Thursday, September 30, 2010


I'm torn.

On the one hand, I really do believe that living a simple life is good. I think Affluenza should be required reading for all western people. I believe that "the less I have, the more I gain" (on a side note, do you know how crazy awesome Metallica and the SF Symphony sound together? Ahem.)

I've been a backpacker and know that I can carry everything I need on my back, turtle-style. I think voluntary simplicity, the work that the Center for a New American Dream does, and occasionally going without cell phones and constant internet are all fantastic or even wholly necessary things.

On the other hand, I was raised in not one, but TWO households like this:

Somewhere between growing up in two homes, constantly leaving possessions in the wrong place, moving roughly 29 times in my life thus far, losing items in said moves, and having the genetic coding of a packrat, I have developed a serious complex about my things.

I have this fantasy of all of my things being under ONE ROOF for the first time since I was five. Maybe even by the time I turn thirty. It will happen someday. It will happen sooner if I have less shit.

But - I'm very attached to a lot of my things. Particularly gifts from others. Like a beanie baby I was given in high school. I don't particularly want the beanie baby, but I like what it represents and can't get rid of it. But I don't really know what to do with it, either.

I was recently sent this quote, just as I was thinking about this topic [Ed note: this quote may or may not come from a Scientology ad. But I like the sentiment. On a similar note, I once found out that one of the quotes I used on my yearbook page came from a Macintosh computer ad, but I still like it, too. (I will not, however, be doing any linking to any scientology sites, proper citation be damned.)]

"I am not my car, my job, my spouse, my family, my house, my neighborhood, my level of education, the clothes I wear, the friends I keep, or the food I eat. So if those things are not me, then who am I?

My identity lies in my authentic self; the self that is there even after I sell my car, or move to another country.

The point I am trying to make is: if I were to lose my possessions, or change them, would I still exist? And my answer to this is, yes, of course. That is why I don’t entangle my identity with my physical environment. I drive a nicer car now, yes, but I’m still the same woman who drove the old car. I own a wonderful home in the suburbs, but this hasn’t changed me from who I was when I lived in an apartment in the city. And if I had to sell my home, or downgrade my car, I would still be the same person.

Not to say that people don’t change, or things don't change, but I am saying that people should not think they will change because of their things.

Possessions don’t make people."

It is sort of an interesting thought piece, if not particularly well written or profound. Because lots of people do identify themselves by those first few categories. I think of myself as a San Franciscan. And a pescetarian. I think my education does shape who I am in some respects. However, I don't think my job defines me (or does it define me as someone who cares more about her free time and social life than a career?)

Anyways, I could go back and forth about the other definitions for ages. But as I'm prepping for a yardsale and a move, I think I'll keep the last sentence as a mantra. My possessions do not define me. I do not need to keep my grandfather's clock. I do not need to move every book I have ever read across the country.

Now, if I can say that enough times so that it stops giving me palpitations, we'll be in good shape.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Anatomy of a 2am Browser History

I'm not sure how it is my brain ceases thinking past midnight and yet continues to function. For some reason, 1am seemed like a reasonable time to try to educate myself on classical composers.

Basically, instead of turning off the laptop and going to bed, like a sane person, I did this:

Pearls Before Swine

Here's what happened - and no, I do not know why my brain made some of these leaps in the wee hours of the morning.

So, I was listening to Toccata and Fugue in D minor, because I had been looking up horror films on netflix, so I put on my halloween mix.
Which led to me looking up Bach.
Which led to me looking up who qualified as a Baroque composer.
Which led to me looking up Baroque art.
Which led to me looking up Gothic composers, as a comparison.
Which led to me looking up Commedia dell'arte.
Which led to me looking up the Agatha Christie which revolves around Commedia dell'arte (it's Harlequin's Lane in the Mysterious Mr. Quin.)
Which led to me looking up Stravinsky.
Which led to me looking up Tchaikovsky and then the 1812 Overture.
Which led to me looking up and deciding that I prefer Russian composers, on the whole, to French ones.
Which led me to looking up the history of Night on Bald Mountain, because I can never remember if it is Mussorgsky or Rimsky-Korsakov that wrote it.
Which led to looking up Silly Symphonies.
Which led to the Old Mill.
Which led to old Betty Boop cartoons.

At which point I looked up, it was 2am and I realized that I am a moron.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Halloween Mix

Disturbia - Rihanna

Bad Things - Jace Everett
Zombie - The Cranberries
Jenny was a Friend of Mine - The Killers
Ghosts - Ladytron
Ghost Riders in the Sky - The Outlaws

Love Me Dead - Ludo

Sally's Song - Fiona Apple
Marilyn, My Bitterness - The Cruxshadows

This is Halloween - Marilyn Manson

Time Warp - Rocky Horror Live

Snow White Queen - Evanescence
(Haunted is good, too)
Sympathy for the Devil - Guns & Roses

I Want You - Fiona Apple & Elvis Costello

People are Strange - The Doors

Hotel California - The Eagles

Tear You Apart - She Wants Revenge

You've Got a Killer Scene There Man - Queens of the Stone Age
Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers
Halloween - AFI (Misfits cover)
The Devil Went Down to Georgia - Charlie Daniels Band (Legend of Wooley Swamp, too)
Little Red Riding Hood - Animals
Twisted Nerve - Bernard Herrmann
Jack the Ripper - The Horrors

Thriller - Michael Jackson

Jack the Ripper - AFI (Morrissey cover)
Werewolf Bar Mitzvah - Tracy Morgan
Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
Ballad of Mac the Knife - Threepenny Opera (a note on this particular version: Cyndi Lauper was not an alto and this song was not in her range. But by the time the whole cast joins in for the final verse, the "when she woke, he was inside her" gives me chills every time.)
Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
Spooky - Classics IV
Bloodletting - Concrete Blonde
Season of the Witch - Donovan
Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Enter Sandman - Metallica

It's Almost Halloween - Panic at the Disco

Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell
Psycho Killer - Velvet Revolver (Talking Heads cover)
Kidnap the Sandy Claws - Korn
Curse of Millhaven - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Boris the Spider - The Who
The Cockroach that Ate Cincinnati - Rose & the Arrangement
And, of course;
Toccata and Fugue in D minor - Bach

Night on Bald Mountain - Rimsky Korsakoff

Oh my god.

So - I'm going through Netflix and moving a bunch of horror/thrillers/Hitchcocks and the like to the top of my queue for October. (Speaking of which, stick around for the next month. I'm going to see how many I get through. I've got all sorts lined up - classics, film noir, creature features, black humor, foreign masters, ones of questionable taste with cute boys. Should be fun.)

(Speaking of which, for some reason I grew up convinced that Joe Bob Briggs was in Tremors. I just figured out that is not the case. Who knew?)

Anyways, I start going through the horror suggestions to add a few more things and I come across this. I didn't know till now what the film was, but my father forced me to watch that at 4 or 5 and I cannot begin to describe the nightmares I had for weeks after that. I actually ran away from home for the better part of one day because I was so terrified of the rolly furballs with fangs. Stupid krites.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Kalamity trailer. The write up of which includes this line; "And what do you think of Nick Stahl Investigating Murders Possibly Committed by His Friends movies in general?" Is that a genre now?

You remember that film I was talking about? Red, White and Blue? Trailer's up. You should watch it (both the trailer and the film).

Also also - I never went to see Robin Hood, because I'm pretty sure I would have stood up and screamed this in the theater (this comes courtesy of the lovely Cleolinda): "'Robin Hood' Star Kevin Durand Has Heard Sequel 'Rumblings.' OH WELL WILL IT NOT BE A PREQUEL THIS TIME? DAMN. I am possibly the only person on this journal right now who saw that movie, and the more I think about it, the more I WANT MY MONEY BACK. They tried to get King John to sign the Magna Carta (!) and he SET IT ON FIRE and then, THEN, THEN they went to hide out in Sherwood Forest in THE LAST THIRTY SECONDS OF THE MOVIE. Before that the movie was all about the Crusades and pretending to be Cate Blanchett's husband because it suddenly went all Martin Guerre up in there and the Sheriff of Nottingham did NOTHING and then there was A BATTLE ON THE BEACH because WHAT? BEACH? JUST MAKE YOUR GODDAMN MOVIE ABOUT A GODDAMN GUY COMING BACK FROM THE CRUSADES AND DON'T CALL IT "ROBIN HOOD," GODDAMN." (Previously here and here)

Monday, September 20, 2010

BFF and Conviction

I went to see Conviction at the Boston Film Fest the other night. I realized that I have been wildly spoiled IFF Boston. The Boston Film Fest seemed to be terribly organized and run. There were screenings listed in the brochure that weren't available for tickets. There was no organization to line up for seats. The seating was late. And the special guest was a no-show.

It was also my first time at the Stuart Street Playhouse. While I guess it's nice that there is officially an indie theater within city limits for the snobs who live on Arlington, I'm definitely sticking with the Kendall and the Brattle. It's not a particularly nice theater.

As for Conviction, it was fine. It isn't really Oscar caliber, but the narrative is broken up enough to keep from being formulaic. Sam Rockwell is really good, but not Moon good. I'm not positive he'll get that supporting actor nom yet.

Friday, September 17, 2010

TIFF Roundup

indieWire has a roundup of the critics' scores of many of the films at TIFF. It's a great list, but it is in alpha order and sans descriptions, so I'm rearranging and adding to it here. A few notes - I'm sure this isn't everything, because I'm pretty sure Beautiful Boy with Michael Sheen and Maria Bello premiered, and it isn't on this list. I'd say in general, anything B or above is probably worth checking out (if it comes to a theater near you) and anything in the B-/C+ range is woth checking out if it piques your interest, because some (many?) critics are crazy.

[Update! These rankings are from when the list first appeared on indieWire's site. They have updated that page since then.]

I Saw the Devil Kim Jee-woon, South Korea
- Let's hear what the distributor that nabbed it has to say; "'I Saw the Devil' is one of the most riveting and unrelenting films I’ve ever seen. It is an undisputable masterpiece... Unparalleled in it’s brutality, Kim Jeewoon deftly takes the serial killer thriller to new, profoundly disturbing heights. It’s hard to imagine curating a genre label that didn’t include this remarkable achievement." Well, alrighty then.
My Joy Sergei Loznitsa, Germany/Ukraine/The Netherlands called this a "mordant, slow-motion horror film about a truck driver's journey into hell." Well, then.

127 Hours Danny Boyle, USA
-the one about the real guy who cut off his own arm after being trapped under a boulder. Apparently there were two incidents of audience members needing medical attention after seeing it.
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Andrei Ujica, Romania
Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky, USA
-Natalie Portman, gunning for the oscar, as a ballerina. Who may or may not have dated Mickey Rourke in Darren Aronofsky's head.
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Tsui Hark, China
-My spy in Toronto reports back that this is awesome.
The King’s Speech Tom Hooper, United Kingdom/Australia
-Will the Oscars rectify their snub of Colin Firth from last year if he puts on a stutter? I don't like the guy, and even I thought he should've won for A Single Man.
Mysteries of Lisbon Raul Ruiz, Portugal/France
-huh. I heard that this was pretty, but snooze-inducing.
The Piano in a Factory Zhang Meng, China
The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town Thom Zimny, USA
-Bruce Springsteen Rockumentary
Rabbit Hole John Cameron Mitchell, USA
-All eyes are on Nicole Kidman as she plays a grieving mother of a dead child. Specifically, her face, and whether or not you can see scars or movement.
Bruce McDonald, Canada
-Yay! A Bechdel-test winner. About former rock stars! I want to see it!
The Trip
Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom
-I'm hoping this will be what I wanted Tristram Shandy to be.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Apichatpong Weerasethakul, U.K./Thailand/France/Germany/Spain
-The first Thai film to ever win the Palme D'Or at Cannes.
You Are Here Daniel Cockburn, Canada
-It has been described as a meta-detective story and a Borgesian fantasy. Color me intrigued.

Another Year
Mike Leigh, United Kingdom
- A Mike Leigh character portrait of an older couple and their friends and relatives.
Blue Valentine
Derek Cianfrance, USA
- I can't wait to see this one. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams falling in and out of love.
Boxing Gym
Frederick Wiseman, USA
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
Alex Gibney, USA
The Illusionist Sylvain Chomet, United Kingdom
- The follow up to the Triplets of Belleville.
Incendies Denis Villeneuve, Canada
-Canada's official Oscar entry
Inside Job Charles Ferguson, USA
Leap Year Michael Rowe, Mexico
Machete Maidens Unleashed! Mark Hartley, Australia
Meek’s Cutoff Kelly Reichardt, USA
- They try to ford the river and their oxen die. I'm guessing.
Nostalgia for the Light Patricio Guzmán, France/Germany/Chile
Oki’s Movie Hong Sangsoo, South Korea
Passion John Turturro, Italy
Le Quattro Volte Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy/Germany/Switzerland
Silent Souls Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia
Submarine Richard Ayoade, United Kingdom
- I've heard it's a dark indie comedy not unlike Rushmore.
Tabloid Errol Morris, USA
Thirteen Assassins Takashi Miike, Japan
The Town Ben Affleck, USA
-Please tell me you've heard of this.
The Way Emilio Estevez, USA
-Martin Sheen plays a Republican. Really truly.

Janus Metz, Denmark
- Supposed to be a really intense and controversial film about Afghanistan.
Athina Rachel Tsangiri, Greece
Mike Mills, USA
- This is something about Ewan McGregor dealing with his parents. Or something.
Behind Blue Skies
Hannes Holm, Sweden
Black Ocean
Marion Hänsel, Belgium/France/Germany
Rodrigo Cortés, Spain/USA
- Ryan Reynolds in a box movie! Yay!
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Werner Herzog, USA
- 3-D cave paintings. As you do.
Cool It
Ondi Timoner, USA
Deep in the Woods
Benoit Jacquot France/Germany
Dhobi Ghat
Kiran Rao, India
The Edge
Alexey Uchitel, Russia
Film Socialism Jean-Luc Godard, France
Heartbeats Xavier Dolan, Canada
Henry’s Crime Malcolm Venville, USA
I Wish I Knew Jia Zhang-ke, China/The Netherlands
Julia’s Eyes Guillem Morales, Spain
The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen Andrew Lau, Hong Kong
Let Me In Matt Reeves, UK/USA
-Cloverfield's director takes on the remake of the Swedish Let the Right One In with the action placed in 1980s New Mexico, and possibly more faithful to the original book. The consensus seems to be that he manages to pull off a film that stands up on it's own, even after one has seen and loved the Swedish version.
Life, Above All Oliver Schmitz, South Africa/Germany
Monsters Gareth Edwards, United Kingdom
- This year's District 9, in that it is sci-fi shot on a shoe-string budget.
Neds Peter Mullan, United Kingdom/France/Italy
- Finally! A second film from the director of the Magdalene Sisters.
Poetry Lee Chang-dong, South Korea
Potiche François Ozon, France
The Solitude Of Prime Numbers
Saverio Constanzo, Italy
John Curran, USA
-Edward Norton vs. Robert DeNiro. Maybe this one will be released, unlike Leaves of Grass, which I am STILL waiting for.
The Strange Case of Angelica
Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal/Spain/France/Brazil
The Whistleblower Larysa Kondracki, Canada/Germany

Barney’s Version
Richard J. Lewis, Canada/Italy
-Paul Giametti playing Barney Panofsky. I don't know - they seem to know him in Canada.
Biutiful Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spain/Mexico
- Javier Bardem gunning for an Oscar.
Brighton Rock
Rowan Joffe, United Kingdom
- A remake of the original Richard Attenborough film, but with the action updated to the Mods and Rockers of the 1960s.
Casino Jack
George Hickenlooper, Canada
-Kevin Spacey playing Jack Abramoff.
Cold Fish
Sion Sono, Japan
Easy A
Will Gluck, USA
-Emma Stone in Clueless meets the Scarlet Letter.
Everything Must Go Dan Rush, USA
-Will Ferrell's follow up to the mostly serious Stranger Than Fiction.
Jack Goes Boating Philip Seymour Hoffman, USA
-Philip Seymour Hoffman directs himself and his former cast mates in a theater to movie adaptation. The supporting acting is supposed to be good.
Kaboom Gregg Araki, USA/France
-Crazy college sexual politics headtrip acid-trip I'm not sure anyone knows how to describe it. I can't wait.
Late Autumn Kim Tae-Yong, South Korea
Made in Dagenham Nigel Cole, United Kingdom
-For those who enjoyed Calendar Girls
Microphone Ahmad Abdalla, Egypt
Never Let Me Go Mark Romanek, United Kingdom
-Again, tell me you've heard of this.
Of Gods and Men Xavier Beauvois, France
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow Sophie Fiennes, U.K./France/The Netherlands
The Pipe Risteard Ó Domhnaill, Ireland
Sarah’s Key Gilles Paquet Brenner, France
-One of the first buys of the festival, about the WWII invasion of France.
That Girl in Yellow Boots Anurag Kashyap, India

John Sayles, USA
Conviction Tony Goldwyn, USA
-I have a review coming on this. True story, sibling love, makes fun of Martha Coakley, yada yada.
Dirty Girl
Abe Sylvia, USA
The Ditch
Wang Bing, France/Belgium
I’m Still Here Casey Affleck, USA
-Hey! Joaquin Phoenix wasted a year of his life! It looks like big brother got the directing talent while Casey got the onscreen chops.
Insidious James Wan, USA
-Ah, the title I keep confusing with Incendies. This one is the horror film from the director of the first Saw. Stars Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, USA
-I've not heard good things about this, which is supposedly One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in high school.
The Light Thief Aktan Arym Kubat, Kyrgyzstan/Germany/France/Netherlands
Little White Lies Guillaume Canet, France
-Apparently a poor French rip off of the Big Chill.
Make Believe J. Clay Tweel, USA
-Documentary about teen magicians
The Matchmaker Avi Nesher, Israel
Mothers Milcho Manchevski, Macedonia/France/Bulgaria
Norwegian Wood Tran Anh Hung, Japan
-A Haruki Murakami adaptation. I've heard it is beautifully shot, but not on the same level as the book.
Peep World Barry Blaustein, USA
-Dark comedy starring Rainn Wilson, Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman and Lewis Black.
Promises Written in Water Vincent Gallo, USA
A Screaming Man Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France/Belgium/Chad
The Sleeping Beauty Catheirne Breillat, France
-After Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat tackles another fairytale.
Tamara Drewe Stephen Frears, United Kingdom
-Probably also for those who liked Calendar Girls. Although - hey! Dominic Cooper in eyeliner.
Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project Kornél Mundruczó Hungary/Germany/Austria
Three Tom Tykwer, Germany
-Yay! I love Tom Tykwer! This sounds like The Freebie, with elements of Cabaret I suppose.
The Ward John Carpenter, USA
-Horror flick. Girls at a mental asylum.
White Irish Drinkers John Gray, USA
- As opposed to...?
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Woody Allen, United Kingdom/USA/Spain
-It's Woody Allen. You need a description?

Blame Michael Henry, Australia
Brownian Movement Nanouk Leopold, The Netherlands/Germany/Belgium
Max Winkler, USA
-Michael Angarano, who was so good in Snow Angels, stars in a Rushmore/Charlie Bartlett-esque film.
Chico & Rita Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, Tono Errando, Spain/United Kingdom
-Animated love story with jazz
The Conspirator Robert Redford, USA
-Lincoln's assassination! And a history lesson on legal prec...zzzzzzz
The Debt John Madden, USA
-a story about three Mossad agents both trying to kill a nazi, and reflecting on that time 30 years later. The cast is fantastic...
Essential Killing Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Norway/Ireland/Hungary
-Vincent Gallo.
The First Grader Justin Chadwick, United Kingdom
Hereafter Clint Eastwood, UK
-Clint Eastwood's film about ghost whisperers and the afterlife. Considering the talented cast, it's too bad this didn't get better reviews.
The High Cost of Living Deborah Chow, Canada
-*sigh* If only there were the word Death preceding that title. Anyways, a drug dealer hits a pregnant woman, kills the unborn child, which she decides to carry to term and then she becomes involved with the dealer in some way. And the dealer is Zach Braff.
Last Night Massy Tadjedin, USA/France
Kiera Knightley and Sam Worthington in yet another film about possible infidelity. But I've heard pretty good things about it.
The Poll Diaries Chris Kraus, Germany/Austria/Estonia
Route Irish Ken Loach, United Kingdom/France/Belgium/Italy/Spain
-Ken Loach is brilliant, but I haven't heard that this is his best work. It's about a security contractor's death in Iraq and his friend's struggle to find out the truth.
Score: A Hockey Musical Michael McGowan, Canada
-The single most Canadian film EVER MADE.
Vanishing on 7th Street Brad Anderson, USA
-Hayden Christensen is one of the last people on earth. If that doesn't say apocalypse...

Africa United
Debs Gardner-Paterson, United Kingdom
Guy Moshe, USA
-I think this is the crazy anime-style, Josh Hartnett/Woody Harrleson noir type flick.
Home for Christmas
Bent Hamer, Norway/Germany/Sweden
How I Ended This Summer
Alexei Popogrebsky, Russia
The Hunter
Rafi Pitts, Iran
Miral Julian Schnabel, United Kingdom/Israel/France
-Freida Pinto in a Palestinian drama. Not supposed to be very good.
SUPER James Gunn, USA
-This, however, I have heard really good things about. In the same vein as Kick Ass, but with more people you have heard of. Plus! Nathan Fillion and James Gunn's (PG Porn) sensibilities.
Trust David Schwimmer, USA
-Pedophiles on the interwebs are BAD.


Passion Play Mitch Glazer, USA
-Megan Fox has wings. This story seemed like it had potential, but apparently it just doesn't come together.
What’s Wrong With Virginia Dustin Lance Black, USA
-Another one I wanted only good things for. Dustin Lance Black did such an incredible job with the Milk screenplay, I hoped his directorial debut would be as good. Apparently not.
The Womb Benedek Filegauf

L.A. Zombie Bruce LaBruce, Germany/USA/France

Repeaters Carl Bessai, Canada

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fantastic Fest On Demand

Well, this is cool. IFC Midnight is going to release the four films they are sending to Fantastic Fest simultaneously On Demand. The films are Heartless, High Lane, Primal, and Red White and Blue. I don't know anything about High Lane or Primal, but I've been looking forward to Heartless. And I wrote about Red White and Blue before. My earlier review;

"Saw Red, White and Blue at the Underground Film Fest. Really good, and really disturbing. I suppose it would be called a horror film, but it isn't supernatural in any way. It's flawed people in bad situations doing nasty things to each other. It's far more character-driven than most horror films and it's really well done. I do have to point out that I don't remember the last time I saw violence so graphic and realistic on screen that I couldn't watch it. But it's still a really beautiful film. Odd juxtaposition, I know, but it's well worth checking out. Noah Taylor is fantastic. I've liked him in supporting roles for years and I need to check out some of his other work."

The films will be available September 23rd.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The top 30 independent films of the last 30 years

IFTA Picks the top 30 Independent Films of the Last 30 Years I'm shocked some of these are considered independent films.

The 80s: I've seen: Blue Velvet and Dances With Wolves. Have yet to see: Amadeus, Das Boot (The Boat), Gandhi, My Left Foot, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, sex, lies, and videotape, The Terminator, The Killing Fields, The Last Emperor, and The Toxic Avenger.

The 90s: Seen: Braveheart, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Fargo, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Life Is Beautiful, Reservoir Dogs, The Silence of the Lambs, The Usual Suspects, Good Will Hunting (ugh), and Trainspotting. Have yet to see: Pulp Fiction, Basic Instinct, and Where the Day Takes You (never heard of that one.)

The 00s: Seen: Brokeback Mountain, Crash (ugh), The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Juno, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (how is that independent?), Monster, Slumdog Millionaire, and Memento. Have yet to see: Million Dollar Baby, The Pianist, Bowling for Columbine, and Twilight. Wait... WHAT?!? One of these things is not like the others...

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Animal Kingdom
Hmmm.... I think I'm still mulling over this one. Animal Kingdom is an Australian crime thriller and it was one of the huge success stories to come out of the early festival circuit, along with Winter's Bone. Jacki Weaver, in particular, earned accolades as the matriarch of the criminal family. Moreover, one of my close friends, whose taste in films I trust absolutely, got a sneak peak in New York and called to rave about it a couple of weeks ago.

I just feel like I'm missing something. It's good. It's really good, but...

I don't know. Perhaps I went in with my expectations too high?

The film centers on a teenager who, after his mother's overdose, moves in with his criminal relatives. Their family is being pursued by the cops and are at the edge of falling apart. The film examines the escalating tensions between the cops and the family members and Josh, the teenager's, increasing involvement with the family business.

I think part of why I had a hard time connecting to the film is that I don't think I've ever seen a movie where the protagonist was such a blank slate. For the first two thirds of the film, Josh is mostly silent and completely, utterly passive. It's a weird thing to watch.

The direction is excellent, however. As the situations become more and more dire, the smallest interactions become fraught with tension. I was on the edge of my seat for a car pulling out of a driveway. It reminded me a lot of The Hurt Locker, where small scenes were relentlessly tense. The supporting cast is fabulous, as well, particularly Guy Pearce as a detective pursuing the family.

4/5 stars

The Runaways
Man was this disappointing. The story of one of the first (the first?) all-female rock band, The Runaways, whose members included Joan Jett and Lita Ford. The film is based on the lead singer Cherie Curie's memoir, and the film focuses largely on Joan and Cherie.

The movie is filmed in a largely impressionistic way. This seems to be used to avoid the obvious 'small band makes it big, is pulled apart by drugs and success' cliches. However, it generally leaves the audience confused and the entire story is a mess. I thought at first that it might be a mess because the story was altered so as not to be too harsh on it's protagonists (Joan Jett was an executive producer). But the girls are shown taking drugs and having sex, so I'm not sure that making the events clearer would change the way they come off.

The largest problem with this style of filming is that really don't have any clue what the girls' motivations were. I guess Cherie Curie wanted to be Bowie? Joan wanted to play guitar? But I have no idea how they got into drugs. Why Cherie wanted to sleep with her tour manager. How bisexual Joan was and why Cherie wanted to sleep with her. How they dealt with the criticism that must have come from being girls in a male-dominated industry.

For example, the whole section of the girls achieving fame and success is shown through a few newspaper headlines cut in with some clip art in what looks to be a high school video project. There's nothing with the girls - their reactions, how touring changed, what the press had to say - nada. Likewise, as they start off, Joan seemed to be onto the fact that their manager was ripping them off, but then that storyline disappears completely. A lot of the film feels lazy like that and you never really get a sense as to what the girls are thinking at any given time.

It's too bad, because Kirsten Stewart and Dakota Fanning throw themselves into their roles and certainly seem up for anything. I wish they had been given more to work with. I also wish Alia Shawkat had been given a single line of dialogue. Talk about a waste of talent.

Overall, you get the impression of girls getting introduced to drugs and sex and liking both. It's not particularly empowering or interesting. Or rock and roll.

The one highlight is the tremendous Michael Shannon who plays Kim Fowley, their manager. He's fabulous.

2/5 stars, because - hey - at least you get some Joan Jett songs in there. And I love her:

The Circus
Now here is a completely fabulous film. Charlie Chaplin, as the Little Tramp, manages to join the circus. I'm not a huge Charlie Chaplin fan - I was raised more on Buster Keaton - but this is probably the best Charlie Chaplin film I've seen so far. Granted, the fact that it is set in a circus probably biases me, but it sets up a lot of great physical humor. The whole thing is very clever and moves along a good clip. Well worth seeing.

5/5 stars

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim is slick and stylish, and endlessly winking. (It made me think a lot about the article on movies becoming self-referential and meta I posted a few days ago). While I'm not a gamer, I could tell a good deal of love was lavished on all the game details. It's clever, funny, and all of the supporting cast is good (Kieran Culkin stands out particularly as Scott's snarky roommate and I love Alison Pill as the drummer in Scott's band). We never get a lot of insight into the characters (for example why Ramona dated some of her exes, or what, exactly, Scott falls in love with after 2 dates with her), but it's fun enough that I didn't particularly care. I wouldn't say this a great Gen Y romance - as some have - there simply isn't enough there to the characters to care about them. But it's very easily a great Gen Y comedy.

Perhaps my only problem with the film was Michael Cera as Scott. He's fine, and it is better work a slightly wider range than he has been showing in most of his post-Arrested Development roles. However, I can't really get on board with him as a lead in a romance. There really isn't anything going on there. There are other geeky casting options who are more charismatic. Given someone more compelling/attractive, maybe I would have cared more about him and Ramona making it.

3/5 stars

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tidbits and linkspam

I cannot, cannot wait for Never Let Me Go, which is getting rave reviews out of Telluride. But I have no idea why it is being released in September. It seems like such a December movie.

Early Screenplay picks

Women rule the art house

The rise of self-awareness in film

DIY Labor day fest


I love Charlie Day. I'd almost consider seeing Going the Distance for him alone.

10 things the fall fests should say about the awards race

An article about the expansion of VOD

Guess the Lionsgate Horror Film (I get - 1- Saw 5, 4- Saw 3, 5 - The Last Exorcism, 6- Saw 2, 8- Captivity, 9- A Haunting in Connecticut, 10-Skinwalkers, 11- Daybreakers, 12-The Descent, 13- My Bloody Valentine. Which leaves 2- Hostel 2, 3- Saw, 7 - Saw 6, 14 - Hostel 2 as guesses. 11/14, mostly mixing up the various Saws...)

This is my favorite thing of the week: Now we'll just paint a happy little spartan over here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Super Sexy Summer Mix

Not to be confused with my actual summer mix, which has a lot of Dick Dale and The Ventures. Apparently I wanted to spend a good chunk of this summer in a European gay club.

Satellite Mind - Metric

Cold War - Janelle Monae (I love this video, btw)

Dancing On My Own - Robyn

Androgyny (Lee Hermaphrodite Mix) - Garbage

All the Lovers - Kylie Minogue

Sex and Violence - Scissor Sisters

Alejandro - Lady Gaga

We Speak No Americano - Yolanda Be Cool

Love the Way You Lie - Eminem (ah, the controversial vid of the summer. Mmm... hobbit ass.)

Underdog - Kasabian

Boom Swagger Boom - Murder City Devils

F**k You - Cee Lo Green

Save Me San Francisco - Train

Another One Bites the Dust - Glee

Boxer - The Gaslight Anthem

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah - New Politics

(although everytime it starts, I think it's Song 2 by Blur)

Don't Make Me Wait - Locksley

Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National

Laredo - Band of Horses

Pretty Horses - Shirley Manson

Addicted to Love - Florence & The Machine

100,000 Fireflies - The Magnetic Fields

It's Working - MGMT

Right On - The Roots

Glitter Freeze - Gorillaz

Sister Christian - Night Ranger

Ring of Fire - Social Distortion

Paris (Ooh La La) - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

Gimme Sympathy - Metric