it’s a boy!

it’s official: oscar is a boy. unlike hurricanes, who now get the gender-neutral treatment, oscar remains firmly and solidly a member of the male sex. this is an extremely fast comment, which probably is unfair given it is the first comment on the oscar nominations! so please, pace arnab, feel free to open a whole new thread about the nominations and all that. all’s i want to say is that, as i scrolled down my screen to read who got nominated for what, i realized none of the actresses is a) in any of the best pictures, b) directed by one of the best directors, (with one exception) c) acting with one of the best actors or even d) acting with one of the best supporting actors! and i haven’t even heard of two of the movies in which best actresses are nominated!!!

this is the year of boy movies, for sure.


despite beginning like a bad comp paper–“since time began there has been a battle between good and evil”; yes, even in the proterozoic era cyanobacteria were divided into these two camps–elektra is not at all a bad way to pass 97 minutes and is certainly better than the piece of crap (daredevil) it derived from. very little backstory, and what little we get is incomplete, incoherent and best of all, highly silly. but somehow i didn’t care that none of it made much sense–it felt like picking up a superhero comic in the middle of a story arc, not knowing what had come before or why people were fighting each other. jennifer garner is adequate as some super ninja assassin who from time to time fights in red bondage genie garb that must surely make twirling through the air a dicey proposition–then again she probably gets her underwiring from the same shop that makes her cool long daggery thingies. terence stamp shows up as a blind super ninja assassin trainer, but mostly looks like he is auditioning for the role of a vampire elder in the next underworld movie. (yes, this film continues the tradition of western action movies in which white people are generally better at eastern martial arts than people actually from the east, who are naturally villains.) and there are some cool action scenes. and a lesbian life-sucking death-kiss from an arch villainess named typhoid. and the dialog is so generic that at key moments i was anticipating exact lines. in short, good fun.

yes, yes, i know i should have put this under “enjoyable crap”.


We watched Wedding Crashers yesterday, and looking back Jeff had mentioned it positively lo those long Summer months ago, but nary a word since. I thought it was fine–a few fine laughs here and there, but less interesting than 40-Year-Old Virgin and far far less funny than Anchorman. (In fact, when Will Ferrell makes the inevitable cameo at Crashers‘ end, he made me laugh almost harder than the rest of the film. Which perhaps invites a bit of self- and world-categorizing about the kinds of people who find Anchorman‘s surreal silliness funnier than the more conventional romance-bound comedies cited above, but:)

But I digress: I want to return to a point about Vaughn that Jeff made: he is indeed a god. Continue reading Vince

starship troopers, films about the military

i thought about putting this in the “fascist insect” thread:

last night, for lack of something better to do, i watched starship troopers for the second time (ondemand will be the end of me). i’d first watched it when it was first out on dvd/vhs and while i think i’d enjoyed it then i really enjoyed it a lot more this time around. perhaps because i wasn’t entirely sure the first time if it was satire or not. (michael will now remind me that this was made by the same person who made robocop.) this time i was struck by two things: 1) how this is like a negative of full metal jacket–where kubrick analyzes what the military does to the self by going deep into how it dehumanizes and regimentizes (is that a word?) the world, verhoeven sticks with the surfaces, the military’s ideology of itself; 2) how this now seems so eerily prescient of the war on terror.

there was a sequel, right? do we find out what they do with the brain bug? if you don’t want to talk about starship troopers maybe we can talk more generally/specifically about the military film as genre or about other military films.

match point

critics seem to be crazy about match point: check out the rave reviews. unfortunately, i don’t have enough knowledge of woody allen’s work to be able see this film in the context of his career, nor a special fondness for the guy.

i have no idea what he was trying to do in match point. if the idea is that life is 10% talent and 90% luck, er, okay. if the idea is that scarlett johansson and jonathan rhys meyers are gorgeous, i’m with you, woody, though i have to say you have always creeped me out, and scarlett is TWENTY, for fuckssakes!

i don’t know, dude. affairs are hard to get out of, the high life is hard to throw to the winds, passion leads us to dark places, and babies have a nasty way of popping up if you fuck enough. thing is, none of this interests me very much. or maybe it’s just the way you present it, woody. Continue reading match point

John Cusack

Has anyone seen ‘Ice Harvest’? He seems to have been in some weak movies in recent years. What are his best movies? We can probably all agree on ‘Con Air’ but what after that? For me, probably ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ (which ‘Ice Harvest’ seemed to be trying and failing to emulate), ‘High Fidelity’ and ‘Being John Malkovitch.’

utter crap

as distinct from enjoyable crap (though, of course, what is enjoyable for jeff is utter crap for everyone else).

in this category falls virus–a film from 1999 that i watched last night courtesy ondemand’s free movie listings. a russian ship is taken over by an alien “electrical lifeform” which then starts splicing humans and machines together–to what end is not clear. hijinks ensue when william baldwin, jamie lee curtis and donald sutherland and some others show up on a salvage ship and power the ship/lifeform up again. there is very little pleasure to be had in this film–though some of the machine/human splicings are cool in a cronenbergian kind of way and donald sutherland’s performance, which i think was powered by a giant dose of nyquil, is also oddly compelling. (someone told me recently that sutherland apparently has a terrible gambling problem and so essentially takes any role that pays–i’m not sure if that’s true but it certainly explains a lot.) if you’re drawn to films that feature bad writing, cheesy special effects, horrible performances and donald sutherland on nyquil then virus is for you.

Hairy, Bitey Things

Well, I did see ‘Underworld: Evolution’ and it is a worthy successor to the first, though with some of the familiar mistakes of sequels. The main problem is that the plot is horribly convoluted. The first movie had a fairly stripped down plot which revolved around hybridity between vampires and werewolves. This second movie introduces two additional kinds of hybridity. A complicated and incoherent plot is not necessarily a problem because you don’t go see this kind of movie for the plot (what is the Bill Hicks line about porn films? “I don’t think acting and plot can carry these movies, folks; I’d leave in those fucking scenes”), but an awful lot of exposition is needed to explain every twist, each accompanied by poor Kate Beckinsale looking horrified yet determined. There are also too many flashbacks. It helps to have seen the first movie.
Continue reading Hairy, Bitey Things

Miyazaki films on TCM

Quick note to say that there’s one Thursday night left of Miyazaki films showing on TCM. They’re co-hosted by Pixar’s John Lassiter, who nearly single-handedly brought Miyazaki’s films to wide distribution in the U.S.

Saw Whisper of the Heart (non-magic, but cute), My Neighbor Totoro, which was excellent, and then ran out of tape on Porco Rosso; something I didn’t think I’d like, but now want to rent quickly. Still, my favorite is Spirited Away.

Of course there’s probably colonial subtext to it that I’ve missed and Arnab will now point out to me, ruining the film forever. Thanks in advance Arnab.

tech updates and glitches

quick notes:

1. i have installed a plugin that makes the search function also search comments for the specified keywords. earlier a search for a keyword would only yield results if it was contained in a top-level post. that is to say, if a film or actress was mentioned only in comments it would not show up in a search for those names. now they will; however, if the keyword is in a comment the search page will still display the top-level post–you’ll have to view its comments to find the word itself. hope that makes sense.

2. wordpress 2.0 (the latest version of the blog software we use) is out. i haven’t yet checked out what features etc. it has but the urge to upgrade is strong. however, i’ll probably wait till 2.1 which is likely when bugs will have been ironed out.