I Don’t Know Jack / Team America

I’ve seen a wealth of incredible documentaries over the past year or so. In fact, I’d say each of these was better than almost any current-run feature films I’ve seen in the same time frame:
Rivers & Tides
Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns
Riding Giants
, and perhaps the best of the bunch:
Stevie .

So maybe I was getting suckered into thinking that docs these days are just really good. Well, in any case I was excited to see I Don’t Know Jack appear at my local video store. It’s about Jack Nance, who died after a fight at a donut shop in South Pasadena. Nance was Eraserhead, and had roles in almost all of David Lynch’s films. Continue reading I Don’t Know Jack / Team America

for me to poop on

last night i watched “national treasure”. why, i don’t know. i have nothing to say about this film except that it may be time to put nicholas cage out of his misery.

last week: “blade: trinity”. entertaining enough i suppose, but really worth seeing only to see parker posey play the role she was born for: an anorexic vampire with a bad attitude. there’s a super vampire in this movie who is apparently unbeatable in battle but who runs away from blade at their first meeting, even though he’s supposed to kill him. it isn’t clear either why super vampire, the first vampire even, does what anorexic vampire with a bad attitude wants him to do. there is, however, an amusing scene in which said super vampire goes into a store replete with vampire kitsch, including a vampire dildo. i really hope they lay this franchise to rest with this film–the second and third ones have made the original seem like a masterpiece. or perhaps there will eventually be a crossover between the “blade” and “underworld” universe. maybe even in space.

michael, i’m guessing you’re the only other person here likely to have seen either of these–am i missing anything of note?

my own private neverland

michael asked in one of his comments if finding neverland, which i mentioned we were about to watch some nights ago, is worth checking out. i suspect he knows the answer to this question but i’ll provide it anyway.

the film came highly recommended by well-known pornographer, jim kincaid. since he is an authority on such matters ( see the ringing 4th endorsement on this page) i decided to watch it. i knew there wasn’t much likelihood of there really being any uncomfortable investigation of barrie’s relationship with children and childhood (if there were would the film have been nominated for academy awards?) but i wasn’t expecting either the degree to which the film would try to rehabilitate him into a normative marital adult/heterosexual narrative. his wife is cold and unfeeling and unworthy of access to his core self–her final infidelity merely mirrors this. barrie is attracted not just to the davies children but also the mother. the latter attraction the film has the grace to not push too heavily; the former, however, becomes just another getting “in touch with your inner child but not touching it inappropriately” narrative. apparently, there is a little neverland in all of us. whatever.

the michael jackson defense should show this film to the jury.

beyond the edge of reason

speaking of fat girl, we watched “bridget jones: the edge of reason” last night. this is what i don’t get about these movies–and let me note that i quite enjoyed the first one: instead of getting a hollywood actress to put on a lot of weight for a role (which i guess, along with the accent, means she’s “acting”) why not just hire a talented actress who isn’t an anorexic to begin with? ditto for charlize theron in “monster”. i mean, it isn’t like the character’s weight is fluctuating in the film (as with de niro in “raging bull). yes, yes, i get how the box-office/star system nexus works.

this would not be a bad film to watch on a plane but there’s no reason to watch it under any other circumstances–i don’t know why we did.

other notes: hugh grant is so much better playing against type (see also “about a boy” and “an awfully big adventure”); what is the appeal of colin firth? now that clive owen is on the scene are there enough roles for the two of them and sean bean?

Yes Men

God, I wanted to love this film. Two pranksters take on the WTO, getting invited to conferences to present (as reps of world trade) on globalization in some wonderfully twisted provocations. The actual pranks are quite good–a speech lamenting the Civil War in America, for instance, because normal market forces would have eventually and more peacefully evolved from unpaid labor (shipped to a new country) into efficiently-paid labor forces kept in their own cheap homes/countries (while the corporations run the forces from afar).

Three solid speeches/pranks, and lots and lots of filler. The pranksters hang out and talk, inanely, about how they’re prepping the prank. We see them sleep, or shop for the right suit. I was so sad to see such lousy, sloppy filmmaking for a subject–and a mode of satiric intervention–I find so important.

1. Back to documentaries–here’s a good example of a bad one.

2. And they remind you why Michael Moore is actually one hell of a talent. His ability to shape agit-prop narrative, to entertain as he attacks…. I wish I could recommend “The Yes Men,” but you’d be much better revisiting Moore’s tv show “The Awful Truth.”

Speaking of tripe

I gave “The Transporter” a shot, after my brother weighed in on how amazing it was. It wasn’t. I would call it, if you will, the flip-side to “Goodbye Dragon Inn.” A lot happens in this film, but you don’t care, whereas in that film, as I understand it, nothing happens, and you don’t care.

Maybe that reveals something about pure cinema–the purest product provokes the most sincere and deeply existential apathy.

Does anyone still watch TV?

Someone here said that Lost is good. And I suppose that there might just be a chance that there is a good hour-long thriller out there, but I didn’t want to waste the hour to take a chance on Lost; the odds were very much against it because TV SUCKS.

The networks and cable; comedies, dramas, reality shows; game shows, talk shows, sports; those purveyors of our horrors that are MTV, E!, BET, A&E… I honestly have given up on something good showing up on TV. Am I wrong? I might be, but I can’t stand to do more than flip channels for an hour each night. Continue reading Does anyone still watch TV?

Bloodsucking Freaks, or… films you walked out of

Jeff left “Pet Sematary,” ignoring the fine fine work of Ed Gwynn as the Pepperidge Farm guy.

What films have caused you to get up and leave the theater? I admit that “Bloodsucking Freaks” was actually too sadistic even for me to bear, but I also admit that I simply turned off the video. And that’s not good enough: it’s easy to eject the tape, drop the dvd back in its netflixy pouch. Screw that: what did you pay hard-earned cash for, only to feel so aggrieved or aggravated that you up and walked out?

Me: Rustler’s Rhapsody. I can’t recall why the hell I thought I should see this in the first place.


why the hell did i watch this?

apparently in the future high and low emotions will be outlawed and chemically prevented so as to prevent war and crime. that’s all well and good but why must the new cops who enforce this have to be named grammaton clerics? and why is everybody in resistance movements in these movies always so morose? whatever happened to the jolly french resistance with their jaunty berets and their devil-may-care attitude?