Friday, December 31, 2004
Napoleon Dynamite did not work for me
My wife, Beth, iis snoring. I just finished watching "Napoleon Dynamite."
Rather than complain about where the movie didn't work, I provide you with this promise:
I WILL write a book that defines what we all went through in the 80's. Fuck 'em if they make a movie from it (they should). I don't care.I WILL write this book.
Beth is awake. Time to watch TV. Peace. Happy New Year. I love you.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Review
Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou, an oceanographer known for his documentaries. When a “Jaguar Shark” eats his comrade and best friend, Zissou declares at the viewing of his latest documentary that he has sworn revenge on the mythical creature and will hunt it down if his life depends on it. He rallies his crew, including his wife Eleanor (Anjelica Huston) and a man claiming to be his long lost son by the name of Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson). Ned is welcomed aboard with the phrase, “get him a red hat and a Speedo.”
A movie like this is all about the subtle touches. The entire set of the ship from the side is shown to you in a tour of the boat. The submarine was named after his old girlfriend (Ned’s mother), but the name is crossed out and replaced. The quirky Team Zissou aboard the Belafonte includes:
Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), the slightly crazy leader who is a subtle playboy. His heart is reluctantly in the right place.
Eleanor Zissou (Anjelica Huston), Steve’s wife and the brains behind the team. Steve is lost without her and her parents’ money.
Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe), Zissou’s new right hand man. He longs to be needed, wanted and recognized.
Anne-Marie Sakowitz (Robyn Cohen), the organized, sole woman of the ship who seems mostly concerned with sun-bathing her bare breasts if the temperature is above 30.
Pelé dos Santos (Seu Jorge), a shipmate with a passion for singing David Bowie songs in Portuguese while playing a classical guitar.
A reporter by the name of Jane Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchet) joins the adventure for a cover story on Steve. She’s pregnant by somebody else’s husband and falls for Ned, much to the dismay of Steve.
Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum) is Steve’s nemesis, another oceanographer with unlimited funds and all the perks of being famous.
In the midst of hunting the Jaguar Shark, pirates storm the Belafonte and Bill Ubell (a lawyer brought on to keep the investors happy) is kidnapped. The journey suddenly changes course and now Team Zissou must save Bill!
The things about this film that I loved:
The animation of the sea creatures. Though realistic in movement, all were very bright in color and seemed just a bit off. I found this very comical for some reason.
The music. Don’t get me started, but Devo front man Mark Mothersbaugh scored this film! The tunes include everything from full orchestral pieces, to toy instruments with a drum machine, to my favorite old Devo tune, “Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammie.” Something about resurrecting that 1979 song for a brand new film just got me all giddy!
The performances. All were great! Even with the dark undertones and black comedy, the over 2 hour film kept me mesmerized.
Things I didn’t like about this film:
Pretty much nothing to complain about! If you saw it, post your comments for me. If you have not seen it yet, I think you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was – THEN you can post your comments for me.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
I watched "Dogville" last night
“Dogville” stars Nicole Kidman and a host of other known actors in a sort of experimental treatise on Americanism (of which, you’ll learn very quickly if you choose to check "Dogville" out, it is highly critical). It was directed by Lars von Trier, who is widely known for portraying women as modern martyrs in “Breaking the Waves” and “Dancer in the Dark.” If you had any interest in the film prior to reading this, you probably already knew that.
I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, too. I had seen “Breaking the Waves” and “Dancer in the Dark” and enjoyed both – if it’s appropriate to use the word “enjoy” to describe a positive reaction to films of such a dark, excruciating nature. My favorite film critic (Esquire’s Mike D’Angelo) has gushed about “Dogville” since it was released, and in all likelihood will top his Top Ten list for 2004. In addition to D’Angelo, I had read plenty of other criticism of the film. It quickly became clear to me that “Dogville” was a polarizer – the kind of love-it-or-hate-it abstract experimental film I usually love.
Thirteen hours later, I’m not entirely sure what I think.
Much of “Dogville” is filled with purposefully flat, expository dialog. Nonetheless, Kidman and the rest of the cast are terrific. In a way, it’s exactly like saying Uma Thurman is terrific in the “Kill Bill” films, despite Tarantino’s stilted dialog. Or Alex Baldwin in Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Good actors can breathe life into any material, no matter how stylized it is (and that’s not to say Tarantino, Mamet, or von Trier, for that matter, are weak writers – just writers with very distinctive voices).
One image in “Dogville” was particularly disturbing. About halfway through the film, the residents of Dogville fasten to Kidman’s character, Grace, a collar with an old-fashioned doorbell (the kind with a bell hung on a curved bar above a door, so it rings when the door is opened), chained to a heavy iron wheel that she drags laboriously behind her everywhere she goes. Grace spends half the film wearing this ridiculous get-up, which adds a literal weight to the metaphorical one set up by the film. It’s both absurd and profoundly disturbing – and it’s impossible not to notice the contrast between Kidman’s beauty and the sheer ugliness of this “restraining device.”
The use of a prop like the doorbell-chain stands out in a film in which, for the most part, there are no props. The whole film takes place on an isolated black soundstage, with chalk outlines and labels marking the set locations. When Grace is raped by one of the residents of Dogville, von Trier shoots the act from down the “street.” The foreground is littered with townspeople going about their business, while the rape is occurring (in full view of the viewer) behind the closed (but invisible) door of one of the homes in Dogville. It’s as unsettling a minute of film as you’re likely to see in any movie, ever.
All of it is designed to build, over the course of three hours, to an exceptionally violent conclusion, which includes at least one totally unexpected Hollywood star cameo. Then, almost without warning (in fact, we are warned by placards that we are watching the final chapter, and we know the movie is pretty much over at this point, but we’re still unprepared for it), this stark, music-less production cuts away loudly to David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” superimposed over a parade of gruesome snapshots depicting America’s seamy underbelly. The credits roll.
Me, I just sat and stared. Then, later, I dreamed about it – which is very rare for me. That would indicate that something about it sunk in. Still, I’m not sure what exactly it was.
If any of you decides to watch this movie, I am dying to know what you think. And if you liked it and want to see something in a similar vein, I highly recommend “Happiness” (not for the emotionally fragile, nor the politically correct, but definitely FOR someone who can laugh at extremely dark humor), and “Gerry” (which, considering it’s a movie containing about twenty total lines of dialog about two guys called Gerry (played by Matt Damon and Casey Affleck) who get lost on a hike, had the inexplicable ability to imprint itself so deeply in my mind that I constantly find myself referring to it, usually when I am overwhelmed by something completely unrelated to either being lost or hiking).
Post your replies here. Don’t be shy.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Best Web Marketing Demo... Ever
Patrick... can you whip up something like that for the Pat Angello Fan Club?
My 2004 List!
With bated breath, you've been waiting! At long last, here it is!
10. Flying to Rock Concerts – Relative prosperity has its perks - Coachella, Devo, and Black Keys amongst them. Next up: Slint in Chicago, March 26.
9. Those niggardly bastards at the NHL (or How to Ruin a Great League, Part 1) – See: Gary Bettman
8. Compact Discs – Been listening to The Arcade Fire’s “Funeral,” The Streets’ “A Grand Don’t Come for Free,” and The Secret Machines’ “Now Here is Nowhere” over and over for the last 2 weeks to decide which is the best release of the year. My verdict? You already read it, in that order.
7. Music on DVD – James’ “Getting Away With It (Live),” their swan song performance, is simply the best music DVD I own (and I own quite a few)... features glorious 5.1 surround sound, marvelous cinematography, and Tim Booth. Marvelous. Did I say "marvelous?" Well, I meant it.
6. Movies – Ugh, REALLY bad year for movies, largely because I moved to Raleigh where the closest theater is 15 miles from my house. Still – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is as good as anything I've seen this millennium. You can’t spell “Michel Gondry” without g-o-d.
5. Books – Who reads? Not me, apparently. So, major props for the taking-a-dump book of the millennium: “America (The Book)”, which I've to date read almost half of in, oh, about 30 sittings. Laughed my ass off (good thing it didn’t fall far).
4. (Sounds VERY similar to #9, but substitute “NBA” for “NHL”) (or How to Ruin a Great League, Part 2) – See: Ron Artest
3. Videogames: “Otogi” sucked me in and didn’t let me out until 60 (SIXTY!) hours later. That reviewers call it a 10-hour game shows exactly how pathetically suckedy I am at videogames.
2. BC on the PP’E BB – His Mike Skinner smackdown a few weeks back was the second-cleverest inside joke of the year. “Bitter Bison Dele” was (and still is) the first. (Spoo would’ve been in contention had he gone with “Aaron Craver” instead of recycling “Luke Prestridge.” Bad move, that.)
1. No Surprise Here – Put your hands together for: Logan James Purdy! Huzzah!
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Le Tigre, Cat's Cradle, 12/7
Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
December 7, 2004
Beth had to keep an eye on the kid (everything he is today was constructed COMPLETELY from her, which is pretty spooky when you think about it, so I completely understood her prioritizing his feeding over an evening with Kathleen Hannah and the gals). Craig didn’t feel like driving all the way up from Charlotte on a weeknight. Mari’s boyfriend was out of town so nobody was around to keep an eye on Tristan. Tom is agoraphobic. Bill Cross wasn’t about to fly all the way out here when he had a chance to see them at Coachella and opted instead for a rather plump The Cure. So I extended an invite to see Le Tigre to Larry, my 58-year old neighbor ("60 year-old neighbor" sounds so much cooler, but I felt bad about my original Rather-esque reporting and edited it to reflect his real age). He’s a cool guy, but he made sure to proclaim his dislike of “the hard rock” while accepting the invitation. Talk about passive-aggressive.
Dave decided at the last minute he needed some new material with which to make fun of me, so he declared his intention to buy a ticket of his own and join me and Larry for the trek to Chapel Hill. Just prior to leaving, I sent him a few MP3s of Le Tigre to prepare him for the evening. By the time we all piled into the car, I was sweating profusely from the cold medicine I took to suppress the other symptoms that were making me feel rather miserable. Dave announced the MP3s I sent were “awful, just awful,” and dialed in the Country Hits station on XM. Dave and Larry sang along to Travis Tritt in the front seat while I sweated silently in the back.
We arrived at about 9:30 (opening band usually goes on at 9:00 at the Cradle). I could hear Measles Mumps Rubella’s dissonance in the parking lot. I asked Larry for the third time if he brought ear plugs. He reassured me, also for the third time, that he had.
Dave walked up to the window to buy a ticket. I prepared to hand mine and Larry’s to the door guy. Then I saw the sign:
“Le Tigre cancelled due to illness. FREE show tonight with Measles Mumps Rubella and Lesbians on Ecstacy. Le Tigre will announce a rescheduled date. Come on in and see these cool bands for free tonight!”
MMR ramped up their post-punk caterwaul as if in synchrony with Larry’s evolving look of disgust. Under different circumstances, I might have found their post-punk angular shrieking “interesting.” Under these particular circumstances, I was simply embarrassed.
Larry, Dave, and I made a beeline to the back for a beer. Dave got the idea to ask the bartender for change for the pool table. He actually pointed to the table to, you know, indicate that’s where we’d be using the change. You’d think that would have been the bartender’s cue (ha!) to ask for Dave’s driver’s license in exchange for the cue ball, as per Cradle policy. But no! This is the Cat’s Cradle, where it is much more important to act disenfranchised than it is to, you know, actually help the customer. While Dave inspected each of the pockets carefully for the missing cue ball, I gave the bartender my own license in exchange for it.
We began playing pool. Dave made up his own rules for cutthroat, and Larry and I gamely went along with them. We drank more beers. Mercifully, Measles Mumps Rubella drew their set to a close. We conversed for a while and continued to play pool while Lesbians on Ecstasy prepped the stage.
Amazingly, a few hundred people stayed for the free show. Many of them were lesbians, and a surprising amount of those were lesbians in the Penthouse sense of the word which, let’s face it, you usually only find in magazines.
Larry pulled out his wallet to get some cash for beer and a comb fell out. Dave thought this was particularly funny, and began to taunt Larry about his comb. “You carry a COMB? A COMB? I didn’t know anybody actually carried COMBS any more! Hey, Combover! Comb over here and take your shot!" Et cetera. He kept up the comb shit the rest of the evening. It was pretty funny.
Lesbians on Ecstasy hit the dark stage amidst a thumping gay bar techno beat that… wasn’t half bad, at least at first. I detached from the pool game for a few minutes to see what they were up to. Four Adidas sweat suit-clad women wearing butch haircuts stood on the stage looking exactly like The Happy Mondays and sounding like, well, an awful lot like Peaches. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Peaches’ train wreck appeal (or overt heterosexuality, for that matter), and their stage show (which relied heavily on fluorescent glow sticks) quickly bored me. Easily enough ignored, I left them to concentrate on another in a series of horrendous pool shots that plagued me the entire evening.
By midnight, the bands had wrapped up their sets, 90% of the folks had left the building, and we had finished playing pool and drinking beer for the night. I slept well that night, exhausted by a combination of cold medicine, beer, and laughing at Larry’s comb.
I still have an extra ticket for the rescheduled Le Tigre show: 2/23 at Cat’s Cradle. Let me know if any of you wants to go.
I'll give this a whirl
I do like the Pigskin Pick 'Em board and this is why I too have decided to accept Herr Purdy's invitation. I'm not sure I have anything particularly clever to say at this point so I won't even try.
Although, I do have a book recommendation. I read in 1989 a book called "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. An awesome book that was truly enjoyable. One day while getting a new set of tires I walked over to the Barnes and Noble to check out the shelves - one of my small addictions. I came across the book and decided to pick it up again and see if it held water all these years later. And plesantly enough it did (unlike a particular Killing Joke CD I once revisited some 10 years after first hearing it). I loved it and whipped through it in 3 days. I won't get into a book review, you can go to Amazon for that. But if you are in the mood for some really enjoyable science fiction.
Top 12 Ways Pat Angello is so Water, by Bill Cross
Top 12 Ways Patrick Angello Is So Water
by Bill Cross
12. Always raining on my parades
11. Flows like Saul Williams
10. Hangs out under the bridge w/ Anthony Keidis
9. Worshipped by Native Americans
8. Sprinkles Denver lawns on a regular basis
7. Makes all the civil engineers think “daaaammmmmm!”
6. On visits to the Southern Hemisphere, known to go the other way
5. Sells own sweat to Evian
4. Never invited when the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire
3. Turned to whine during his most recent bulletin board post
2. Has anointed a few Catholics, if you know what I mean
1. Once caused Marv Albert to exclaim, “Patrick Angello just wiped out the Tennessee Valley … with AUTHORITY!”