Saturday, April 21, 2007
I'd call it not quite as good as "Shaun of the Dead." But that may be because I like the genre of film that was affectionately satirizing (scary movies) more than the one this is (noisy. OTT buddy cop movies).
Either way, it's a difference of only about a percentage point if I were giving perecentage points. I'm kind of hoping its kickoff weekend underscores just how badly "Grindhouse" fell flat.
Where else are you going to see a sweet old lady get a flying roundhouse kick to the face?
By the hero, yet?
PS: This movie also contains possibly the single greatest "girl on girl" joke in cinema history...a thought that certainly puts the title in a somewhat different light...
BTW, the village in which most of the film's action takes place is called "Sandford." Here in Seattle, the theater where I saw it had this on the marquee:
Sandford and Guns
We think ourselves quite clever, here in Seattle.
Friday, April 20, 2007
It's kind of like that nonsense word you have to enter to leave a comment on my blog and some others. Except the IMDb folks, clever as they are, have worked it out so what you have to enter is not nonsense but a random, computer selected title of some film or TV show.
The random, computer selected title of a film or TV show I was asked to enter to validate my registration?
"The L Word."
There is. No god.
Surely you're supposed to take the thought of your country making war more seriously than this.
Why is it easier to buy a handgun than medicine in this country?
Look abroad and you have another useful point of contrast. In the United States, many people who are seriously depressed can't afford to see a doctor, let alone get a prescription. Unlike every other advanced nation, we do not provide universal health care or ready access to mental health services. But unlike every other advanced nation, we do allow just about anyone to buy a handgun.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
In the interests of equal time. Miss Schussel?
"...I suppose now that Don Imus is gone, they've assigned the vegan lesbian transsexual 'interspecies erotica' devotee they had monitoring the Imus show to monitor my site."
Well! I don't know about you, friends, but I don't qualify under any of those labels.*
Gilliam is always fun to listen to talk. But here he says some especially interesting things about:
- The way most adults think of childhood
- Why it was important to him to have women in key positions behind the scenes on the film.
- And why he thinks men and women have perceived it differently.
Secondary recommendation over. Except just to add:
(click to make bigger)
"The squirrels made it seem less lonely?" Best Tagline ever.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The 32 people are to blame.
I am not making this up.
This is another one of those moments when I just want to say...
Isn't it Democrats like me who are supposed to look everywhere for someone to blame except the killer?
Wouldn't you think that if these Heathers had an ounce of compassion in their hearts for every parent who just lost their child they would wipe the drool from their mouths and just sit quietly for a while in recognition of the fact that something MASSIVE happened here?
Something bigger than all their fantasies of being Bruce Willis?
You'd think so, wouldn't ya?
Get that abortion now, folks:
The Supreme Court's new conservative majority gave anti-abortion forces a landmark victory Wednesday in a 5-4 decision that bans a controversial abortion procedure nationwide and sets the stage for further restrictions.
The 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.
The law is constitutional despite not containing an exception that would allow the procedure if needed to preserve a woman's health, Kennedy said. "The law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice," he wrote in the majority opinion.
Reacting to the ruling, Bush said that it affirms the progress his administration has made to defend the "sanctity of life."
This begs an obvious response, and rather than waste both our time being obvious I'm going to quote George Carlin recorded in 1988, at the end of the Reagan presidency. I'm just angry, he was angry and funny. I'm sure all of us could use a laugh right now, even if it's tinged with anger.
And because it's a reminder that four years later, a president was elected who was strongly opposed to pro-life legislation. Unfortunately, even if his wife is elected next year, the Supreme Court the Bush administration made will still be there.
Here's grand master Carlin:
They were going to get government off our backs. Yeah, but when it comes to abortion they don't mind government being in a woman's uterus, do they? Yeah, backs are no good, but uterus is ok by them. These people call themselves "Right to Lifers." Don't you love that phrase, and don't you love the way these people pervert the English language? "Right to Lifers?" Don't you realize that most of the Right to Lifers are in favor of the death penalty, and they support the South American death squads, and they're against gun control, and they're against nuclear weapons control. When they say "Right to Life" they're talking about their right to decide which people should live or die.
Now back to the amateur comedians.
Abortion rights groups as well as the leading association of obstetricians and gynecologists have said the procedure sometimes is the safest for a woman. They also said that such a ruling could threaten most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, although Kennedy said alternate, more widely used procedures remain legal.
Emphasis mine. It's not bad enough these people think they know more about a woman's health than the woman, they think they know more than doctors!
As a long-time lover of women who thinks most politicians who aren't written by Aaron Sorkin should be made to sit in a corner in dunce caps...
...this is one of those times I want to apologize for all those fetus-obsessed, homophobic, women-phobic twits.
Eve Gartner of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America deserves the last word:
"This ruling flies in the face of 30 years of Supreme Court precedent and the best interest of women's health and safety. ... This ruling tells women that politicians, not doctors, will make their health care decisions for them."
Terry Gilliam's Tideland is a movie that deserved, and deserves, a much better reception than it got in the theaters, to which it was barely released, and from the critics, who found it "disturbing and mostly unwatchable." Stupid Richard Roeper said it nearly made him walk out of the theater, which ought to be recommendation enough right there.
Disturbing it certainly is, not all in a bad way, but it comes to an end which is dramatically satisfying. Unwatchable it most emphatically is not. I'll believe Terry Gilliam is capable of making an unwatchable film when I believe I'd turn down an "indecent proposal" from Halle Berry.
This one has one or two images that reminded me why I've always felt he was one of only two directors who could do Neil Gaiman's Sandman justice . (Peter Jackson is the other, if you want to know, an opinion I've held since before Lord of the Rings)
Tideland is wrongly labeled a science fiction/fantasy film at some sites, including Rotten Tomatoes. This is wrong. The film is no more an SF or fantasy film than our lives are just because sometimes we all fall into our own fantasy worlds.
On DVD, the movie starts with an introduction from Gilliam that is not optional (you don't select it, it just comes up when you start the film). In this, he acknowledges that most people will not like the film, and talks a little about his hopes for it.
I kind of wish he hadn't felt the need to do that. A movie should stand on its own. On the other hand, it's the kind of audacious move I expect from him as a filmmaker-as most of you know, Terry Gilliam movies are a few of my favorite things.
At the end of the introduction, Gilliam says that at the age of 64, as he was at the time he made this film, he thinks he finally found his inner child. And it turned out to be a little girl.
(Boy, I sure know what that's like, baby)
The girl is Jeliza-Rose. When we first meet her, she's living as the enabling daughter of two drug-addicted parents (played by Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly, but it's not really about them).
Then her mother dies, and her father takes her on a trip far away, to the house where he grew up. But that was a long time ago; the house is the middle of nowhere and in a state of great disrepair.
And soon, her father departs himself on his own trip.
And Jeliza-Rose is left alone.
What follows is how she copes with a world which is increasingly turning crazy and dangerous. And how her imagination acts both as her source of escape and as her protector.
Members of Gilliam's cult of fans like myself will be able to make connections with other child heroes in his work, like Sally in Munchhausen and Kevin in Time Bandits. It's Sally's role in her film to keep the Baron going when all seems lost. And Kevin comes home to find a world in which his parents promptly explode. But Gilliam keeps Jeliza an individual, and the pain she faces could conceivably make Sally and Kevin curl up and die.
In a way, this story is about what might have happened if Kevin's parents exploded at the beginning of the picture instead of the end. Jeliza has to keep herself going, her Baron falls down no matter how many attempts she makes to prop him up.
Jeliza is played in one of the great unflinching child performances by Jodelle Ferland, for which the young Canadian actress was nominated for a Genie (that's Canada's Academy Award). Which is only right-if we don't stay with her character, the movie doesn't work, and Ferland carries it off shiningly.
Do not listen to anything else you've heard until you see this movie for yourself. Is it perfect? Oh hell, no. It's not a masterpiece like Gilliam's best work with the Python team, or a gem like his own Munchausen or Time Bandits.
But it is the best film he's made since Fisher King, and in many ways his most mature.
“I have fame on the level of a Marilyn Monroe or an Elvis, but part of the reason I didn’t go the way they did was because of my beliefs,” Travolta told the Irish Independent [via MSNBC].
Well...in a sense, he's correct. The Travolta of Saturday Night Fever is a cultural icon of the '70s and disco, just as Presley is of the '50s and "Rock 'N Roll." But...as a performer, Presley quite literally changed the world. Travolta was just in a movie that a lot of people were high on.
And that was 30 years ago.
The Monroe comparison is even further off. She's an icon of beautiful, ripe female sexuality, if not sexuality itself.
A thing of joy forever.
That sort of woman.
Travolta at the height of his power was never anywhere near that sort of wattage. And even if he had been...saying it about yourself instantly demotes you by showing that you're not the brightest spark in the universe.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Notice something. Nearly every time the article quotes a prominent Democrat-Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein-they are saying pretty much what I wrote yesterday that I hoped they'd say.
"I think we ought to be thinking about the families and the victims and not speculate about future legislative battles that might lie ahead," said Reid, a view expressed by other Democratic leaders the day after the shootings that left 33 dead on the campus of Virginia Tech.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was one of very few lawmakers to refer on gun control in the early hours after the shootings. "There will be time to debate the steps needed to avert such tragedies," he said on Monday, "but today, our thoughts and prayers go to their families."
But every time, they are followed or preceeded by assertions like this:
Democrats traditionally have been in the forefront of efforts to pass gun control legislation, but there is a widespread perception among political strategists that the issue has been a loser in recent campaigns. It was notably absent from the agenda Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled earlier this year when the party took control of the House and Senate for the first time in more than a decade.
Overall, though, said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., "It is a tough sell" to pass gun control legislation. Neither Reid nor House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., seemed eager to predict Democrats would lead a drive to toughen existing laws.
Emphasis mine. In other words, Democrats like Reid and Kennedy aren't thinking of or praying for the families of the victims today, like most everyone else in the country and world. That is not, this article implies, why they're not making immidiate efforts to link the shootings to the passage of new gun control legislation.
No, they're just cowering in the corner and saying "please don't hurt me" because "the issue has been a loser in recent campaigns."
And notice something else. Go back and read that Ted Kennedy statement. Find me the "reference to gun control" AP writer David Espo assures us he made, pls.
Finally, notice the difference when a Republican or two, god bless their money-loving hearts, is heard from:
Not all lawmakers were as reticent.
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, one of Congress' most persistent advocates of gun rights, noted that the student who police say was the shooter at Virginia Tech had brought a weapon onto campus in violation of restrictions. He said he doubted a law could be passed that would protect "any of us when somebody who is mentally deranged decides to do this."
That is all. The Democrats are "reticent." By implied contrast, the Republican is expansive, confident, and open. Nothing about any alternate motivation a Republican might have for making an anti-gun control statement at this time.
Funnily enough, if you do a few searches for "Larry Craig" on Yahoo! you find two or three interesting things, such as that:
Larry Craig, Republican of Idaho...sits on the N.R.A.'s board of directors in addition to his day job as a federal lawmaker.
Get that? He isn't just " a persistent advocate of gun rights." He is quite literally in the N.R.A's pocket. It is in his financial interest to futher their interest. Shouldn't that have come up, at least in passing, in an article that repeatedly bends over backwards to question the motivations of Democrats?
And isn't it also worth mentioning in an article like this that a majority of Americans already wanted stricter laws covering the sale of firearms before yesterday's shocking killings? I'm not saying this will change the will of the people one way or the other, I simply don't know.
But either way, I suspect that (the will of the people) will have a lot more to do with what the Democrats do than anything Harry Reid says now.
ETA: Similarly, notice something in this story on John McCain's simplistic reaction:
"We have to look at what happened here, but it doesn't change my views on the Second Amendment, except to make sure that these kinds of weapons don't fall into the hands of bad people," McCain said Monday in response to a question.
"...to make sure that these kinds of weapons don't fall into the hands of bad people."
In other words...regulating them, you weasel!
But the headline is "Sen. McCain sticks to views on guns," thus associating him with the phrase, "stick to your guns." Which means, "Do what you know to be right regardless of consequences," and which makes McCain sound a lot better than the flip-flopper he really is.
BTW, as a way of rinsing any bad taste this tale of corruption and weasels may have left behind out of your mouth, have a look at the aforementioned Sen. Craig, on the issues. Among other positive things, notice the consistent record of voting against same-sex marriage, prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation, and other gay rights issues.
We all know what that means, don't we?
An anti-gay rights GOP Senator?
Uh-huh, that's right. He has sex with men.
ETA, again: This is what we call the other shoe dropping. To the rest of the world, our gun laws are just another part of their image of us as Mickey Mouse cowboys.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said the government hoped Monday's shootings, allegedly carried out by a 23-year-old South Korean native, would not "stir up racial prejudice or confrontation."
Gee, why would they think that might happen? Just because Debbie Schlussel-she who thinks women are just too darn stupid to have the vote-said she suspected the shooter might have been a "Paki" doesn't necessarily mean...
(re Media Matters)
While some focused blame only on the gunman, world opinion over U.S. gun laws was almost unanimous: Access to weapons increases the probability of shootings. There was no sympathy for the view that more guns would have saved lives by enabling students to shoot the assailant.
Emphasis mine. Definitely read the whole thing, not only to get some information about what the rest of the world thinks about us at a time like this, but to read about men like:
Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mathematics lecturer, tried to stop the gunman from entering his classroom by blocking the door before he was fatally shot, his son said Tuesday from Tel Aviv.
"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said. His father, a Holocaust survivor, immigrated to Israel from Romania, and was on sabbatical in Virginia.
Again, emphasis mine. As the reaction to the shooting heats up on both sides, I don't want to lose sight of the fact that there were honest-to-god heroes involved. A 76 year old man put himself between his students and danger, and lost his life because of it.
I don't know if I could have done that. Could you?
(Click to enlarge)
Just over a week after Johnny Hart, the writer of The Wizard of Id, passes away, his collaborator, Brant Parker, follows him. I can't add anything to what I said about the strip last week, there was a time when I was quite enchanted with its humor and owned about a baker's dozen of the paperbacks.
Nevertheless...this is weird.
Monday, April 16, 2007
And here you can read about them saying if only more people had handguns, things like this just wouldn't happen.
And from the Earthlink News story:
A White House spokesman said President Bush was horrified and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia. "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Y'know...I don't know who was expecting that people like President Bush would change their position on the right-to-carry. That's not what struck me as offensive about that statement and the ones linked above.
It's that...shouldn't this be a time for tending to the wounded, both physically and psychically; the mourning of the dead? Before we rush ass-over-teakettle to "prove" that it supports our already deeply-held belief, shouldn't we wait until we can try to find out exactly what happened here, what went wrong?
Shouldn't we be thinking about the victims, the survivors, and possible heroes? Possible heroes like the one in this story:
Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old junior, said he was in a 9:05 a.m. mechanics class when he and classmates heard a thunderous sound from the classroom next door - "what sounded like an enormous hammer."
Screams followed an instant later, and the banging contined. When students realized the sounds were gunshots, Calhoun said, he started flipping over desks for hiding places. Others dashed to the windows of the second-floor classroom, kicking out the screens and jumping from the ledge of Room 204, he said.
"I must've been the eighth or ninth person who jumped, and I think I was the last," said Calhoun, of Waynesboro, Va. He landed in a bush and ran.
Calhoun said that the two students behind him were shot, but that he believed they survived. Just before he climbed out the window, Calhoun said, he turned to look at the professor, who had stayed behind, perhaps to block the door.
The instructor was killed, he said.
Emphasis mine. Surely we should be thinking about this, and not trying to score petty points, at this time.
Pretty in Pink or almost any of the great John Hughes movie soundtracks from my teenage years. These may have been the most influential in shaping my musical taste.
Wendy Carlos' score for Tron
Xanadu. Representing that whole school of soundtracks like Jesus Christ Superstar, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop Of Horrors and Reefer Madness, and something of a guilty pleasure.
Most scores composed by the late Jerry Goldsmith, especially the original Planet of The Apes, but also Gremlins, Basic Instinct, Escape From The Planet Of The Apes and the original score to Legend.
Doctor Who from 1980-1984. Ah, the golden age of the BBC Radiophonic workshop.
The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night (oh, those screaming schoolgirls), and Help, and...
And all the Disney records I blogged about here.
As I said, this isn't really a meme so I'm not tagging anyone, but I think anybody who wants to should feel free to join in.
All together now...
If Porky's had the advantage of being first out of the gate, Fast Times quickly established itself as the classiest of the breed — it was the Citizen Kane of teen sex comedies — thanks to Sean Penn's dazed-and-confused star turn as Jeff Spicoli (''Aloha, Mr. Hand!''), the easy-on-the-eyes Cates [and] Jennifer Jason Leigh's Stacy.
By Reagan's second inauguration in 1985, the party was over in more ways than one. There was a runaway deficit in Washington and a president who could barely bring himself to mention the word AIDS, much less make it a national priority. And the once innocent sex comedies of just a few years earlier were starting to develop a nasty, malicious aftertaste. With the exception of 1984's truly classic Revenge of the Nerds(the Ambersons of teen sex comedies to Fast Times' Citizen Kane), disposable knockoffs like The Big Bet, Loose Screws, Fraternity Vacation...and Hardbodies 2 seemed to regard women more and more as the enemy. There was nothing romantic about ''losin' it'' anymore; these women were suckers to be lied to, drugged, and otherwise shanghaied into having sex. That's not just a buzzkill, them's felonies.
Ladies, go read if you want to know how we thought then and be honest, think now. Fellas, reminisce.
Why? Well I'm always going to think it's because he was working from an actual...what's it called...script.
(The screenplay was written by Larry Karaszewski & Scott Alexander, who would go on to write Man on the Moon and The People vs. Larry Flynt, so it's obvious they knew a little something about bio-pics)
Anyway, all this is in aid of the fact that Mark Evanier ran a scene from the movie on his blog today and I'm stealing it. Mark wanted to talk about how Maurice LaMarche dubbed the voice of Orson Welles in the scene, which is an interesting fact and LaMarche gives a great, dramatic vocal performance.
But I just wanted to talk about what a great scene it is, and how rare it is for me to say that about a Tim Burton movie.
Statistically, an increase in numbers of offences of violence and disorder involving girls is hard to prove.
Rephrased: This may or may not be true, but we think it's a jolly exciting story, so we're going to write about it anyway.
They quote a Dr Sally Henry, who blames it on, wait for it...
Dr Henry said: "It's a bit like the Spice Girls' 'girl power' thing. Kicking and lashing out is seen as a way of empowering yourself, but it's not.
Dr Henry also says things like that the only way to save these poor misbegotten waifs is,
"You need to get to them at 10 and 11 years old to educate them about what it means to be a girl"
Now, as we know, I'm not one. But speaking as someone who spends a signifigant amount of his time trying to think like a girl-to write them-I'm gonna go way out on a limb here: By age 10 and 11, I suspect most females already know what it means to be a girl. Any of you ladies wanna back me up?
For obvious, good and sufficent reasons Vanessa is chiefly concerned with this story in terms of disempowering women and otherwise making them feel bad. But being-despite everything in the last paragraph-a boy, what caught my attention is that the good doctor doesn't seem to think much of us, either:
"And it's not a way of attracting boys either like some girls might think. Boys might find aggressive women in music videos attractive, but they don't want to take them home and marry them."
Says you, sister! I'd marry a girl like Chloe from 24 (back when she was still Chloe, but that's another post) in a second.
Or Topanga from Boy Meets World-she just grabs Cory, puts him up against his locker, and gives him his first kiss. Swoon.
Heck, I could probably even be ensnared by Christina Ricci's character in The Opposite of Sex (though, I grant you, that probably wouldn't end well...).
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Vice President Dick Cheney says he is "willing to bet" that Democratic lawmakers will back down and approve a war-spending bill that doesn't call for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.
I myself am willing to bet that Jon Stewart will cover this with an image of two of something like Cheney saying "all is well" on CNN, while in split screen next to him Iraq burns.
And it still took me nearly 20 years to realize that the song has only one verse. It's just so damn jazzy and atmospheric.
From what I found on Google there were three different versions of this video, this, the "European Version" is by far the greatest. It's a rare example of a video being almost exactly what I've always seen in my head whenever I hear the song.
The others are wrongheaded from the word go. It's over 20 years too late, but you want to tell whoever directed them, "Hey, you notice how the first line of the song is 'It was way past midnight?' That's maybe a clue that the video shouldn't be filmed in the middle of a lovely day."
They do make for an interesting look at the cliches of what European musicians thought the U.S. market wanted, however.
(Lots of models and scenes of the band members driving around various picturesque locales.)