Sunday, June 24, 2012


So my oldest sister and her family came to visit Vegas a while back and, since the kids were sunburnt from a day at the pool and everyone was exhausted from tromping up and down The Strip, Michelle decided to get some Redbox DVDs, junk food, and hang out in their beautiful hotel room.  One of the DVDs she got was MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and when the family saw this they said "What? No!" and went off into the other room to watch SpongeBob SquarePants, or Disney Channel or DIE HARD or something.   Obviously I stayed with Michelle, Caroline, and my niece Jamie and we watched this movie.

I think the rest of the family showed better judgement in their entertainment choices.  MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is Woody Allen's self-indulgent trip through 70's morality.  The entire story hinges on concepts and cultural beliefs which are so tremendously out of date it's bizarre to watch and equally bizarre that this film was nominated, and won, Academy Awards.

No, wait, I take that back.  Most of the members of the Academy are the same age as Mr Allen so they probably share the same values.   Anyway, I will detail below what I think dates this film so dramatically, but first I want to say that the actors in this film obviously had a blast being in it.   As much as I disliked the writing, there is value in a pack of friends getting together to delight in the process of acting and collaborating with each other.
Adrian Brody alone is enough reason to have made this film


1. Television is Good These Days

 Gil and his fiancee are in Paris with her parents on a vacation and Gil talks about how he wants to get out of writing for television and instead to write his novel.  He complains about being a hack writer and wants to write a novel because that would be the pinnacle of artistic expression.  Because those little shows like "Lost", or "The Wire", or "The Sopranos", or "Arrested Development", or "Mad Men", or "24", or "30 Rock", or"Firefly" are terrible shows?  I mean, sure Gil might be working on the next Flavor Flav reality show but in today's environment, writing for television is not something to be ashamed of.   Televison is cool. Television can be great.  Novels can be self-published and released on for $.99.

2. Gil Idolizes the 1920's

Really?  The 1920's?  Who do you know who is obsessed with the 1920's?   Do you know what era folks are obsessed with?  The 1960's.   The 1960's are roughly 50 years in the past from 2012. The 1920's are roughly 50 years in the past from the 1970's.   I don't know anyone in their 30's who obsesses over Lost Generation jazz, style, literature, or art but I do know a LOT of folks who wear modified beehives, collect mid-century ashtrays, and watch Mad Men religiously.

This is a  CURRENT ad campaign for Ray Ban.

3. No One Uses Their Smart Phones

Seriously?  If you were magically transported to the 1920's, wouldn't you be taking some photos?  Maybe feel sad you couldn't facebook the experience?  Would you, perhaps, call or text your girlfriend while wandering through the streets of a strange city so she knows you are alright?

This is a normal visit with friends.

4. Gil Carries Around Valium In His Pockets

The casual dispensing of downer meds, particularly that 70's standby, Valium, is SO drug culture/disco 70's that I was shocked to see it in the film.  Valium?  If you are on meds for anxiety, you are probably on a psychotropic once-a-day med which stays in your bathroom.  If anything, one would be on Xanax, and that's a 12 hour drug.  Valium is for 70's housewives.

Who look EXACTLY like this lady.

5. His Girlfriend and Her Mother Discuss Spending $15,000 On A Chair

Yes, it's supposed to be a joke to demonstrate the crass materialism of his fiancee's family but it's weird.  We live in 2012, where no one is sure to have a job no matter what education you have.  Folks my age aren't buying houses because the job market is so unstable.  Buying a chair for the cost of a nice-ish car is not only unrealistic but sets the wrong tone.  Crass materialism isn't cool these days, crass materialism disguised as green technology and upcycled products is.   If Woody Allen had any idea of what the world is really like, he would have had the fiancee and her mother cooing over a chair made from old West African boat parts, assembled in a sweatshop, and shipped to Paris at extreme cost.  Showing the conflict between someone's stated value of fair-trade industry and then watching them spend thoughtlessly is far more 2012.

THIS is a chair you would pay a lot of money for in Paris, and it's shipped there from West Africa.

6.  His Girlfriend Casually Sleeps With Another Man While They Are On Vacation

It's just weird.  Unless they are in an open relationship, but that would require them both to communicate with each other, which they don't do.  Which is also weird.

7. In The End He Is Rewarded For His Bohemian Values By Getting The Girl

Because when you are betrayed by your fiancee and walk out of a hotel room jobless, homeless, and bereft of human company, OBVIOUSLY you are ready to start a relationship with another woman.   In fact Gil DESERVES a woman as a "prize" for... something?  Being honest for once in his life?  Ignoring the fact that nostalgia is a way for us to process our current generation through the safe distance of a previous generation's style?  Or perhaps it's just because the actress Lea Seydoux

looks exactly like Annie Hall.

That ratty center-parted hair practically screams 1970's.  Good thing that's when this movie was really written.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


So, I wasn't all that excited to see this movie.  MIB2 was pretty "eh", what with Frank the Pug as an agent and Will Smith doing a series of pratfalls and double takes.  But, MIB3 wasn't a direct relative of MIB2.  Instead, just pretend that it was never made and that MIB3 is the ten-year anniversary of the original MEN IN BLACK.

That man makes Brylcream look GOOD
There are several delightful things about this movie but the BEST thing about it is Josh Brolin.  His job was to be Agent K in 1969, which means his job really was to imitate Tommy Lee Jones.  Brolin did such an amazing job I thought at first Tommy Lee Jones was overdubing the dialogue.  Brolin was fantastic, and it was a delight to watch him.  He even had the same funny facial-expression-while-running that Jones does, and I didn't know until watching Brolin that Jones MADE a funny face!  It made me happy to see Brolin's performance because it means that someday, when Tommy Lee Jones has left this mortal coil, there is someone who can still bring us Agent K.

The other great thing about this movie is the style.  Everything is styled to the max and it is beautiful.  From Agent J's office

to Andy Warhol's party,

Agent K's apartment

or just the motorcycle of the evil alien

the art direction and styling were superb and, if I'm being honest, most of the story.  It was mesmerizing to watch Smith interact with modern sensibility in an era which had very different values.  In one scene Agent K has just managed not to die after jumping off a building

You know, like you do...

and he asks a man in an elevator the date and time.  The fact that he's dressed like Malcom X and the white dude is obviously terrified of him is funny and interesting and sad simultaneously.

"The hot blonde comes standard on MY jet pack."  

Anyway, it is an excellent movie and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I would also like to point out that in ALL of the MIB movies, it is Agent K - Tommy Lee Jones - who has the love interest rather than Will Smith's character.  I can't figure out if it's because we like seeing a bottled-up cowboy open up and talk about emotions or if it's a lingering symptom of our nation's racial prejudice.  In a movie universe where aliens have equal rights, the black man runs around saving white dudes and still can't get the girl.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


There is a time in every one's life when things are definitely NOT FUNNY.  It's the Season of Earnestness and it usually hits people in their early teens.   I'm pretty sure mine lasted till my mid-twenties which probably made me insufferable.  If you aren't quite sure what I am talking about, think of any 13 year old girl you know and remember any conversation you had with her.  Did someone say something to someone else and it was HORRIBLE!!?   Were they SO MEAN!?  Did she get a poor grade on something and will that grade follow her on her GPA for the REST OF HER LIFE!!!?

I think you get the picture.   When you are young you feel things more deeply, more intensely, and you haven't quite realized that life will go on.  It has also been proven by research that the older you get, the less dopamine-receptive your brain gets.  So, while some could call that "wisdom", I call it "Sheesh, this dubstep that the kids are listening to just sounds like a loud 80's modem..."

SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN is 100% earnest and it's kind of endearing.  Charlize Theron claws her way out of a feather-filled tar pit and it is NOT FUNNY.  Kristen Stewart wakes from the dead and grabs the hand of an arrow-shooting, over-dramatic, duke junior to shoot him a look of pure hatred and it is NOT FUNNY.
"I totally hate you back!"

 Even the dwarfs are fallen from glory and humor, bemoaning their wretched fate and singing a lot of sad a capella songs.  And that, my friends, is really not funny, specially since they aren't real little people.  (Though I was happy to see Nick Frost.)
"We dwarfs would be more cheerful if we weren't walking in a ditch 10 feet behind Thor."

It was a solidly made movie which should appeal to any overly-intense person you know.  Or, it will appeal to people who kind of liked Lord of the Rings for all the walking around people did.
But, most importantly, it will appeal somewhat to the billions of folks who saw the Twilight movies and loved them and that's really what is important, right?

For the record, Kristen Stewart wasn't completely awful.  I'm pretty sure it was good editing which masked her inability to make appropriate faces.   The very end, though, when there is nothing to do but actually look at her "acting", things get a bit awkward.  Like, an entire kingdom just stands there and watches her face do weird things while she continues to not say anything.  At all.  For a solid three minutes.  It was so weird my sister leaned over and said "I bet she had a speech she was so lousy at that they had to cut it and just had her stand here like a git instead."
However, in this shot, her acting was impeccable.

(p.s.  I just looked at and discovered that a Snow White & the Huntsman 2 is now announced.  This automatically makes me dislike the movie I just saw.  The altered score is reflected in parenthesis above.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012


This medical pod was calibrated for a man.....
          but was strong enough for a woman.