Victoria: August 2006 Archives

People, I am insanely busy: packing up my entire house so that later this week I can move it all; anticipating returning to school next week; and taking photos for my roommate's negative-budget movie project. Maybe someday I will have free time to write for my little pop5 again.

This one's for Evan:

Bedtime Stories by Thom Yorke:

Once there was a little bunny who had a little furry tail and a little shiny nose. But the electrodeath cloud of commerce strangled it and its foxhole was converted to a parking lot, a parking lot, a parking lot.
| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

So I am back at the gym for the first time since my ankle injury, and last week I finally got around to making a workout playlist for my iPod. This is a necessity, because last Thursday I was at the gym during "The Office," and you can plug your headphones into these little consoles and hear the sound as well as watch. I was laughing the whole time while on the treadmill (it was the one where Michael grilled his foot), and the other patrons of the gym were giving me strange looks. This was probably good for my cardiovascular health, if not for my reputation at the gym.

In any case, I am looking for song recommendations for my gym playlist. The only requirement is they have to have a steady beat, ranging from fairly fast to very fast. And they can't suck.

The only way I hear new music nowadays is if someone recommends it to me, or I download it from the internet, which usually results in my knowing nothing about any new band I am listening to. Recently, I have been musically obsessed with Of Montreal, whose latest tour apparently features "banners, masks, numerous costume changes, guitarists in drag, covers of Top 40 songs, and samurai sword faux-masturbation," none of which I would have guessed probably because I am old. In some ways this is a good thing, since I am judging them on the music alone, but then I have also been in the situation where I told someone I like a band, and they were all, "You like them?!?! They drink blood and wear sequined dresses while masturbating to images of the Virgin Mary on stage!" And, well, what can you say to that?

Of Montreal :: Your Magic Is Working
Of Montreal :: Requiem for O.M.M.2.
Of Montreal :: I Was Never Young
Of Montreal :: The Party's Crashing Us

| 7 Comments | No TrackBacks

I just finished Sharon Waxman's Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Studio System, which reminded me very much of that other book (Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock-'N'-Roll Generation Saved Hollywood). I preferred Waxman's book because she a) did much less fawning and ass-kissing, although there was plenty of it, which just indicates how truly fawning and ass-kissing the Biskind book was, and b) did not make Biskind's mistake of introducing an enormous number of people and writing about them in a way that made me lose track of who the fuck he was talking about.

Waxman's book could have used a good copyeditor, however. Since this is one of the many things I get paid for, it bleeds over into my non-job-related reading, and it is seriously annoying to be jarred out of your flow by fixing grammar mistakes in your head while reading.

Waxman concentrates on six directors who she identifies as making up part of a new, auteur-director style in the '90s, which she explicitly links back to the '70s directors treated in Biskind's book. She delves into the backgrounds of the directors, trying her hand at pop psychology (many of them apparently hated their mothers, surprise, surprise), and paying particular attention to the making of one or two of their movies: Quentin Tarentino and Pulp Fiction, Steven Soderbergh and Traffic, Paul Thomas Anderson and Boogie Nights and Magnolia, David Fincher and Fight Club, Spike Jonze and Being John Malkovich, and David Russell and Three Kings. Here is the short version of her portraits of these directors:

  • Tarentino is a derivative slacker who blew off his friends once he got famous, even though some of them helped him with writing, which he is extremely bad at on his own. He also has terrible personal hygiene habits and rarely showers. He hates his mother.
  • Soderbergh veers wildly between deep art and unwatchable crap. He is intellectual, rational, and finds it impossible to commit to a woman emotionally (the James Spader character in sex, lies, and videotape is widely assumed to be a self-portrait). He hates his mother.
  • Anderson is incapable of making a movie under three hours, and refuses to cut from his movies even when advised to do so from every other person on earth. He is also obsessed with pornography. He hates his mother.
  • Fincher is possibly a latent serial killer, or at least a violent sado-masochist. He was also the only person who thought Fight Club was not violent enough.
  • Jonze is a sweet, unassuming, barely-literate slacker who knows absolutely nothing about film history and is a compulsive liar to the press (although not to Waxman, apparently).
  • David Russell is a ball-breaking, detail-oriented perfectionist who beats on his cast, crew, and extras. He also hates his mother.

But Waxman seems to conclude that, far from having "conquered" the studio system, in the '00s these same directors began to get co-opted by it, losing their creative edge. Books like this one are fun to read, for the behind-the-scenes look at how movies really get made - the process, with all its accidents and coincidences, never ceases to amaze me. But everyone in the film industry takes themselves so seriously that, in the end, I come away with the same feeling I get when I have eaten too much sugar or watched too much t.v., kind of like my brain has detached from the inside of my skull. An endorsement? You be the judge.

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

Mike made this:


| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

This has been a good week for movies, folks.

Scoop: As I said at the time, Scoop is like Match Point, only directed by Woody Allen. I preferred Match Point.

Little Miss Sunshine: I liked this movie and it was cute, but I don't think it is worth the hype that I am hearing it is getting. It is hard to pin down what exactly I didn't like about it, because there was a lot that I did. I think the problem for me was the formulaic road trip, the musical number climax, and the kind of unresolved ending. I also didn't like the little girl's character; I feel like they made her too perfect and lovable.

Jersey Girl: After seeing Clerks II, I started to feel bad that, as a Kevin Smith fan, I hadn't seen this, so I Netflixed it. Now, I wanted to like it, but I didn't, because the plot was very, very bad. The problem here was that there was no story arc; the movie was like a bunch of little movies smushed together into one big one. First, there was the romantic comedy with a tragic ending (and what happened to the classroom-reading setpiece that opens the film - he never brings that back in the end), then the father-son tempestuous relationship, the new father woes, the weird budding-romance, and finally, the family versus work conflict. I thought the movie should never have jumped the seven years forward; either it should have focused on his problems adjusting after his wife's death, or had the wife die when the daughter was seven, and then deal with the adjusting then. It didn't strike me as believable that seven years later, the character would still be the same exact person he was before his wife died (especially since in some of the scenes he seemed totally differerent), and want to go back to the life he had then. I thought that after he got the town to agree to the construction, he would get hired by the town as its publicist, or maybe become a politician or something. But then it swung in an entirely different direction.

Some of the dialogue got on my nerves (and I usually like his dialogue), notably the scene where Ben Affleck is talking to his daughter in the crib. I can tell a scene is badly written when I am editing it in my head while watching.

And speaking of editing, this film was very badly edited. Now, I am no expert on film, and there are very few things that I feel qualified to judge: plot, dialogue, characters, and acting. For something like cinematography, I usually only notice it if I especially like it. Kevin Smith gets a lot of bad press about his crappy cinematography, but I never really noticed his "bad camera angles," or whatever. Most other things, like editing or music (relevant in the next review), I will only notice if they are bad. And this film was badly edited. In some of the shots, it looked like it included the actor's warm-up before they actually started the scene. And the end shot was horrible.

Also there was no excuse for showing an entire scene of Sweeney Todd, people. No one wants to see actors fake-acting a musical for a fake-elementary school talent show. No one.

On a positive note, I think the actors did a good job, especially George Carlin. Except for Ben Affleck's hair.

Inside Man: I liked it, except (as I foreshadowed) for the music, which reminded me of a bad '80s television police drama score.

Brick: This was the best of the bunch, and it is sad that it was only in theaters for a week or two. This is a real noir thriller set in a high school, which may not be realistic, but totally works, and even provides for some humor - Brendon's sneering line to the EVP that he would see him at the Parent-Teacher Conference was hysterically well-delivered. Here is a movie where I noticed the excellent cinematography. The dialogue was a little hard to follow, since they were using lots of slang that seemed made-for-the-movie, but maybe it's just Californian. In any case, highly recommended.

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

When we were talking about the video below, he mentioned this one that he saw years ago on the internet, and it has since been uploaded to YouTube, too:

| 12 Comments | No TrackBacks

So I hear from the Great Internets that Helena Bonham Carter has been cast in the next Harry Potter movie as Bellatrix Lestrange. This will probably not be of interest to those members of the site who haven't read the books (ahem!), but I am interested for two reasons: first, I am kind of happy to see that the HP franchise is continuing its habit of making the movies a British cottage industry by casting almost exclusively British actors (the only one I thought was American - Gary Oldman - it turns out is not). I like that sense of British pride and sticking-it-to-Hollywoodism. Of course, the first two movies were directed by an American, and the third (and best, in my opinion) by a Mexican, but it seems like they are sticking to British directors now, too. (Has anyone heard of anything the new director has done?) This is also reinforced by the casting of Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, which I didn't see) as Dolores Umbridge, George Harris (Layer Cake) as Kingsley Shacklebolt, and newcomer Evanna Lynch (Irish) as Luna Lovegood.

Second, they have been cutting so much from the books to make the movies, that I am glad to hear they cast anyone at all as Bellatrix Lestrange. I was almost afraid she would be cut. Speaking of HP in general, I read some interesting theories on the internet today about what's going to happen in the 7th book. Despite what I originally thought, it does look like this one will be the last. I just don't know how she will fit everything in.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I was telling Mike about this yesterday. This is Episode One; you can go here to view Episode Two, and Episode Three is on the way.

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

I read today that Heath Ledger has been cast as the Joker in the Batman sequel, which I find an interesting choice. Certainly about as far away from Jack Nicholson as one could conceivably get. Since I know we have a boatload of Batman fans on this site, I want to hear what everyone else thinks.

Myself, I'm just glad Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan will be returning. Christian Bale looked good in the first one....

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

Special guest Evan joins us for Podcasts 7 and 8!