story. I'm still not sure what the story is but, like all poetry, I don't think that's the point. The point is simply to exist and communicate beauty.
SAYAT NOVA does that perfectly.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
It's cute. The production values are high,
with amazing use of the colors magenta and lime green. All the children are cute, the adults are whimsical and slightly unattractive,(Angela Landsbury is the best part of this film and she's horrible looking) and the story isn't preachy. This, plus magic and some serious makeup makes a cute movie. It's not mind-blowing, it's not earth-shattering, and it's not likely to be anyone's absolute favorite, but it is charming and pleasant. All of that plus candy-striped dress shirts and a pie fight add up to a movie I wouldn't mind watching several times in a row with my nieces and nephew.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, also known as The Longest Film About A Closet Homosexual --- EVER!!!, is 227 minutes of pure 1962 showmanship. It also has an overture, an entre'act, and an intermission -- all lushly orchestrated and played for us over a blank screen so we listen and not look. So, while I am terribly horribly familiar now with the score from LOA, and I know exactly how panoramic the Super 70 panoramic film is, I still don't know much about Mr. Lawrence's motivations, exactly why the British are such jerks, and if the Bedouin are noble descendants of a historic culture or barbaric goat-stealers. All of that pesky character development and motivation stuff is left out in favor of another cool shot/costume/orchestra sting/battle scene filmed from 2 miles away. After that all you have time for is a heavily eyelined Peter O'Toole making sure he looks like a matinee idol, a bunch of mustached British officers who would be a tidy kick-line for the Villiage People, and some characatures of non-whites. No women ever speak in this film. In fact, all the women you see are immersed in veils, (though there is one incidence of wrist exposure.)
Here's the story:
Poncy British officer named Lawrence sits around flirting with everyone while painting. Lawrence gets sent off to the middle of Araby where he proceeds to flirt with his guide. Then, in a fit of desert foreplay, guide is killed by a Man In Black. Lawrence is upset. Lawrence meets his commanding officer and is told to stop flirting with the boy toys who chase him. Lawrence meets the Prince and flirts with him. Prince, not being stuipd, flirts back and sets up impossible task for Lawrence to perform as a sign of love. Lawrence and two Arab boy toys go to the desert for two days. Lawrence then challenges Man In Black to see who can complete the impossible task and thus win the Prince's love. They all head out to cross the uncrossable desert where Lawrence gets permanent boy toys and saves another man's life. Man In Black starts to think Lawrence is pretty sexy so he burns those horrible British togs and gives Lawrence a fluttery white dress. Lawrence is dancing around in his lovely new clothes when a Bandit King shows up and threatens to kill everyone. Lawrence offers to let the King take him and all of his men to dinner so the Bandit King says okay and takes them home to his remarkably Native-American-sounding pack of boys. Everyone eats, yells a lot more, and then decide to take over a city the next day. City taken, Lawrence and his two Boy Toys leave to go tell the British so they can have supplies and money and stuff. On the way one Boy Toy dies. Lawrence shows up in Jerusalem with remaining Boy Toy and gets everything he wants from the British, which includes 200 mustached officers thinking he looks pretty great in that fluttery white number.
Months later, Lawrence is nominal head of the "Arab army" who are getting tired of this gay white guy. Man In Black, who's still in love with Lawrence, wants Golden Boy to stop being stupid and to let everyone go home. (In a side note, Boy Toy #2 blows his own backside off and Lawrence has to put him down w/ a bullet to the head.) Lawrence, who thinks pretty = invincible, goes to a Turkish city. There he is captured and molested by a Turkish general. Lawrence dosn't want to admit he likes it so he hits the general who then has Lawrence beaten for being an idiot. Lawrence is picked up out of the mud by Man In Black who all of this time has just wanted Larry to love him. Lawrence, afraid of his feelings for Man In Black, decides he's not actually Arab and goes back to the British. When he discovers none of the mustached officers want him now that he's not in his pretty white dresses, he goes back to the Arabs to lead them to victory and show those stupid Turks he's not gay. On the road to Damascus Lawrence kills about 200 Turks and so showed them. Man In Black is heartbroken because he now knows Lawrence is way too messed up to ever love him. Lawrence takes over Damascus, expects all the Arabs to suddenly become British, is depressed when none of the Arabs remain impressed by his lovely white clothes, and is sent home by the British and the Prince (remember him?) 'cause he's gone crazy. Lawrence then drives recklessly on a motorcyle in England and kills himself because he finally understands that his racist attitudes kept him from his one true love, the Man In Black.
See? It's a long movie.
There are some folks out there who say that "kids today don't know good movies." I do know good movies. And if someone is going to make an epic film of 227 minutes, there had better be more going on than someone staring at the desert for two hours since we've all just learned that pretty white dresses are never enough.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
This really is a movie I should see at least three more times before commenting on it. The production values are fantastic and I was entranced by the music but all of that is incidental to the intelligence and moral strength of Edward R. Murrow. He never smiles, he's always smoking, he reads his reports to the nation without bothering to look at them, and he is utterly compelling in every scene he's in. Now that I'v seen this movie I'm sad David Straitharn lost the Oscar to Phillip Seymore Hoffman. George Clooney, who played Fred Friendly, is affable and forgetable as Ed Murrow's sidekick. He has nothing like the presence of Mr. Straitharn, who dominates the movie and rightfully so.
The movie as a whole is refereshing. It's not bombastic or accusatory, it's not angry, there's no yelling, no partisanship and it dosn't crow about how right we all are and how crazy Senator MacCarthy was. It just shows us the fear of the times and how Mr. Murrow and his colleagues risked everything to question the authority that was terrorising the nation.
I loved it. Highly recommended.
Monday, April 03, 2006
If you can see the picture that should be near this text, you'll see the entire color scheme of HP4 -- dark, blue, and witchy. I spent most of the movie wondering if the televison was not set up properly for the film. But, since I watched it on my brother-in-law's new baby, a 70" DLP HDTV (feel free to add letters if I didn't get them all in), I'm fairly certain it's just a dark movie. A dark movie that feels rushed and poorly edited, with no time for any genuine affection or space for true emotion.
Basically, I liked the third movie a lot better and not just because the sun occassionally appeared. The last movie actually addressed character development and told a story about this kid named Harry. This film is all about the sort of Lord of the Flies universe of boarding schools and how often kids get into fights. I know it's a really thick book, but when you're cutting things out, there's no real need to cut out the bits that make it engaging. For that matter, there wasn't any need to chop up the ballroom scene so much as I'm certain a lot of stuff happend there that didn't get explained to me. All I know is Hermione lost it and yelled at Harry for no reason. Made. No. Sense.
I hope the next one is better.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Fairytales. Parables. Stories and songs. These are the ways we are taught as children and I think there's a good reason for it. Small stories full of big symbols and small victories make excellent metaphors for Life and How To Deal With It. This movie was made during an era of war and revolution (just like today) and puts out a hope for peaceful solutions to everything. It's quite enchanting. One starts to think that perhaps music can save the world. Maybe Blue Meanies just need more flowers and a song. Possibly those Beatles, knowing a thing or two about desperation and poverty and violence, tried to show us a better, albeit drug-induced, way. It's quite possible this is their version of a "I Have A Dream Speech", their Magic Flute, their ONE Campaign against poverty. Or maybe it's just a gigantic acid-trip music video.
For me, it dosn't matter whether it's a profound metaphysical dissertation or senseless entertainment. I love it and in this era of angry blame and intolerant attitudes, a little peace & love & music goes a long long way.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
There are a lot of samurai movies I can't handle. If they don't involve a guy named Kurasawa, generally the form is too pointlessly violent and morally destitute for me to really get involved. (I have this problem w/ Spaghetti Westerns, too, except for the ones which are remakes of Kurasawa films.) TWILIGHT SAMURAI is refreshingly different from the standard samurai movie. Set in the transitional time between the Edo and Meiji restoration, it's got a LAST SAMURAI feel except it happens to be good and not involve Tom Cruise in any way. Instead it tells the story of a widowed and poor low-status samurai who is trying to raise his two daughters and take care of his senile mother. He becomes less and less invested in the samurai culture and wishes instead to be around to watch his daughters grow.
It's really pretty, even if the ethics are a touch on the modern side. Beautifully filmed, and excellently paced, it's an action/drama film made with thought and heart and just a touch of humor. Two hours well spent.
Yeah, I finally saw it. It's an amazing film. I don't know that Jack Black is the best actor 'cause I never knew what was going on as he sat there squinty eyed and staring, but it's still an amazing film. I spent the three hours trying to figure out if:
1) the natives are ghosts or if they are real
2) Kong represents mystery/connections or nature/past
3) Andy Serkis' characer "Lumpy" was really serving food that was that nasty
4) it's a requirement for all orphan boys to be named "Jimmy"
5) the guy four seats away from me who felt the need to crawl over me and go out of the theater every fifteen minutes had to because he had severe bathroom needs or if he was trying to manage all his booty calls w/out disturbing the rest of the theater.
Audiences aside, it's incredible and I'll probably buy it. Of course, when I watch it at home on DVD I'll most likely fast forward through the icky (read "bug") bits, enjoy the dinosaur pile-up, and rush right on to the charming few moments Kong and Ann Darrow have together. Beautful movie beautifully acted.
Monday, March 27, 2006
This movie is supposed to be a masterpiece of mime and old-school style cinematography (think Chaplin) but I'm not certain it really is. To me it just seems to be a strange akward German movie that really really wants to be a strange whimsical French movie. It never really gets cute enough to be a strange French movie but certainly gets creepy enough to be German.
However, the 6 minute short "Surprise" in the DVD extras is brilliant and worth the rental.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Notes from the 3.18.06 viewing of ULTRAVIOLET
– Wow, this movie has synchronized ninjas. They kick "Lord of the Dance’s" trash!
– Why have color change hair/clothing technology if you just end up wearing Blu-Blocker sunglasses and a vest you borrowed from Ivana Trump in 1983?.
– Glass armor doesn’t seem to work very well. Next time I take over the world remind me not to issue battle gear that easily shatters.
– I KNEW staple guns were deadly!!!
– Best Line Said By A Nameless Character EVER!: "I don’t know what that is but it’s ours now!"
– Whether or not the rampant face-blurring in this picture is caused by digital effects or petrolatum jelly smeared on the lense, it still looks like a Barbara Streisand movie.
– It’s a really good thing soldiers don’t know how to look up 'cause it would make it a lot harder to negotiate an escape from this mall.
– Next time we get into a huge gang fight, try not to stand in a circle. It doesn’t work.
– After each 15 people killed, be sure to strike an Elvis pose near the floor. Hold that pose for 10 seconds and then move on.
– Milla’s got a supernova in her pants.
– When choosing vampire friends, pick the sweaty ones who wear beat-up sweaters and hang out in parking lots. They’re more likely to be lonely enough to help you.
– Our villain has a tea-strainer up his nose, drinks out of hermetically sealed cups, packs his gun in a ZipLock bag to keep germs away, but drinks coffee out of some filthy office coffee pot???
– Keep your movie budget down by getting people to throw cabbages and aluminum cans around in the dark. Have everyone lie down, turn the lights on and, TaDa! You’ve got a fight sequence!
– After using a lot of tired iconography, is it funny to include the bad guys doing the three monkey "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" thing after being shot? Or am I just tired?
– Next time someone asks you "Where is this?" the correct answer starts with the phrase, "When I was a little girl..." and ends by not answering the question.
– Yay! We’re in a graveyard!
– "Hermetically Interred", the latest in death storage technology!
– If you are a man who’s stupid enough to wear a long nasty skinny braid that goes past your backside and then pick a fight with a woman who’s 2/3rds more pissed-off than you, you deserve to be strangled with your own hair.
– Dear Mr. Director: if you feel the need to show me a ticking clock, please tell me where the clock is and why I have to look at it. Thank you.
– Disposable paper phones are the CHEAPEST in stupid props.
– Uh oh, her phobia of crowds is acting up again!!!
– If you don’t want to be known as the potty-mouth killer vampire, don’t call the bad guy a "prick."
– Poor sweaty sweater-wearing vampire. He saved her life and she rewarded him by almost touching his face.
– Worst Line Poorly Translated From Another Language EVER: "These moments, as beautiful as they are, are EVIL when they go."
– We had to watch cheap effects and an entire movie filmed in just one location so you could have a CGI shot of a giant cross-shaped compound surrounded by 2 miles of giant peat moss blocks?
– Why are those 6 people leaving the theater now and how come we can’t go with them?
– Funny that the one guy who manages to survive more than 30 seconds is the one who tries to move his sword to someplace other than it's comfortable resting place on his right shoulder.
– Costumer Note: A close up of her butt shouldn’t include pants that have a blown-out seam in the middle.
– Ooooo. Now she’s got stigmata. So she’s really Our Lady of Perpetual Whup-Ash, Patron Saint of Overacting, the Holy Mother of Six.
– Apparently their accountant said "Either you can have Barbara Streisand face effects or you can have fake blood. You can’t have both."
– Best Line By A Villain With A Tea-Strainer Up His Nose EVER! : "You threw blood on me!! ........ It’s ON!!!!!"
– Lamest Response To A Villain With A Tea-Strainer Up His Nose: [3 minute pause] "Yeah it is!"
– Handy Tip: if you scrape your sword on the ground, it catches on fire!
– The kid’s alive? FEED ON HIM!!!
– Yay!! It’s over!!! Let’s wait here so the other 5 people in the theater can’t see our faces and beat us up later for talking all the way through this movie.
Monday, February 27, 2006
FAILURE TO LAUNCH
Opens march 10, 2006
I saw Failure to Launch last week at an advanced screening. I loved this movie. It’s very funny. Terry Bradshaw plays the dad, and he’s hysterical. His scene with the fish tank is priceless. Matthew McConaughey is, as always, hot. Kathy Bates is cute. Matthew McConaughey’s buddies are fabulous, as well as Sara Jessica Parker’s roommate. The roommate pretty much steals the show.
The only bad thing about this movie is Sara Jessica Parker. She is simpering, cheesy, and screaming at every little thing, as usual. Her scream count in this film is 5, quite high for a chick flick.
Yes, I know I'm recommending a Chick Flick, but it’s so much better than all the other crappy sappy movies in the genre. Failure to Launch definitely is not a Cinderella fairytale pipedream love story. (example A: Pretty Woman, and example B: Maid in Manhattan) This is a heartwarming "there’s-somebody-out- there-for-everyone,-no-matter-how-weird-they-are” type of story.
The best example of this is Sara Jessica Parker’s roommate who hooks up with one of Matt McConaughey’s buddies. Their side-story is better than that of Matt and Sara’s. (But Matthew McConaughey still wins for being HOT, and we do get to see him all steamy, just in a towel) I realize that Mr. McConaughey is HOT, and they had to cast him with someone Blond and sorta Famous. But really, they should just admit he’s the pretty one in the couple and just get anyone – oh, wait, maybe they did. Never mind.
The rest of the cast was fabulous. I really liked this movie in that I felt good watching it and it made me want to be nice to people. As a result, I said yes to a head injury dude who asked me out the next day. And no, he doesn’t drool.
Go see this movie, it’s cute and it’ll make your world a little cuter too (just be careful what you say yes to until the glow wears off).
On Friday night I found myself delightfully and completely without anything planned. Since I'm in the middle of opera rehearsals, this is a rare treat. I decided to celebrate my not-busy-ness by seeing a movie and THE FAMILY STONE was the one I chose to see.
I loved this movie. All of the actors are good, the writing is tight, the set dressing and costuming and filming were perfect, and the director managed to keep this pack of gigantic talents in one room and maintaining a consist ant, perfectly-nuanced tone. It's a Christmas movie, and a family movie, which means there's a potential for it to be a saccharin caricature or a pointlessly aggressive film. THE FAMILY STONE doesn't go in any of those directions but instead is effortlessly balanced right between in the zone called "reality." Life can be, has been, and really will be like this. Phenomenal film.
Of course, that being said, it's not going to become my favorite Christmas movie of all time since MIXED NUTS already is. And, I couldn't give it a perfect 10 because, bless his heart, Luke Wilson can't quite generate enough steam to be be charming AND a big pot-head AND a touch innocent/sleazy/nature boy. It's a tricky character and even though he's 92% of the way there, compared with the rest of the ensemble who's giving 110%, he's the weakest part. Which should give you an idea of how good this film is.
Anyway, I recommend it.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I had a wonderful time at the film festival. I saw a total of 40 films. A couple of them were really good, most were just OK, and then the rest were just downright horrible. The bad ones were so bad they almost made me forget the great ones. My Top 5 favorites are:
"Rent-a-Person"12 minutes, 2005, USA Directed by Kurt Kuenne
The rags to riches story of L.A. bathroom attendant.
This won both the Audience Favorite Award and the Best Comedy Award. This was by far the best movie there. (And I sat by the director Kurt Kuenne during the screening -- He’s really nice, and quite handsome, which helps. Talent and beauty, a nice combination. He wasn’t stuck up or pretentious or anything like that. I think I’m in love. -- Kurt, call me!) The story is how the bathroom attendant starts his own business by renting people out to drivers who can then take the Car Pool lane. He gets homeless people off the street, cleans them up and gives them little baskets of toweletts and mints and cologne (just like in his fancy restaurant bathroom attendant job) Then the bums’ union goes on strike, the company folds, and he’s back in the bathroom, where he meets the attendant from the woman’s bathroom across the hall. It’s love at first sight. He asks to drive her home, they take the bus, and a photographer takes their picture and they become models, doing the rags to riches story all over again. The picture has a singing Greek Chorus who follows the attendant around and sing how he’s is pissing his life away. Very funny and very well done. This film was very beautifully done in black and white, with a Big Band/Frank Sanatra feel to the soundtrack. I loved it. The director did a Q and A at the end of the viewing. He said he’s made just 16 copies of this movie on actual film, since some film festivals just deal only in film, instead of digital. So I’m guessing it’s not on DVD anytime soon. But if it ever does, I highly recommend it. He just finished a documentary, so keep a lookout for anything by Kuenne, a very talented director.
"Emelia"9 minutes, 2005, USADirected by Derek Flood, http://www.sharktacos.com/
A young girl finds hope in the world.
This film was really cute, with a Addam’s family’s Wednesday type of character. She’s a mix of Wednesday and MTV’s Daria. She’s all dark and then decides to reach out and like people and the world. Just a feel good goth movie. Just makes me want to mix in pink and with my black Goth duds.
"Joyride"5 minutes, 2005, USADirected by John Cernak, http://www.outofourmindsstudios.com/
A mind-blowing interpretation of Queen's "Bicycle Race" song.
This was a crazy, jam-packed cartoon set to a Queen song. I can’t decide if I liked it just for the song or what. The story is pretty dark, not a light and fluffy Disney cartoon in any sense.
"I Killed Zoe Day"18 minutes, 2005, USADirected by Powell Weaver,
Two friends realize they've done something very naughty the night before.
This was very well done, with a crazy story. The film does a good job of flashback when the try and remember what they did the night before during their Tequila haze
"Wear Something Nice"17 minutes, 2004, USADirected by Camille Cellucci, http://www.wearsomethingnice.com/
A single woman experiences the world's worst blind date.
This is my 2nd favorite, besides “Rent- A Person”. It’s about a chubby single thirty-something woman who’s mother sets her up on a blind date (with a therapist she’s secretly paying to do therapy on the daughter) The mom tells the daughter to ‘wear something nice. ’ A fight ensues between them regarding her clothes which ends up about all the Bride’s magazines the mom sends her. The woman shows up at the restaurant in a wedding dress (trying to stick it to her mom), sits down across from a man and begins to say all sorts of stuff to him and ends her tirade with a “lets just get it over with and go to Vegas and get married” It’s not her date. Her date is at the neighboring table. He blows her off and is ugly about it. The other man she just propositioned scoots over, buys her dinner and picks up the conversation were they left off, in Vegas. Cute little story about no matter how stupid you look (while trying to get back at someone) there’s always someone out there who likes you.
For more info, check out damshortfilm.org
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I hadn't ever seen this movie so I rented it in order to figure out why Diane Keaton is always dressed so oddly at the Oscars.
I found out she just likes to dress oddly. I also found out that in 1977 stringy over-processed hair was considered good looking. Also good was androgeny, huge sunglasses, strange "organic" foods, big cars, and Woody Allen.
Not much has changed.
This movie was funny (my favorite line was "Don't worry, we can walk to the curb from here" after a particullarly harrowing parking job) and seems to be a little time capsule of what society and relationships were all about in 1977. It's still pertinent today, though I don't know if it exactly defines things. Sneezing into your buddy's $2,000 stash of cocaine and blowing it all over his shirt is perhaps a touch less appropriate but still really funny. Your girlfriend needing to get high before going to bed with you is also less popular. But, people are still people, intellectuals are still pretentious, and New York and L.A. are still the same cities, even if Jeff Goldblum isn't there calling his guru because he "forgot his mantra."
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Wallace has no nipples. This is a fact neither I nor anyone else should be aware of. Unfortunately, this little bit of trivia comes to light in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The movie is true to the Wallace and Gromit standard- hilarious, clever, etc. I actually laughed out loud at several parts. What I didn't like was the strange presence of vulgarity. This vulgarity was so unusual for a Wallace and Gromit movie that I found it quite distracting. There are awkward placements of melons a few times, a "nuts" innuendo if you know what I mean, and even a reference to mooning. There is of course the part where Wallace is completely nude (hence the nipple discovery). Overall, it was a great, fun movie, but could have done without the naughty bits.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
This is to let everyone know that Naudy is officially too involved with opera rehearsals (see: http://www.utahopera.org/concert_search_detail.cfm?id=28 for more info) to go see movies.
All new reviews will either be by other members of the team or will be after March 19th.
(If you're bored and looking for something to do, just read the synopsis of The Magic Flute [ http://www.abbeville.com/magicflute/story.html]
and then write a paper examining the symbolism as it relates to:
- Masonic rituals
- Women's Rights
- Traditional Fantasy Archetypes
- German Folklore
- Singspeil as a new/old form
- Mozart as an Idealist
- and Mozart as a lover of silly jokes
email your papers to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post those instead of a movie review.
or, if you're not quite that bored, just bug the other contributors and perhaps they'll have a few things to say.)
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
There comes a point when one realizes that :
- People are really just blood thirsty monkeys
- People, when they're afraid, make very bad decisions
- People, in general and specifically, suck
This was reinforced to me last night as I watched this film. You might think I'm talking about the mobs portrayed in this movie, the groups of men who felt threatened and started killing people. Or, you might think I'm talking about the First Mormon Batallion who thought it was a good idea to walk to Missouri and kick some butt. I'm not talking about any of these characters. I'm talking about the men who made this film. Bloodthirsty monkeys like to make movies about guys getting beaten up by other guys. Lots of loving shots of shirts being ripped off and naked man chest and (badly)acted agony. Filmakers, when dealing with a lousy soap-opera-y book, a pointless story, and Larry H. Miller, feel fear and make very bad decisions. (i.e. actually making this film.) And, the guys who made this movie HAVE to personally suck 'cause they wouldn't have made all the lame decisions they made if they wern't.
I went to a free showing and it wasn't worth it. The ONLY good thing was the last five minutes when I got the giggles 'cause the "sexy bad" brother ripped his shirt off, lit his house on fire, and then walked away -- well oiled -- from the blaze. It made me laugh 'cause he had so much oil on him that he looked like he had just gotten up from a massage. The rest of the time I just rolled my eyes and worked hard to not actually yell at the screen.
Terrible terrible movie.
Monday, January 30, 2006
It's nice to know some things really are as good as you remember them. The Muppet Show, wholesome, full of bad puns, and featuring such guest stars as Julie Andrews and Alice Cooper, probably did more to mold and shape my personality than anything else. This weekend I watched 21 episodes of The Muppet Show and the one underlying theme is:
You don't have to be just like everyone else.
Yeah, I know, it's been said before, but the Muppets sort of live the dream. It has a lot to do with Jim Henson deciding that he could make a career by playing with hand puppets made out of his mom's old coats. Sam the Eagle ,with all his "you people are WEIRDOS" cracks, is the (slightly ridiculous) Man who told Jim he couldn't do it. Sam is also the same sort of character who sends me hate mail if I say I'm against the draft. Miss Piggy, a result of that little sexual revolution America had, is delightful because she happens to be more "human" (i.e. imperfect but still cool) than a lot of the other impossible ideals created since. It's fun to watch Animal and James Coburn together explored the concepts of aggression and meditation. I'm always delighted to cach the tail end of one of Janice's stories about her fights with her mom. Scooter is the ultimate techie, all the musicians act exactly like musicians (they're rowdy and when stuff gets bad they get out) and Statler & Waldorf make fun of the Muppets and look around to make sure everyone heard them. Gonzo, (the word itself being Boston slang term for the last man standing after a drinking contest) is the ultimate weirdo. He's unafraid to pursue his own interests, he's in love with chickens (though has has dated a cow), he takes photo essays of people's knees, and he likes being shot out of cannons. He's not even of an identifiable breed/type/race. Conveniantly, the Muppet mindset tied in perfectly with '70's culture, but it really is Jim behind everything. Kermit The Frog, like Mickey Mouse, is truly the inner self of Jim Henson.
So, it's nice to see these shows resurrected on DVD. The DVDs are put out by Time-LIFE-Whoever, and were intented to be subcribed to. So, rather than being purchased in a box set like most telvision shows, you just buy three episodes at a time. The episodes unfortunately aren't in chronological order, which is a shame. I would much prefer to watch the show and characters evolve instead of having a "themed" DVD. (Alice Cooper and Vincent Price are on the same DVD.) However, what's done is done, and it's good to see the gang again.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
It's official. I am now a member of the Great Unwashed. No one ever accused me of being rich, cultured, discrete, or classy, (though I staunchly maintain that people who use the word "class" don't have any), but I always managed to stay just this side of White Trash. Sure I have a White Trash Barbeque every summer, but who dosn't? Yeah I went to a monster truck rally but it was just harmless experimentation and I'll never do it again. I'm not known for being subtle or ironed or polite or any of those things which are the hallmarks of the intellectual, but I usually have a few good qualities. If there is a trivia question regarding Baroque composers, recurring leitmotivs, or theatrical costuming, I know it. Who was that red-headed guy? It's Vivaldi, the red-headed priest who taught 14 year old peasant girls how to play the violin! What's that annoying tune? Why it's Chi il bel sogno di Doretta potè indovinar, and you'll be hearing that throughout all of La Rondine to describe Magda's feelings about "sentimental love" and what it means to a kept woman! Why is she wearing that hideous dress? Simple! Her costumer hates her guts!
So, along with my specialties I know how to dress for snooty parties (black, black, some more black, and a touch of the orient), eat strange cheeses, laugh at all the right bits of literary jokes, and talk a lot of trash about art and the artist's use of color and motion. AND, on top of that, I have my ace in the hole, my secret weapon. I'm an opera singer, and currently am under contract. So there. It's heartbreaking that all of this achievement will now go utterly to waste because I have officially succumbed to the allures of the the Lowest Common Denominator. I am addicted to a reality television show.
Horrifying, isn't it? And yet I can't stop myself. I dismissed the fans of 'Survivor' for years, and openly sneered at those who watched the endless (and increasingly tacky) spin-offs on Fox. Now all the artistic educated discerning voices in my head can't be heard becase the TV is constantly tuned to Bravo and the "Fab Five" commercials are too loud. I can't be bothered finishing "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie or complete the intricate embroider in the lining of a replica Benjamin Franklin coat because I'm too busy watching Santiago destroy his life. Yep, I watch PROJECT RUNWAY. I love it. My buddy Christopher (also a designer) comes over and we sit on the couch rapt and motionless until the episode is over. (Or at least until the commercials start up again.)
I like to think that I enjoy this show because it stimulates my creativity. And, while it's true that I lie in bed at night planning what I would make were I facing the design challenges the contestants do, I'm not all that certain that I only watch it for the clothes. I'v a sneaking suspicion that I watch it just to see the disaster. It's like a train wreck, with hair and reputations and opinions and (in Santiago's case) feathers flying. [see above photo. A Santiago ice skating dress. Tragic. And passe.] I feel very strongly about the design but more strongly about the personalities involved. Just so you know, I now hate the editor of Elle magazine, I really like Michael Kors, Heidi Klum is... a model, and Nick is who I want to win. He might not, but I want him to win anyway. Okay, top three are Nick and Daniel and Andre. But I still like Nick best, though Daniel has a good eye....
On the plus side PROJECT RUNWAY has given me some choice catchphrases. Last night when the blonde who has been described as having "that long marshmellow body what walks like a piece of wood" said "Tonight I'm going to model really hard." It still makes me laugh.
Anyway, on Wednesday night I have opera rehearsal. I'm in the chorus of The Magic Flute, the Utah Opera production that opens in March. And then, right after, I'm rushing home to turn on Bravo and immerse myself in the tragico-comic world of high fashion and the people who make it.
Friday, January 20, 2006
It's been a while since I watched an "R" rated movie. I'd kind of forgotten what they're like. BUBBA HO-TEP, the movie about Elvis Prestly and how he ends up living in an east Texas nursing home fighting a soul-sucking mummy, is really kinda dirty. And it's not just the constant bad language from Elvis and his buddy JFK (on the right in the picture) it's also the crude situations and gross nursing-home humor.
But it's funny, and really a delight to see Elvis walking triumphantly down the corridors of a home all jupsuited up and swinging that walker like there's no tomorrow. Which there isn't. These guys are old and soul-sucking Egyptian mummies are pretty tough to kill.
Bruce Campbell is really great in this movie. Ossie Davis is magnificent as the old man who insists that Lindon Johnson had a bag of sand put into his brain and threw him in this nursing home to rot after that unpleasantness in Dallas. When Elvis points out that he's actually black, Jack points out that it's a perfect disguise. Cracks me up.
Also in this film, a giant bug puppet, a klepto grandma, infections in unpleasant places, a boot-wearing mummy, Elvis as a man who sees visions, one Marilyn Monroe reference, a medicine bag w/ powerful mojo, and lots and lots of karate moves.
I liked it a lot but it is definately not wholesome. But, were Elvis alive, he probably wouldn't be either.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
This film is a documentary about the life and art of Claus Nomi, a New Wave countertenor/performance artist from Germany. It's a well-done documentary about a musician who had a mind-blowing concept.
The problem is, I hate movies about musicians. If I wanted to watch yet another musician ruin his life I'd read my journals, email my all my music buddies from college, and hang out in local clubs more often. There's a strong case for the theory of zero-sum personalities. There's only so much ability in a person's soul. Those who spend most of that ability on being ridiculously talented, often seem to be short in those basic skills that make life livable (or at least normal.) Mozart could write music but he couldn't hold down a job, pay his bills, or maintain an adult relationship. Neither could Beethoven or Elvis or Michael Jackson. All the recent musician movies (RAY, WALK THE LINE) are about this tremendous dichotomy of ability in two recent superstar musicians. I'm certain they're well-made movies, too, but it always hits a little too close to home for me.
Anyway, NOMI SONG is about a man who finally becomes notorious for his excellent use of the countertenor voice. He developed this very alien/androgynous look and sound and combining that with the times meant he was famous in his East Villiage way. Eventually, after abandoning everyone he ever worked with, he became famous in Europe. Then he died of AIDS in the early 80's, completely alone.
So, it's sad. And his friends are sad that they didn't go see him when he was dying, sad that they were so afraid of the unknown disease called "Gay Cancer" that they couldn't support a friend who had abandoned them and treated them badly. Which means, Claus Nomi had good friends and shut them out to become famous. A sad end to an interesting talented glorious sad life.
Monday, January 16, 2006
I saw SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TO- MORROW. And... let's just say the chocolate buzz did not hold through for me. Angelina Jolie in a eyepatch didn't do it for me either. I will admit the computer graphics/CGI were pretty incredible. There's a couple of parts that look totally fake, but overall, it was visually believable and seamless. Now believablity with regard to the storyline is a whole other matter. They set the story in the 1940's, with their intrepretation of futuristic technology. That's all well and good, but then there's a shot of a live miniature elephant under glass. Later when they're flying and trooping through artic snow, all of a sudden they're on a island with a Garden-of-Eden-like setting, all jungle-y with dinosaurs and everything. At first I was like "what's up with this?", but then I decided I didn't even want to know.
Other than crazy plots and what-the-hell shots, it's very beautiful to watch. I liked how every actor had their own personal lighting. That was fun. What was not fun was watching the horrible non-chemistry between Gwynth and Jude Law. Her antagonism seemed kinda personal, all her bitching and sniping. Hmm... I wonder. Was it personal? Was Gwyn somehow angry about Jude's relationship with his nanny?
Really, there's no way to know. But since my eyeballs have already been scarred, I think I'll check out some more tacky movies.
Friday, January 13, 2006
This rarely performed work by Puccinni is a charming bit of theater. Set in 1860's Paris, it tells the story of a glamorous courtesan Magda and how sentimental love changes her world. It happens to be in sung in Italian (because it was written by Italians) so the name of the opera (which means "the swallow") is pronounced ron-dee-nay. Just so you know. Also, no one dies, so that's a pleasant change.
I wasn't familiar with this opera and didn't expect to like it as much as I did. However, it is Puccinni so I should have known better. The aria Chi il bel sogno di Doretta surprised me because I found I am familiar with it (though I don't know how.) It's a beautiful song. This aria is one of the underlying harmonic themes throughout the opera. The tune itself is introduced in the beginning of the first act by the poet-parasite Prunier. It's his new song about a character he's invented named Doretta. Doretta is smitten by the fashionable and new "sentimental love". Prunier's song is a story about a king proposing to Doretta. Doretta rejects the king because she dosn't love him and his money can't buy her happiness. Prunier then stops singing because he hasn't finished writing the end of the song. Our heroine Magda then takes up the song. She finishes it by singing about how a young student one day kisses Doretta so passionately that she now knows what passion is. Magda and the other guests at her house are all very touched by her understanding and appreciation of this ideal love but her boyfriend (a.k.a. the guy who paid for the house) tells everyone it's all nonsense and then gives Magda a phenominally expensive necklace.
And there we have the point of the whole opera, this conflict between pure sentimental love and the baser, more economic affection that rules Magda's life. Eventually Magda argues with her patron and runs away with a poor student to live by the sea in blissful delicious love. And, eventually, things don't work out. (It is, after all, an opera.) Throughout the entire opera the tune from Chi il bel sogno di Doretta return, wafting through and around the characters, changing each time to communicate what this ideal of passionate love really means to Magda and how ideals don't always live up to reality.
It's a beautiful piece of work. As for the Utah Opera's production, the lighting and sets are wonderful, the costumes are charming and the director stages it in a very honest believable way. The cast is solid and the chorus is fun in the cafe scene. The dancers are a little weak but, hey, no show can be perfect.
La Rondine is opens this Saturday and runs through January 22nd. The running time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tickets for the Monday and Wednesday performances are 50% off so if you've got an extra $5 lying around, this is definately the show to go see.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
This past week hasn't been a good one. Monday I was extremely tired, cranky, going thru the " first day on the diet" sugar withdrawals and about 3 minutes away from snarling "piss off" to the office manager.
Since I want my job, I decided to leave work early and confine myself to the house watching movies and eating all the stashed leftover christmas candy. I saw Debra Messing's THE WEDDING DATE. This is a really cute movie. Pretty predictable but still enjoyable. A nice "feel good" sort of movie. I felt so much better after watching this and the next movie SKY HIGH. While difting along on my Disney/cheesy movie/chocolate bar buzz, I put in ENVY, that movie with Jack Black. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad move on my part, and totally bad movie. I couldn't even watch this movie in fastforward. Just gaggy. Definately a buzz killer.
So, to get the happy feeling back, I saw CHER'S FAREWELL TOUR on DVD. This was just fabulous. I even picked out a new outfit to wear disco dancing. (Those fur vests Sonny used to wear are "in" now, ya know.) Since I'm still feeling great, I think I'll watch SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW tonight. (Though that might just be the chocolate talking, I'll get back to ya)
In summary, THE WEDDING DATE is cheesy enough to keep me from going postal and with enough chocolate, I can almost sit through anything. Overall, it's better than Prozac.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
It has been one of my lifelong dreams to go to a monster truck rally. It all started with a commercial (as most things do, right?), a commercial I often saw on late night television. The Singles Connection 60 second ad was one of the worst pieces of advertising I have ever seen. It included a lot of stock footage of restraunts and Hawaii but also an overweight grumpy-looking couple walking on a polluted beach during a hurricane. “Call Now!” it would say, “Make a connection to last a lifetime!” This delightful commercial would then show a quick sequence of events. First you would see a shot of Las Vegas from on top of the Stratosphere (one of the tackiest places in Vegas). Then a shot of hula girls dancing (a shot they might have stolen from the DVD “Tahitian Treasures”) followed by a championship bull rider (Go NFR!), an image of a monster truck demolishing several cars, and a final picture of a wedding couple kissing in front of a temple.
By this point I was usually hysterical. “Monster Trucks!!” I would yell. “Of course! That’s it! I haven’t been to enough truck rallys!! Now I know!!! That’s the secret to a serious relationship! Monster Trucks!!!” I would then wipe the tears from my eyes and sit there muttering “monster trucks” to myself for the next couple of hours.
Naturally, I told everyone I knew about this pinnacle of advertising. And I told everyone who was single that obviously monster trucks have some mysterious connection to temple marriages. For some reason, no one believed me, which naturally meant I needed to be louder and declare that I would marry the man who took me to a monster truck show.
I got over that. However when a monster truck show came to Salt Lake I decided that I would take my nephew as he specifically told me he likes monster trucks. He mentioned this to me as I was asking my nieces if they would like to go to a U of U volleyball game. The girls were telling me who would like what (Aimee = volleyball, Katie = soccer or baseball, Jamie = gymnastics) when Matthew (aged 5) leaned over the seat and yelled “ I LIKE MONSTER TRUCKS.” So, Matthew got to go.
As I sat in the E Center choking on fumes and hoping the hearing loss wouldn’t be permanent, I realized that monster trucks are a lot like sumo wrestlers. They’re big, there’s a lot of build up, and then it’s over. Thankfully the show had a lot more stuff in it, local trucks competing for speed, minicars, guys on motorcycles doing tricks. And the monster trucks themselves were really loud and really flashy. But, I, like my nephew, was ready to go after two hours. We checked monster trucks off our list of things to do before we die and then went home to watch television. There were some good commercials on.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
I knew that this was a favorite of Maddy's and others have recommended
it so I finally sort of broke down and saw the thing. The assumption I make about a movie with a title of two names, one male and the other female is that it is some kind of romance love-story chick-flick. Though this movie had its love story it was not the sort of sappy melodrama I expected. The romantic aspect of it was more creepy than anything because the age difference between Harold and Maude was somewhere between 60 and 65 years. I agree with the priest in the film in being appalled at the notion of "mingling flesh with the wrinkled skin, sagging breasts, and flabby buttox." The eighty-year-old Maude makes an interresting game of corrupting the young Harold by introducing him to all kinds of human vice in the name of trying out new things and experiencing life. Was this thing made in the 60s? Not sure. Normally, I'm all about corrupting the young out of a sense of fun but Maude takes it to a point I might talk about but never actually do.
Otherwise the movie is pretty funny, particularly Harold's interactions with his mother and the girls she tries to set him up with. Out of 10 I give it a round 7.8312 stars. Enjoy.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
As some of you might have noticed, I am a little obsessed with the movie SERENITY. It was definately one of the best things I got for Christmas this year. Well, "Firefly" is the Fox show that SERENITY was based on. The series was cancelled after 14 episodes and all of the 16 shows that were made were released last year on DVD. Those DVD's have been on the Amazon Top Ten list for almost a year now, a considerable achievement for a show that was never watched and subsequently cancelled.
Thanks to the magic of Netflix, I watched the first three episodes of "Firefly" last night. Last night I also managed to wake myself up from nightmares four separate times. When they advertising guys say "Western In Space!" they don't mean Gene Autry/Singing Cowboy western in space, they mean Clint Eastwood/Bloodbath western in space. I'v seen the movie, I know what Reevers are, and I was still scared to death.
Which isn't to say the show's not good. It's just scary. My co-worker suggested I perhaps only watch one show a day, in order for my system to have a chance to process everything. I don't deal with scary stuff very well or very quickly so I think that's good advice - for me. Everyone else will probably be just fine and laugh a good laugh at my squeamish tendencies.
So, enjoy "Firefly", which is MUCH more "Western" than the movie and chock full of scary adventure. Let me know how it goes as I won't finish watching all 16 for another couple of weeks.