Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Fail

This is going to be one of this slightly whiny blog posts. You've been properly warned.

As of 4 o'clock in the afternoon on October 31, I have no Halloween costume, no plans for the night, and no real desire or motivation to do anything approaching fun for a holiday I generally enjoy. I haven't carved a Jack O' Lantern this year or put up any seasonally spooky decorations. I don't even have any candy, so I feel like there are even odds that my apartment door will be covered in eggs when I wake up in the morning. Luckily, there are not really any children in my neighborhood, so the only people walking around in costumes nearby will be hipster chicks allowing themselves to dress up like the girls they spend the rest of the 364 days of the year judging, their douchey boyfriends wearing some variation on an ironic "Joe the Plumber" or 70's high school gym class getup, nerds in painstakingly applied Joker makeup, tons of pirates (still!), and lots and lots of Sarah Palins (both of the actual female and drag queen variety.) And each and every one of these people will curse themselves and say "damnit, I didn't think anybody else was going to think of this clever costume idea!"

Maybe it's because I'm just tired lately, maybe it's because I'm depressed, maybe it's because I'm too broke to justify spending money on a Halloween costume I'm only going to wear once, or maybe I'm just getting a little too old for Halloween (this theory, though, goes in cycles... I expect you get old enough to love Halloween all over again within a few years of 26.) Maybe I'm just too anxious about the election in four days to think about Halloween. Or maybe I'm just being cynical. I'm not excited in a way that makes me sad because I want to be excited, and I know that by Saturday morning, I will regret not doing anything other than drinking a bottle of whiskey. Which is probably my big plan for the night.

I had such big plans... I was going to be Daniel Plainview from "There Will Be Blood" and tell people in a crappy Daniel Day Lewis impression that "I am an Oil Man, and this is my Son and partner, H.W..." (My dog Reggie was going to be H.W.) But I didn't get it together, and now I'm just bitter and might have to murder a preacher with a bowling pin to make myself feel better about it. I also considered going as Short Round from "Temple of Doom" and making Reggie dress up as Indiana Jones. But for some reason, I just don't care. But I do care that I don't care, if that makes any sort of sense. I don't know why my passions have cooled, but they have, and it's a bit heartbreaking.

One thing I do know... it's not you Halloween, it's me. I've lost my passion, but you're still great. Maybe we can try it again next year, when I'm feeling like a fun person again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Still Love Bill

This is brilliant. Bill Clinton talks about how great his presidency was and uses it as an argument to vote Obama because he'll be like him. I feel like there is nobody else on the planet who can turn stroking his own ego into a perfect political endorsement for a candidate who beat his wife in the primaries, but Clinton pulls it off. Which is why he's still the master. You just can't beat that charm.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Is FUCKING Terrifying

This will probably give me nightmares tonight:

Does the narrator kind of sound like he's doing a bad impression of Bale's Batman, or is it just me?
Vote NO on 8. Seriously.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Must See Movies: "Synecdoche, New York" and "Let The Right One In"

I've been a bit down on 2008 as a year for quality film. Obviously, I loved "The Dark Knight" like it's my first child, and "Wall-E" holds a special place in my heart, despite its flaws. "Pineapple Express" will go down as one of the great cult stoner comedies, and might be the most enjoyable flick to come out of the Apatow laugh factory so far, while "In Bruges" was a small first feature with killer performances (that is not by any means a crappy "Pulp Fiction" ripoff that should have come out in the mid nineties, as the trailers seem to imply.) But the great movies have been few and far between in 2008 (a year I have personal issues with for other reasons, but we won't get into that here) and I've lately bemoaned the lack of good "indie" flicks and began to lose hope that I'd genuinely love enough movies this year to fill out an earnest top ten list before 2009 rolls around.
But this weekend turned out to be a pleasant surprise for adventurous film lovers everywhere, with two of the most unique films of the year from artists with very strong voices and points of view came out this weekend, restoring my ever renewable excitement for the medium all over again.

"Let The Right One In"

A shivery yet sweet adolescent vampire romance, "Let the Right One In" tells the unique tale of a lonely, picked upon Swedish boy who falls in love with the new girl in town... who just happens to drink blood and have an aversion to the daylight. This movie is haunting, mysterious, earnest and deeply felt while not ever sacrificing the chills and gore that make for a great fright flick. The whole thing is just gorgeously crafted by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson, who displays consummate control of his craft in telling this strange and strangely moving little fairy tale. It's also really darkly funny in a lot of ways. A must see for anyone who loves horror flicks. Check it out before its ruined by the planned American remake (which is set to be directed by Matt Reeves, who helmed "Cloverfield," which I liked quite a bit, but still.)

"Synecdoche, New York."

A lovely, confounding, sad, funny, epic, dense, self indulgent, messy, ambitious, heartbreaking, honest, and deeply personal directorial debut from Charlie Kaufman, the singular artist behind the screenplays for (in order of increasing genius,) "Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." "Synecdoche" tells the story of a self loathing playwright (is there any other kind?) played by (probably the best actor working today) Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is dumped by his aritst wife (Catherine Keener, at her sharpest and most bitterly sarcastic,) and wins a "genius grant" that starts him on an obsessive quest to create a massive theater piece that obsessively recreates his life to the very smallest details. Eventually, the play has grown to include plays within plays within plays, and cities within cities within cities, and lives within lives within lives, and so on and on and on in a self reflexive maze that becomes dizzying to unravel. Kaufman bares his soul and puts all his pet obsessions and themes- artistic and personal identity, fear of death, narrative puzzles, the meaning of life, romantic failure, and many more-- on the line with this hugely ambitious film. One of the most amazing things about the "Synecdoche" is that it's the work of a fist time director... with a relatively small $20 million budget, Kaufman impresses with his confident work with the camera and (more importantly) with the great cast of actors he has assembled (this movie has a huge group of great parts for some of the best film actresses working today, including Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Hope Davis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and the always wonderful and under appreciated Dianne Wiest, who is brilliant and heartbreaking here.) The movie's hero sometimes gets lost in his own wanderings, but the film really doesn't... it may sometimes feel like it's a bit offtrack, but I'm pretty sure Kaufman knew exactly where he was going with every little scene and choice, no matter how strange or disconnected it may seem on first viewing. This is a challenging yet engrossing film that's been knocking around in my head since I first saw it, and it's ultimately about something really simple and real. I'll let the more eloquent film critic Manohla Dargis of The New York Times express it better than I could have with this quote:
Despite its slippery way with time and space and narrative and Mr. Kaufman’s controlled grasp of the medium, “Synecdoche, New York” is as much a cry from the heart as it is an assertion of creative consciousness. It’s extravagantly conceptual but also tethered to the here and now, which is why, for all its flights of fancy, worlds within worlds and agonies upon agonies, it comes down hard for living in the world with real, breathing, embracing bodies pressed against other bodies. To be here now, alive in the world as it is rather than as we imagine it to be, seems a terribly simple idea, yet it’s also the only idea worth the fuss, the anxiety of influence and all the messy rest, a lesson hard won for Caden. Life is a dream, but only for sleepers.
"Synecdoche, New York" may be a little too self indulgent at times, it may go down a few plot dead ends that seem unsatisfying at first, it may not make perfect sense no matter how much you think about all the ideas in Kaufman's breathtaking directorial debut... but like the work of Fellinni, Allen, Lynch, and other major film artists that Kaufman is clearly influenced by with "Synecdoche, New York," it's true in a way that easier to digest movies Hollywood movies aren't. See it, then see it with me when I go to see it again.
It's also probably a pretty cool movie to watch while stoned.

This Is A Good Start, But...

...there are so many more moments that could have been included in this compilation of scenes from what might be the worst movie ever released by a major studio.

"What? No!"
-Mark Wahlberg in "The Happening."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stop The Madness!

“I’d rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths — and that’s saying something coming from a vegetarian.”- Morrissey

Every single year, there is another rumor that my favorite band of all time, The Smiths, are reuniting. And every year, just as quickly, the rumors are refuted.
Despite knowing deep down it's not going to happen, I start looking into how soon it will be before I can buy tickets to Coachella, start figuring out what I have to do be up front and center for the show, start believing. I just have one request... Please, Please, Please... stop with these rumors if there is no truth to them. If it will ever happen, I'm all for it. But the famously eccentric Morrissey holds his grudges deeply (as evidenced by the quote at the top of this post) and certainly doesn't need the money, no matter how much of it is being offered. So just stop the annual Smiths reunion rumor until there is something real to report and an actual reason to hope... lord knows, it would be the first time.

This Is Way Better Than Oliver Stone's "W."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

John McCain: The George Lucas of Politics

Desperately searching for blog post topics, I came upon the metaphor that John McCain, in his quite bizarre and desperate presidential run, has become the George Lucas of the political scene... out of touch and angry when criticized for being so. So, in my need to fill the Interwebs with more political content, what follows is my reasoning for said argument. You may find it a bit thin, but my friend did a funny photoshop for the thesis after I pitched it to him, so here's the blog post that goes along with it...

1.) GEORGE LUCAS CONSIDERS HIMSELF A MAVERICK, TOO: Lucas prides himself on operating outside the Hollywood system, self funding his "Star Wars" prequel trilogy and producing all three films far from the dreaded Sarlacc Pit that is Los Angeles. The only problem is, Lucas isn't doing something better than what Hollywood does... he's just isolated himself and lost touch with everything, creating some disastrously bad work in the process. The Hollywood system, like the one in Washington, may be "broken," but George Lucas sure can't fix it. Some fresh blood from young artists with great vision and new ideas are the elements needed to reinvigorate the movie biz. Sorta like what's going on in this election cycle.

2.) LUCAS HAS BETRAYED EVERYTHING PEOPLE ONCE LOVED ABOUT HIM: "Star Wars" was never "The Godfather," but the original trilogy had lightness, fun, invention, and imagination. The new trilogy is slow and ponderous and awkward and ugly and shot in front of green screens, creating some of the most unwatchably stiff performances by very good actors in screen history (kinda like McCain's debate performances... bah DUM!) The magic that his fans once believed in is totally gone, and he doesn't understand that.

3.) AND HIS FANS CRITICIZING HIM FOR BETRAYING EVERYTHING THEY LOVED ABOUT HIM JUST MAKES HIM DEFENSIVE: Like McCain, Lucas received a lot of criticism for his recent work. But instead of thinking about what his fans who made him a billionaire were trying to communicate him, he angrily bad mouthed the people who got him where he was in life to the press. Before "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" even came out, Lucas told an interviewer that "We're gonna have a bunch of angry people saying, ''You're a bunch of a--holes, you should never have done this. You've ruined my life forever. I loved Indiana Jones so much and now it's ruined.'' Well guess what, George? Most of your fans do think you ruined the franchise with CG monkeys and aliens and, the worst crime of all, an extremely slow, overly complex, and boring story... a story which you insisted on telling even when Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford clearly hated the idea. Maybe you could stop being so stubborn and set in your ways and look at what's going on around you and realize the reason people don't like your work is that it's not what people expect of someone with your track record. Instead of getting defensive, do better and live up to the high expectations you've earned over your (once) illustrious career.

4.) JAR JAR BINKS IS STUPID AND INEXPERIENCED: I'm stretching here for sure, but does no one else see the similarities between Sarah Palin and the much hated Jar Jar? I think it's mostly the annoying voices...

And that, George Lucas, is why Barack Obama is winning.

Here's the slightly disturbing photoshop job, made by my friend Mike Consiglio:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Holy Obama, Batman!

This is too perfect. I thought "The Dark Knight" was the best Batman stuff ever put on film, then I saw this prescient debate scene. I always thought Penguin was more like Cheney than McCain, but this makes sense.

I'm voting Batman 08.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Animation Nerds, Rejoice

The "Sleeping Beauty" 50th anniversary Blu Ray drops in stores tomorrow, with tons of cool internet connected bells and whistles. I've seen some previews of this baby... the picture looks gorgeous and the features are going to be awesome. Anyone with a BluRay player and a love of animation, or just film history in general, should pick this up tomorrow. Don't worry... buying a Disney movie about a princess does not make you "gay." There is a cool dragon in "Sleeping Beauty," after all.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Magic In Paradise

My friends got married in Hawaii and invited me along to their destination wedding in paradise. I was too broke to go, but I went anyway. I'm exceedingly glad I did.

Followers of the blog will know that 2008 has been a bit rough on me. I was dumped back in January, couch surfed for a couple months in the summer, and moved in to a small studio apartment with my dog in August. I still don't feel fully moved in... all I have in my fridge right now is a Brita filter and a half drunk bottle of Rose'. That's right, living large.

So you can see why going to Hawaii felt like a necessary, transformative, and relaxing idea, despite the fact that I could not actually afford to go and be a responsible adult at the same time. I was looking for a "Sarah Marshall"-esque Hawaii experience, damnit, so who cared if I didn't have, you know, money?

I arrived in Kauai before everyone in the wedding party... including the bride and groom. I was actually alone in Hawaii for more than 24 hours... but I know, boo hoo, right? Poor me. I laid out on the beach and floated in the rocky part of the ocean, getting badly sunburned and cut on one of the rocks but feeling very relaxed overall. And the delicious Mai Tais at the nearby restaurant didn't hurt, either.

When my friends got into town, we really got to see more of the island. We drove to a river where we went Kayaking, hiking, swimming under a gorgeous waterfall, and cliff jumping. It was an awesome Hawaii adventure, where I once again got horribly sunburned.

The next day was the wedding day, and we spent the morning swimming near our hotel in the ocean... with sea turtles. Yeah, fucking awesomely large and old Sea Turtles, who would just swim up to us and let us touch them without getting too annoyed. When they popped their heads to get a breath of air, they made the funniest puffing sound and have this funny old man look on their faces. Clearly, these creatures had some sort of wisdom of the sea to impart, and my close encounters with sea turtles was the most magical part of the trip, by far. Even though I got horribly sunburned again.

The wedding was beautiful, informal as can be with everyone wearing Hawaiian shirts and Leis (which was the only place I got Leied. I always thought that Hawaii was more Lei crazy, that I'd get one right off the plane, when I got in a cab, when I got out of the shower, etc. This was not the case, though people were wearing them everywhere and making me wonder where they'd gotten them. Maybe it's just another sign of apocalyptically bad economy that they don't just give Leis out willy nilly anymore. What a tragedy.) The officiant was a funny old hippy who said "God, you're awesome," and seemed to be thanking the lord for his choice Maui Wowie. That's the kind of chill religion I can't object to. And the reception was great, as we were overloaded with an unending variety of delicious appetizers.

The day before we flew out of town, my friends and I walked over to the nearby shopping center and ate at Puka Dog, which serves amazing hot dogs covered in tropical flavored relish and Hawaiian style sweet mustard. I mean, these dogs were outrageous, and maybe only second to the sea turtles to win the title of most awesome thing about Hawaii (and Kayaking was awesome... I'm not criticizing the Kayaking trip, I'm just trying to express how fucking good the Puka Dogs were.) Against my better judgment, I had two dogs for lunch with their amazing Mango relish. Two dogs is way too much for any one man, but just look at these things:

Don't judge me. You'd have a second one too, if you were leaving town that day.

Anyway, the trip was too brief, and I wish I could have spent more time exploring the rest of Kauai's many beaches and checking out some of the other islands. But I know I'll go back one day. For now, my four days in Hawaii served their purpose... to get me out of my world for a little bit, to break me free of my worries, to let me relax for once after a year that has been fraught with tension, and to just float away and escape. I came back horribly sunburned but refreshed, and now I can dream easier of memories of the island (and those amazing Puka Dogs) instead of worrying about life as much.

Really, Hollywood? Really?

Okay, so this is pretty ripe for parody:

I mean, I appreciate the sentiment, Hollywood. The youth of America really needs to finally get motivated and participate in the most important election in decades. But man, a lot of these celebs come off as archly condescending in a way that will clearly turn a lot of people off. I mean, do people think Halle Barry telling them what to do will make them vote? Leo DiCaprio, in particular, is in grave danger of becoming the ultimate in Hollywood smugness. The guy seems to take himself way too seriously in the last few years. He's worked with some great directors lately, but man does he need a comedy, and bad. Get this man a Judd Apatow script.
I do think Kevin Bacon trying to get Kyra Sedgwick to leave was kind of a funny moment though.

I Can't Stop Posting Videos From Palin's Couric Interview

When Couric asks her about other supreme court cases, her response is almost at a level of Ricky Gervaisian awkwardness.