Archive for the 'movies' Category

Oscar Movie #3: Ides of March

Solid all around and Clooney has potential as a director. I know I’m going to get flack from lots of ladies for saying this, but the thing that stood out most was Gosling’s terrible accent: why? No need for one.

Clooney. Clooney totally wins.

I’m usually pretty good with my Eastern seaboard regionals. It might be a small thing, but it stuck out. Not Morgan-Freeman-in-Invictus-distracting, but at least that was necessary.

Full disclosure: While watching “Rescue Dawn” I noticed Christian Bale had a tinge of Lower East Side with his German- American. Turns out the guy he was playing stowed away to lower Manhattan when he turned 18 (yeah, I looked it up), so I’m thinking on that kind of level.

I know, I know: “nerd” doesn’t quite capture it.

Also, I know my reviews are calling out kind of specific things so far: that’s because the movies have been solid, good even (well not so much with Young Adult), but not extraordinary. Except in very specific ways. To a clearly specific critic (virtual air quotes!).

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Oscar Movie #2: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The English-y-est Englishness to ever come out of England. If the BBC and WestEnd and Trench Coats and tea and mushy peas and stiff upper lips and Pimms (….) were to have a baby, it might be as English as this movie. That said, it was pretty good.

Jolly Old!

Like this, but not as refreshing...

Oldman’s great and it’s cool to see a very porn-movie-esque Bane (Thomas Hardy) as a “scalp collector,” but not a whole lot of tension or suspense. Which I would consider key in a cat-and-mouse Cold War espionage thriller. I couldn’t help but think: what if David Fincher directed this? They’d have been pulling my nails out of the arm rests.

Me and my lousy expectations.

Oscar Movie #1: Young Adult

The screeners are in kiddies, and there are several films to get through, and a wide variety at that. Wait. Since Transformers III: Dark Side of the Moon is included in this list and putting up a lot of things “For Your Consideration,” let me correct myself: there are several movies to get through.

The first is Young Adult with Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt, written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman.

I don’t have much to say about this one. Theron’s good. She’s usually good. And she seems better because she does that she’s-so-beautiful-yet-she-plays-such-ugly-people thing. I’m not hating on the woman, I think she’s fantastic, but her role wasn’t.

Cody is over-rated, Reitman has clearly seen a LOT of John Hughes movies in is time (who can blame him?) and I will just state for the record that I do not get Patrick Wilson. To me, the most remarkable thing about the guy is that he gets so much play and he’s so patently generic. Well, other than kind of reminding me of a lobotomized Chris Pratt, who is patently awesome on Parks and Recreation.

The most promising thing about the movie is Oswalt. I thought he was good- doing a lot with so little and making a real character out of it. I hope he gets more serious roles.

Overall: pretty uneventful. Sorry, kids.

District 9 movie marketing- will the political/ cultural allegories resonate?*

I have many (mostly) male friends, nerdboys of the highest order.  Like me, they collect action figures, watch Star Wars on a regular basis, debating the merits of the chapters, characters, arc and colors of the light-sabres and generally revel in the outright fantasy without guilt or embarrassment.

And rightly so.  They are some of the smartest, most successful people I interact with and I’m proud to stand in line with them for hours to get in to see Iron Man’s first showing.  However, they tend not to know too much about international politics, or at least don’t discuss it.

So when one of them, JET, came to me and insisted I watch a preview for District 9, I was struck by the plot and setting.  Aliens have landed, neither to hurt nor to help, they are refugees and are being kept away from humans in tin roofed shacks in a contained area in Johannesburg.  I didn’t need to wait to see the credits, hear the accents or even the remaining 90 seconds of the trailer to know that I was looking at Soweto.  It kind of hit me in the stomach- I wasn’t expecting this from what is clearly a sci-fi/ action film aimed at young men.  But the setting was striking.

It’s not a coincidence, the title refers to the District 6 township in Cape Town.  I wonder if the “9” is a nod to the ward in New Orleans.  The director is South African and the set design, terminology and visuals are striking to anyone who has even set foot in South Africa- during or after apartheid.  The psychic sucker punch were nearly identical images broadcast from the  Soweto riots of a year ago, where frustrated, unemployed black South Africans, afraid for what little they’ve been able to gain in the 13 years since Apartheid ended, began attacking the refugees from Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Nigeria… anyone who might take their potential jobs, or recognition they’d so long been denied.

I’m still unsure as to why this unsettles me so much or surprises me.  Comic books and science fiction have always been social and cultural mirrors disguised in fantastic situations and characters, but mainstream studios making the connections more obvious (think Iron Man, Stark Industries and Afghanistan) is intriguing.

I suppose there are several questions which I will chew over before and after seeing this film (I’ve never been accused of under-analyzing anything, including action movies).  The question I am mainly interested in opening for discussion is this:  are the studio execs putting their money where their mouths are in making some aspect of more mainstream movies politically relevant, are they not thinking about it, or do they think their audience won’t notice, or worse, won’t care?

Click here to see trailer.

*or am I imagining all of this?

if all the world were a stage

i’d be totally frenched.  see, i hate theatre.  well, not theatre, musicals.  and not just in theatres.  in the movies, too.  although i know that the venues in which movies are played are called theatres as well.  and the soundtracks.  everything.  EVERYTHING about it. 

even my generational imperative for love of nostalgia, real, manufactured and otherwise, has begun to fail the wizard of oz, grease and the sound of music.  those are the musicals i grew up on and so loved as part of my childhood.  at some point in the last ten years, i realized i may love them for what they meant to me at 6, 4, 8, i don’t actually like them.  i don’t want to see them. ever.  again. 

i was chuffed to play jan in PS 21s magnificent stage production of grease.  i LOVED, LOVED LOVED the Sound of Music Tour i went on during my first european backpacking tour.  it was spectacular.  you get to see all of salzburg- an astoundingly beautiful and friendly city, but you also go into the alps, have lunch in the village of st. gilgen, which contains the church from the movie, motzart’s familial roots and a mountain lake of the most incredible blue I have ever seen.  on the way back, you can even give an alpine slide a shot.  you sing the songs on the bus- ineveitably filled with australian, american, canadian and japanese tourists.  everyone knows how absurd the experience is-

oh, to experience the sublime while being completely aware of it…

Continue reading ‘if all the world were a stage’

figwit dances when he’s angry.

**spoiler alert**

only nerds of the highest order will even be able to understand this post, much less appreciate it.

i have recently, and belatedly, discovered and fallen in love with the flight of the conchords.  this may surprise some of you that know me and my absolute inability to tolerate spontaneous singing interspersed in storytelling- comedic or dramatic.  it’s nearly an allergy and it’s thisclose to requiring an epipen when encountered in large or especially egregious doses.

the wonder of all life, of course, is the exception to these hard and fast rules.  usually when something is so exaggerated it becomes sublime.  like moulin rouge.  or the aforementioned duo from new zealand.  of course, watching the first episode when having just returned from new zealand helps, not to mention tobey, murray’s bulldog (nice surprise in ep. 11).  the sillyness, the cleverness, the absolute adorable leads, it all adds up to pure magic.

now, most of my friends of the female persuasion love jemain, who is sort of the main guy, but i, friends, i heart bret.  he’s just so unassuming and adorable.  and compact.  with amazing sweaters.  and the sign-holding mentality.  plus, his hiphop alter ego, rhymenoscerous, and homage to footloose in the last episode are amazing.  and hilarious.  and subtle.  just like him.  sigh.

when espousing the many merits of bret mckenzie (not at the expense of the ridiculous muesli-loving perfectly dead-pan jemain clement), i was informed that part of what makes the show even funnier and self-referential is that young mr. mckenzie was actually in lord of the rings, the pride, glory, and singular export (facetious) of their native land.  he played an elf with one line in Return of the King.  “Elf Escort” is his official credit.  awesome.  i love it.  and also, it makes me giggle because my friends sometimes use “watching lord of the rings” as a euphemism for geek love.  fine, it only applies to me, but they do, too.

imagine my utter glee when entering my new office (that of the ringwraith) and noticing a screen grab of Bret as an elf in Return of the King taped to my wall.  i pointed this out to a co-worker who duly informed me that Mr. Elf Escort is somewhat of a LOTR nerd-dom phenomenon.  Before the movie was released, before Flight of the Conchords, fans became obsessed with this background character in the first installment- Fellowship of the Ring.  He said nothing, yet he captivated many.  They apparently cried out: ”

Frodo

Is

Great…

Who

Is

That?”
figwit

hence, the moniker Figwit.  He has fans.  He has websites.  He has figures (got one on my desk).  Jealous?!

I guess I’m writing this to point this out to the two or three other fans who somehow missed this phenomenon.

Or maybe, I’m concerned because I think my new office might be like 1st and 1st; the nexus of the universe.  I bring this up in case I disappear without a trace one day.

Check for a worm hole under my desk.

mckenzie_img.jpg

he’s the boom boom king.

heeeeeeeeee.  Today, 22nd September 2009, marks the 1 year anniversary of the day I saw Bret “FIGWIT” Mc Kenzie having dinner at Arturo’s on Houston.  The old school wood-fired pizza is amazing.  I had just finished up a birthday dinner for Ms. Savory and was walking out when I saw him in his oh-so-FOTC striped sweater and scarf sitting in a booth near the front.  His back was to the door, so I looked right at him and did one of those spin-around-my-pack-of-friends move muttering “ohmygodit’sbretohmygodit’sbretohmygodit’sbret” and then running out the door*.  I started jumping up and down in front of the joint clapping, saying “YAY” and trying to explain my excitement to the crowd I was with- not so much on FOTC or LOTR. In any case, the two women sitting across from him saw me and started laughing, and told him, who also started laughing.  Joy.  I made the Rhymenocerous laugh.  Yay!
*After my world famous Liam Neeson incident, I never, ever try and interact with celebrities, especially when they’re at dinner, and doubly especially if I like them and don’t want to know that they’re gross.

mooks, maoris and .357 magnums

hi kids.

it’s been a tick since i last checked in with you, but i have been up to quite a bit.  i dropped into hong kong for a kip, caught on movies via qantas in demand, went to very many meetings, got a new roommate, took a bus tour up to northland and a boat through a hole in a rock, made friends with a traditional maori dance troupe, accrued 30K frequent flyer miles and shot some guns.

since so much has happned, i guess it’s best to sum up the highlights and key takeaways:

  1. qantas has better business class than cathay pacific,
  2. spiderman 3 was the biggest let down in my movie going career since, well, ever, i guess,
  3. australia and new zealand may only be separated by the tasman sea, but they are worlds apart,
  4. kiwis say “awesome” more than americans,
  5. the all blacks might be the coolest rugby team on the planet.  but i’m such a poser, i’m basing that statement on the trivia from my bus tour driver and the cute jacket that i bought at the auckland airport,
  6. i didn’t go to the “lord of the rings part” of new zealand (of which there are several), but i did go the house where the treaty between nz and england was signed, as well as the world’s biggest war canoe,
  7. i am now, officially, a tree hugger.  there’s a kauri tree, somewhat like the american redwood, in new zealand that the maoris believe bring you good energy if you hug it, so i complied,
  8. got some good business done,
  9. signed on some new agents,
  10. took on even more duties since my domestic counterpart is leaving the company, but will get to have some fun with it,
  11. nz also has law and order a lot, though i was often too jetlagged to make the 8:30 showtime,
  12. yes, flight of the conchords is  popular there,
  13. there is a store in australia called mooks.  seriously.  it’s very trendy.  can’t figure out why it hasn’t made it to the us, though…
  14. LA still sucks, but having a gps in your car makes it almost bearable,
  15. LA kind of rules for having a gun club downtown that you can go to, rent any kind of non-automatic and shoot.  i tried a glock 9 mm (what the coppers in nyc use- thought it might be prudent to give it a test drive in case i go that way).  also tried a .357 magnum revolver with .38 caliber bullets.  MUCH better for target practice,
  16. next time i want to try rifles and shotguns,
  17. i’ll probably never make it as a sharpshooter,
  18. hailed the return of russel crowe during 3:10 to yuma, which needed a better director to handle that star power,
  19. ate like crap,
  20. watched t.o. devour the giants on sunday night football, which is the only way i could ever tolerate a dallas-led giants loss,
  21. saw bubba on letterman whilst in oz.  still love and worship him and need his new book,
  22. decided elvis should rise from the dead to take out all those responsible for the “viva viagra” campaign- pfizer, the ad agency and the people in his estate that OKed that deal,
  23. was amired by a hot (female) bartender for my choice of drink (whiskey on the rocks) and my job,
  24. got worked on by an aussie physiotherapist and was massively impressed.  he thinks i should be much more healed and is going to hunt for someone in new york to help me,
  25. i love bubba.  i know it’s a repeat, but i like round numbers.  and i really love him.

oh, and the catalan has been IMing; he can’t wait for me to visit.  i gotta try and swing that.

a woman’s heart is a deep ocean

that’s what i learned tonight, kids.  

i finally sucked it up and watched titanic with sunny d, settling our bet from the march madness brackets at long last.  i have to say, while it’s not the worst movie i’ve ever seen (i fully expect battlefield earth to hold that honor forever), it pretty much lived up to my expectations of cheesy dialogue and extremely predictable scenes.  in fact, the only thing i didn’t entirely expect was learning that guggenheim died on the boat. 

now, you might be saying to yourself, “Self, of course isosceles knew what would happen.  the overall story is well known and the movie was a mega blockbuster that everyone was talking about.”  fair enough on the first point.  but on the second, i really didn’t hear it.  mostly because i would stick my fingers in my ears and go “la alalala alal ala la la a la la la” until people stopped. 

what?  i never claimed to be the model of maturity.

anyway, mostly i was bored and irked at the fact that nobody seemed all that bothered by the cripplingly cold waters, until jack freezes to death at the end.  oops.  did i give that away?  isn’t it unbelievable? 

ok.  i have to admit that i did come close to tears at the end, but mostly because after looking at bill paxton’s earring, the superbad acting of the “old lady,” and the moment she throws the diamond away, i was saddened that kate winslet was a part of such a piece of, uh, mediocrity.

and then it happened.  i truly emotionally connected with the film.  rose dies an old, old lady in her bed, like she promised jack.  and that emotion was outrage.  i was as irate at this moment as when all the professors put their pens on russel crowe’s table at the end of a beautiful mind.  i keep hearing brian cox’s speech in adaptation that charlie kaufman attends, which he ends with “And God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That’s flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character.”

my final review: even if this movie was really, truly good, it would not be worth the eternal hell it has unleashed on the world via celine dion and her heart going on.

things to do on a rainy day

the one and only 64the 64box of 64that is if you’re an enormous nerd like me.

1.  Watch a Lifetime movie starring Jenna Elfman as a woman obsessed with a surgeon who has invented an entire relationship in her head (as well as a gauzily-lit psychiatrist and a contempt of court-prone journalist).  Best line from the court-appointed psychiatrist: “she has seven of the ten traits of an assassin.”  …?  I didn’t know these had been catalogued.  Fortunately, the good people at Lifetime TV have their eyes on things.

Aside: Thank god people don’t diagnose themselves with imagined illnesses based on Lifetime plots like they do on WebMD.  My friend Christina jokes that she hates that website because somehow, whenever she feels ill and researches her symptoms, she ends up with a diagnosis of testicular cancer and the prognosis does not look good.  The Lifetime result would be neuro-eroticism (Jenna’s official diagnosis) or imaginary child syndrome (featured in an excellent production starring Rita Wilson and Victor Garber, by the way).

2. Color in your coloring books.  Yeah, you heard me.  I do indeed have coloring books.  And man, do I need some new ones.  At this point I’m pretty much down to the German Sesame Street coloring book I got as a freebie at an old job.  It’s not very challenging, but it is awesomely sterotypical as several of the scenes face pages that firmly instruct kiddies on exaclty which colors to use and how one must play properly. 

3.  Brush your teeth a lot.  For some reason, being lazy makes my mouth feel dirty.  God help me if a Freudian gets a hold of this sentence.

4.  Watch Empire Strikes Back.  Awesome, it is.

5.  Play word games on a website designed for seven year olds.  It’s not that I’m looking for easy- I can usually nail the Sunday Times crossword in half an hour flat- I just need enough points to buy my virtual pet some food and books.  I don’t want my red, bowtie wearing penguin to be considered stupid, after all.

6. Whatever you do, don’t clean, organize, balance your check book, pay bills, write to people or make overdue phone calls.  That sounds like work, man.  And we cannot have that on our rainy day off. 

7. Write inconsequential entries on your blog to bide time until the Psychic Detectives marathon begins. 

ah, the power of cheese

i don’t mean the literal foodstuff, cheese, though that clearly has it’s wonders and its merits.  no, kids, i refer to the sociological type of cheese.  and the creme de la creme of this cultural curd is, of course, B horror movies.

i have been traveling to and from cleveland almost non stop for the past three weeks, following a two week sojourn abroad for successive, long trade shows.  i have had almost no time to eat well, exercise or even relax.  i have been working my tail off (lo, only figuratively.  the midwest spread is apparently contagious).  i have been in back to back meetings whether in new york or the cleve.  spend most of my meal times in meetings or airports.  putting out fires, struggling with the inconsistencies and holes in communication flow that a new company has in spades.

the upshot is:  i’m exhausted.  drained.  knackered.  fried.  broke down. jacked up. sleepy, add your synonym here.

quick examples:

last week i excused myself to go to the restroom at a local , well-patronized bar and opened the door to the bathroom.  for a good twenty seconds i stood staring at the urinal, knowing it signaled that something was off, but unable to process what, exactly, the issue was.  as i slowly backed up, i noticed the ubiquitous stick figure representing the male of the species next to (oddly enough) the word “Mens.”  this prompted an epiphany to which the only response was to sidle five feet to the left and enter the more accomodating “Ladies” room.

i wrote a poll on my fantasy baseball team website in which i spelled the word “threw” as “t-h-r-o-u-g-h.”  for those you who know my fastidiousness when it comes to spelling and proper usage of english (including being seriously uptight about their, there and they’re as well as to, too, and two, you’re and your. it’s and its), you know this is not a favorable indicator of my personal mental health.

finally, i was offered the opportunity to be part of two things that would normally bring me untold joy: a subway series baseball game with best friends and a ricky gervais show with other close and wonderful friends.  i have bailed on both to lay in my bed, exhausted, in physical pain strong enough to make me cry, feeling quite sorry for myself.

there is only one thing that can take my mind off this pathetic personal failing:  a well spent $3.95 for a grisly,sufficiently acted, clever death scenes B horror movie.  My nirvana, my escape, my personal Calgon.

to which, friends, i must return as the peace it gives me is quickly fading. 

so please, don’t mock, but embrace the so-bad-it’s-good gen x philosophy; it is a salve to soothe the shattered soul.**

ok, that’s somewhat melodramatic, but i was going for alliteration and my options were limited


truth

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

truth

Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

bygones