Thursday, January 31, 2008
Here is Season One of the critically acclaimed series Twin Peaks, created by Mark Frost and David Lynch and directed by David Lynch. It's really good, and quite weird, although not as weird as Lynch's later work (have you ever watched the trailer for Inland Empire? Just plain f***ed up).
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Bacon bandages. I know that some people put meat on bruises but now you can put "bacon" on your cuts too. Try not to eat them! And what is the toy inside?
A photoshopped product which sounds about as good as any other "Diet Coke with X."
And the famous picture of a cat with a piece of bacon taped to it.
Bacon infused vodka is where I draw the line. Apparently it tasted awful. No surprise.
And finally, stop animated bacon.
Today's Wednesday post is dedicated to bacon, one of my favorite foods.
While using StumbleUpon, I discovered the website for a product called Bacon Salt, which, as the name implies, is salt that makes things taste like bacon. I like bacon, and I like putting salt on foodstuffs, so I'm going to go buy some of this wonderful sounding spice and try it out. As their web site says, "Why have fries when you can have bacon fries." An interesting side note: Bacon Salt is kosher. Now observant Jews can find out what they've been missing out on. Delicious.
Next is a monstrosity of arterial clogging: A 22 slice bacon sandwich, which is 1 and 1/4 lb. of bacon:
And for those ladies who love the pig, you let it be known that you love bacon with your very own "I heart Bacon" underwear, in case your love of the crispy wasn't being proclaimed loudly enough by your huge ass.
And if that isn't enough, here's a bit of bacon comedy.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
After a checker gave me a Canadian penny the other day, I decided to check out the current value of Canadian money against US money. I am sure everybody heard last fall how the decline in the dollar meant that Canadian money, long below the value of US currency, was suddenly worth more than our own currency. Well, that's no longer the case. Apparently the current exchange rate is near even. One Canadian dollar is worth 0.9987 US dollars. Sorry Canada, the one real advantage to living in Canada is gone. More >
Monday, January 28, 2008
And to top off the post, here's the now famous "I am McLovin" clip from Superbad. Content Warning: Very Strong Language.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Thursday Self-Referential Cloverfield Post: Cloverfield Makes Some Viewers Sick; Japan "Attacked" By Nessie
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cloverfield's handycam style is making some patrons green at the gills:
Since the movie opened last Friday, some patrons say they felt nausea and dizziness while watching the horror flick, much of which was filmed in a jerky motion with a hand-held camera.This is not necessarily anything new. Japanese distributors of Babel warned theaters that the film contained "scenes with strong effects and that some viewers felt sick after seeing them...." However the best way to induce queasy feelings is watching any movie with Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. Paul, you better not defend Big Momma's House or the first Nutty Professor as a fun guilty pleasures in the comments...
Additionally, it seems the market disagreed with my trailer review (and thus agreed with Paul's film review): Cloverfield has already made $49,930,019. It has a 74% at Rotten Tomatoes and a 64 at Metacritic.
And over in Japan, if real gigantic monsters wreaking aren't wreaking havoc on cities then they'll try to create their own:
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Last summer, every red blooded explosion lovin’ filmgoer lucky enough to catch the twisted metal spectacle of Transformers on the big screen got a taste of something much more ambiguous and beguiling before the title credits rolled-- a trailer featuring home video of hot 20-something New Yorkers at a party who experience serious buzzkill when something ominous and rumbly goes down. Viewers left knowing only three tantalizing facts: the threat was alive, huge, and able to pimp-smack the Statue of Liberty’s head clean off its shoulders. Yikes.
Now that Cloverfield’s fabled 1-18-08 release date has come and gone, did the finished product justify the hype? Pretty dang much. I can safely say that I have never been as scared at the movies as I was during Cloverfield. These weren’t just cheap, jump in your seat scares. These were scares of the deeply unsettling variety with a healthy dose of claw-the-theater-armrest intensity mixed in. And despite all justifiable comparisons to The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield’s engaging performances, near-flawless special effects, and cinematographic wit should cement it as a genre classic as opposed to the pop cultural “wow, I can’t believe we thought that movie was cool back in 1999” flash in the pan that was Blair Witch. Honestly, my biggest complaint would have to be the utterly pointless title. They might as well call theoretical sequels Toasterblouse and Monkeybasket.
Scroll down a tick to read John's post from last Friday that included the trailer, and enjoy whatever else you happen to find along the way! More >
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
wI have never been a big fan of monster movies--Dracula, Frankenstein, King Kong, Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mothman, Godzilla vs. Rosie O'Donnell, etc. I've only seen two "monster" movies: Peter Jackson's King Kong and the execrable '90's remake of Godzilla. One assumes that underlying the popularity of Kong, Godzilla, and et al is the vicarious visceral pleasure of wanton destruction on a large scale. The absurd powers of these mutants, their huge size, taps into some subconscious will to power manifested as a leviathan at war with civilization. Or it could be that fifty-story tall radioactive monsters are really cool if you're a male under the age of 16.
Whichever it is, the trailer for the new monster movie Cloverfield promises something slightly different: Godzilla crossed with The Blair Witch Project. The premise: An unseen monster destroying New York City was caught on tape and we are about to be treated to the recently discovered footage.
The fundamental selling point of the movie is "What is the monster?" The trailer fails because it chooses to focus on how the protagonists deal with the monster rather than on the monster itself. We do see a massive military attack on the monster, but no shot of the monster. We do receive several images of destruction, culminating in the head of the Statue of Liberty landing right in front of the camera. All this is intercut with our main characters in situations not directly related to the monster. Shots of a makeshift hospital. Some guy crying about his girlfriend dying. All fine and good, but it distracts from the fundamental premise: A huge creature is destroying New York City. A solider admits he has no clue what it is, "but it's winning." Am I shown anything indicating that it's winning or demonstrating the consequences thereof? No. I have no incentive to see the army win, since I have no connection to the monster. We only see effects of the attack, never the cause, not even a fleeting glance. By not focusing on the monster more, the net result is apathy.
Impression: Meh. (i.e. C)
Update: Compare this to the far superior trailer for Godzilla (1998). The movie sucked but the trailer works really well:
Have you seen Cloverfield? I welcome your critique of my review in the comments section below. More >
Review: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Holy Sarah, Mother of John, kill for us now, and at the hour of the apocalypse, amen. That prayer would find itself on the lips of billions if they only knew what was to come. Self aware computer networks, nuclear war, and a ruthless army of cyborgs out to erase the stain of humanity from Earth. If that doesn’t sound familiar, know that you haven’t stumbled onto another nuts-ass conspiracy theory blog, you just probably haven’t seen Terminator.
The images, plot, and catch phrases of James Cameron’s seminal 1984 action/sci-fi masterpiece and it’s even better 1991 sequel (in fact, the only sequel other than Godfather 2 to appear on one of AFI’s lists) have become so deeply rooted in American culture that they are practically responsible for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to the governorship of Coll-ee-forn-ya. And just as essential to the franchise’s success as Arnold was the dynamic performance of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, an average gal fated to bear and raise John Connor, military savior of humanity against our robotic oppressors.
As Sarah transformed over the series from a poufy haired waif to a hardened and ruthless freedom fighter, albeit one with an oceans deep maternal streak for John, she became one of cinema’s most iconic female heroes. After Terminator’s monumental success, including a Sarah-free third entry in the series, it would seem a fool’s errand to try reducing a saga so grand to the level of episodic TV. But that hasn’t stopped the good people at Fox from marching forth and sending Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles into homes each week.
Starring 300’s Lena Headly and Heroes’ Thomas Decker (but to me he’ll always be the kid from the Honey I shrunk The Kids tv show starrring Peter Scholari. It exists. Wiki it.) as Sarah and John, the show kicks in sometime after the projected coming of Judgment Day with mother and son attempting to settle in to a life free of robot fears, but still on the lam from human authorities. But before you can say hasta la vista, it all hits the fan and they’re again pursued by one cyborg and protected by another (Firefly’s Summer Glau, who shows potential, but has yet to match the skill she displayed in Joss Whedon’s cult space western.) A kicky (and spoiler-ish) twist in the pilot promises to put an interesting spin on the storytelling, and a deep respect for the scenarios laid out in the first two movies should keep fans happy. Those who would dare complain about discrepancies and plot holes lost all right to do so when they declared their fandom for a series rooted around the concept of a soldier going back in time to conceive the man who sent him there in the first place. That sound you hear is Albert Einstein’s head exploding in the grave.
The show isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but excellent production values, competent performances, the potential for compelling plotlines, and the occasional stab at psychological depth make The Sarah Connor Chronicles worth watching for sci-fi action fans or just those in need of some original drama in the current primetime desolation.
Catch it Mondays at 9, 8 central (Paolo).
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Spinning rims--"spinners"--are a complete waste of money. I'm not sure where the appeal lies. "Look, my rims are demonstrating the interial tendency which the car had before I applied the brakes. Pimp!" Perhaps the appeal comes from the illusion of motion. "My car looks like it's moving, but it's not. Can you wrap your mind around that?" Yes, your car is stopped but the rims keep spinning. That's completely useless. However, since this fad comes from the same subculture that has given us gold "grills", I don't think I will ever understand their appeal. Below is something which is more than stupid. It's just plain freaky.
Truly one of the weirdest goddam things I have ever seen.
Furries are people who get off on dressing up in anthropomorphic animals. But underneath their freaky costumes they are still human beings. Here we have some black(?) furries, showing off their hip hop and spinning rims. To demonstrate how pimp they are, one of them spins the rims. Then they stop, so he spins them again, thus demonstrating to us that while the car is actually immobile, the wheels look like they are still rolling. And what the hell is up with the lavender colored dog getting his freak on? These individuals need some serious therapy.
To see how Furries stand in relation to other geeks, check out The Geek Hierarchy from Brunching Shuttlecocks. More >
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
- Denver, CO
- Anchorage, AK
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Omaha, NE
- Fargo, ND
- San Antonio, TX
- Austin, TX
- Fresno, CA
- Lubbock, TX
- Milwaukee, MN
Losanjealous has a rather cool feature called The Nietzsche Family Circus, which combines a random Family Circus cartoon with a random Nietzsche quote. The results can be quite humorous. Check it out. WILL TO POWER! More >
Monday, January 14, 2008
Have you ever wanted to look cool while reading or while listening to someone drone on and on and on during a meeting? A subtle way to assert your essential awesomeness is spinning your pencil. Here's a video on how to do it. It's harder than it looks.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Have any of you been watching the late night shows which are back on the air? I've started watching Leno on NBC's video rewind just because he didn't have writers. I must say that Leno is funnier without writers. He actually has to make up his own jokes and he's a really goddam funny comedian. But my personal favorites of late night are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which just came back two days ago. I waited with excitement to see if Stewart and Colbert could make it on their own sans writers. The results are in: Colbert is funnier.
Here is a clip from A Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
His performance is like a parody of the Daily Show formula. Stewart has little to go on other than pulling faces and building up expectations with sound bites and then reacting to a staged contradiction. The formulas are there. The jokes aren't. What makes the Daily Show work are the clever responses which fit the formulae. The mock outrage or coy facial expressions or silly voices in reaction to a video montage. Without the writers, we have the frame without anything to put on it. So many of his jokes just fall flat. The entire Rudy-9/11 joke is old--you could blame that on the strike having 10 whole weeks to cover--Red State Update does it better (see several posts ago). Stewart pulls out all of his tricks--funny faces, bleeped obscenities, contradictory statements, funny voices, etc. But it doesn't work for me.
Now check out Colbert:
The jokes get bigger laughs and more genuine laughs. He's not as funny as he was with writers, but nevertheless, Colbert works better for two reasons: the show is all about him--he can run clips from previous episodes to make himself look better and he can relate the news to his persona rather than merely making light of the news a la Jon Stewart--and Colbert has improv training. Yeah. Colbert's improv ability, better planning, and the fact that he isn't forced to show real or mock concern for the writers meant — he could just do what he does best. To quote Dan Kois from New York Magazine:
Where Stewart was forced to build his show around his concern for the writers, and the strike in general, Colbert built his show around what it's always built around: "Colbert."I'd have to say Colbert is funnier without writers. But I prefer Colbert with writers and definitely prefer Stewart with writers. May the strike end soon.
Check out the New York Magazine liveblog on the return episodes of "A Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" Very perceptive and more entertaining than a liveblog of a Republican or Democratic debate. More >
Fact: Chuck Norris is so corny that ethanol producers believe him to be a vast, untapped source of alternative energy.From some new "Huck-Chuck Facts," from a disgruntled conservative blogger. I love the Jack Bauer one.
Fact: Chuck Norris is so painful to watch that nine out of 10 Americans would rather take a roundhouse kick to the face from him than sit through an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
Fact:Chuck Norris is so pathetic that Jack Bauer tracked and killed him in only 21 hours, then took a three-hour nap.
Fact: Chuck Norris is such a bad actor that even Keanu Reeves flips the channel whenever he sees Chuck on TV.
H/t to Hot Air. More >
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
- The reviews
- Award Buzz
- A certain je ne sais quoi
- The trailer
Thus, emboldened by Paul's well turned movie reviews, a certain idea has leapt to the front of my mind: review movie trailers. I might end up seeing more movies (since my job prospects seem to be looking up, the je ne sais quoi won't be lacking). So in the tradition of Trailer Park, let's begin. My purpose: To determine if a film deserves anticipation or apathy.
And where to begin but with movies that haven't come out yet. Yahoo! Movies has put out a list of the 10 Most-Anticipated Films of the Year. They are, in order of release date:
- Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who
- Iron Man
- Speed Racer
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
- Sex in the City
- The Dark Knight
If you think any films coming out in the next six months were unjustly left off, tell me in the comments! More >
Monday, January 7, 2008
Review: I Am Legend
The 2000’s (or whatever the hell it is we’re deciding to call this decade) have been good years to be a zombie. No longer relegated to the lumbering brain munchers of George Romero’s heyday, the zombie of the new millennium is a fleet-footed nightmare of unbridled rage and agility. The trend that started with Danny Boyle’s indie sensation 28 Days Later and was perpetuated by Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake has now been fully embraced by the mainstream thanks to the presence of sprinting specters in current holiday megahit I Am Legend.
Specifically, Legend’s (serviceably computer generated) ghouls are not the reanimated dead, but rather the victims of a manmade virus that reduces its host to the dirty lovechild of Gollum and a velociraptor. That should sound familiar to fans of 28 Days Later, as the base concept is nearly the same. Likewise, both films share a love of long shots depicting cities in a state of abandonment and dereliction. What keeps I am Legend from becoming an Americanized knockoff is likely the same reason for its stunning financial success: Will Smith.
The onetime Fresh Prince continues to expand his multi-genre dominance into the realm of apocalyptic survivalist horror with his perfectly realized portrayal of Robert Neville, a Marine virologist with genetic immunity to said zombie plague. As the sole uninfected habitant of Manhattan, Neville devotes his days to seeking a cure and his nights to seeking shelter from the sunlight-averse infected. What makes Smith’s performance so dynamic is how he simultaneously captures two sides of the character: a brilliant and dedicated scientist, soldier, and survivor who will not rest until personally undoing the damage humanity has wrought upon itself, and a man experiencing the steady breakdown of his social skills and sanity whose only friends are his dog and the mannequins he chats with at Blockbuster.
Special recognition must be paid to I Am Legend’s innovative storytelling that doles out the backstory of society’s decline through a combination of simulated news broadcasts, embedded clues visible as Neville goes through his daily routine, and flashbacks to the moment that began his trials. All serve the purpose of making the film a richer, more interactive experience than it would have been if served only by a prologue or a screenplay that went directly from points A to B.
In the long view, the somewhat derivative charms of I Am Legend might not stand up over time besides the likes of apocalyptic classics like Planet of the Apes, Mad Max, or (there it is again) 28 Days Later, but it is an admirable character study, a stark thriller, and another notable stop on Will Smith’s road to cementing himself as the most popular and reliable movie star in decades.
I love the Fred line at the end. And here's a particular favorite of mine: "Alan Keyes and Fred Thompson's Hands":
As some readers may know, in addition Twentysomewhat, I have my own photoblog: Something Completely Different. As a means of cross promotion--not to mention getting more mileage from the same content--I'll inform you when I post new photos. And, low and behold, I have a new photo titled "Epiphany." Check it out! Comments appreciated. More >
Saturday, January 5, 2008
According a 2005 story on NewsBusters, Michael Jackson:
[Michael] Jackson referred to wine by [the term "Jesus Juice"] in allegedly attempting to seduce young boys.Yep, that Michael Jackson, trying to seduce young boys using wine.
Next, from a 2007 story in theLA Times:
"I drink a different kind of Jesus juice," Huckabee said.Yep, that Mike Huckabee,trying to seduce
What other ways are Michael Jackson and Michael Huckabee the same? Comments are open! More >
I love StumbleUpon, the internet equivalent of channel surfing which shows you new pages, sites and videos based on your preferences. Whilst using StumbleUpon, I found this page of bizarre underwater creatures. Check it out. Over Thanksgiving, I impulsively (read "stupidly") saw The Mist, a trite, typecast adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Based a loose understanding of the most absurd versions of quantum theory, the movie features creatures from "another dimension," which bear some resemblance to a handful of these aquarian curiosities. Perhaps the sequel could take place at the bottom of the sea.
As one may have guessed from the title, this story is an excuse to post a video of Radiohead's song Weird Fishes/Arpeggi from In Rainbows:
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Author's note: If you find the title either senseless or offensive, you need simply to watch more Family Guy and all will become hillariously clear. (I tried to embed the clip, only to find it pulled from YouTube. Thanks, Fox.)
Review: Citizen Kane
For certain film buffs, myself included, the American Film Institute's annual CBS specials celebrating "100 Years, 100 ______" are an occasion matched only by Christmas and birthdays. 2007's list was particularly interesting in that it threw out the previous list of top 100 American Movies, added more recent fare to the mix, and re-voted. Hello Lord of the Rings, goodbye Doctor Zhivago. The most interesting aspect of the list was that while many films' rankings rose, fell, debuted, or disappeared, Citizen Kane remained number one. With that much acclaim on its shoulders, I finally felt I had no recourse but to track down a copy at the library and see what all the fuss is about.
In case you hadn't heard, Citizen Kane is the story of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a man taken from his parents at an early age to lead a life of prestige and luxury, eventually becoming a newspaper publishing tycoon. What makes the movie so unique, notable, and enduring is how it tells Kane's story: start with a man's dying word, "Rosebud" and then follow a reporter's journey to assemble the puzzle of Kane's life to see what could be important enough to occupy the last thoughts of one so powerful.
For those who have no idea who or what Rosebud is, stop what you're doing and go rent this movie lest the ending get spoiled for you. Tragically, pop culture has been conspiring against the uninitiated and Rosebud has been referenced everywhere from children's fare like Peanuts and Animaniacs to classic TV such as Cheers-- Frasier once spoiled the ending to everyone in earshot. Regardless of the hype, the twist holds a psychological wonder equal to the endings of The 6th Sense and Planet of the Apes (and much like those films, the clues are there all along if you're looking for them).
A movie can't live on its twist ending alone (you don't see The Crying Game on the AFI list) and Citizen Kane realizes this, packing a deep and satisfying story in between its Rosebudded bookends. Wells, doing triple duty as director and co-screenwriter, helps pioneer the technique of putting actors through varying stages of aging makeup to span events across decades, a technique later adopted by Forrest Gump and A Beautiful Mind, among others. The cast handles this marvelously; every late in life characterization makes the viewer desire to see how they came to be the way they are.
The story's themes of power overshadowing responsibility and the need to be loved overshadowing sanity serve as both reflections of historical figures such as William Randolph Hearst and Howard Hughes and inspirations for great entertainment to come such as Spiderman and The Office (Michael Scott = Charles Kane – money. Think about it.) Technically, Wells' innovative camera work, editing, and use of focus are still inspiring directors like David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino.
While its worthiness to be declared Best American Film Of All Time will surely be debated for the duration of history, there is no denying that few films will ever influence culture and move audiences quite like Citizen Kane continues to do, over 65 years after its release, and that alone merits a high status on anyone's list.
Paul's Grade: A
On an unrelated note, this trailer represents a strange trend I have noticed in vintage films: trailers that violate the 4th wall and serve a function closer to what modern audiences might expect from a DVD featurette. I might blog more on it later. It'll help me get over the scars sustained from hearing an old-timey studio suit referring to Miracle on 34th Street as "groovey". Ugh. More >
John, you were right on the money about that last tatoo being a janktacular mess, but the nerdiest dark corners of my brain just won't let me think that this tat isn't utterly rad:
C'mon! Boba Fett! And the glassy smooth plane of back fat makes the details on Cloud City just pop.More >
After my chiding of stupid drunk British youth, I have decided that posting pictures of stupid people is an easy way to generate content. Here is my first installment:
I have no desire to get a tattoo. Never have, and hopefully, never will. I don't necessarily have anything against those who do get inked, provided it's discrete and intellegent. A former co-worker of mine had a slightly misshapen red asterisk on her wrist. When I asked her about it, she informed me with an air of annoyance that it was obviously the Red Hot Chili Pepper's logo. I begged to differ, but didn't feel like making an issue of it. Now, that was a stupid thing to have tattooed on your wrist. A logo for a band which doesn't routinely use said logo on their albums. Yeah, you're cool. But such idiocy doesn't even begin to compare to this:
Three letters: WTF? The thought process behind this seems to be:
"I love my daughter, my country, and Star Wars, but how to express these loves to other people? I know, I'll get a mural of the death star being blown up with my daughter's name at the top. And in the center I can have an American flag pattern in a pair of hands. Aww, what the hell, why not throw in a ankh as well--to show my spiritual side. Now, just in case people can't tell what's represented or which I care most about, I'll have a list of the elements according to order of importance."
Hat tip to The GinBlog. More >
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
When I was a teenager, I discovered the classic comic strip Andy Capp. Aided by bulbous nose, 3' height, and cockney accent, Andy Capp showed us the lighter side of English drunkenness, poverty, and spousal abuse. The charm of Andy Capp lies in the friendly exaggeration of certain cultural perceptions.
And this year, we get to see the basis for those perceptions. The British have shown themselves to be a nation of drunks on New Years and there is nothing charming about these lads or lasses. The Daily Mail has a story reporting that emergency services recieved ambulence calls every eight seconds on New Year's Eve. According to a Belgian girl visiting England:
"At 9pm I saw people throwing up - England is totally different to Belgium."Most of us would happily join with her, assuming there was no risk of a chest stabbing. Neverthless, this is no laughing matter. According to a 2004 article in the New York Times:
"The whole evening I have been watching English girls wearing dresses that only just cover their underwear. They zig-zag through the streets in their tiny skirts."
"Even though I haven't drunk tonight I have had such fun laughing at all the drunken English people."
"Binge drinking is now so routine that young people find it difficult to explain why they do it," a recent Home Office report said.Perhaps they should investigate the link between alcoholism and short term memory loss?
Now unlike Andy Capp, these young people are idiots who need help. Now we can laugh at caricatures of snooty Frenchman--the beret, the complete neglect of the use of soap and water, smoking like a chimney--while knowing that most Frenchman are quite normal, aside from their outraaaagous accents. But when we laugh at these drunken Brits, it isn't a stereotype. This is England.
I have no clue what to do about it. Close the pubs earlier? A nationwide advertising campaign along the lines of "Don't Drink Yourself Stupid, Ya Ale-Soaked Bints!"? Or perhaps an high profile series on the telly with stars who are exemplars of moderation and sexiness.
On a closing note, I present this picture:
What in the name of decency, fashion, and common sense possessed these girls to leave the house only wearing scarves? The low for the day was 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This indicates to me that these gals weren't very sharp to begin with. Or perhaps their alcohol fueled brains decided their bodies were far too hot to be covered up and therefore they ought to shed those unnecessary shirts and sweaters or dresses. And who needs pants? You've gotta let those flabby buttocks breathe! More >
Review: Charlie Wilson's War
The movies exist to bring people together in the communal act of laughing, crying, and screaming together. Politics exist to drive people apart in the tribal act of laughing, crying, and screaming at each other. So when Hollywood tries bringing Capitol Hill insight to the multiplex, the results are seldom pretty.
Nearly all political movies fall into two categories: those that stick to a specific credo and proceed to ram it in your face (see the recent failure of Lions For Lambs or the bizarre rantings of Oliver Stone’s JFK), and those like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Dave that take an airy, idealistic stance that seldom goes deeper than “ain’t America grand!” While the latter are often an enjoyable and uplifting experience, you can’t claim to have learned much about what makes the USA tick.
There is, however, a rare and wonderful middle ground: movies that put quality first, but at the same time enrich the viewer via some degree of depth regarding history, politics, war, and life. Dr. Strangelove was one of those movies, as were M*A*S*H, Platoon, and Wag the Dog. Now as America begins to put the events of the last decade into perspective, the excellent Charlie Wilson’s War is well poised to join their ranks.
Building on Mike Nichols’ solid directing and Aaron Sorkin’s brisk, witty screenplay, Tom Hanks robustly embodies real life congressman Charlie Wilson who, in the early 1980s, found himself an unlikely co-conspirator in a secret effort to fund Afghani rebels in their fight against the Soviet Union, paving the way to the end of the Cold War. Along for the ride are Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a hilariously blunt CIA analyst and Julia Roberts as an irascible socialite who seems to believe that she can defeat communism through the sheer force of her fundraising dinner parties.
Charlie Wilson is a hard drinking womanizer whose greatest accomplishment throughout six terms in congress is “getting reelected five times” but during a bout of coke addled hot tubbing in Vegas, a news report about the futile efforts of the mujahideen to repel their oppressors catches his eye, leading Charlie to flex his power on a defense appropriations committee to lend them a hand. The escalation that follows is a stranger than fiction ride through black ops, tenuous international relations, and stunning echoes of what Afghanistan would become in the years leading up to 9/11.
And did I mention that it’s really funny? Buoyed by its sense of humor and dependably top notch performances from its stars, Charlie Wilson entertains, teaches, and gives a wide range of insights to ponder, all while clocking in at an effortless 97 minutes with no time left over to get preachy or sluggish. With its slew of Golden Globe nominations, Charlie is sure to stay visible throughout awards season. And as long as there are teachers in the world as cool as the ones I’ve had, it should earn immortality as a great way to spend a couple periods in high school and collge history classes. Don’t miss it.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Paul mentioned below the anime Death Note. Here's a little treat from across the pond which should mitigate the awfulness of American reality TV: The Real Hustle. The premise is professional con men show you how to perform various scams on others--presumably as a means to protect the innocent from falling prey to true shysters. Think Ocean's Eleven, except instead of robbing Andy Garcia, they're swindling shlubs like you. Take a peek below. For more follow the link (since it's on YouTube, who knows how long it'll be up):