Thursday, June 30, 2005

music for you
In (dis)honor of the Live 8 concerts happening this weekend, here's John Wesley Harding skewering the original Live Aid shows. (windows: right-click on link, click on "Save Target As". Mac: option-click on the link to DL file to the desktop)

John Wesley Harding - "July 13, 1985"

Friday, June 24, 2005

Land of the Dead

It's reeeeal good. Somewhere between Dawn and Night as the best of the four. Short, though, or it feels that way. I've decided my "is that all there is?" feeling leaving the theatre was because of the pace and running time. I'm glad I got to Pittsburgh earlier this year, as the visit made me appreciate the film's geography (and damned if Fiddler's Green isn't modeled on the Cathedral of Learning).

This is more of a straightforward actioner than a horror film, and there are shades of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Aliens, hell, even Airwolf. The "class war" theme felt a little weak to me, still, Romero always tries to add a little more meat (pun intended) than other directors (save perhaps Larry Cohen, who came up with very interesting themes, but the execution was almost always shite).

Friday, June 17, 2005

Moviewise, my summer is nearly complete. Just need to see Land of the Dead. I don't care about War of the Worlds or Sith, or Fantastic Four.

Speaking of comic-book movies, it was nigh-impossible to go into Batman Begins with any expectations whatsoever, given what a vortex of suck the live-action franchise had become. So I'm still surprised at how much I enjoyed Batman Begins. The villainous monologues had K giggling now and then, but I was pleased that the baddie roles weren't overplayed. That was the problem with the previous ones -- even when Burton got the tone right, and Keaton was doing good stuff, there were still Nicholson-sized bite marks all over everything.

Katie Holmes wasn't the liability I thought she'd be, though she still looks way too young to be an ADA. I especially liked Gary Oldman, and didn't recognize him 'til the end credits, though his Sgt. Gordon is so beaten down it's a wonder he'll live long enough to become Commissioner without eating his service revolver. Gotham looks great...Chicago mixed with Shanghai.

Given that the Fantastic Four looks like it'll outdo the Corman version only in budget, a hack supreme has been handed X-Men 3, and I was one of the few people disappointed by Spidey 2, this could be the cream of the comic-book movies for a while.

On the other hand, my expectations might have been a shade high for Howl's Moving Castle. If you have the option, see the subtitled version. Billy Crystal's shtick really took me out of the film. It was suggested to me that the Japanese actor in the role was probably just as broad. But since I don't understand Japanese, nor would I recognize him as the guy who wrecks the Japanese Oscars every other year, this hypothesis is moot. Also, the ending was a bit rushed. For a 2-hr movie with pacing that is non-American, you'd think that would be enough time to develop things so the ending didnt feel so deus ex machina.

Much to enjoy here all the same. The film is gorgeous, of course; particularly the castle and strange flying contraptions. Sophie's age shifts take some getting used to, but are a sophisticated device and the best divergence from the book. I enjoyed Joe Hisaishi's score more than that of Mononoke or Spirited Away. Still. . . I don't know. I'll be seeing this again; the problem may be me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

hey, who wants to do a mix-CD exchange? It seems to be working well over here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

As much as I have a rep for general crabbiness, it's actually quite rare that I want to have someone encased in concrete and fired into the sun within 30 seconds of encountering them. That happened Saturday night. I hope those trixie-shoe blisters pop prematurely, you tedious yammering freakshow. Other'n that, E's party was swell, and I hope she didn't get stuck with a huge tab.

In happier thoughts, go over to Craig's and hate on various TV characters. Take a stand for Schneider, people!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

As long as movies are on people's minds, I've added several of those silly movie lists to the sidebar. I'm trying to get the NYT 1000 up there, but geocities isn't taking it. I'll have to split it, I think.

We went to the Brandeis Book Sale Thursday night. As you may remember, I'm always amused by the one or two books that have seemingly fallen out of everyone's favor and are still lingering come half-price day. Last year's dubious winner was The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Going in, I thought this would be the year Dan Brown took the tumble -- if not DaVinci Code, then certainly his excrable first effort, Digital Fortress.

But no, this year's champs were:
nonfiction: The Perfect Storm is still to be had for a song. Jon Krakauer's works follow closely behind.
fiction: It looked like Primary Colors was roaring back to the lead, but the 2005 BUBS champ is the unheralded Wild Animus by Rich Shapero. Some background on this book: If you've clicked on my wife's link at left, then you're familiar with the Bookcrossing phenomenon. In a word-of-mouth campaign that seemed good at the time, some deal was reached where each BXer received a free copy of this book, to register and cross somewhere. Thing is, everybody HATED the book. I have a feeling Mr. Shapero will dominate the bargain-day tables for years to come. Look at the book's Amazon entry--lots of people selling new & used copies for the princely sum of one penny.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

With the passing of Anne Bancroft, I suppose I should make this confession: I don't care for The Graduate. There are only three things about it that stand out in my mind. There's Buck Henry in the hotel, and the last shot of the film. The third thing is Norman Fell creating the Mr. Roper template, but that's more interesting as a bit of trivia than anything else-- and these three things don't add up to the cultural landmark the film's supposed to be. Hoffman's clearly too old for the role (six years younger than Bancroft), the change of pace from sex farce to drama sucks the life out of the movie, Katharine Ross is bland (though she's supposed to be), and I the three S&G songs most associated with the film are the three I never ever need to hear again.

I don't know if this is just me, or a generational thing, as I've not discussed this with many of my peers. Of course, my older readers (that would be my mom and uncle) are welcome to try to set me straight.

Monday, June 6, 2005

It was of course great to see everyone at NAQT this weekend, I'm glad my efforts to inject the barbecue atmosphere into the event were appreciated. I'm not upset about the bump Matt mentions, but naturally I will milk the guilt as it suits me. This was the first time in several years since I had a. seen high-school players play and b. heard academic questions. As such I'm pretty sure I'd get "pwned," as the kids say, but at the same time I was shocked by the things they didn't know, such as the movie-credits bonus which was bageled in my room (best boy, grip, foley). Ah, the generation gap. Tune in next week as I complain about how back in my day we only had 3 networks, and cartoons were only on on Saturday, and we were THANKFUL...

I was particularly jazzed to meet one of the competitors, who was the big scenestealer in the swell documentary Spellbound. How big of a scenestealer, you ask? So big that when I was wondering to others if that was him, I was told that the girl who won the Bee that year was a frosh in Michigan's QB program. My response was something like, "oh yeah, her." He seems as well-adjusted as any other QBer. Take that as you will.

As a corollary, Spellbound has spawned the big trend in documentaries, which is capturing precocious kids doing things exceptionally well or at least seemingly out of their league. The two current ones are Mad Hot Ballroom, about NYC gradeschoolers learning competitive ballroom dance, and Rock School, about a Philly music instructor teaching rock to kids ages 9-17. I am unlikely to see the former, but Kirsti did see it Sunday and enjoyed it very much. I did see the latter last week, and thought it was great. It's especially recommended if you think kids should be cussed at more in education, and if you think "668! Neighbor of the Beast!" is a viable pre-gig rally cry.

Also viewed lately: the first two seasons of The Wire. While Sex & the City, Sopranos, and now Deadwood have been grabbing all the attention, this HBO series has quietly done its thing, and extremely well. I've long been a fan of NBC's Homicide, based on the book by David Simon. Simon created
The Wire, and he's injected a lot of what made his earlier work great, and without the questionable touch of Tom Fontana. The show demands to be watched on DVD, though. If I were watching an episode a week, I'd be completely lost without taking copious notes.
In something I meant to do when I got hi-speed, I'm pulling up stakes at interaccess. The new site, same as the old site, will be at see you there.