Monday, May 30, 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005


Phil Spector in court imagining he's in the Jackson 5

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Time, Time, Time is on Our Side (Yes it is)

Thankfully, I'm only 30, and with any luck I'll have plenty of time to see every film on Time magazine's All Time 100 Movies. But for now, I'll share my current list of favorite films. Flouting all editorial sense, there's almost 300, and the list keeps on growing. Some of these movies are a lot better than others, but all will provide a decent night's entertainment if not a week's worth of conversation. And in any case, it's a lot less pretentious and cloying than Andrew O'Hehir's Time rebuttal on Salon.

Five (and some Four-and-a-Half) Star Movies (That I’ve Seen)

…And Justice for All
12 Angry Men
2001: A Space Odyssey
29th Street
48 Hours
A Clockwork Orange
Adaptation
Airplane!
Aladdin
Alien
Aliens
All the President’s Men
Almost Famous
Amadeus
American Beauty
American Graffiti
American Splendor
Animal House
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Apollo 13
A Streetcar Named Desire
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Back to the Future
Barbarians At the Gate
Batman
Beauty and the Beast
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
Being John Malkovich
Being There
Better Off Dead
Beverly Hills Cop
Big
Blazing Saddles
Bob Roberts
Bonnie & Clyde
Boogie Nights
Born on the Fourth of July
Boyz in the Hood
Braveheart
Bridge Over the River Kwai
Broadcast News
Bull Durham
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
Caddy Shack
Capturing The Friedmans (Documentary)
Casablanca
Chasing Amy
Chicago
Chinatown
Citizen Kane
City of God
Clerks
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Cool Hand Luke
Crimes & Misdemeanors
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crumb (Documentary)
Dances with Wolves
Das Boot
Dazed and Confused
Dead Man Walking
Dirty Harry
Do The Right Thing
Dog Day Afternoon
Don't Look Back (Documentary)
Dr. Strangelove
Driving Ms. Daisy
Drugstore Cowboy
Double Indemnity
E.T.
Easy Rider
Ed Wood
Escape from Alcatraz
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fantasia
Fargo
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (Documentary)
Fatal Attraction
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Field of Dreams
Finding Nemo
First Blood
Five Easy Pieces
Fletch
Flirting with Disaster
Galipoli
Ghost World
Ghostbusters
GlenGarry/GlenRoss
Glory
Good Morning, Vietnam
Good Will Hunting
Goodfellas
Grease
Halloween
Hannah and Her Sisters
Happiness
Hearts of Darkness—A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (Documentary)
Heaven Can Wait
Heaven’s Gate (Documentary)
Henry V
High Fidelity
History of the World Part I
Honeymoon in Vegas
Hoop Dreams (Documentary)
Hoosiers
House of Games
House of Sand and Fog
Husbands and Wives
In America
In the Bedroom
In the Heat of the Night
In The Name of The Father
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
It's A Wonderful Life
Jacob's Ladder
Jaws
JFK
Kids
Kill Bill 1 & 2
LA Confidential
Leaving Las Vegas
Lenny
Lethal Weapon 2
Life Is Beautiful
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lost In America
Lost in Translation
Magnolia
Malcolm X
Maria Full of Grace
MASH
Matchstick Men
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Memento
Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Express
Midnight Run
Mississippi Burning
Monster
Monster’s Ball
Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Mother Night
Moulin Rouge
My Brother's Keeper (Documentary)
Mystic River
Naked Lunch
Nashville
National Lampoon's Vacation
Natural Born Killers
Network
No Way Out
Nothing But a Man
North By Northwest
Notorious
On Golden Pond
On the Waterfront
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Open Water
Paradise Lost (Documentary)
Patton
The Right Stuff
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
Platoon
Pleasantville
Poltergeist
Primary Colors
Primer
Psycho
Pulp Fiction
Quiz Show
Raging Bull
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rain Man
Raising Arizona
Raising Victor Vargas
Ray
Rear Window
Requiem For A Dream
Reservoir Dogs
Return of the Jedi
Richard III (1994)
Risky Business
Rocky
Roger & Me (Documentary)
Rushmore
Saving Private Ryan
Say Anything
Scarface
Schindler's List
Scream
Searching For Bobby Fischer
Sexual Independence (Bolivia)
Shakespeare in Love
Shine
Shrek
Silence of the Lambs
Slapshot
Slingblade
Some Kind of Monster (Documentary)
Some Like it Hot
Spider-Man
Spider-Man II
Star Wars
Stir Crazy
Straight, No Chaser (Documentary)
Strangers on a Train
Stripes
Superman
Superman II
Taxi Driver
Terms of Endearment
The Apartment
The Aviator
The Bad News Bears
The Big Kahuna
The Birds
The Blair Witch Project
The Blues Brothers
The Breakfast Club
The Cell
The Conversation
The Cruise (Documentary)
The Deer Hunter
The Dirty Dozen
The Empire Strikes Back
The Fog of War (Documentary)
The French Connection
The Fugitive
The Godfather
The Godfather, Part II
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Graduate
The Grapes of Wrath
The Green Mile
The Hustler
The Incredibles
The Jerk
The Karate Kid
The Kentucky Fried Movie
The Last Tango in Paris
The Last Waltz (Documentary)
The Lion King
The Long Goodbye
The Manchurian Candidate
The Naked Gun
The Natural
The Outsiders
The Player
The Princess Bride
The Producers
The Right Stuff
The School of Rock
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shining
The Spanish Prisoner
The Station Agent
The Sting
The Thin Blue Line (Documentary)
The Truman Show
The Unforgiven
The Usual Suspects
The Wizard of Oz
There's Something About Mary
This Is Spinal Tap
Three Kings
To Kill a Mockingbird
Tootsie
Top Gun
Top Secret!
Touching the Void
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Trading Places
Trainspotting
Vertigo
Wag the Dog
Waking Life
Wall Street
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
X-2: X-Men United
X-Men
Y Tu Mama Tambien
You Can Count on Me
Young Frankenstein

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Dark Side of George Lucas

Well, thank God that's over with.

Now that I've seen Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith -- the silly, entertaining, final plank in the creaky bridge between these completely unnecessary, often embarrassing prequels and the seminal trilogy of my youth -- I can relax. And happily pretend none of this ever happened.

[A quick scene from the year 2011]: Huh? No-no, Young Unborn Bones. Star Wars only has three episodes. Those others were a practical joke. OK, maybe a very expensive, impractical joke. But it's best, Child Whom I've Yet to Sire, to treat these piddling, awkward indulgences as though they were only a dream -- Bobby Ewing in the shower. What? Oh. I think he used to play quarterback for the Cowboys. But anyway...

There's really nothing wrong with this latest and (hopefully) last film in this 28-year-old saga. Except for anything that matters. MUCHO SPOILERS WARNING

Don't assume I'm one of those impossible-to-please nit-pickers. I watched with a giddy smile at times -- often in awe of the visual artistry and sound design and quirky moments of awkward mirth, as when Yoda topples a pair of the Emperor's guard with a dismissive Force hand-wave. But I'm talking about nits the size of forest moons. I mean, does anything jive with the way you envisioned things after seeming the original films? Is this how you saw things playing out when you first (perhaps reluctantly) bought the concept of Darth Vader as Luke's father who was turned to the Dark side?

Darth Vader, scourge of the Galaxy, hunter of Jedi, compulsive serial choker of underlings...little yippee-shouting moppet-head? Brooding, whiny apprentice? Easily-duped lover-boy who turns into a child-killing, power-hungry maniac to save his wife? This last (third, sixth, take your pick) movie supplies several soggy strands of motivation for his transformation, none of them plausible on screen.

Think about it. Anakin is conflicted (or maybe just constipated, judging from Hayden Christenson's perpetually sour puss) immediately prior to his complicity in the death of Mace Windu, and then he immediately pledges fealty to the Emperor. His first act as Darth Vader? Murdering unarmed Jedi children. Then he mows down a room full of helpless Trade Federation Asian stereotypes. He never actually kills a single Jedi in this film (Count Dooku is a Sith and doesn't, heh, count). Kiddies and caricatures. What a baddass.

Wouldn't it make more sense if Anakin were somehow betrayed by some core Jedi belief prior to switching sides? And wouldn't it play out better if he first switches sides with some tentativeness before going completely power-hungry and insane? Like this (TM, Ami Eden, 2005): He could find himself in a situation where he could conveniently blame the Jedi for Padme's death, then get crippled and left for dead by Obi-Wan, and then, with nothing to live for but his blind rage and thirst for power, he could go completely mad under the confines of that black mask. Only then would it make sense for him to slaughter innocents. And we'd get to see him do it in full Vader regalia.

Basically, you need to forget everything you thought you knew about the Star Wars story if you are to believe these prequels. At the end of Sith, Yoda and Obi-Wan separate Anakin's twins, Luke and Leah, because they are the only hope for the Jedi to survive and eventually topple the Emperor. Right? But putting aside the absurdity of hiding Luke on Anakin's home planet with relatives familiar to Anakin and letting Luke keep the name Skywalker (Owen and and Beru's last name is Lars), can anyone explain what the hell Obi-Wan and Yoda are waiting for?

Luke only encounters Obi-Wan (brilliantly concealing his identity under the name "Ben Kenobi") after R2-D2 crash lands on his planet with a message from his sister. They are both 19-years-old. In the second movie, Yoda complains that Luke is "too old to begin the training" of a Jedi. So. Um. Why all the waiting? And why not even bother to train Leah? If these two are the last hope of the Jedi to topple the Emperor, you'd think these great Jedi Masters would be a little more attentive to the calendar.

But whatever. This is the trouble you get into when you make a kickass movie and then fill in shit after the fact.

Even worse than these fundamental plot inconsistencies, the real crimes of Sith are scenes that supposedly could hold some emotional jolt before they are short-circuited by George Lucas's retarded directorial sense. Example: The Emperor lies to the newly-helmeted, black-clad Vader that he is responsible for his wife's death. Vader, in full Frankenstein mode, bursts from his bonds on the surgical table and clenches his fists in the air while the camera rises in a crane shot overhead, looking down on his anguished yell of "Nooooooooooo!"

This shot (which like so many others received mocking laughter at my screening) has been lampooned at least since William Shattner screamed "Kaaaaahn!" in the second Star Trek film. And didn't ring any more true when Sean Penn writhed his way to an Oscar, emoting at his daughter's death while a pile of cops try to restrain him in Mystic River.

When your hard-core audience laughs at what you think is your film's most gripping moment, you really have lost touch with popular entertainment. And for a life-long fan like me, Lucas's descent into emotionally and logically false silliness has been the real tragedy depicted in these prequels.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Britney and Kevin: When Shamelessness Attacks

Oops, I Federlined Again

If you needed documented evidence to take your hatred of Britney Spears to Def-Con 2, then by all means, tune in to her new reality show: "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic" on UPN.

Remember all those home movies you took when you first got your video camera? Remember that buddy of yours who loved to swing the camera around wildly on her own face to inject her commentary after every forced laugh? Remember the almost quaint, staged "rawness" of Madonna: Truth or Dare? Remember why no one ever sits down to watch home movies?

Actually, this show does hold some curiosity value for those of us comforted by extreme close-ups revealing every splotch or nasty pore on the face of America's sex symbol. Or to see how eager she is to smoke on camera and brag about having sex three times in one day (heaven's to Betsy!).

I'm not sure if I'm gonna hang in with this one. Well...maybe at least until she starts in with the Cheeze Doodles...

Monday, May 16, 2005

When Horses Go Wild

Horses make a spring break on 14th Street during a promotion gone wild.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bones and The Stones

Pay no attention to this misleading NY Daily News headline. I've only been doing this thing since November. And my combined age is a mere 30 and change.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Name Games

The Sunday Times of London reported that the supposed #3 Al Qaida goon captured by Pakistan -- and touted by Bush and his cronies as a major blow against the terrorist group and a sign we're gaining on Osama bin Meathead -- was actually some Al Qaida middle-man.

The captured Abu Faraj al-Libbi, who wasn't even on the FBI's most wanted list, was apparently confused with another Lybian, Anas al-Liby, who is wanted for the 1998 East African embassy bombings.

You say al-Libbi, I say al-Liby. Al-Libbi, al-Liby, let's call the whole thing off.

Shut your fucking face Uncle Fucka

Monday, May 09, 2005

Top Five Songs By Five Different Canadians

5. Uncle Fucka, Terrence and Phillip
4. All I Want, Joni Mitchell
3. Limelight, Rush
2. The Weight, The Band
1. Helpless, Neil Young

Friday, May 06, 2005

Stop Reading, Rent "Primer"

Seriously. I'm not going to write a detailed review about how Primer, the 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Award winner, is one of the smartest movies I've ever seen. Or how, like Memento or a David Mamet film, it offers one of the most confounding puzzles an active film viewer could ever hope for.

I'll just say this: Rent the movie, then watch it again (it's only 78 minutes), check out the dizzying and ultra-intelligent discussion on the official web forum, and call me. We need to talk about this.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Hello? Satan? Sorry. Wrong Number

According to classicists studying newly found (old) New Testament parchments outside Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, the correct Number of the Beast is 616, and not 666.

Please make a note of this.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Darthside

Darth Vader's personal, touching blog. Yes, it helps if you're a nerd.

Only in America: Bigots find tolerance intolerant

A Dialogue of One

Hey, Reverend. Listen. I know you're busy and all with your crusade to save marriage from the fairies and pud-knockers out there looking to screw it up for everyone else. I mean, it's hardly worth your time to listen to an elitist heterosexual New York Jewish journalist like myself. Christ, you might as well take advice from a fucking homicidal A-rab, right?

But I'm confused, and I'm hoping you can help clear things up. Really. I'm not being facetious at all. Huh? Wassat? Oh. Means playfully joking. I'm dead serious, is what I'm saying.

So I can understand why you oppose abortion. It's really a horrible procedure -- sucking out a developing fetus and tossing it in the garbage. There is hardly a good reason under the sky to end a potential human life. And I can even grant you that an abortion ends an actual human life. This is a complicated issue that goes to the heart of our humanity and the responsibilities we have for those who cannot defend themselves. If you're playing fair, though, you should concede that the woman's rights need to be accounted for as well. Carrying a baby to term is not exactly like carrying a term paper to a baby. My point here is that the abortion issue isn't black-and-white, good-and-evil.

And I'll concede that drugs are a problem in this country. And although we waste billions of dollars on a war on drugs that can't ever be won, and although not all drugs are equally destructive, I understand why you'd oppose legalizing them. Sure, there's a chance that acceptance of a human being's natural inclination to alter his consciousness and a tolerant legal code would shut down the black market, decrease crime, focus on treatment versus filling our jails and remove the attractive forbidden-fruit effect their illegality has on children. But even with more progressive countries like The Netherlands as a model, we can hardly predict what effect a strict libertarian legalization of drugs will have in this country. I'm for it, but I can't say with certainty it would work here.

Prostitution, the world's oldest profession for a reason, is often referred to as a victimless crime. Why should people be punished for selling what most of us give away for free? But even if all prostitutes in the country were screened, tested for disease and housed in licensed and regulated bordellos, you could legitimately argue that prostitutes, though they are willing participants, wouldn't necessarily choose that line of work if given other equally lucrative options. Many of them come from abusive homes and relationships and develop drug dependencies for a reason. So you could argue there is a clear societal stake in protecting these people from themselves. There is also the question of where legal houses of prostitution should be allowed. Even gung-ho supporters of the sex trade wouldn't necessarily like to live next to a whorehouse. I'm convinced that prostitution, like drugs, will never go away and should therefore be legalized and regulated. There are far worse things people could do with their bodies and money. But at least there is some civil and not just religious reasoning to your opposition.

But homosexual marriage?

If you are happily married to your wife and I go off and marry another guy, how exactly is your marriage affected? How exactly does anything about your life change? Does your commitment to your wife diminish? Are your joint benefits decreased? Do your property values go down? Does your ring melt?

Do the 50 percent of marriages that end in divorce diminish yours in any way? If you are a world-class chef with a five-star restaurant, does the fact that so many Americans eat at McDonald's destroy the institution of dining to the point where you feel we should outlaw McNuggets? Can you explain this process?

Oh. You simply find it offensive. I see. But perhaps you also find it offensive if I pick my nose and rub it on my sleeve. Perhaps you find it offensive if I like to rub cold mash potatoes on my body and dance suggestively with a tulip. Or direct pornos. Or Ben Affleck films. I'm assuming as well, that you'd likely find it offensive if I told you to go fuck yourself.

We don't legislative personal offense in this country. Making separate marriage laws for gays is bigotry, pure and simple. It's no better than outlawing interracial marriage, which I'm sure you oppose, you intolerant, scrotum-faced dictator.

I have the Consitutional right to be grade-A, pig-eyed cocksucking asshole. No, I can't blast Barry Manilow out my window at 4 in the morning. Or cover my lawn in mayonnaise to attract swarms of flies that might migrate over to your lawn. But I can stick my dick in any orifice of any consenting adult in this great nation. I prefer women. But at least I can make a proper argument based in tolerance and reason. Can you help me out here? What is your point again?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

No Vacancy

A man and his dog are the last guests to check out of the Plaza hotel before it closes for a two-year $350 million makeover. Think this guy loves himself a little?