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Friday, January 02, 2004
Movies 'n more...
There's all of two movies opening up this week, only one worth writing about, so we're just gonna have a little champagne jam here and jump around a bit (this is House of Pain-approved jumping around, not your sub-standard, store-bought "Jump Around" manuevering. Accept no substitutes.) and talk about movies stuff.
Calendar Girls: The brits haven't been listening to me. More with the cute elderly brits taking off their clothes and, I guess in this case instead of raisin' a pint, they're daintily raisin' a spot 'o tea? Goddammit. What the fuck? Stop making movies, British Isles, seriously. This is just getting embarrassing now. I understand that you've had your clothes on for so long that at some point shit just breaks down and you have to throw it all off, but could you just keep your movies about that to yourselves? Can we impose a tariff or set up a trade blockade or something? My fucking eyes.
One From the Heart: Sometimes films that were catastrophic, titanic failures come back a few decades later and people decide that humanity as a whole was wrong and that the film in question should have been hailed as a visionary classic. This one, from Francis Ford Coppola, falls under another category: The lost disaster that no one in particular minded not having around. It's been restored and buffed with spit or whatever, but if the phrase, "Teri Garr stars in a musical" gets your heart racing then perhaps you need to have your medication changed. May I suggest a taste-in-movies drip?
Last night I saw 21 Grams, which as predicted had so much raw acting power that you could avert future energy crises by synthesizing and harnessing whatever it is that Naomi Watts runs on. (JiggaWatts?) Just based on the acting alone, it would have probably made my Top 10 list had I seen it sooner. But it definitely is a depressing film, the kind of movie that makes you walk out of the theater wondering if the popcorn kernels in your teeth might be giving you horrible gum cancer that'll leave you dying and alone.
Right after the movie:
Greg: Yeah, I gotta work tomorrow, too.
Omar: I think your soul loses about five grams when you have to work the day after a holiday.
Speaking of Top 10 lists, we published some, so here's my list of the year's Top 10 films and Top 10 DVDs.
Such lists come with a long, Santa Claus-like list of qualifications. Like that I didn't see every movie out there, so recommended ones like City of God and In America, which I probably would have loved, didn't make my list. Same goes for DVDs: The list was limited to what I've seen and probably what actually sits on my shelves at home. I'm not on Criterion's mailing list or anything, so you're not going to see "Frume Frohme From Antarctica: Gaspar Fellini's Lost Salute to Kubrick and Kurosawa" on any of my lists.
DVDs: Almost done with Aqua Teen Hunger Force which grew about fourfold in my esteem with a brilliant on-air New Year's Eve episode featuring almost every villain that's ever been on the show and a fantastique between-episodes Quentin Tarantino salute in which Meatwad and Brak reenacted the "Do they speak English in What?" scene from Pulp Fiction with a paper towel roll and a green apple. That's genius right there. I've always wanted to make a short puppet film re-enacting the Roy Orbison song sequence from Blue Velvet using a little figurine I used to have of the Little Caesar's "Pizza Pizza!" guy as Frank Booth. Oh, and I finally watched Seabiscuit, the goddamned horse movie. Well, that lady was on crack because there was entirely too much horse in the film for me. There was horse everywhere. It pervaded the minds of men like an equine brain plague. When that much of your life revolves around an animal that uses its tail to swat at flies and nothing else, you will, I think, come to the throne of God and realize that yes, you did waste an awful lot of time and energy. Of course the same could probably be said about me and videogames. Let me put it this way: I got awfully far on Final Fantasy Tactics for Ye Olde Gameboy Advance as Seabiscuit was playing. Also looking forward to seeing Glengarry Glen Ross, which my bro lent me and which I've never actually seen.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
The music entry
I don't write about music here because my job mostly focuses on film and TV and in the last two years or so I've been doing that, that's sort of where my brain and my thoughts go.
Plus we have music writers who know far, far, far more about music than I do and I'd never presume to write anything about albums or musician for work. It's not my realm and I'm not comfortable writing about it in the face of much more seasoned, nay, grizzled music writers. I wrote a concert review about Coldplay once and I could practically hear the sniggering as I wrote it. (My friend Trejo scoffs anytime Coldplay comes up: "And it was all yaaahhhllooooowww," he'll wail.)
But music is a big, functional part of my life and it always seems like there's something playing in the background, whether I'm writing at home, driving in the car or now sitting at work. They upgraded my computer last week (after it was downgraded in mischievous fashion about a year ago). So now I've got a tasty dual-processor G4 sitting on my desk. And although they disable a huge chunk of programs on the machine (iChat, iPhoto, iMovie, iOrgasm, iBreakIntoNORAD), they leave iTunes for us to play with. So I've been tranferring CDs and listening to stuff and today I downloaded my first song from the iTunes store. I think I'm in love with this iTunes thing.
Now, work, which used to be a silent drag full of chatter and people talking about their dogs and kids or their kids playing with the dogs or how the dogs ate one of their kids, is now a mix of White Stripes, Billie Holiday, Missy Elliott and Bavarian Fruit Bread. It makes the day a lot brighter.
There are a couple of CDs that I always seem to come back to. Some of them I've been listening to for about 10 years and there's no sign that they'll ever slip out of the rotation. I like Liz Phair's, "Whitechocolatespaceegg" and for about two years I didn't know what happened to that CD. When I finally found it, stuffed backwards into the wrong CD case, I rejoiced. I listen to it once every six months at least.
I love both Hole CDs even as I recognize Courtney Love to be a scuzzy, crazy person. I don't care. I love her music. Somehow she absorbed some of Kurt Cobain's talent, probably via fluids no one should have to think about today. "Live Through This" and "Celebrity Skin" always end up in my CD player or in the worn, black CD case I carry around in my car. One time, she hosted MTV2 for 24 hours and Michael Stipe called in and said he cribbed her "ay-ee-ay-eeeeeyaaayyy" from "Doll Parts" for his song "The Great Beyond." Now I can't hear that R.E.M. song without hearing Courtney Love. Call it a curse if you like.
Weezer's blue album always makes me happy. Mazzy Star's "So Tonight That I Might See" always calms me down. "OK Computer" always inspires me (if there's a better all-around rock album of the last 10 years, I'm not aware of it). Timbaland and Magoo's new CD makes me get all grooved out, especially "Indian Flute." I have two copies of Bjork's "Post" because for a while I lost my original copy and it ended up having been stuffed into an old CD-ROM drive that had been taken out of a computer.
The "Trainspotting" soundtrack would still be on constant play if I hadn't lent it out and never gotten it back. I still don't get tired of "Dark Side of the Moon" or Sting's "The Soul Cages," which made me feel like an old fart even when I was 20 years old. Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun" is my favorite soul album ever and I always know exactly where that disc is sitting. (It's in my car right now and on my iTunes playlist.)
The "Mona Lisa Smile" soundtrack, which got sent to me at work in a little paper sleeve, is surprisingly good. Upon the suggestion of the Washington Post's albums of the year list, I downloaded the song "Maps" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for 99 cents and I think it's the best bargain I got all year. I've never heard any of their stuff, but I'm ready to go buy their album based on the strength of that one track.
This Christmas, three different friends sent mix CDs as gifts and I got to listen to them on the drive down to South Texas and back. Music is a great gift and as I checked them out, I kept running my own playlists in my head. What songs would I send out? Maybe next year I'll send out a little SVCD or a DVD and do little video segments to go with the music.
I've been thinking of getting an iPod. Really. For a few months now. Even stories like this (what a fantastic story, by the way) don't scare me off. I just spent $140 to replace my dying laptop battery (yes, another Toshiba laptop problem; my laptop is The Devil), so $99 to replace an iPod battery in a year and a half doesn't seem so outrageous to me now.
Because iTunes has got me in its little brushed-metal paws and taking this stuff with me wherever I go, having a little personal soundtrack that would otherwise drive those around me nuts would be... it's too nice a thought to think right now. Really. I just love music. I love, love, love it. I gush and I don't care. It fills the crevices and gaps in my life like glue and it's a reason to get up in the morning.
I hope your lives are filled with lots of wonderful music in the new year.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Floaty head gets a little misty-eyed
Latest XL Blog entry talks a bit about my recent visit to the Rio Grande Valley. I was a little pensive (what a bullshit writerly word. "My world was pensive.") on the trip back.
And then we all got on a boat and lived for fucking ever. The End. (ROTK spoilers ahead)
We finally saw Return of the King yesterday, having willed ourselves through the totality of the previous films in their full, glorious DVD editions. Apart from training you to tell the difference between a Farimir and a Borimir (one uses diesel, the other runs on premium unleaded), the DVDs were instrumental in hyping us up to the point of being beside ourselves (spoiler-free, for once) about the fate of these damned hobbits and their even more damnedable ring. Philip Michaels over at teevee.org already said much of what I was thinking during the movie. My biggest complaint was about who Aragorn chooses to get his royal seed on with in the end. Instead of getting with the ass-kicking warrior chick, he chooses the mopey, crying girl who as far as I can tell has done nothing more interesting in her long, immortal life than to wear a little Blue Cross/Blue Shield necklace and whine to her dad. (She came out in some Aerosmith videos, but we've outgrown those.)
I gotta tell you. I loved the movie, but there was an awful lot of silliness. A lot of overly solemn looks, very very gay moments (wheee let's all jump on the bed together!) and my favorite, the scene where they light all those Olympic torches on all the mountaintops to signal that yes, the Orcs are invading, which everyone on Middle Earth has known for about 10 years already.
"It's the world's first e-mail," I whispered to Rebecca. "It's Hotmail."
So, go see it. Oh, wait, you probably already did. Party at my house next year to watch the extended DVD!
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