Saturday, February 28, 2015

Whiplash aka Varsity Blues With Drums

I couldn't wait to slip the DVD in. I clapped as JK Simmons accepted his Oscar and couldn't wait to see this fine actor take control of a movie and make it his. My father had raved about it just the night before. I was so excited for this. Nothing I'd heard would have prepared me for what I was about to see.

Twenty-five minutes of instrument tuning and practice and then the movie begins. We realize something right away and my mind, a very experienced movie mind, started to map out the formulaic plot. Simmons, the strong coach/teacher, Teller the nervous, yet oddly bordering on cocky teen. His caring father, depicted as weak (because we all know, if you're not the coach or the teacher and the mom isn't there, you're either weak or abusive). The kid gets his shot. Yes, we never saw the reason coming six miles away. The blood squirting from his fingers...over and over and over. Wait for it, the coach shows he's human, the kid feels the shift of control, but this isn't real life, this is a movie, so the emotional coach was only using this to fuel his passion or someone else's. Then it happens. The made up story becomes reality as I'm writing it down. I then pause the movie and write down three more scenarios. Not only do they happen, but they happen in order of how I wrote them and within 30 seconds of each other. I then jot down the final scene. It happens as I scripted it, down the to the sudden black. No fade, just black. I was wrong about the location, but hell, that would have been cliche.

Whiplash let me down. Simmons is awful. He's R. Lee Ermey's drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket without the fear behind him. He's the football coach with the perfect team. yet he wants to have the Heisman winner or the state championship or whatever it is he wants. He wants perfection, but doesn't ask if from the pretty girl, the fat kid, the faggot, the Irish kid...of course, being very careful not to play the race card of course, because of...Jazz? Who knows?

So there we are, the lights dim and the rest of the crowd is standing applauding. It's what you do at shows, whether it's Lincoln Center or the elementary school's spring concert. "Everyone was wonderful, especially you honey," says grandma. Hell, that would have been a better title. If you ever want to see a movie that encapsulates every cliche known to movie making, see Whiplash.  I'm actually going to say these words.

Drumline with Nick "fucking' Cannon is a better movie.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Free Writing - Take 73

I'm in the need for coffee, so this will be short, maybe five minutes tops. I just wrote about Solaris and might tweak it a little before hitting send or share or however I post my much ignored movie rants. I'm just so tired of people with some college philosophy or psychology classes writing about movies and metaphorical symbols and lions and tigers and bears, oh my. I'm seriously tired of $3 words and empty thoughts. I don't care that you used Sanskrit to declare your love for a Russian space movie. It impresses nobody, but yourself and one or two of your hipster fuck friends. I really am tired of the week old jokes you all think are new. You regurgitate last years hilarity with a coffee shop twist and your carefully manicured messy "do" and trust me when I tell you, we're laughing at you, not with you. I'm so tired of reading shit writing (yes fuckers, my own included) and sappy poems about how much you wanna fuck your mother, but hiding it inside some riddle of some strangers bosom or thighs. I'm so fucking sad, I misspelled bosom and had to correct it. I swear, tonight on Facebook it was like a hipster suck-fest, with people bitching about how much they hated the dress fucking color debate and the two llamas (the greatest story ever told, haha), yet they couldn't stop posting about how they hated it. Here's a thought, you know what I hate. Hypocrisy. Stop doing what you hate and thinking you're being clever, you only-eating-gluten-free-pizza-because-it's-trendy motherfucker. I'm serious, as I get further away from those I knew, it's a minor miracle I didn't just haul off and bash some of these fake bastards in the jaw. OK, I guess this went over five minutes, but someone requested that I get more into my anger, because I've become a boring fucker. On a side note. I'm really tired of people who are awful fucking parents, parading that shit down the sidewalk, like it's some pride banner. Listen, outing your kids failures, sickness and fears isn't good parenting unless you're doing it out of pure love. Don't post something for likes using your family, you desperate for attention cunts! You know what happened today when my good parent friends had something happen to their child? They disappeared from Facebook. You know for how long? I don't know, they haven't returned yet. Lesson! Enough yelling and screaming. Spring is in the air. I know, because my hands aren't aching from the soon to be arthritic claws they will become from the hours of typing, pushing and clicking. I need a night of getting drunk with people who know how to laugh and don't point out the irony of how some fucker wrote about it in 1829 < random date with know symbolism, metaphor or meaning. Oh yeah and that biatch better be ready to drink all day and night and talk about books, movies and cronuts (which I've never had) over some pizza and sushi and maybe even a sushi pizza. She'll know when she reads it I don't mean bitch in that sense, so fuck you people who don't get it. I'm a feminist more than you are, because I'm not a douche about it, picking on the inclusion or exclusion of a certain type of female. I love them all and hate them all equally, so leave my girl Patricia Arquette alone. And fucking leave Kanye alone too, just because! and fuck Beck and his "I'm so different my flannel and knit cap hurts." I'm gonna start dressing like fucking Bach. That's right fucksticks, I'm bringing sexy Bach. Fuck You!

Tarkovsky's Solaris and Why I Hate Academia

I've long heard about this movie. It managed to avoid my gaze, much like other similar foreign classics, which drag along, leading us down a familiar rode and then in those final minutes, dazzle us with a grand finale that captures our minds, our hearts and leaves us with a feeling of awe. Tarkovsky's Solaris leaves us with none of this, leading to my title. I should also add that I have gone over getting into each scene and honestly, it's not worth it, because the film is ninety percent filler and that is done intentionally. I also realize the twelve people who read this, don't want a twelve page essay, so this will be the truncated version of what I had intended on saying.

I cringe to think of pretentious college twits, babbling on about Freud, Jung and maybe these days, Ayn Rand. Anyone who knows anything about Tarkovsky (I admittedly, am just learning), know he wasn't big on symbolism and the dream-like universes he creates aren't dreams at all, but two or more different realities and many times one, just told from a different angle or perspective. There is such a desire to appear intelligent in this day and age, that everyone must find the most profound meaning in everything and this is what makes Solaris somewhat genius. In the end, it's a simple tale of man needing his reality to mirror his desires and when he realizes these desires, there is a strong feeling of guilt, shame and even defeat. The movie is simply stating, the more we find out about ourselves, the less comfortable we become.

While I have not read the book, it is obvious in the movie that one man's desire is to engage in pedophilia, but the shame in his innermost desires coming true, ruins him. There is another whose desires seem so shrouded in secrecy, that even his external life, becomes nothing more than a facade. The brave scientist wants for a child, but also to use science to destroy and in doing so, creates a child or creature that is a result of both these desires. Then there is Kris, who is so uninterested in anything, it almost pains him to care. He longs for his wife, but only that which he enjoyed about her. Her company and what we all want, to be loved. It's not profound and doesn't warrant a mental magnifying glass.

Here is how ridiculous academics are. They've written passages about the 20 minute driving scene in Tokyo, offering a variety of complex reasons for Tarkovsky's strange journey, never once listening to the man explain in real life that it was simply to justify his expensive permit. Tarkovsky himself notes that his use of water isn't to make some dream like, psychological metaphor, but simply because he likes it, wanting the viewer to remember the simple pleasures of nature's beauty. I admit it, I watch movies closely now too, because there are so many hidden messages, clues and symbols, that sometimes, especially with foreign films, I find myself spending hours reading about a countries fairytales and myths long after watching them. It is then that the world of the movie opens up, but in watching it blind, I appreciate it at face value, something Tarkovsky implored the viewer to do.

Reading letters, interviews and essays about his work and some others, you find that the mental elite, seems to be consumed by their big words and bigger egos. Needing to find things within that don't exist. They snicker at Dafoe's outstretched arms in Platoon, but had he not, they'd have nothing to speak of, most likely finding the film void of substance. Not living up to their own pretense. I remember recently watching As Above, So Below and reading college twits go on an on about the loose relation to Dante's Inferno. Yes, loose, as in a noose hanging around one's neck, strangling you with blatant symbolism. I remember a philosophy minor asking me if I had noticed the subtle references to Jesus in C.S. Lewis' character Aslan, to which I screamed "He's fucking Jesus. King of the Jungle, King of the Jews!" It's this kind of academic crap, which made and makes me hate "scholars." Sure, being well read affords you the luxury of taking things for granted, but it doesn't allow you any right to read into shit that isn't there and it doesn't mean every time you experience art, you need to delve into someone else's psychobabble. As we teachers tell toddlers who act out irrationally, "use YOUR words." Academics should try it and stop quoting someone smarter than they.

Solaris is a fine movie. It's about two hours too long and it's a simple story. Man in his desperate attempt to understand everything in the world, neglects understanding his own nature. When he himself is the alien and his desires are put in front of him, we realize that humans can't ever be happy with what we desire, because it never truly mirrors what we want. We want everything in life to be the way it is when it is perfect, for us only. Not how others view it, but us and us alone, but relationships don't have one view and there in lies the debate. Solaris vs Earth. Does Kris leave Solaris? Does he go back to earth? Was it a dream or was it reality? Does his moment with his father mimic Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son (see what I did here) or is it just a coincidence? It doesn't matter. It honestly doesn't, because it's science. It's the knowledge that the more we learn about the world, the less we know about ourselves and the more we want to know about ourselves and the hows and whys, the more we detach ourselves from living.

Lem, the original author said, "my book was called Solaris, not Erotic Problems in Space." His book was about the science of it. About how as we study something, it may be studying us. In the movie, as we study something else, it reflects back on us how little we know about ourselves. Tarkovsky's next movie is called Mirrors. He had another called Stalker. These could be called the Reflection Trilogy. His movies are all about how our desires aren't meant to be recognized, at least never in the way they are envisioned. That, his stories tell us, would be terrifying and out of this world. Science fiction, if you will. A genre he despises.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Food Familiarity

Why do we like or dislike things when we go out to a restaurant? Why are some great and some mediocre? Why are some reasons for liking a meal as ludicrous as some for not? The main thing, with even the most adventurous eaters, is familiarity.

A few years back a friend made me a pork ragu. Knowing I don't love pasta, he gave me a fresh baguette from an exceptional baker to accompany it. I went home, heated it up and dug in. Devouring every last bit of both. Without a doubt, the best meat sauce or bolognese I'd ever had. He later made it with beef and while I enjoyed it immensely, it lacked that originality for me. That being said, it wasn't like anything I'd had before. Later that evening, a friend, a professional chef and restaurateur came in and he asked him to try the sauce.  The chef took a spoonful, then another and then another, sopping up the final bits with a piece of hamburger roll. He was amazed. He said "I wish I could make mine this good, but you know what's amazing? I couldn't sell it." We both looked puzzled and he began to explain.

"Serving food, isn't about selling the best product, but giving someone an experience. They first eat with their eyes, then their nose and finally their mouths, but the real taste, comes the second they read the dish on the menu. When it comes to pasta and sauces, it's easy to make something with uni or squid ink and get a favorable review, because what are they comparing it to? Nothing! When you make a traditional dish, you have to make it familiar. You can't elaborate too much or it won't click with them." He (an Italian) said "everyone loves mom or Nonna's sauce, but guess what? Chances are Nonna's sauce was pretty shitty. It's the memory of sitting with family on a Sunday that is the real flavor. So, when I make something, it's why it has to be different enough to warrant me charging $22 for a dish that costs me $3 to make, but it has to similar to that the first bite tastes in their mind 'just like Nonna's."

This conversation has stuck with me and made me thing about all the silly times I've eaten with people and heard them say things like "Frog legs taste just like chicken." Psst...they don't, they taste like frog's legs. Or when caviar tastes like salmon, yes, if it's salmon eggs, but the wonder of it is as you press your tongue with the eggs against the roof of your mouth and get that little explosion of flavor. That can't be replicated in nature without some scientific approach to cooking.

So where am I going with this. Well, I love chili and I hate stews. I realize this is odd on many levels, but I just don't like poor cuts of meat made tender by long cooking times. It's why some versions of ribs don't stand up and why most people ruin brisket. I also realize I'm "picky," but that's another topic. So my father made an award winning chili recipe and I dug in. Immediately, my mind raced with each bite. Constantly going back to something familiar. That conversation I spoke of earlier. This chili, wasn't chili, it wasn't stew and it wasn't at all familiar. No matter how I tried it, with pasta, with rice, with onion, with cheese or simply by itself, the flavors, smells and sight of it simply never said chili. I can't say it was bad, because there was nothing about it I didn't like, but I didn't like it as a whole. It wasn't chili to me, based on my experiences. Maybe had I found the bay leaf or been sitting in the place I last had it, would it be recognizable as chili, but it never happened.

Maybe I need to lower my standards or delete my memory. Maybe I need to only try new things or stick to old things. But memories lead us to expectations and whether it be award winning chili or some bland red sauce, accompanied by the comforting smile of Nonna, it all matters. Even before our first bite.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Gone Girl Fails In Making Its Point (No Spoilers)

Gone Girl was all the buzz, both as a novel and as a major motion picture. From the start there was a buzz, because good or bad, Ben Affleck creates one. Add David Fincher, Rosemund Pike and a few other familiar faces and you have the making for something good. The one big problem with buzz is buzzwords. Thriller is the first that comes to mind, but in reality, the real thrill of Gone Girl is killed during a scene in the first five minutes. Fincher swears there are no red herrings in the film, but we all know better than that. So if you pay attention, no part is a thriller. The next word is twist. I've seen Oldboy, Crying Game and some others, which to name would destroy their endings, so I'll refrain, but there is not one twist in this movie. Not one.

So where does that leave us? If it's a thriller that doesn't thrill and it's without the twist we've heard so much about, where does that leave us? It leaves us with more plot holes than Mr. Fincher or his cast can fill. But, what it does allow for is some fine acting. Affleck is a great actor. Forget Gigli and his Linklater tie. He's a scene stealer and a professional actor. He's also a director, who obviously takes direction well, which actually plays so well into the movie's plot, it's hard to decipher and at times comes off wooden. Pike is amazing, in that she has an Audrey Hepburn elegance, while playing someone far from it. It works, but hangs by a delicate thread. I mean this as a compliment. The real star of the movie is Tyler Perry. Yes, really. His scenes are hilariously funny, because we forget that he's the ambulance chaser, the gossip follower and the nightly news fake expert, but when he meets Nick, even he is shaken by it.

So we have good acting and nothing happening? So what's the point? What is the point is exactly what I said from minute 42 until the five minutes before it ends. The point is feminism. Not feminism the way simpletons look at it, although women will enjoy this on the most shallow levels much more than men, but in saying that, I mean it to mean, that they will enjoy it even more, when it digs in. Something most of today's alpha males will not be able to handle. To me, this is more erotic than any 50 Shades of Grey. The reason is because it's not all about sex. It's about complete and utter domination. It's about changing a life and then changing your mind. It's about getting what you want, but never having it satisfy you.  It's a delicate game of cat and mouse and in one somewhat shocking scene towards the end, you realize, just like in that early scene, it was never about who was playing what part. To say my next thought would give it all away, in the opening scene. See for yourself, but ask yourself, is this any part of this the feminism that any woman is truly trying to achieve? In the book, the question is answered, but here it's left up to you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Free Writing - Take 72

I'm giving myself 12 minutes, not that it matters

A movie. Laying in bed, the world on the screen opening up my mind. I see what she sees and I see what they want me to see. Two worlds; one real and one a metaphor for an awakening. Or is it the other way around? The silly synopsis on the envelope leaving so much out and adding so little. I watch, as one of the most beautiful women on the planet looks like anyone else I've ever seen naked. A feat almost as incredible as the film's impact. It ends. I gather myself and 19 hours later I'm still thinking of it. I'm thinking about how it makes me feel and then it makes me realize something unrelated to the film. I have two people in my life I can discuss it with. That is all. Friends don't watch movie like I do. Not only the types, but the way I do. I want to be entertained, but I want more. I want to dive into the heads of the creators. Always watching, learning. Human nature is as odd as anything you'll see. A giant bowl, containing but a bite or three of food. The cabinets opened, the wrap pulled, carefully sealed. The condensation drips over time. The food slowly quickly losing its flavor and texture. I stare at it. Take the three bites and wash the bowl. Four to five times bigger than needed. I wipe away the grit and then rinse. Twelve seconds of my life has elapsed and another six as a I giggle, knowing fully, that minutes were spent, in preparation of this flash of time. Minutes spent, all so one doesn't have to wash a dish. I stare at the fridge, huge containers, holding nibbles. All to avoid the water and soap. It's a comical moment I experience daily. It's the afraid child walking the long way to school, all to avoid the bully who isn't there, but is waiting for him at the other side. I have done my social experiments, leaving one last bite in these giant containers. Weeks go by and the colors change, but the content and the needed result doesn't. Finally, I cave and in less time than it took me to think about doing it, it's gone. If there's a reverse to OCD, I see it every day. Imagine doing everything over and over to purposely be counterproductive. To purposely waste time as to justify the hours in the day. Never changing from a mundane routine that sees daylight lost, for the sake of keeping a schedule. A schedule that accomplishes nothing but precise ticks of a clock. It ranks up there with the small talk. I'll do this, but never do it. Why then tell someone? Another movie, this one to clear the mind. Small bikinis and even tinier interest. I fall asleep, dreaming of the horrors of reality. What is reality? Repeating the same thing over and over? Is that why we are born? I look at the bottle and think, "it's been three weeks." It's never been a problem for me, much to other's dismay. Two friends have kept my laughter going throughout this time. I glance at the clock and realize this is probably the slowest I've written anything in a while. Usually the thoughts gush out, but maybe it's because of the snow or the full moon. Let's blame all our problems on the nature. It's much more simple than gazing in the mirror, like the alien does, admiring her new "clothes."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My 1001 Entry

Let me start by saying, I realize nobody reads this and blogs are very 2010.

Yes, it's #1001. I didn't realize that my hate piece on Linklater's Boyhood was my millennial moment and thus missed the chance to pop the bubbly. So if you figure each blog takes about ten minutes, that's close to 150 hours of my life, dedicated to writing things that basically nobody gives a shit about. I started out trying to be funny and thoughtful, turned combative and snarky, devolving into a self-help diary that did nothing but further my problems. I use it now, mostly to just jot down thoughts and give shitty reviews for movies, because despite being told I should elaborate more, I despise anyone who feels the need to tell others what happens in a movie or how to decipher it, before seeing it for themselves. Now I'm just telling you what I do in something you already don't read.

This started back in March of 2009 at a time when I was going through much of the same bullshit I find myself in now. Only difference was I was getting laid once in a while, had friends to hang out with and didn't find that every morning the sun decided to take a sabbatical. The current weather is a perfect metaphor for my current state. Dark, dreary with a chance of complete isolation.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. I have coffee, Netflix and hummus. People think I'm joking, but given an assortment of vessels for which to transport the hummus to my mouth, this could easily be my life for the rest of my days. I dislike idle chats about nothing and my perfect days when working fifty hours a week was to sit at home, coffee in hand and eat snacks and watch movies. Funny how in our darkest hours, if we step out of our own self deprecating bubble, we realize all we need is within us.

Now I'm not trying to become any sort of pretentious fuck knob like Chris McCandless and while I'd love to run into the wild, my wild would be without a rifle an rotting buffalo carcass and more simply a lack of people. I have those people who ask how I am and those who make me laugh and really, that, roasted beans and a carry around cinema is all I need. Truthfully.

I've though seriously of ending this, but the therapeutic qualities of being able to jot it down is one thing, but to share it is another. I don't know how many people read my stuff. I do know nobody reads it on the weekends and according to the counter, each one, might have, on average have been gazed at by 40 people on average, but I also know that the majority of the hits I get are perverts from other countries searching google for celebrity crushes. Yes, I'm that computer savvy that I know this.

I have thought of starting a new one and devoting it all to movies, but those are so cliche and a dime a dozen and even those who do it full time, I find are simply better at graphics than I. They all seem to fall into three categories, trying to sound smarter than everyone else, bashing everything that is popular or finding a way to make it about a cause (feminism, LGBT, racism, etc). I guess in some ways, I fall into the second, but I promise you, my hatred of mainstream is sincere.  I've also thought of diving into starting a culinary website, but with a catch. My only problem is I don't have the loot to cook things myself and I don't have the photography skills to make the food "pop." So sports? No real sports fan reads a blog, right?

So for now I'll continue. Do I post this now or wait til Monday, when someone might take a break from reading Oscar posts on Facebook, from someone who has seen none of the films, checking mine out for ten seconds, realizing it's personal and clicking the little X in the upper right hand corner? I'll post now and watch the hits climb to eight, maybe 12. Maybe this time a comment telling me to quit. Maybe I'll listen for once.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Linklater's Boyhood - An Odd Misogynistic Trip

Now, I know what you're going to say, twelve years in the making and I'm going to read into something that wasn't in the film. Well, I would say you're wrong. Sure, the story behind Boyhood is extraordinary in terms of what went into it, but let's all be very very honest. If this film had used different actors to play the different stages of each character's life, we'd not have thought twice about this movie at all, let alone speak in terms of Oscars or its greatness.

Let's first talk about what is good about the movie. Patricia Arquette is magnificent with very little to work with in terms of major moments and an incredibly paltry dialogue. I'd be shocked if she didn't ad lib a few of her lines.  The only thing that exceeds Arquette's performance was the hype. Hell, no other movie in history has been rated as high as this one, before it even came out. That's right. Before anyone had seen it, it had 100 ratings. How does this happen? I'm actually asking, because I don't know.

So, on to how I really feel. Boyhood fails on so many levels, it's hard to really put into perspective how bad of a film it is. Obviously, it's not awful as a retrospective of a family, but nobody and I mean nobody, wants to watch someone else's family's home movies. There wasn't one second of this film I didn't feel like I was doing just that. On top of the monotony of this film simply being a documentation of growth, it is also bullet-riddled with cliches. The absentee "cool" dad, the work til she's dead mother, who always wears a smile. The poor decisions of the mother, which make the father look that much more cool. The ridiculous fact he's a deadbeat that until the very last scene hasn't grown up, but always has money and has the support of everyone, even the ex-wife at the end. The one, but two, new guys who decide they like to drink and bully kids. One was quite sufficient as we got the point, very clearly. The kid who isn't accepted, but isn't all that odd, who happens to date the prettiest girl in school.  Oh yeah and the horribly thrown in sociopolitical messages, that weren't sprinkled in, but pour on with a bucket. With all these faults, this isn't even the part that makes me the most angry. What does is the misogyny.

The mom got pregnant by accident, but kept not one, but two kids, because the pretty boy dad made promises, which gives the impression she was dumb, but the movie shows she isn't dumb, by making her self sufficient, subtly hiding that on three occasions. Then she has bad taste in men, because at the end of the day, she's too tired to have judgement, so she gets involved with guys who hurt her. Yet, Ethan Hawke is viewed as this stud, solid good guy, who just lacks motivation, much like his son is supposed to look. So this hard working mom who is abused, sits and allows her kids to be abused, but then sneaks off, leaving her kids with a madman, only to come back with one of her girlfriends and claim her kids, seemingly uninterested in the two other children she called her own. So the film keeps going on and she sits and watches as the second man ridicules her son and daughter, who we're supposed to understand are good at school. Then the daughter becomes a jerk (Linklater's own daughter) and seemingly disinterested in the family, school or even being in the movie for that matter. I wouldn't be surprised if she hated every second of being in dad's project. Then we get to the point where the kids are older, the mom is alone, sad, in debt and still grinding away, while the kids are successful, having great times with the dad, who gives the son every meaningful gift in the movie, while the mom just provides for him and it gets worse.

In the movie's two pivotal scenes, the mom gets no respect from her children. The waiter, whose life she changed in two minutes, thanks her and tells the kids how special their mother is. Arquette, looking life has crippled her, forces a half smile and look at her kids, who look at her with apathetic eyes. We then see the boy, the main focus of the film. Scholarship in hand, a little more clean cut, but someone who has pretty much found himself and his mother tries to connect with her little boy and instead of using this as a defining moment, the son reacts to his mother's life of struggle to get her son to where he is with "you're jumping ahead about forty years." The next scene he's at school, making friends, taking some drugs and following his father's advice and meeting a new cute girl, since he's learned that women are disposable.

Now maybe the main part of the movie isn't in my synopsis, but the rest of what I speak of was was. Hell, the kid doesn't even seem phased when his boss is ogling his mother, almost consenting to his stares. His sound advice come from a deadbeat dad and a teacher in a darkroom, while all that he's truly learned through his life is from his mother, sister and girlfriends.

Now some will say that critics love Arquette's strength and they should, but look at what she had to work with. She is playing a smart, successful, caring parent who does above and beyond what she could have been expected to and she is portrayed by the scenarios as nothing more than a MILF. I commend Ms. Arquette on turning nothing into gold and I hope she wins many awards, in spite of the role she committed a good portion of her life to.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Quickie Review - The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam is an absolute genius. His work, like most geniuses, is very erratic. While some find Monty Python's humor out of their range, his visual sense was evident from early on, especially with The Meaning of Life, one of their more ridiculous movies. He later went on to direct the critically acclaimed Brazil, which in some ways changed the way filmmakers looked at storytelling. Gilliam, for all his faults, was always ten steps ahead. For many though, my younger self included, the gimmicks get distracting. In The Zero Theorem, they are anything but. They are in fact a key character in the film. The distraction is the point in the Zero Theorem and to be honest, it took me a while to figure this out.

What separates TZT to me, is that it is so superbly acted, that it needs no distractions. It could be a play and might very well be as powerful. Maybe with nothing more than a blank computer screen. Thankfully, it isn't and we are treated to a feast for the eyes and ears. Christopher Waltz is about as hot as an actor can be. He has two supporting actor Oscars in the last five years and his performance in the first 15 minutes of Inglorious Basterds, almost makes up for what a mess of a movie it becomes after. While I'd argue he was the lead actor in Django Unchained, he deservedly beat out some big names for his second award. This year, he wasn't even nominated and it's a shame, because he was that good. The co-stars are led by David Thewlis & young Lucas Hedges, who are so perfect in every second they are on screen, it's frightening. Matt Damon is solid and his casting seems almost a parody of his own stature in Hollywood. Someone unknown to me, is Melanie Thierry, who aside from being absolutely stunning plays her complex role to a tee. Oh yeah and Peter Stromare and some lady named Tilda Swinton also add some punch.

As always, to tell you what it's about and what it means would ruin the fun. But as you're watching it, look down and tell me what you see around you, then glance back at the screen. Then you'll get it fully. A brilliant piece of film making that needs to be recognized.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sharing Feelings

Ever get to the point where it becomes crystal clear that you can no longer have faith to confide in those you once did? It's not that it comes as a devastatingly jarring blow to you, but you wake up a bit. You realize the people you've known the longest aren't the easiest people to confide in, because of various reasons, the main being, they simply don't feel your problems are as important as theirs.

In recent months I've reached out to people with subtle remarks about my situation and after an initial comment that appeared to be heartfelt, I realized 40 minutes later that 90 percent of the conversation was about them. I've noticed this trend over and over with those I considered to be close, but have noticed even more that those I'm not as close with are there with a shoulder and open ears, more importantly open minds.

One thing that is getting to me, when speaking to those I know, is that when I make a statement about my woes, instead of picking me up, making me laugh or giving solid advice, it is treated as a competition. I have told people about something that has bothered me and they have actually come back with comments telling me I shouldn't complain and then compared their aches and pains to mine. What people often forget about me is I basically don't have knees. I haven't for 18 years and the pain I feel on a daily basis would destroy most people's lives. I rarely, if ever mention it. I've not played a sport in a decade and for those of you who knows me before, this was my life. Basketball in the park, in rented gyms, jogging here and there. Football on the weekends and softball in the evenings. Up until my mid 20's, sports were my life. Even after my injuries and well into my 30's I hobbled around, the level of play deteriorating with every month, but the joy still there. Until one day, I simply lost all stability in my knees. The thought of the injuries I could sustain became too scary and that was that. Sports were no longer a part of my life.

Recently, I've been in contact with old friends, who'd drifted a part and even some strangers I've me through this fascinating network of social media. Even if they don't know all the woes, there is a sincerity, even when captured within 140 characters, that is so much more genuine than those I know. I've changed how I use Facebook and use it more for elongated text messages than for communication publicly. Sure, I post things to make others laugh and think, but those are usually treated as a joke and I normally delete them now.

Recently, I had a stranger tell me to embrace my inability and focus what I can do. They suggested I pay a little more attention to what I am good at and cease and desist this very medium. They told me I should can the blog or keep it for the silliness, like movie mentions and lists and to try and concentrate on my writing, but pay much better attention to the errors I'm making both grammar and common pitfalls of crappy writers. They've also told me to stop listening to everyone who reaches for a banana instead of a Cadbury and thinks they've found enlightenment. I laughed, because the statement resonated with how I feel about the world. The self-help world, where everyone knows the magic cure, because it worked for them, when the reality is, it's a crutch.

I have friends in pain, both physical and mental and I try and reach out, but it's not always accepted or appreciated it. Some friends, who I actually had become close with are no longer that way, because of an opinion, joke or my refusal to correlate their bad day at work with malaria. So this is a knock on some and a sincere thank you to others, but mainly, it's me trying to be me, but not giving some others my time. So many memes about how we only live one life and I have spent more time recently listening to someone comparing their bruise to my inability to walk. I don't know if they have a meme to tell people you don't need their comparisons any longer. And for those who want to turn their noses up and say "Walk a mile in my shoes," I have but one thing to say; I would, if I could walk.

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Movies

I decided to keep a list of movies I watch over the course of this year and here's my January total, with a very brief, one line view of my feelings on them. If anyone has some suggestions for me, please let me know. My current list of must watch films is at about 325, so a few more won't hurt. Here's January!

  • I, Frankenstein - Better than anticipated and Yvonne Strahovski
  • Room 237 - Silly, aside from the obvious observations - war, genocide, labyrinth
  • The Outlaw (Korean) - Garbled mess with some worth ideas, but fails on each.
  • Deliver Us From Evil - Great lead up to a disappointing final 20 minutes
  • Ida - The best movie of the year, if not the last few
  • Venom - Awful horror with a good cast
  • Barricade - Will from Will & Grace sucks in this supernatural nightmare.
  • Calvary - Incredible film by the people who made The Guard
  • Samurai Rebellion - Mifune. Slow start, but wow what a finish.
  • H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer - Documentary - Crap!
  • Neverlake - Extraordinary take on Frankenstein.
  • Blood Valley: Seed's Revenge - One of the worst movies ever made.
  • Knuckle - Documentary about Pikey clans and their ongoing feud. Good, but sad.
  • Only Lovers Left Alive - Jarmusch delivers the 3rd greatest vampire movie ever made.
  • Fright Night (1985) - Re-watched. Sans Chris Sarandon, a truly horrible film.
  • Lust of the Dead - Japanese social commentary that uses tons of rape and zombies. UGH!
  • Donner Pass - Silly teens go to a ski house. Myth attacks them, or something. ZZZ
  • Knights of Badassdom - Dopey title, but funny horror film about LARPs and spirits.
  • Zombies: When the Dead Walk - Awful 45 minute documentary. Truly awful. 
  • As Above, So Below - No reason it's found footage and plagues it throughout. Meh!
  • Contracted - Sleaze. No socially redeeming qualities at all. Truly despicable. 
  • A Company Man - Decent Korean crime thriller, but lacks anything special. 
  • Frank - Quirky film that barely works. Is it about Twitter or a guy with a big head?
  • Dredd - No Stallone, but equally as silly, with the exception of lovely Olivia Thirlby.
  • Lady Ninja Kaede 2 - Technicolor dildo, sex spells and a ninja nun who's horny. WTF?
  • Timecrimes - Carefully done time travel movie with huge holes nobody seems to care about.
  • The Den - Solid internet based horror with jumps, blood, violence and cute lead. 
  • OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies - Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo. James Bond meets Naked Gun.
  • We Are The Best - Teen girls keep punk rock alive in 1982 Sweden. Amazingly beautiful!
  • Solomon Kane - Silly CGI filled crusade. Potential, but fades quickly and continues on. 
  • Tromeo & Juliet - Troma films are a guilty pleasure and specific taste, this one was A+
  • The Zero Theorem - Gilliams delivers with stunning performances by all.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - Re-watched. Still hold's up, but pales in comparison to Nosferatu.