Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HAPPY HALLOWEEN (...cont'd)

Leaked still from Joel Schumacher's live-action Snow White remake (starring Rachel Weisz):

HAPPY HALLOWEEN (cont'd)

Today is Peter Jackson's birthday (He's 46). How perfect is that? The fantasy and Fangoria freak was born on the day of all days that the macabre mobs value most!








Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SEPARATED AT BIRTH (PART 6)



P.S. - In case you're wondering, here is the lineup of actresses (and the actresses whose shoes they must fill) for the The Women remake:
Eva Mendes = Joan Crawford
Meg Ryan = Norma Shearer
Annette Benning = Rosalind Russell
Uh.... good luck with that, ladies....

Monday, October 29, 2007

"THE COURTESAN HAS SUNG" - SUNSET RUBDOWN

I don't know what "courtesan" means, or what a "courtesan" is. Is it someone that's courteous? Eh... I'll look it up later. The reason I haven't looked it up is because it doesn't matter. It couldn't change my feelings for the song. Song? I guess it's a proper song. It starts somewhere in between tracks #3 and #5 on the new Sunset Rubdown album, Random Spirit Lover. (That title is an appropriate way to describe Spencer Krug's approach to song...)

Not that lyrics need to be good - or even make sense, like Hurricane Chris' "A Bay Bay" - for me to like the song, but I generally like to have an idea as to what they're saying. For instance, one of my favorite songs this year is The New Porno's "Mutiny, I Promised You". Sample lyric:

"Heartbeat, you abandoned searches/Your lost ride/You're in my lost country now lady/Sweethearts in the crosstown wild/You don't let go/To the new live history goes with me."

Ok, cool, whatevs. But it totally jams!

And so does "The Courtesan Has Sung". Or maybe "jams" isn't the right word, but flies?... or soars, yeah... it soars!... and 70% of the time I find myself making up the words,... and it ain't no thang!

Krug uses his voice more and more as an instrument, now. In the percussive sense, and in place of instruments he may hear in his head but doesn't have lying around the room (...or that haven't been invented yet). He goes: "Oh UH oh Uh oh ooohhh OH oH oh...", blowing notes and writing melodies in mid air like a composer. Krug has real, beaded, forehead-sweat talent. We need more of him, and less or Devendra and Joanna (just typing their names is irritating...). Theirs is just a costumed parlor game, a porch swing molestation of melody and craft.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

WORLD SERIES: PREMATURE EVALUATION

It's over already (again...).

I sure wish the Red Sox would let the Series go more than 4 games (again...). I can't take another Series sweep. It's so anti-climactic! It's like sneaking the porno past your parents only to shoot before the first scene with "the star" comes up. [NOTE: how come straight porn only gives you one full length scene with "the star"? You generally get an abbreviated scene/tease near the beginning, but it's usually a lesbo scene which is soooo 1997. Like, are guys still into that?!?!]

But it's partially the Rockies fault, this year. Game 1 was a joke, but Game 2 saw wasted opportunities, and Game 3 saw some weak-ass managing by Clint Hurdle. Ex: Why didn't Hurdle have Todd Helton steal second after he singled in the 7th??? Is it me, or was that a no-brainer that Hurdle effed-up??? Okajima was on the mound, and he's got an extremely slow release. Plus, he was throwing offspead junk!!

Yes. Okajima struck out the next two batters, and got the third to ground out, but I'm a big believer in scenario head games. If Helton stole second with no outs, Okajima would've been rattled even more than he already was after the Holliday home run. But after he struck out the first batter he was back in the zone... inning over. (you don't get many opportunities with guys like Okajima).

Oh well. I guess it's officially football season now. I love my Houston Texans, but they're still just barely above average. Plus, they play in San Diego tomorrow and the Chargers are gonna have the football karma gods on their side because of the fires. *SIGH*........

p.s. Hey Astros, when Okajima's contract is up next year, go sign him!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

RENDITION

If you're looking for some provocative anti-war dissent in your films, then 2007 hasn't been your year. Music has been the place to go: From Bruce Springsteen to Spoon to Jay-Z, pop songwriters have made the war on terror personal, taking political stances that are thoughtful instead of mailed-in.

Filmmakers, on the other hand, are making product that they think they're supposed to. A Mighty Heart and In The Valley of Elah ripped off headlines and glued 'em to the screen without filtering them through an original artistic eye. These are films that not only presume they're right, but that if you disagree - and how could you disagree?!?! - you're a monster. Their propaganda is as black-and-white as the policy they accuse their neo-conservative counterparts of dishing out.

Rendition is the latest snoozer. While it doesn't say "based on...", it's likely that director Gavin Hood and screenwriter Kelly Sane had the case of Maher Arar in mind when they made their film. Arar was captured by Canadian mounties, handed over to the U.S. on allegations he had ties to Al Qaeda, and then sent to Syria where he was likely tortured. Maher was later released without charge.

Rendition
attempts to lobby for it's anti-war stance on that lone incident. Disgracefully, it also suggests that Islamic extremism is the result of torture as interrogation technique (another "Blame America First" answer to a centuries old problem...). Never has the "high-atop-a-mansion-looking-down" world view of the Hollywood elite been on such ridiculous display.

The worst case scenario cinema of Rendition is secondarily pushed through its stereotypical casting. Reese Witherspoon (America's blond, blue-eyed sweetheart?), plays Izzy, a sweet, pregnant, soccer mom married to an Arab-American who gets fingered by the evil white Republican spook, Corinne Whitman (Streep) - who just happens to be rude to her Hispanic maid as well. Over in north Africa, Jake Gyllenhall is the CIA agent with a heart of gold ("this is my first torture case" he snidely says to his boss), coming off like the cute Donnie Darko with a clearance badge. This silliness peaks when Witherspoon gets her "GIVE ME BACK MY SON!" moment when she screams "TELL ME WHERE HE IS!!!" as the guards drag her away.

Next up: Lions For Lambs. If you haven't seen the trailer, Tom Cruise reprises his "Did you order a code red!!" from A Few Good Men when he says to Streep (again) "Do you want to win the war on terror? Yes, or no? ..... YES ... or, NO?!?!".

Friday, October 26, 2007

INTEREXTRATERRESTRIAL MARRIAGE

So what's up with the new AVP movie? (That's Alien Vs. Predator for you people out there living real, adult lives...)

Is the story supposed to be that Alien and Predator made love in space and then their babies invade Earth? Cuz look at this below picture:

It's a Predalien!

My wife and I saw the trailer last weekend in front of 30 Days of Night, but we had some MEGA "wtf ?!?" looks on our faces the whole time and didn't pay attention to the plot.

All I wanna know is who's the TOP and who's the BOTTOM? My money is on Predator being the top. Although... the "dreads" on Predator might mean that it's a natural bottom. Cuz you could really grab onto those locks and go to town... or, I mean Alien could.

Ew... and what if the really kinky Aliens use that Lil' Alien in their mouths for special positions!!! FREAKY!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

THURSDAY MORNING HEARTACHE

[NOTE: While reading this post, imagine that Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" is playing in the background.]

This is not what I needed first thing in the morning!!! I haven't even had my coffee yet!!!!

---
On Tuesday afternoon, they arrived together at a party at Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman's home in Dallas – at which guests previewed the video game Guitar Hero III for Xbox 360.

Bush didn't play, says a source, but enjoyed watching Romo's competitive streak in action: "She was laughing at him when he screwed up a little bit in the beginning. They had a good time. They seem cute together."
---

As funny as it would be if that "Bush" was George W., it wasn't.... it was my Sophia!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!

If you didn't know... Sophia Bush is on my "shortlist". You know, the five you can crush on without your spouse/partner getting upset with you. She's so darling. Adorable. She's ready to bloom into a career and then THIS LIL' PUNK HAS TO COME IN AND SCREW THINGS UP!!

If you didn't know... that "PUNK" is Tony Romo, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. I hate him. Here's the only explanation you need : I hate the Dallas Cowboys + Tony Romo plays for the Dallas Cowboys = I hate Tony Romo.

---
At one point, Romo tried his luck over the Internet against Carmen Electra, who was having a similar gathering in L.A. "I think she actually beat me," Romo told PEOPLE at the party.
---

OMG...what a bean brain!

---
The pair sat next to each other the entire night while laughing and talking with their table full of pals. "When they were leaving and chatting with friends and some staff at the bar, Tony was hugging Sophia from behind, and she put her arms around him as well," adds the source. (People)
---

BLARGHHHH!! Does she know that he has a micropenis, hunts endangered species, and watches Dancing With The Stars? (to be fair... I'm not 100% about that last part...).

THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE

Susanne Bier has a great movie somewhere in her. Things We Lost In The Fire is good, a step up from last year's promising After the Wedding. In fact, it's not too far a step at all - maybe just a side shuffle - because Things We Lost... could easily be retitled After the Funeral. Bier seems to take interest in the aftermaths of major familial shake-ups, but she does so without the requisite malaise and loathsome posing we've come to expect from from our stateside dramas.

Named after the 2001 album by Mormon rockers Low, Things We Lost In The Fire is a fresh take on the "spousal loss" drama, just like Low's album was a fresh rethinking of their sound. You can forget about the bad taste - momentarily at least - left in your mouth from low-end films of this genre like 21 Grams and A Mighty Heart. Take Bier's film as a response to that screen snot. (The stain on cinema left by directors like Innaritu and Winterbottom almost preconditioned me to expect Things We Lost... to take a despairing turn, but it didn't...)

Bier distills the drama down, yet keeps your interest peaked, by relying on close-ups and MEGA close-ups (she's a fan of eyeballs and eyelids) of her cast. Everyone does well with it... even the children. This technique, relying more on body language than dialogue, speeds up the story and connects the audience more directly to the drama than a wordy script would have (and who needs words when you have actors that can physically express loss?).

The end of Things We Lost... ends too many times, and Halle Berry screws up a would-be crucial scene with some serious diva histrionics, but Duchovny, John Carroll Lynch, and Del Toro all shine. Oh... and there's an excellent Captain Beefheart song mixed in for good measure.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IDIOT(S) OF THE DAY

A teacher in the small town of Tusculo,TX is facing possible criminal charges for having a Cormac McCarthy book on his ninth grade reading list.

Yep! It's true!:

---
A popular English teacher has been placed on paid leave — and faces possible criminal charges — after a student's parents complained to police that a ninth-grade class reading list contained a book about a murderer who has sex with his victims' bodies.

Kaleb Tierce, 25, is being investigated for allegedly distributing harmful material to a minor after the student selected Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy's Child of God off the list and read it.
---

The majority of people in Tusculo are on the teacher's side, so this will probably fizzle out into nothing, but think about the type of parents that felt the right thing to do was get the police involved???

---
[In the past,] parents have sought to ban various books, including John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, as well as books on Cuba or gay penguins, according to the American Library Association. Last year, schools or public libraries received nearly 550 requests to remove books, the Chicago-based association said.
---

A book on gay penguins is cool, but Cuban penguins?!? Umm.... Helllllll no!! I would push to get that book removed too!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

IS THAT A DOOKIE IN YOUR PANTS?

As if Louisiana doesn't have enough problems already, another town (La.'s eighth) has banned "baggy pants", and can fine lawbreakers up to $500 for a violation.

---
Council member Ray Helen Lawrence said she voted for the ordinance only because she got numerous calls from constituents who consider the look a fashion faux pas. Many said they associate droopy outerwear with crime, she said.

---


Well at least she's being honest about her reasoning (or lack thereof)...

But Louisiana's not the only state doing this, it's become the cause celebre among bored legislators everywhere:

---
"If we have kids going around wearing pants below their butts, it's not nice, not decent," says Timothy Holmes, a city commissioner in Opa-locka, Fla. "If you ask six of these kids, 'What are your grades?' four will tell you they're making C's, D's and F's. I see how senior citizens respond to these kids. They're afraid."


[...]

The low-slung style was inspired by the beltless pants worn by prison inmates. It spread through the hip-hop music community to urban neighborhoods and then to the suburbs. The style is predominantly worn by black youth, according to Bositis.
(USA Today)
---


I still wanna ask lawmakers why this particular style is being singled out. If you're gonna argue that the legislation is based on indecency, then you gotta go after all other types of clothes that may be "indecent", right?


I would respect them more if they just said "we wanna ban these pants because we think they may be carrying gloks in them". Quit dancing around this "I don't wanna look at your butt!" line, because we know that's not true in other cases...

"TURNING COKE MACHINE, I THINK I'M TURNING COKE MACHINE...I REALLY THINK SO!"

A woman in Tokyo, inspired by the stealthiness of ninjas, has invented a way for women to instantly "disappear" if they are in fear for their safety while on the street.

Her solution? .........

A skirt that transforms you into a Coca-Cola machine!:

I immediately have a concern though...

OK, let's say you see a street tough coming and you zip yourself up in the Coca-Cola machine skirt and wait for him to pass. BUT... what if the street tough is thirsty!?!?

Well perhaps Ms. Tsukioka considered this problem, b/c she has some other skirt designs in the works:

---
If the fizzy drink machine seems a little elaborate, not to mention impractical, she has also come up with the 'manhole bag' which is supposed to look like a sewer cover when you put it down so unwitting thieves walk right by without noticing it.

For children, she has a backpack that transforms into a fire hydrant.

While British women might prefer to take self-defence classes, Ms Tsukioka said: "It is just easier for Japanese to hide. Making a scene would be too embarrassing."

She admits that making the switch from skirt to vending machine might prove a little tricky "especially when your hands are shaking".

But she told the New York Times: "These ideas might strike foreigners as far-fetched, but in Japan, they can become reality."
---

Yep! I freakin' love the Japanese!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

TOTALLY LAMEme

Stacy just sent this little list/survey thing over. I agree with her when she says it will be a breeze to fill out. In fact, I think I could make one of those daily tear-a-page-away desk calendars on this very thing. Hmmm... I like that. Too bad I don't have readership like Perez Hilton does b/c I would jump on that idea with calendar season being just around the corner...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
List 5 things that certain people (who are not deserving of being your friend anyway) may consider to be “totally lame,” but you are, despite the possible stigma, totally proud of. Own it:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. I think concession stand workers at movie theaters need to work harder, and customers in line at the movie theater concession stand need to know what they want before they step to the register. THIS IS NOT A TIME TO ASK QUESTIONS, THIS IS A TIME FOR TRANSACTION!

2. I love defecating in a private bathroom. Being in your own locked bathroom, with a book or magazine, is a special thing. The world around you can wait. Here, you are in charge! Vulnerable, with your pants around your ankles, you let out waste while feeding your mind with (arguably) knowledge.

3. I love the 2nd Amendment.

4. I think playing sports in high school is more important than going to class. High school sports instills teamwork, companionship, and personal sacrifice. In the classroom you are too preoccupied with post-pubescent thoughts to concentrate...and The Scarlet Letter is a bore.

5. I love talk radio so much. I am obsessed with it. Talk show hosts are superstars to me. Politics, Sports, and Local are my favorite. I think people that can entertain with their voice and quick thoughts for three straight hours are a rare breed.

------>I tag Debbie, Mandy, Tom, Tommy, and Perez Hilton.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

SOX LOGIC

I'm not a Boston Red Sox fan, I'm a 21-year long Houston Astros fan. I'll bleed brick red and black until I die (or until they change their colors again...), but when the Astros season is over I put my karma behind Boston because I have many Sox fans for friends.

So thank you, baseball gods, for letting the ALCS go at least another game. I think most nonpartisan baseball fans can agree that they'd rather not see a Colorado Rockies vs. Cleveland Indians World Series. No disrespect, but come on...

But the point of this post is to stir the pot a bit over the ninth inning of tonight's game (Game 5 for you readers in the future...). Here it is : I think Francona should have let Josh Beckett pitch a complete game.

I understand the baseball logic behind the decision not to:

1. The bullpen needed to get some work so they won't be 4 days cold going into Game 6.

2. Why push Beckett's arm when you have a 6 run lead?


3. Beckett was over the 110 pitch count, in a ALCS game. Duh!



but hear me out...

Josh Beckett was on fire. He was so dialed in that even after he left the mound, and watched from the bench, he still had the tunnel vision in his eyes. I have no doubt he would've gone 3 up, 3 down in the ninth. In the meantime, Papelbon finished the game, but he looked pretty shaky.

Look. The Indians rode into Game 5 on a high. They had their workhorse going, they had home field, the felt invincible. Beckett popped that balloon... BIG TIME! And if Francona woulda let him go the full nine, I think it woulda been a sword across the throat for the Indians.

I know, I know.... I'm a third party observer here - and I still think the Sox did exactly what they needed to do tonight - but letting Beckett go nine would've just turned those screws a little bit more, assuring that the Sox are still playing next Wednesday night at Fenway.

In the mean time, Becksy, enjoy those Beantown ladies when you arrive back in Boston tomorrow...lucky Chowd!

R.I.P. DEBORAH KERR (1921-2007)

Immediately I have to say that Deborah Kerr means something to me because of Michael Powell. Kerr starred in his films : The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Contraband, and Black Narcissus. All should be seen, especially Blimp and Narcissus.

Other great movies starring Deborah Kerr (an abbreviated list): An Affair To Remember (1957), Julius Ceasar (1953), The Sundowners (1960), Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (1957), Separate Tables (1958), and personal favorite Tea and Sympathy (1956).

Movies I loved her in, but didn't care for the movie: The Arrangement (1969), The Innocents (1961), Kings Solomon's Mines (1950), Bonjour Tristesse (1958)





Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA UNLEASHED!!!

Francis Ford Coppola says that the aging stars of Hollywood are lacking the "kind of passion to do a role and be great".

Maybe this is inspired by his upcoming back-to-my-roots film Youth Without Youth.

I'm sure there is some playful jib-jabbing and elbow nudging in all of this - especially since FF is just as guilty of the things he rants against - , but here it is anyway:

---
Coppola on Al Pacino:

"Pacino always wanted to do theatre ... [He] will say, 'Oh, I was raised next to a furnace in New York, and I'm never going to go to LA,' but they all live off the fat of the land."

Coppola on Jack Nicholson:

"I don't think Jack would [go after a challenging role]. Jack has money and influence and girls, and I think he's a little bit like Brando,... except Brando went through some tough times"

Coppola on Robert DeNiro:

"I met both Pacino and De Niro when they were really on the come. They were young and insecure. Now Pacino is very rich, maybe because he never spends any money; he just puts it in his mattress. De Niro was deeply inspired by Zoetrope and created an empire and is wealthy and powerful." (Guardian UK)
---

"AYO TECHNOLOGY" - 50 CENT

Kanye has the better album, but Fitty has the better single.

And as talented a producer as Kanye is, Fitty has Timbaland, ...and Kanye is no Timbaland.

[NOTE: While Graduation is easily the better album - it's Kanye's best - Curtis has been overlooked and underrated. It's as if critics felt they had to destroy one to love the other...]

Where on "Stronger" Kanye gets his electro-squiggles from sampling Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", Timbaland gives 50 Cent some home-grown organic squiggles fresh off his laptop-soundboard-Galaga arcade machine combo thingy.

The rhymes to "Ayo Technology" are terrible ("She gon' do the right thing and touch the right spot/Dance in you're lap till you're ready to pop"), but 50 Cent's never been much of a Thesaurus thumper. He get's mileage out of his stilted pseudo-thug pop thang. (Short on brains, but immearsurably long on hooks.)

Fault 50 for a lot - he's got them - but he has an uncanny ability to make you nod your head while forgiving & forgetting what trips out of his mouth. Plus, "Ayo..." is only about dancing and breakin' em off some. Oh... it's got a triple chorus via Justin y Timbaland.

In short: "Stronger" is for the awkward, can't-dance-but-like-to-act-like-I-can-when-I'm-with- my-girls set, while "Ayo..." is for people who can bring it like the cast of Honey.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

IDIOT OF THE DAY

No, not the little girl... the idiot is her neighbor. In fact, "idiot" may be too kind a word.
The 6 year old girl - like all 6 year olds - was drawing on the sidewalk with some chalk when a few hours later, a notice was sent to her apartment:

“PLEASE REMOVE THE GRAFFITI FROM YOUR PROPERTY. FAILURE TO COMPLY … MAY RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST YOU.”

Yes, a neighbor called in to the police complaining about "graffiti".

---
Since when is a kid’s chalk drawing “graffiti”? Since the City Council passed local law 111 in 2005, which defined “graffiti” as “any letter, word, name, number, symbol, slogan, message, drawing, picture, writing … that is drawn, painted, chiseled, scratched, or etched on a commercial building or residential building.”

In other words, Natalie Shea is not an artistic little girl, but a graffiti scofflaw?

No. The law goes on to say that the scribbles can only be called “graffiti” if they are “not consented to by the owner of the commercial building or residential building.” But how could the 311 caller possibly be expected to know if Natalie had her mom’s consent to use chalk on her own front stoop?

“He could have just asked!” Pepperman said. “This whole thing is ridiculous. Admittedly, this drawing was not her best work — she usually sticks to cheerful scenes, not abstracts, frankly — but to send a warning letter like that is outrageous.”
---

I have a hunch to what kind of woman ... er, I mean person ... that neighbor is, but I will keep it to myself. I don't wanna be fined for any type of "cyber-graffiti".

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney are set to make a movie about the 2003-2004 rise and meltdown of former presidential wannabe and current DNC chairman Howard Dean.

It's based on the life of a staffer that worked for Dean during his '04 run. DiCaprio is to star, but let's hope he's playing the staffer, and not the red-faced weirdo:

Borrrrrring....


Although, if they reenact "the scream" I will gladly pay $8.50 (er, $6.25) to see it!

Monday, October 15, 2007

LIFE ON A STRING

Necessity is the mother of invention, but did the creators of Silly String ever dream their product would save the lives of US soldiers? Probably not. Maybe reinvention is the stepson to a new necessity.

Military squads use silly string to lasso tripwires before entering a room. They squirt it in the air, and if it doesn't hit the ground, they know there's a wire. Apparently this isn't a new tactic... just new to me.

I guess it's no surprise we've never seen it reenacted in Hollywood. Imagine Tom Hanks yelling back to Matthew Damon: "WE NEED MORE SILLY STRING!! HURRY... HURRY!" Nah... it doesn't quite go with reflective drama.

Anyway... a soldier's mama in New Jersey has 80,000 cans (!!!) and she is sending them to Iraq for the good guys and girls to use:

---
Shriver, 58, got one shipment of 40,000 cans out in January through the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Pennsylvania but officials told Shriver they didn't know when they'd have more flights headed to Iraq and didn't have space to store the boxes. McGuire Air Force Base declined to take the shipment.


Despite her frustrations, Shriver said the Silly String campaign was worth it.

"If this saves one life, I'm happy," Shriver said.
---

Moms are awesome.

THE STAR OF DAVID

David Lynch is in Israel right now promoting meditation as a way to achieve inner and outer peace. I love David Lynch because he is unbrandable. I never thought I'd wake up this morning and see a picture of him holding hands with Shimon Peres. Walking to his own soundtrack, that man ... and I love him for it.

Anyways... he says this about meditation:
---
"The experienced gardener doesn't worry about the leaves. Get at (the problem) from its roots," he said. "A peace on the surface — it doesn't address the seeds of war ... it's a `peace' of paper."
---

Then that little tiny fella from Twin Peaks woddled out and slurred.... "zipzipzipzzzzip... sometimes my arms bend back... zzzzipzipzipzippzipzipzipzippzp"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

THE DARJEELING LIMITED

Since Rushmore, every time a Wes Anderson film comes out, a critical chorus of "it looks great, but..." chimes in, as if "looking great" is a minor thing in the makeup of a film. It's the most important thing! This is cinema, after all.

Of course, that doesn't mean great looking films can't be terrible (see Children of Men), or that average looking films can't be great (see Once), but in Anderson's world, the image represents both picture and story. This process is evoked most directly, in The Darjeeling Limited, when Angelica Huston says "let's try and communicate to each other without speaking". Facial close-ups and a fantastical tracking shot through train compartments tells the audience a thousand words.

Francis (Wilson), Peter (Brody), and Jack (Schwartzman) are brothers still recovering from a father that died a year ago and a mother that left years ago. Like Henry Jaglom's post-VietNam dramedy Tracks, the train these three manchildren board is taking them to a destination, but it's real purpose is to serve as a locomotive therapy ride, moving each man forward with the problems between them and in their own personal lives: Peter's wife is 7 1/2 months pregnant, Jack's girlfriend manipulates his heart, and Francis is recovering from a near-death motor accident.

Something new to me in Darjeeling that I'd never seen in previous Wes Anderson films was a kind of Godardian non-sequitir wit (the way Jack lights his cigarette while motioning to a girl, Peter's observation of a cricket game being played with a tennis ball). These moments serve as playful punctuation along the way, filling gaps and assuring that not a second is wasted. Of course, the lazy will just dismiss this as "those quirky Wes Anderson eccentricities". Do you imagine a Godard (or more recently, a Tarantino) was ever treated with such acerbic disrespect?

But modern day film culture rewards the perfunctory viewer. And it's not the fault of a new unseasoned generation of film goers. I blame the critics. Their reluctance to get behind important re-releases like The Conformist, or to reference the old guard in reviews, echos the same short term memory of news media. The passing of Ingmar Bergman and Michaelangelo Antonioni generated less than a week full of yawns from people that should have been setting up memorials and flag posts. It's no surprise anymore - they'd rather ramble on about "Mumblecore" - but it's getting worse.

But Anderson just gets better. After seeing The Life Aquatic, I was giddy over seeing his first masterpiece, and The Darjeeling Limited might just be his second... I think it's his best. But it's too soon. Like other great narrative visualists - Bertolucci, Tarkovsky, Malick, Lynch - Wes Anderson makes films so rich they not only reward multiple viewings, they demand it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

THE BRAVE ONE

You can't help but grapple with yourself over the death penalty while watching Neil Jordan's The Brave One. The film sees things in black and white, right and wrong ... but then it doesn't. That kinda sums up my personal take on the issue. I used to be against it, now I'm for it ... but sort of reluctantly... kind of ... I think?

Meaning, I've heard some convincing arguments against the death penalty, but in most debates, where I try to separate emotion from rationality or logic, in this one, I just can't. I can't let go of one thought: If a loved one was murdered, and I knew the accused was guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would want them dead. Now, that narrows the debate down to a very specific situation, but it's a situation that leads to a conclusion that I don't feel comfortable denying other people.

Jodie Foster plays Erica, a NPR-style radio host of an NPR-style talk show called Streetwalker. She walks the streets of New York City, recording found sounds and lamenting about romantic times now paved over. When violence & loss hit home, Erica's moral center goes askew. What isn't clear is if Erica's rampage is a reaction to police inaction, or, if the assault triggered an instinct in her that she just can't ignore.

In The Brave One, the "executioner" is always either the victim or a firsthand witness to a crime. Detective Mercer (Howard) is against vigilantism throughout the film, but after seeing a video-phone recording of Erica's assault - a brutal crime he sees being done against a "loved one", thus pushing his moral center askew - he tells the thug, "I saw what you did to her..." and then lets death be done. Is this immoral? Corrupt? Criminal? Perhaps. But it's a point-of-view. And one, that to some people, is just.

And Neil Jordan does a fairly fine job of standing aside from that point-of-view. Or so I thought... until the last scene. While not righteous or prideful, the camera follows Erica through the tunnel where the crime previously took place. She's eternally effected, yes, but newly unafraid and content with the actions she's forever gotten away with.

Friday, October 12, 2007

CALLING ALL "IN RAINBOWS" EARS

I won't be hearing the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows, until it gets it's tangible release early next year. That's just the way I am with my music. (personally, I wish they would release the cd at the same time as the download, but that's just my own selfish quibble...).

Today I read this about In Rainbows' unique releak:

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If this is some kind of revolution it is probably news to Courtyard Management’s Chris Hufford and Bryce Edge, who have been steering the career of the band from their Oxford base since 1991. In a manner that flies in the face of some of the hysterical coverage the plan has sparked, Hufford simply and calmly describes the name-your-price download as a promotional tool and a matter of “art driving commerce” in what stands as the opening part of a strategy that will reach its second phase early next year when a conventional CD album will appear through a more traditional record company-to-retail model.

[...]

If we didn’t believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD, then we wouldn’t do what we are doing. This is a solution for Radiohead, not for the industry,” says Edge. (Music Week)
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On the surface, that sounds fine. In fact, it's cool. If Radiohead wanna promote the album by leaking it themselves first, then go for it dudes.

BUT, then what is up with the "pay what you want" angle? If, as Bryce Edge says, the strategy is to have fans buy the cd after having downloaded it, then why would they ask for any payment? That kinda goes against the philanthropic angle the music media was lavishing on the band last week.

Which leads me to your comments. If you've heard the album:

1. Let me know how the quality sounds to you. (I've read accounts that the sound quality is below average. On the other hand, I've read just as many accounts that saying the opposite).

2. Is the download simple enough for the average computer user to do? (i.e. If you're not a computer head, can you still easily download the album).

3. Did the download come with .jpeg album art and lyrics?

4. Do you personally think this entire brouhaha is solely a promotional/marketing gimmick? (NOTE: If it is, I don't think it's a bad thing. In fact, marketing wise, I think it's pretty smart ... as long as the fans were being asked to pay "what you want" for the same quality of sound as the upcoming cd release.)

BREAK!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

____________ ENTHUSIASTS

Experts... Correspondents... Representatives... Enthusiasts...

Everybody is one. Everything's got one.

Sadomasochism is no exception:

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Exley's family is suing LeBlanc's estate for unspecified damages, claiming wrongful death. Many bondage enthusiasts are watching the case closely, seeing it as lesson in where to draw the line of responsibility on consensual but dangerous sex.

"There's definitely the whole spectrum of thought on what really happened—whether it was a consent issue, or negligence or misunderstanding," said Vivienne Kramer, a board member of the New England Leather Alliance. "Everybody has their own ideas on what should have happened." (AP)

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The NELA (or New England Leather Alliance) is one of my favorite "Alliances".

[How do you start an "Alliance"? Do you have to register with the state? Is there a fee? I kinda wanna start one.... but I have to pick a cause first.]

As for the case????

A man is being sued for "wrongful death" when an S&M session went wrong. I gotta say I side with NELA and the leather people. (HEY! That is totally a name for a book, album, or movie : NELA & The Leather People.) The dead guy consented to some pretty freaky and dangerous stuff. This was his request:

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Adrian Exley was wrapped tightly in heavy plastic, then bound with duct tape. A leather hood was put over his head with a thin plastic straw inserted so that he could breathe, and he was shut up in a closet.
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So, I mean, it's too bad he died, but he was playing with fire.... or duct tape & straws ... so you gotta know the risks.

Thing is, I don't think NELA et. al. have ever put together some kind of consent/liability form for situations like this. That should be agenda item #1 at their next quarterly meeting.

THAT OTHER KATE...

If Kate Middleton is my madonna, then Kate Moss is my whore. (And I mean "whore" in that most respectable way).

There are some new photos of Kate, done up as a blondie. They are probably the most important thing you will look at this year, so be sure and click on them for a bigger look. (I do wish she would put on some weight, though...)
Aye yi yi! she looks like a modern day, sci-fi slanted, version of Anna Karina:



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

JEFF ROBINOV'S DAMAGE CONTROL?

If Jeff Robinov wants to explain his comment that Warner Bros. will "no longer make films with female leads" that's cool, but he needs to do a better job than this:

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Contrary to recent reports in the blogosphere, Warner Bros. is still committed to women.

Despite the failure of three femme-centered actioners produced by Joel Silver -- Jodie Foster starrer The Brave One, The Reaping, with Hilary Swank and the remake The Invasion, starring Nicole Kidman -- Warner production prexy Jeff Robinov insists he is moving forward with several movies with women in the lead. Indeed, he is offended by rumors of his cinematic misogyny.


Robinov is currently in final negotiations for a Cameron Diaz picture. And he made aggressive bids to land both Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones and the Sex in the City movie, but lost the deals to DreamWorks and New Line, respectively.

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(hmmm.... no more Hillary Swank movies???!!!! oops... ok, ok... back to the issue...)

The above was from an article in today's Variety. You can read it here. It reads like a press release from a celebrity in hiding. There is no mention in the article about what Robinov meant, and to his credit, there is no flat out denial that he said it. I think at this point they are just spinning.

but... Nikki Finke is good at getting the juiciest juice, and over at her blog she just posted this:

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The Real Facts Behind Jeff Robinov's "Denial"
coming...
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to be continued...

OH! and speaking of Warner films with male leads, they've just decided to do a new Terminator trilogy staring Vin Diesel (definitely a male...):

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Fresh off the back of last week's news that Vin Diesel may be taking over from Arnold Schwarzenegger in a fourth Terminator film comes the announcement that producers are planning not one but three new films in the sci-fi franchise.

Warner Bros, which now owns the rights to the Terminator films, wants to see an entire trilogy of movies set in the future, during the war between the robots and the humans. Executive producer Moritz Borman said: "The third film was really the conclusion of what happened in the 'now.' You will find the most-loved characters, but the intention here is to present a fresh new world and have this be the first of a trilogy."

And if you're one of those who wishes studio bosses had listened to original franchise director James Cameron, whose famous response when asked what he thought of Terminator 3 was to simply say: "I told the story", then we're afraid matters get worse. The director being talked up to take on the next film is Charlie's Angels' McG (GUARDIAN)
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Monday, October 08, 2007

WARNING WARNER BROS.

Wow...

I don't know if this story has no legs, hasn't caught traction yet, or if nobody cares (I doubt it's this last option)... but I am surprised I'm just hearing about it for the first time today!

I was just scrolling through Nikki Finke's site and came upon the story that a president at Warner Bros. said: "We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead". Say what?!?!

Umm... if a storm hasn't already flared up, Warner Bros. best be preparing for one. Not only do I think that is a poor business stance to take, but I can't believe the man actually said it out loud!!!!

Maybe Mr. Robinov should look at the quality of films his studio has cranked out in the past few years (namely, Malibu's Most Wanted, Osmosis Jones, The Time Machine, Troy, and The Island among them...) and rethink what's actually wrong with his company.

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Of course, Warner Bros has always been male-centric in its movies. But now the official policy as expressly articulated by Robinov is that a male has to be the lead of every pic made. I'm told he doesn't even want to see a script with a woman in the primary position (which now is apparently missionary at WB). Oh yeah, the fact that so many Warner Bros movies have been sucking at the box office for the last two years is all the fault of females. (Then again, Robinov's poorly performing Superman Returns was criticized for its girlie-man portrayal of the superhero.) As regular readers of my own box office reports know, chick flicks haven't been doing well at the box office lately. But Robinov's statements aren't about women's movies as a genre, they're anti Hollywood actresses. Besides, neither The Brave One nor The Invasion were classic chick flicks, either. "It's a phenomenal thing to say. What are we in the 1700s where women are back to being barefoot and pregnant?" a producer railed. "What's next -- fire all the Warner Bros women executives?" (Finke)
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Stay tuned.... Tractor Facts will be following this....