08 July 2009

the chronicles of buzz cheeseman

buzz cheeseman is the coolest person in the world that ever was or ever will be. he is immortal, like the highlander, yet has found an amazing way to mentally dupe all those around him into seeing an middle aged, slightly old guy. he is pretty stealthy like that.

buzz cheeseman's adventures range far and deep. as a man walking the earth for the duration of it's existence, he has seen everything, done everything, and then gone back in time and done it again with the help of access to other dimensions. the only thing that exceeds his adventures is his awesomeness. and the only thing that exceeds his awesomeness is his legend.

and the true heroics of his actions shall be revealed one per day here, the only place large enough to handle a legend such as this.

27 June 2009

only in america...

only in america could an untimely death and a few catchy tunes get someone off the hook for being a repeat offending child molester.

only in america could two selfish fuckfaces blessed with eight little miracles exploit the shit out of their kids and themselves and still go on television in an attempt to elicit my sympathies because they fucked up their lives.

only in america could spencer and heidi exist.

only in america could a 300 pound, washed up, offensive scheme killing, headline grabbing center steal draft day from guys that are actually still talented(blake griffin, tyler hansbrough)

only in america could michael bay robot movies get sequels.

only in america could we complain about rigged elections in other parts of the world while turning our backs on our own(twice!)

only in america could i say fuck you to all the people involved in the previous statements.

and only in america could i be talking to the man in the mirror and know that he is better that all these other fucks out there.

02 June 2009

jim jarmusch has big brass balls

the success of the sort of blank generation, no wave, detachment from a world of white noise that has become the jim jarmusch trademark style essentially hinges on a rather gutsy bet. stylized minimalism, by its very nature, tends to eschew the conventions of narrative, instead choosing to systematically focus on the smaller details that make up our material world. this proves to be challenging as, without a story to fall back on, the film must make connections with the audience in different ways. the employment of such style forces the filmmaker to essentially bet that they can create a world so detailed, so interesting, and so idiosyncratic for its characters that the audience is forced to buy in and follow along with them, even if they are, in fact, going nowhere.

jim jarmusch's new film, the limits of control, does end up going somewhere, sort of.

the film essentially works like a labyrinth, in which our hero has to gain the approval of many gatekeepers to attain the keys to the next level along the way to his ultimate goal, which is never defined. it lingers about aimlessly observing the goings on while not providing much in the way of information about the plot to the audience. yet, along the way, jarmusch creates a world inhabited by quirky dialogue, un-verbalized espionage, and characters that act as if they are living, breathing, flesh and blood subjects from famous paintings that seem to chart the entire history of bohemian lifestyle. tilda swinton as a faux-glamour-puss old hollywood starlet type and john hurt as the "everything was better in the summer of love" type of aging hippie are quite magnetic and memorable, while gael garcia bernal reminds me of a joke i once heard about dirty hippies.* these are few of the many unique characters we meet on our journey through this surreal world.

and this world is so engrossing that one can't help but fall under its hypnotic spell, once we quit worrying about silly questions like, "what is happening?" this tale of a hitman's complicated path toward his target never really lets the viewer in on the plan while it is being executed, instead choosing to observe the odd traits of our solo wanderer. and it is here that we get involved, and we find that we want to watch isaach de bankole so that we can understand why he doesn't sleep with the beautiful naked girl following him around. even if we may never know, this film invites us to obsess over every detail to unlock the enigma that is this man and his circumstance.

the astute attention to detail, when combined with the ambient, hypno-guitar clashes and clangings of boris creates in its wake an almost dreamlike atmosphere that hints at our protagonists' disorientation with the unknowable world around him, its small details becoming alien although retaining slight familiarity. it is at this point that the post-modern pastiche, so adept at creating a mysterious text, also gives way to a rich subtext in which it gives a sort of symbolic nod to the day of the average workingman.

it is at the end of the film, when we see our hero return to his favored colorful zip-up jacket, shoulders loosening the tension previously carried, that we realize what a burden his sharp suits and massive responsibility carried with it. his work environment, so filled with people who all seem to be speaking their own coded language, releases from him in this one magical scene and we finally see a small glimpse of joy, or maybe relief, at a job well done. when it fades to black and the helicopter sound fills the room and, as bill murray predicted, another one(job) has filled its place, we understand that his respite will be all too brief, and he, like ourselves, will be back to the grind soon enough.

it's this ability to toe this very fine line that i find so compelling about this film, and jarmusch's work in general. while subverting standard forms of narrative (exposition and other systems of conveying information) and attempting to let the mundane features of life guide his rather flimsy stories, he still has the ability to have this over-arching bridge of symbolism that can almost be universally understood by anyone who has ever worked a day in their life. we understand the feeling that comes with being free from the control of labor. an epiphany which, ironically, bears the fruits of a small bit of labor.

by not telling us what is going on, and sometimes eschewing the idea that anything is going on at all, this film draws us in even more than most typical narrative driven films do because it makes us work for it, it makes us earn our comfort in its world. by demanding a larger investment from his viewer, jarmusch has rendered us completely willing to go all in.

*the joke: what kind of cigarettes do dirty hippies smoke?...yours.

26 May 2009

tommorow will be our one year anniversary: yeah us!

a while back, i read a book entitled the mind of the modern moviemaker by josh horrowitz. while the majority of this book reads as a refresher course on how not to go about the cinematic lifestyle, like the excerpts with the putrid mcg and equally awful john hamburg, occasionally small nuggets of worthwhile thought would manifest from thin air, most notably with david gordon green(who in all fairness was my main reason for purchasing the book)the terrible takes on film were met as equal by the shoddy, infantile (non)probing questions of the scribe. but again, nuggets of entertainment shone through, most notably in the stock questionnaire that followed the "more personal" interviews.

so...in honor of our first full year on air, and in a little better attempt to let you know from whence the beer cannes spawned, i have taken the time to fill out this inquisition and i urge all of my readers with blogs to do the same...i will be on the lookout.

what is the first film you ever saw?

i really haven't the slightest clue, but the first experience that i can still recall happened at the old castleton square mall cinemas, when they used to have the three screens in the mall, and it was watching the goonies, a film i still hold near and dear to my heart even though i haven't seen it since. last summer, mike scott and emily were going to accompany me to a screening of it down at the old artcraft theater in franklin and as we were on our way we hit a huge twenty minute traffic jam on 465 that would have made us late. as we turned away at the next available exit, my momentary disappointment lapsed under the thought that a higher power seemed to be telling me not to mess with my childhood memories.

what is your favorite film of all time?

a woman is a woman by jean luc godard has just about everything anyone could want in a film: action, secrecy, adultery, witty banter, bright colors, and musical numbers. it truly is a wonderful, wonderful film, so light and airy, yet very sneaky in its complexity. if i were you i would netflix it after you finish reading this. if it has any peer in the world of cinema, it is dazed and confused by richard linklater, which has everything i could want in a movie. netflix it too. as to which one is truly better...depends upon the day in which you catch me.

what is your favorite line in a film?

fuck you jobu...i'll do it myself. (major league)

what film made you realize that film was an art?

safe by todd haynes was a film that i rented when i was 15 or 16 because i was just getting into the whole arty thing as a way to impress girls and i had seen a review of it on siskel and ebert and i figured what the fuck...two hours or so later i began to understand that todd haynes was using this strange yet entertaining vehicle to make interesting points about the overall sterilization and homogenization of this country's tastes and mentality brought on by the overwhelming sameness of suburbia. and i was never the same again, i realized that i long to be challenged both emotionally and mentally by what i see.

what movie do you consider your guilty pleasure?

point break. a film about a quarterback punk/rookie fbi agent named johnny utah infiltrating a band of bank robbing surfers that features the holy trinity of trash movies: keanu, swayze, and busey. fuck yes! cowabunga!

who is your favorite movie character of all time?

woodruffson from dazed and confused. as portrayed by matthew mcconaghey, woodruffson exuded the laid back, 70's stoner ennui of a guy just a little bit too old to be at the party yet still trying to pull it off.

what is your favorite movie snack food?


who is your favorite director of all time?

whit stillman. a man, much like the goonies, who i am caught in limbo with, halfway hoping he never makes another picture because i saw how time rendered terrence mallick mediocre.

who is the most impressive filmmaker working today?

aaron katz and olivier assayas make films that seem like a vision of the moment we are in, as perceived by keen artistic spirits. they understand now.

what quality do the best directors share?

an understanding that a story is also told visually and that it must match the feeling created by sound(music, dialogue), that style is substance.

who is your favorite actor/actress of all time?

katherine hepburn made every movie she was in better.

who is your favorit actor/actress working today?

bill hader steals every scene he is in like he is the weenie king in the palm beach story. recently, as general custer in the new night at the museun sequel, he dropped this little gem on us: plan!?! we're americans...we don't plan, we do!

bill hader does.

who would you cast in a film about your life?

paul schneider, duh.

finish these sentences:

if you could remake one movie...i would never do that.

i never wanna watch a movie with...angelina jolie or spiderman

the perfect movie is...limitless.

thanks for a good year, we will try to do better this next...


beer cannes.

19 May 2009

confucius says that a man who stands on a toilet is high on pot

there is an old proverb that reads something like, "give a man to fish, and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." and while normal, responsible, well adjusted people are meant to glean from this proverb messages about the importance of learning and civic reciprocation, i feel it is fair to say that there are a great number amongst us who look at that saying and think to themselves...woo hoo! free fish!

and one of the saddest things about our society is that we long ago set up a way of being that allows for this sort of anti-social darwinism. these days, not only do we attempt to teach people to fish, but our infrastructure allows for those unwilling to learn to be taken care of by the greater collective as a whole.

this systematic responsibility for the weak is so old, so interwoven into the fabric of the processes that make our society what it is that i hardly bat an eye at it anymore. but lately, within the confines of the system i have noticed a trend that i find even more disturbing, and one that takes my angst to another level entirely.

it seems that the people being given fish, as of late, are no longer happy with eating fish...they have decided that they want hamburgers. and even though we are struggling to provide enough fish, and could in no feasible way provide hamburgers, these dumb ass, non-fishermen somehow have convinced themselves that they actually deserve it. for what i have no idea.

empathy is a dangerous opiate that plays tricks on our humanity and ends up just cutting holes into the fabric of our society. these holes, left unchecked, expand to create huge rifts between the haves and the have-nots, leaving animosity on both sides in its wake.

for right now though, we gotta start teaching everybody to make some hamburgers...and we gotta just let go of the ones that refuse to learn how.

that's how much fuck fish.

17 May 2009

whiskers on kittens

as i sit here i am looking at a copy of far from heaven that was found on the endcap of a save-a-lot register and purchased for the bargain basement price of five dollars. i remember that price strictly based on the fact that the dvd remains wrapped even though i purchased it quite a few weeks ago. what can i say, to paraphrase kip from all the real girls: when it comes to todd haynes movies, far from heaven ain't my number one best friend anymore, hell...it ain't even in my top ten. which would be helpful if i had, in fact seen ten todd haynes movies, which i haven't. either way, that isn't anything i can't overlook by sucking down another master cylinder and reminiscing about my prized purchase.

a last minute stock up for cookout supplies, i had my hands full of groceries as the save-a-lot at 10th and arlington has a ridiculous cart return system that employs the "quarter deposit system" and i found myself without proper coinage. so anyways, there i was, hands full of all meat and potato chips and buns i could carry when i look down and what do i see sitting there amongst a pile of random shit like fine tooth combs and stress balls but two brand new copies of far from heaven selling for the usual deep discount provided by the save-a-lot experience. the odd part is the fact that there weren't any other movies for sale anywhere in the store.

now usually i don't do impulse buys, but something about the mix of finding an art film on sale in a place which would best be described as leaning towards kinda ghetto made me immediately pick it up and add it to my bill. i felt that mr haynes, the semiotics major, that he was would appreciate this sort of connotation/denotation interplay in my reasoning for holding onto this object as one of a few of my favorite things. to take things further and add a new layer of symbolism to the object, i decided to keep it wrapped up, price tag proudly displayed until the point that i actually would like to see the film again.

which may be a while, especially when my original lukewarm reception to the film has kept me from going back and even attempting to rediscover it. if i need me a fix of todd haynes i will just go watch the velvet goldmine or go downstairs and pop in my old vhs copy of safe, the true masterpiece produced by the julliane moore/todd haynes dynamic. and as protective of artist's are of their work, i feel todd haynes would have no problem with this.

his education on the systems of language and symbols would allow him to see that far from being just a film that i wasn't crazy about, far from heaven has become a relic, consistently recapturing, re-framing, and resurrecting an experience that i want to always remember. it's no longer a tale of a suburban houswives rebellion against outdated social taboos, it is now about the fact that in the smallest, dankest corners of unlikelihood, an area of interest and something beautiful can be obtained.
a tree grows in brooklyn or something like that.

and i think todd haynes would be good with that. because no matter how heady, how precise and exacting, how intelligent the amalgamation of images are when cobbled together, an artist really just wants his work to touch people in some way. by any means necessary...right?

12 May 2009

a love letter to jason statham

i recently watched this documentary, french beauty, on the sundance channel about the long line of french ingenues since the nouvelle vague because, well frankly, i am a pretty big sucker for the gorgeous ladies of the continent and will gladly give up time to radiate in their impressive glow. while this documentary supplies little else other than exactly that, there was one thought presented in the film that has stuck with me. unlikely beauty jeanne moreau, when questioned about her unique look, talks about this idea that film acting is nothing more than a relationship to the camera. beauty, talent, emotive instinct all take a back seat to presence, a vibe between the actor and the camera and to a greater extension, the audience which creates sex symbols and award winners alike from the unlikeliest of places. she went on to talk of many beautiful girls whose beauty did not translate to the screen, as well as many talented theater performers whose talent also failed to translate in a cinematic way. hinting at the unattainability of this aura through the learning process, finally, she bluntly posited, "you either have it, or you don't."

and the weird thing is, when she said it, all i could think about was jason statham.

now, let's just go ahead and address the rather large elephant in the room here and say for one that jason statham is not what is typically known as a good actor. a "good actor" needs the ability to convey a range of emotions. jason statham doesn't really do...emotions, per se. the only thing jason statham is interested in doing is kicking ass and delivering sly one liners and looking cool while doing it. mission accomplished brother. he doesn't need to cry when his buddy gets killed, he doesn't need to flip out in an overly verbose manner when his chick gets kidnapped...jason statham doesn't roll like that.

but don't be fooled, viewer, into thinking that the fire is not there. because jason statham doesn't do semantics. he's not into emotional hystrionics, but that doesn't mean he is devoid of emotion. no, actually far from it. jason statham is one of those guys that swallows bitter pills, then he swallows another one. and another. and another. until he can't swallow any more, and the fuel that sustains and enlarges his inner fire explodes in a fit of rage and he turns into the ultimate johnny rebel badass.

and it is then that you understand that it has been there all along. perceptive statham-ites will note the diamond hard glare and its barometric qualities as it charts subtle shifts further and further down the wormhole. it is there that connects statham to the old time badass performances like robert mitchum in out of the past or glenn ford in the big heat. noir heroes, rugged men caught in a peril so great that they will scratch and claw and fight everything to get out, yet not let you see them break a sweat while doing it. it's the slow burn, the fact that the rather stoic, almost flippant, nature of our hero allows us to see the ignition of the long fuse that will eventually lead to fireworks.

jason statham is so good that he lets us see the process, the methodology of his acting style even as he is performing it. it is the fact that he makes this simmering cauldron seem so effortless, so droll, that leads people to dismiss him as a major acting talent, which he is.

07 May 2009

the new version of the dark side of the moon lazer light show at the planetarium

last week marked the unofficial kickoff of hollywood's dark season, and the only thing on my mind is the thought that this thing gets longer and longer every year. it used to be that sometime around memorial day weekend, the suits that entertain you would flood the market with an endless supply of re-appropriations, sequels, and t.v. shows and effectively cut my theater going year in half. but this year it seems they started a wee bit early and naturally it doesn't matter because hollywood has a pretty safe bet going in their consistent wagering on the cultural ineptitude of the american public.

while the combination of consistent hollywood grosses when coupled with the declining originality of product pretty much leaves the above statement beyond reproach, the thing i still cannot seem to put my finger on yet is the exact type of ineptitude that they are exploiting in their quest to part you with your coin. because if there is one fact that the numbers bear out, it is that no matter what kind of crap hollywood puts out, people will show. it doesn't matter how unoriginal, uninspired, or just plain bad it is, hollywood will pump up the production value, inflate its budget and put it out...and if you don't go see wild wild west with will smith or bewitched with will ferrell, you will go see something equally as ridiculous.

but what i can't figure out is, "why?" i mean, do the general public just not care about good stories or interesting characters? because most summer blockbusters are just hastily cobbled together(by 12 writers) plot lines whose narrative simplicity is covered up by whiz bang pyrotechnics. they end up like these huge, two hour bloated cgi fireworked-over music videos that have all he emotional and intellectual depth of the laser light show that used to accompany zeppelin at the planetarium. sure, it looks all bright and colorful...but there is a reason people basically only went to those things on drugs.

are people on drugs? well yeah, probably. our prozac nation is rather subdued, almost lazy, and completely willing to accept mediocrity in pretty much all aspects of life. i mean this is the same population that allows me to drive down washington street and notice a line out the door of the olive garden while the locally(and actual italian) owned italian gardens sits devoid of customers. people are afraid of a little spice these days...either that or free unlimited breadsticks really do cover up for the blandness of an entree. either way, the general population usually choose poorly.

people have become so accepting of this sort of prefabricated, cookie cutter, homogenized bullcrap that it is becoming harder to find alternatives. for every small scale, personal gem like the italian gardens or superbad or wendy and lucy, there are like a trillion soulless spidermans or olive gardens because these companies know that they don't have to make good food for the consumer to come in and lap it up.

and i don't blame them for that. i don't blame hollywood or the olive garden or the conglomerates that own and operate them. in fact, i don't blame them at all because if i can sell you an inferior product, why should i be expected to make it better?
no, i blame the idiots that are gonna line up around the block tomorrow for the pyrotechnic advancement of the star trek redux, because they have a choice to not show up. they can vote with their dollars for better product.

so my boycott of the megaplex starts now. i want better product, no more retreads, and less profit motive. i want an engrossing, enriching experience that enlivens my senses and emotions. i want them to care as much about the products that they put out as i do about the products i consume. and i'm not settling for less.

28 April 2009

my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

i realize it has been over a year now and oscar has already been bestowed on another crop of mostly undeserving pictures, but the outcome of the best picture race between the exquisite there will be blood and the trite, safe no country for old men really does need further review. still, after all this time, i wonder how this could have happened and honestly wonder if i will ever fail to feel as emotionally bent out of shape as i still do now. i imagine circumstances where i am driven to the grave like richard the lion-hearted vehemently fighting my great crusade on behalf of p.t. anderson's magnum opus. because frankly i just don't get it.

i know we rip on the coen brothers quite a bit here on the beer cannes, yet i feel wholeheartedly that they deserve all this shit which i am about to heap upon them again. as i sit here watching the beginning of miller's crossing, another coen brothers film i am almost doomed not to finish, i find myself looking it up on netflix and getting caught in a slew of buzzwords that fill the accompanying descriptions of their films. the one for miller's crossing is one that i find quite instructive as the first sentence reads, "...the coen brother's take on the 30's ganster film." other reviews roll out words like farce, revisionist, noir, screwball and a litany of other words that point to their almost complete lack of an original opinion.

honestly, what is the signature moment that points to the essence of the quintessential coen brothers opinion on life? the answer, sadly, is that there isn't one because all of their films read like two film school brats who borrow philosophy at random and believe that inverting the tropes of genre is the same thing as breaking free from the constraints of genre itself. it's all style. and this omnipresence of the structural rigidity of genre creates in its wake hollow, one dimensional archetypes that fail to engage the audience because they seem to lack emotional motive for their actions, merely doing them because it compels the narrative forward. the style comes off as derivative to the point of unoriginality. because while overt stylization in itself is not bad, it really only works if there is some sort of underlying philosophy, some type of creative idealism.

and all i can find in the coens is this vague sort of misanthropy, as if the film, and by proxy its makers, is somehow held up to be of better standard than the characters it depicts. it is as if the world, as driven by people's stupidity and vanity, must seem so precious from such lofty heights of judgment. as long as there is snappy(forced) dialogue and witty repartee, right?

wrong. fuck the coens for being vain, derivative, and simplistically dull...pretty much the complete opposite of paul thomas anderson.

the films of paul thomas anderson have been accused of borrowing styles as well, but i feel that his "borrowing" to be so much more interwoven into the tapestry that becomes his original work. hard eight borrowed from mamet(only with a humanistic heart) boogie nights borrowed from scorsese(but with a humanistic heart) magnolia borrowed from altman(who actually also has a humanistic heart) and in the middle of all these supposedly "stolen" whip pans and handheld shots and intimate framing and noisy diegesis is this utterly complex, idiosyncratic philosophy on family and human relations. paul thomas anderson gets to the messy core of human/self interaction and finds that it is kinda beautiful there if we honestly try to look at it.

there will be blood is kind of a different sort of beast, a touch apart from his others, yet still of a consistently refined and redefined notion of life. whereas his earlier films seemed to focus on the moment to moment fluctuation of life and an appreciation of its myriad manifestations of beauty, there will be blood seems to take those moments and magnify them. it seems to contemplate, while furthering, this idea that since every seemingly mundane moment has the capacity for beauty, that every moment must have some inexplicable importance. every gesture, phrase, and activity is imbued with a certain amount of heaviness as if every decision a person makes can come back and manifest itself in later life. it is an idea of no wasted motion, no wasted time. everything is huge and important and every breath is the most important thing in the world ever.

his work is intense, but it is also intensely life affirming.

dirk diggler going home again. tom cruise sharing one last cry with jason robards. daniel plainview getting away with murder. all of these moments read like some exultant, virtuoso celebration of the human capacity for the amazing, the incredible force of nature that is the human spirit.

all i find in no country for old men is a tired, played out version of bleak chic that really has nothing interesting to say about its characters at all. it plays out like some third rate aesop fable about greed that rings hollow because there is no motivation for anything. it's pure nihilism. it's absolute ugly destruction that leads nowhere and i think that existence, mine in particular, is just a little bit more important than that.

life is full...not empty. and that is why i will always believe that the oscar should have gone to there will be blood, the apex of recent cinema history and a film no doubt destined to become a classic exemplar of the current mood of the world. old men is just another piece of forgettable genre trash that will hopefully make haste in its long decent into hell.

but still, it's your call...

in the end it basically comes down to a choice:

would you rather hang around someone who will drink your milkshake or someone who ain't got no fuckin' agua?

personally i will take the milkshake, because it is better to have a milkshake that somebody else drank than to never have had any agua at all.

15 April 2009

with apologies to kelly reichardt whose film wendy and lucy i desperately wanted to see before doing this but am sick of waiting for

prologue: a lay of the land

generally, i think things such as this should be done at a nice distance. a five year wait is good before one attempts to make crass judgments like the ones that follow. but in the attempt to remain hip, to remain in the now, (although technically a few months late still) i have chosen today as the deadline for the official beer cannes review of the year that was in cinema.

2008 was a particularly lazy year for me insofar as new product goes. which is why, in addition to the aforementioned ms. reichardt, i should probably also express my sincere apology to carlos reygadas, lance hammer, guy maddin and especially to jacques rivette for taking an altogether too laid back approach and not seeking out their work in a more fervent manner. but, then again, it isn't as if you guys made your work super accessible either. no matter.

with that said, i still did manage to see quite a bit of the year's product, both import and export, at least enough to give me a pretty accurate lay of the land for the year that was. having done a recap at the halfway point, my readers will forgive if they notice a paucity of revision to my earlier list. it's just that i seem to have seen the majority of the films i truly loved and will remember in the early part of the year. but, at the same time, i am in a way cheating my readers out of the particular degree of freshness that they have come to expect from the beer cannes name.

with this in mind, i have decided this year to go an extra mile or two. and since one good idea deserves another, or at least a kind of response, i have decided to add on a second part to the post in which we, like our sibling blog my year in lists, talk about films old and new that we encountered for the first time in 2008. we really liked ryan's idea and have been meaning to do our companion piece for a while now. and since this is our designated time for the year in review, we thought that this would be an opportune time for this project as well.

the third part of this massive undertaking is set to be a small essay that will probably devolve into a rant on what we here at the beer cannes see as the current state of the cinema, our artistic medium of choice. but enough about that now.

lastly, it has always been my goal to write a post so long that it scrolls the entire length of the list of films that i have seen since i started this here blog just so you have to (hopefully) actively, mentally register the titles with the dream that my readership will be tempted to watch something and then we can discuss it on here. but either way, no worries.

chapter one: the best films of 2008

1. in the city of sylvia-jose luis guerrin---i don't really care if this film got a "proper" release or not. or if it has, in fact, actually been released yet. all i know is that i saw it and it has stuck with me ever since as the ultimate example of someone making a true work of cinema, not books on film, but cinema, that came out this year. or any other year for that matter. pilar lopez de ayala is unbelievably gorgeous and is worth the price that it takes someone to search this film out, which we highly recommend that everyone does. immediately.

2. paranoid park-gus van sant---the "true" work of art from van sant this year, i.e. not the one for which he was oscar nominated. paranoid park extends and expands upon van sant's recent forrays into temporal reality, hypnotic imagery and eliptical (non)narrative in a way that never feels contrived or arty for art's sake. van sant simply likes his characters, understands them, and uses the cinematic function to hang out with them for a bit.

3. happy-go-lucky-mike leigh---i love mike leigh more and more as time goes on, especially when he makes a happy and breezy film such as this one. this film was just a wonderful experience that i can't wait to share again.

4. baghead-the duplass brothers---no film has jumped more on my list of esteem this year than this one as it seems like i can't really ever wrap my head around what exactly it was. was it a murder mystery? not exactly, but it did have some thrills. was it a film about the filmmaking process? sorta, but it didn't really have deep shadings toward that genre. was it a romantic comedy? in a way it was. was it a character study? getting warmer. in fact, it was all these rolled into one sweet little film hybrid...getting excellent mileage out of limited resources.

5. gran torino-clint eastwood---this was the only award season release that was worth the celluloid that it was printed on. naturally it got no hardware love, but who gives a rat's ass? those peckerwood's wouldn't know quality if it spit tobacco in their face. i love walt kowalski and nominate him as the new american hero.

6. still life-jia zhang-ke---because like old walt, i have more in common with the asians(walt didn't say asians) than i do my own family. jia seems like one of the few people in the world, let alone filmmakers, who understand the true depths of despair brought onto a person's soul by industrial revolution. it is as if these products and the ability to make them have alienated us from one another and now there are just spaceship factories where trees and people used to be.

7. forgetting sarah marshall-nicholas stoller---russel brand, meet america...america, meet russel brand. fucking hillarious...and you get paul rudd as a surfer and a puppet show about vampires...hell yes.

8. boarding gate-olivier assayas---olivier assayas is your favorite director's favorite director.

9. the wrestler-darren aronofsky---it has been intimated that aronofsky's film is a stylistic rip off of the dardennes. and that is completely okay by me. i mean seriously, would you rather see aronofsky do another oliver stone style picture? or worse would you rather him redo the fountain? me neither. and beside this film rocks out, mick mars style.

10. role models-david wain---it's a simple equation really...you put paul rudd in a starring role, i come see your movie. here he proves again that he is absolutely the best comedic actor and possibly simply the best actor on the planet. a small child with a foul moth and stiffler are just a bonus.

11. snow angels-david gordon green---the better of gordon green's two efforts that unspooled this year.

12. a christmas tale-anaud desplechin---the best scene of the year is in this film, a lovely little mother-son verbal sparring match between catherine deneuve and matieu amalric on a swingset.

13. dr. horrible's sing-a-long blog-josh weedon---this is the future kids, get hip to it now.

other pretty good films that i saw that really require no further explanation or ranking were as follows: nick and norah's infinite playlist, space chimps, flight of the red baloon, ghost town, pineapple express, the last mistress, super high me, kung-fu panda, jesus castle, and step brothers.

chapter two: bonus list

hell yeah kids, we're going off the prologue's script and have decided to celebrate the occasion by shamelessly exposing the most rotten, putrid and downright bad cinematic offerings served up before my eyes this year. the worst films of 2008.

1. leatherheads-george clooney---note to george clooney: you are not not not preston sturgess, or billy wilder, or any other screwball master because those films had something relevant to say about the societies that inspired them. and yours don't. you've been a star so long that you are no longer in touch with the real world and all you can do make a bullshit, phoney, soulless version of a genre that you don't have the chops to pull off. and by the way, you also probably just made the worst sports movie of all time too. go make danny ocean's greatest hits again you unoriginal piece of crap.

2. burn after reading-the coen brothers---note to the coen's: see above and substitute your name for george clooney. your film was an absolute mess.

3. w.-oliver stone---oliver stone is soft. he is the establishment. and he is dead to me.

4. 21-who the fuck cares who directed this turd---the slickest piece of story slave bullshit that came out this year. stop your plot long enough to develop your characters, otherwise your plot rings as hollow and contrived and soulless. no doubt a money making champion, 21 was "based on a true story" in the same way that my penis is based on the john holmes model.

5. the dark knight-christopher nolan---they took the world's most bloated film and then turned the neat little trick of putting a finger down it's throat so that it could watch it vomit all over its audience a colorful stew of pseudo-intellectualism, bleak chic, and simplistic philosophy on the state of our paranoid world. like debby reynolds said about gene kelley in singin in the rain...it all a bunch of dumb show.

best to avoid this trash if it hasn't yet poisoned you mind, trust me.

chapter three: the best films i saw for the first time in 2008

i really enjoyed when ryan did this over on the my year in lists blog, for one because it was nice to see ryan actually blog(a savored rarity these days) and for two, it was kinda cool because it didn't conform to the release schedule of the movie distribution machine. it read like a personal journey through a year of cinema and that is always appreciated because cinema should always be viewed on personal terms first, and then worked out from there. i also think it is interesting that some of the same films pop up on both our lists, despite the fact that i have excluded films that came out last year(those are listed above) but anyways...

1, there will be blood-paul thomas anderson---i feel that when scholars and fans study this era in the future that this will be the film that they point to as the absolute apex of our times. when i saw this film in the theater a large crowd forces us to sit down front and at the end of the film i noticed i had sizable underarm rings as the heat, labor, grime, and intensity of this film made me sweat. it's a film so good it affected me on a physiological level...that is an amazing achievement. drainage? you ask...it sure drained some oils from me.

2. il posto-ermano olmi---this is probably both the best italian film i have ever seen and also the most sincerely humanist. the affection olmi shows his characters is immense as he never panders to the lowest common denominator during his film that is actually respectful of the sometimes ridiculous rite of young, unrequited love.

3. quiet city and dance party u.s.a.-aaron katz---if you don't like aaron katz, get the fuck off of my blog. if you haven't seen these films yet, politely put down your keyboard and go watch them right this second. yes...they are that good. over on ryan's blog he called quiet city the "d.i.y. before sunrise," but after watching it again last evening i realized that i liked katz's film so much more than linklater's. the respect he shows his audience by never having his characters verbally express the huge crush they have on each other is refreshing. he actually allows his audience to figure it out for themselves through a series of passing glances, vocal inflections, and body positions. katz is an incredible young artist whom i can't wait to watch mature.

4. requiem-hans christian schmid---this film turns the exsorcist on it's year by focusing on the mental illness side of hokey religious phenomenon. requiem is a sly nudge toward our new world policy of torture by means of religious cleansing. and it has the best club/dance sequence ever.

5. pick up on south street-sam fuller---this film is gritty, dark, and fast. it never stops moving toward it's incredible conclusion because frankly, fuller didn't want to waste your time...or his.

6. detour-edgar ulmer---this film, along with the above fuller film, really served to take any sort of hollywood sheen off of the film noir cycle. gone is the stylish chiaroscuro lighting and glamorous leads. all that is left is the dirt, the sweat, and the absolute horror of being caught in a trap from which one can't walk out. disturbing, even after all this time.

7. cria cuervos-carlos suara---i rarely cry at films, but this story of a young girl who believes that her lies are to blame for her mother succumbing to cancer got the water works flowing a bit. it is a true work of art that can push the formal envelope and engage, not the brain, but the emotions.

8. mouchette-robert bresson---god damn it...life is really fucking hard isn't it? through the story of young mouchette, bresson shows how god constantly spits in the eye of humanity and how humanity constantly gets up and asks for more...until they can't anymore. it would be absolutely horrible, if it weren't made so beautifully.

9. the puffy chair-the duplass brothers---i loved this film because it seems so fucking honest, right down to the little temper tantrums that lead us to try and annoy the world into allowing us to get our way. the duplass bros seem caught in a competition with the dardennes to see who can better step on the coen's necks and assume the mantle of the best brother filmmaking team. fuck the coens...and double fuck the wachowski's...the dardennes and the duplasses are here to stay, and they actually have something original to say and all their pyrotechnics are of the emotional variety...no doubt the best kind.

10.la jetee-chris marker---wow. this was the first of the many criterion collection dvds gifted to me by my wonderful girlfriend emily. even if it wasn't as "wow" as it was it would be memorable to me...but like i said, the film is fucking wow.

chapter four: bonus list part two

we're going off script again...this time to bring my readers a short little list of the best films of this new year(2009)so far.

1. two lovers-james gray---i've never been drawn to watch the 70's homage crime dramas that gray has previously released, but the intimate cinematography and the performance he elicits from the incredibly emotive joaquin phoenix in this film have made me change my mind and open myself to the rest of the james gray oeuvre. plus, vinessa shaw is absolutely hot like fire. gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, not unlike the film itself.

2. fired up!-will gluck---hell yeah i'm talking about that movie where the two football players decide to go to cheerleading camp. it is fucking hilarious. chock full of cuties, witty banter, and in possession of a good chemistry between the two leads, this film actually eschews the typical misogyny of the teen comedy and finds that girls tend to be much more mature and interesting that their perpetually infantile male counterparts. a good lesson for the teeming teen masses, who unfortunately didn't go to see this.

3. i love you man-john hamburg---almost any movie with paul rudd and jason segal are gonna make a list compiled from a small sample group, but as too whether or not this holds out and makes next years edition of this list...let's just say i have my doubts. first off, jon hamburg is a sophmoric(or should that be sophmoronic) hack. i mean, we get it...animals go to the bathroom. but that shit wasn't funny in meet the parents and it still doesn't fly all these films/odes to animal urination later. and the fact that that is your only original idea in a film that cops similar tropes from much better films by david wain(the kiss/rush thing) and judd apatow(obvious). grow up already. either that or stop using prime talent and go back to making mediocre crap with ben stiller already.

sadly, that's it so far. i thought about seeing laurent cantet's the class, but having multi-cultural liberalism shoved down my throat for two hours isn't exactly my idea of a good time. plus it gave off the vibe of being super self-important what can i say, the politics of culture clash don't interest me much. i'd rather go see something like confessions of a shopaholic, because at least p.j. hogan knows that people still like to see people fall in love...no matter how plastic or hokey it seems.

my philosophy is to champion bedroom clashes over culture clashes.

the heart is greater than the head.

chapter five: reasons for things that seem wrong

i blame it on margot tennenbaum. i blame her for this current cycle of mediocre/shit films like the savages and smart people because wes anderson just made that stereotype of the depressed, self doubting intellectual look so freaking cool. but the thing is wes has some talent and decided to counterbalance that with this idea that emotional instability derives from many factors, not just this self stylized bleak, narcissistic, existentialism. it just rings as so fake. if all these professor types were like poor sad sack jack-off phillip seymour hoffman, would anybody even pursue higher education. these films just read like some poor, self-deemed intellectual feeeling sorry for themselves and putting it on celluloid. stop that bullshit.

i blame it on judd apatow, for he had to put some stupid rift in all his films that splits apart the two protagonists and has to be clumsily reassembled for this pseudo happy ending. and now it seems like it is everywhere. in a short time this has become the template for modern comedy. thank god for a badass director and truly funny guy like david wain, other than his film all the subsequent shit that reeks of apatow has gotten and just gets progressively worse. just like...

i blame it on seth rogan. seriously dude, your fifteen minutes are so up. you aren't that funny, or charming. you actually kind of suck. on the knocked up dvd there is this fake documentary that has other actors playing ben stone. almost all of them, especially michael cera, bill hader, and justin long, would have been better than rogan. sometimes i wonder if the only reason he is there is to make the rest of troupe apatow look good.

i blame it on the audience that just takes whatever hollywood feeds it. if people don't demand better films they won't get them. everytime someone buys a ten dollar ticket to spiderman 14, it is like casting a vote and the studios think that their product is just fine. and if you think it is just fine, then by all means, but i have a feeling that isn't the case. most people accept them because they are there and they are too lazy to search anything else out. meanwhile...

i also blame it on mark cuban. it seems like every time something that might actually be both good(engrossing) and important comes along, i am further delayed from seeing it because mr. cuban has to fill the screens of the one remaining art theater in town with his terrible vanity projects. take, for instance, wendy and lucy. now this is a film that by all accounts has tapped into the current zeitgeist of economic peril in a way as to make it a significant cultural signpost of it's time, but do i get to witness it on the big screen in any sort of a timely manner? not without driving a grat distance, i don't. and why, you may ask. because mark cuban uses his landmark "art house" chain to distribute his crappy magnolia/2046 "art" films. that's corporate synergy, brother! and it is also the reason why what people think the know as "art films" are really just steaming piles of shit like the great buck howard served up to you a la carte by a billionaire businessman who got bored with his struggling basketball team and decided to try to entertain you in another way. ah, the vanity of the rich, putting the screws to the notion of really interesting on the bigscreen. it sucks too because landmark has the friendliest and most intelligent staff in indianapolis and is chock full of good people.

and i blame it on myself for caring too much about these pithy things.

yet still, i do care. and i an attempt to make things better i will offer some solutions to some problems i see.

epilogue: a personal view of the future

i will demand better films by seeking better films out. i will search for the most interesting films no matter what they are about or where they came from. if i go to a hollywood film, i will do so at the tibbs drive-in, so that i can vote with my dollars for better fare and i can support a truly independent theater and help a local small business. and i get hollywood trash three for the price of one, which is still a gross overinflation when compared to their actual worth.

as for mark cuban, fuck him. landmark is just like every theater really...

as film is such a wonderful artistic medium that even in the darkest of times, little rays of light shine through any bleakness, comets shoot through the darkness. it just seems that in times like these, comets come around with a little less frequency than before. so with that in mind, i urge my readers to...

go watch your favorite film right now...you will be glad you did.

09 April 2009

the world that drove joaquin phoenix crazy

due to some recent complications with her health my mother has been undergoing various forms of physical therapy. her speech therapist, who is actually pretty rad, is this mid 50's woman who just so happens to bear a striking resemblance to ursula, the baddie to the "princess" ariel from the little mermaid. the fact that she is so unbelievably nice, what the french would call "tres sympathetique," got me to thinking about the brand that is disney animation and the shit that they have been pumping into the impressionable minds of children over the years. seriously, the juxtaposition enforced on these characters in the little mermaid alone is reason enough for an outright ban. i mean, have you ever met some girl that was like ariel is supposed to be? really good looking girls with singing talent aren't usually very nice, they are actually kind of stuck-up and bitchy. as to where women who more resemble ursula are. think about it, women like ursula, bigger ladies with a penchant for overdone make-up, are usually the salt of the earth types, the type of gal that if she serves you in a diner will keep your coffee cup full while still finding the time to work in a nickname for you like "hon" or "sugar." the little mermaid is bullshit, but still kids are allowed to watch it and then we wonder why they later go on to pick on the fat kids in high school, or disregard them almost completely as adults. well, it's partially because in the disney milieu, there are no chubby princesses, there is only programmed, regimented, fascism...and that ain't no place to send your kids.

but enough about that, as right now i find myself more worried about where to send myself. it seems that the subsequent cancellations of both ed and gilmore girls have left a severe lack of places on t.v. that i like to escape to. ever since the stuckey bowl set up its last pin and taylor turned off the last light in star's hollow television has become an overly cynical cesspool devoid of the good intntioned dreamers that these shows portrayed. i miss the capra-esque, up with people nature of these slices of small town americana. their sentiment never gave way to overt sentimentality and their humility is severely missed. i just want something on television that is nice. not greedy, not self-absorbed, self-indulgent or cynical...just something nice.

recently, i have had this strange bent toward writing really quite cheesy, hallmarkish, inspirational prose and it has me thinking about what i see as the general mindset of the world around me. there seems a twinge of negativity, or at least a very blase, been there, done that type of attitude that permeates the modern american psyche. it has gotten to the point that i am beginning to think that genuine sincerity is just about the edgiest thing that an artist can do right now. and i'm not talking about that mawkish, precious form of sentimentality for (wo)bygone days employed by the likes of wes anderson. but the genuine affection for subject exhibited by someone like george will when talking about baseball. i'm talking about drawing simple, unadulterated pleasure out of all of life's offerings and sharing it back with the world at large. it is a rare thing in this day and age to exhibit an unforgiving passion for things, and even if you do, the people will probably just label you a goody-goody, or a prude, or a spaz or something.

because somewhere along the way mischevious bastards like bart simpson became "awesome" while kick ass dudes and stand up guys like ned flanders became "lame" and passe.

and that is some bullshit that would drive a sensitive soul crazy...

right joaquin?

07 April 2009


for all that you may achieve in whatever it is that you may choose to do...


26 March 2009

the opposite of true luck is as follows...reality.

while tagging in clothes at work the other day, my automation became disjointed when the fog of work was briefly interrupted by a the cling-clanging of metal on a ceramic tile floor. staring up at me, the last remnant of the recently passed observance of st. patrick's day existed in the form of a green coin with pictures of shamrocks and the phrase luck o' the irish imprinted upon it.

it was then that the absolute and utter stupidity of this phrase hit me. i mean, taken in a historical context, does anyone truly want the luck of the irish? we're talking about a people whose story is wrapped up in a bloody struggle for independence from colonial rule and the forced immigration brought on by a potato famine. does this sound "lucky" to anyone else? i mean, really? why don't you just wish upon me the historical plight of the african american or the "luck" of the ethiopian while you're at it? seriously, i love violent struggle for civil rights and extreme, death inducing hunger. please, wish that upon me...thanks, buddy.

the only thing lucky about the irish are the boston celtics. in fact, i would argue that in their 75 year history, the celtics have probably had more luck than the irish have had in their entire million year history. drafting bill russel, stealing larry bird by exploiting a poor rule and drafting him a year early,(in the second round! no less)hell, getting paul pierce at number 11 and stealing k.g. exhibit more good fortune than does a clover over dover. really, what the heck do the irish have to offer...bono?

now, this is no way meant to be offensive to the irish, who are, like most groups of people, a generally good bunch of folks. this short essay is merely meant to question the validity of the phrase, "luck o' the irish." after all, if you guys consider yourselves lucky, then that must mean that an average white dude in america like myself is blessed by the hand of god by comparison.

and i am not quite ready to admit that about my situation just yet.

but i will say that for now it is all good...
just so long as pricks like bono keep their hands off my lucky charms.

03 March 2009

the best of...

the best albums are mix tapes, or i pod shuffles, or a jockey spinning songs on the radio in a jumbled randomness until one reaches out and decides to define a moment in your life like when margot got off the bus to these days and the moment was so powerful that richie tenenbaum had to cut himself to try to forget. i remember the other passengers asleep, coasting down a great smokey mountain slightly out of control and scared shitless at sunrise when everybody wants to rule the world became the most beautiful song i have ever heard.

the best films are the one's that catch you at that right time when the atmosphere onscreen can reasonably mirror that in the life being lead outside of the diegesis of the film. watching all the real girls, knowing that you are dancing full on in a bowling alley because nobody is watching and you know nobody is watching for a reason. seeing dazed and confused and wanting to drink some beer and kick some ass and it always seems we are almost out of beer. the synchronicity of those moments are enough to fry synapses and crinkle memories into brain tissue.

the best television is competition, pure i'm better than you type of shit. football, racing, american idol...all of them simply call for the human spirit to rise up and give its wholehearted best like rocky and apollo duking it out at the end of three in that dingy little gym.

the best times are spent talking and listening and just getting in contact with another person in your physical plane, face to face, seperated by little more than fabric and air, pressed up in p.j.'s eric rohmer style talking about what you should be doing and tossing devices of communication and separation aside. naughty.

the best high comes from breathing in the air from all over god's greenness.

the best parties are ones without dress codes.

and the best you is in how you relate to the moment around you. do you feel it?

02 March 2009

goals (a twelve step program)

because we are switching over to u-verse, my internet access will be shut down for a few minutes so we're just gonna have to put this little chat on hold for a spell. in the meanwhile, i will leave you with my to-do list. things i intend to get to are as such...

1. watch my netflix and return them
2. shake my little toosh on the catwalk
3. go to landmark, drink a beer, and watch two lovers
4. eat a five dollar footlong with you
5. draw pictures in the margins of papers
6. take notes
7. sing in the shower
8. make two lists
9. write two blogs
10. go check in on shane'e recovery
11. stay on the grind and keep making my money
12. peace.

hoping your time is just as productive,
beer cannes.

24 February 2009

lee greenwood

while driving home today, i got behind a white service van that had a (hopefully homemade) bumper sticker that read like this(verbatim)...

if your in this country illegally your breaking the law go home

while i don't really have a fully formed opinion on the vast topic of undocumented workers, and therefore don't want this to turn into that discussion, i do have an opinion on this guy. and it reads as such...

if you're not smart enough to understand that you need an apostrophe/re to show possessive form of "you are," you're breaking the law...of grammar.

i mean really? what the hell? and to make matters worse this self appointed group spokesman placed that sticker right above an american flag decal that read, "proud to be an american."

trust me buddy, america sure as hell isn't proud of you at the moment. i mean, your entire argument (no matter what merit it may have) is pretty much nullified by the fact that you aren't smart enough to articulate, or in this case spell it, correctly.

so in the newly immortalized words of uconn men's basketball coach jim calhoun, "let me give you some advice...shut up."

why is it always the morons from the back of darwin's line, you know the knuckle draggers, that feel the need to voice their opinion the loudest?

for your next trick, i suppose you will tell illegals to learn the language.

proud to be an american, like lee greenwood.

19 February 2009

redemption, clowns, and happy endings gasper noe style.

i believe it was kierkegard, or delores o'rierdon, who once uttered the immortal phrase "everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?" with that in mind and with nuvo "critic" ed johnson-ott's horribly crap version of an oscar spectacular still gunking up the classic american muscle car fuel injection engine my brain, and since this is like a year of redemption (through buffoonery) i said fuck it, put on my clown makeup and decided to roll out my big ole oscar extravaganza...

i'll start with director, since i'm of the auteurist mind set and that's the only catagory we here at the beer cannes really give a fuck about. and since they just happen to be the contenders for best picture, and since i think the same way on both, i'll just go ahead and blow my load early too. and then we will unroll it in reverse like i am gaspar noe.


opie, umm...no thanks...but, hold your head up little buddy, i'm sure i will like you again for the next film you make directly after the dan brown bomb that you are about to drop on us again. i mean, even you would admit, that your nixon film was probably just nominated because hollywood had to have something to trumpet from an absolute clap outbreak of a year that they just had. and as to where the fincher got the token hollywood "art" nomination, you took the choice "important" film nomination. hollywood really did turn a shit spigot on their audience this year didn't they? sorry opie.

as for the aforementioned fincher....are you fucking kidding me? a gimmick like that...a man born elderly and who dies a baby, for real? you had just turned that corner where you didn't need some narrative stroke job ironic bullshit to guide your obviously lush visual style, and then you expect me to plop down ten bones to feel this c.h.u.d. baby unspool...fuck that...you are the new wes anderson, as you are in a coma, on life support, within a hair's width of being dead to me. and i fucking liked zodiac, you fake piece of shit.

and that brings me to the dickcheese eater who directed the rather trite billy elliott, the absolutely, offensively putrid oscar bait trash heap topper that was nicole kidman's prosthetic nose and now the will never be seen by me reader. the fact that this limp oscarbation ejaculate is now three for three in oscar nom's and no film comment writers have stormed the red carpet with guns really speaks poorly to the state of film fandom in this country. (self)important trash like this makes me want to send the time haters to go back in time and cap the lumiere brothers. as dead as wes anderson and david fincher without a miraculaous recovery are about to be, they will never be as dead to me as you, you fucking douchebag.

i see that danny boyle likes to move his camera. and that people react like insects to bright flashing lights and get caught in bug zappers like this...it sure was fun while it lasted, but now your body lays soulless. the combination of these two makes this my surefire, liberal, reader of the new yorker who only goes to the movies once a year and generally has no business around the business of awarding films lock for best picture...and tragically, in a suicide inducing moment, the best director trophy as well. hollywood loves it's happy endings, the more unbelievable the better.

which is a shame, because that award should go to gus van sant. in an unbelievably weak year for movies, i feel it is important to give career achievement awards when the terrible canidates for these awards don't really deserve them. it's well documented that i wasn't crazy about milk, but that's only because i have come to expect way more from the only true artist in this competition. these other hacks aren't fit to suck gus's dick(not that he'd have any of these old dried up hags anyway...ok, maybe opie. like thirty years ago.) so i beg of you oscar, don't disappoint me. go home with the guy who has meant the most to the advancement of the medium. give both best picture and best director to gus van sant. if only to prove to me that you actually fucking like movies even a little bit.

actors go like this

richard jenkins is wooden and really, really, incredibly boring to watch. christopher cross and al jureau called, they said get some soul you vanilla, supertramp listening, chai drinker. seriously, if you were the only guy trapped in a room in the latest saw film, that jughead guy would fucking forget about you because you are so boring to watch.

same for you sean penn. one of the fascinating things about milk is that the film is clearly penn's as he is in all but like four scenes, yet the supporting characters, some of which had but a few lines, remain the most memorable and serve as the most prominent imagery in the well rendered atmosphere of this film. i mean, you ought to call and thank gus every day of your life for putting you opposite the awful diego luna, therefore insuring you look good because, well, at least you aren't him. for that, you get no oscar from me, and you probably won't from them either. but if you do, if you get gus's oscar...you will have turned into mr. hand, spicolli. you're a dick.

thanks for playing...frank langella.

brad pitt, get the fuck off my stage...no, for real...who the fuck invited you?

mickey rourke will win, and that will be good as frankly this is the best of the nominated bunch. really quite sad in a way that permeates the atmosphere and causes the air to go down heavy in your lungs. on par, insofar as pure despair, with something like strozek, it almost resonates as more disappointing as the wrestler is tinged with a feeling of hope recently lost as opposed to strozek witch is less devastating because of its complete hopelessness. rourke really revels in the failure for this one, a beaten down jester, who used to be king, in tights. jarvis cocker asks if you like happy endings.


four of the actresses in this category need to be shot for their crass showiness in supposedly depressing roles. people who are really sad, and are really that pathetic don't scream out to the world to "look at me." they hide, they are more reserved. all these bitches got caught living out loud in bullshit weepies this year and deserve no gold for it...

so, melissa leo by default...because judging from the preview there is nothing glamorous(therefore overdone and bullshitty) in that performance. i don't want any piece of that film, it looks like the female version of mickey rourke, or maybe strozek. hopeless.

but as far as the academy goes, kate winslet will get her happy ending. because she'a wanted it so dearly for so long gub'ner.

in the nuvo's infinitely simplistic oscar examination, professional dipshit ed johnson-ott states that this category isn't worth discussing, because old tears of a clown has got this sewn up like the scars on his face. but "critical" cop-outs aside, i think it is very much worth discussing. sure the bat-villain is probably gonna walk, hollywood loves to pat itself on the back for being so respectful of their fallen "talent." but he doesn't deserve it. hell, after hearing christian bale rip into that d.p., i'm not so convinced that he shouldn't have played the joker(la ti da)...that is worth discussing.

if hollywood really wanted to pat itself on the back for being ultra heartfelt and forgiving, they would throw it to old robert downey jr. i mean here is a no quotation marks needed talent and to get an oscar nom, fuckers in hollywood made him play a robot/atm machine and made him essentially do a minstrel show al jolsen style, mammy. and when he sucks it up, musters the intestinal fortitude to comletely swallow his pride and completely brings it in two films that were made even plausibly watchable only by his presence, hollywood can only throw him a supporting actor nomination in a catagory against a ghost and pat him on the back and say better luck next time. fuck hollywood cause they specialize in happy endings and they seldom get them right.

philip seymour hoffman has become pretentious in positive correlation to john c. reilly's assimilation to stupidity. i wish they would both go away for awhile.

who the hell is michael shannon? really...i have no idea...anyone?

the only way i will forgive hollywood for putting robert downey jr through the wringer in this category, is if josh brolin wins. because frankly, he did the best job. and the best part, the juicy irony, is that he portrayed the similar moral duality that the joker supposedly signified in a way that blows away ledger's histrionics with the subtlety and menace of a true maniac. truly disturbed people don't announce their presence, they pounce, like a cat, from a eerily still position, as if the true madness is created by the fact that they seem to have been stuck in the moment of moral dilemma, agonizing over their eventual spring to the utter insanity of violence forever. that's how josh brolin rolls. the best acting performance in milk, hand's down.

supporting actress works like this.

i love me some amy adams, but this film just seemed like a showcase for "actors" to "act" like assholes. i want her to win one for a film in which she sings a song.

marissa tomei has nice, non saggy breasts...unfortunately they were the only nuanced part of her one note, stock character, hollow cration in the wrestler.

penelope cruz sucks in any language.

taraji henson is usually good, but in a perfect, beer cannes world she can't win because...

viola davis has to win, just so i can see merryl and phillip seymour act like ashley tisdale in high school musicals and wear pissy faces when they realize that they got showed up in their showcase by someone as previously anonymous as viola davis. you go girl, thanks for fulfilling my dream where...

pretentios phil and old, haggard, boor merryl won't be again rewarded for their mediocrity,

robert downey jr and josh brolin tie,

happy go lucky wins best screenplay(sally hawkins wuz robbed), dustin lance bland does not.

and gus van sant wins big time,

and old heath is looking down empty handed from heaven. smiling.

yes jarvis, i believe in happy endings.

13 February 2009

what i'm just not that into: millionaire edition

recently i ventured out to the old movie house for viewings of the ken kwapis film he's just not that into you and the danny boyle award machine slumdog millionaire. and while on the surface i enjoyed these films as they are both fairly enjoyable,(i rated both three stars on netflix)both films left me with some concern as to what, in essence, they were saying to their audience as the underlying messages behind their twisting plots seems a bit dangerous in both cases.

the kwapis film based on the book of the same name plays like your standard treatise on romance. there is really no new ground broken here as it pretty much sticks to the well worn template of modern romantic comedy. aside from the performance of the incredibly honest and refreshingly nuanced bradley cooper, the bits and pieces that make up this film seem pretty mired in the traditional tropes of the genre. and i suppose that is where my problem begins.

the thing that i don't really get about the film is its insistence that as long as these rather intelligent women, most of whom are portrayed as fairly successful in their professional lives, do not have a man in their life that they are somehow failures...or at least, that is how they view themselves. i found the typically delightful ginnifer goodwin to be carrying much of this burden in the film and i found myself just wanting to smack some sense into her, to tell her that her life is not incomplete without a man and that she shouldn't let that define her self worth, but in the diegetic realm of this film that warning would have just gone unheeded.

what i find most problematic, however, is how the audience which was comprised of 90% women between the ages of 15-30 were eating this shit up. i mean really? they don't mind that this film(and it should be pointed out, male director) feel that their entire sense of self worth is caught up in the quality of man that they snag? whatever happened to "women are doing it for themselves?" it bothers me that, unlike men, the women portrayed in this film have their overall notion of their life as a success defined not by their own personal accomplishments, but by who they are shacking up with. i think that is a dangerous message to put out into the world, not to mention an antiquated one that is basically turning back the pages of feminism.

according to the social philosophy of this film, a woman could find the cure for cancer, but as long as she is single she will be an utter wreck and a failure. and that my friends, is a shitty message to send to the young ladies of the world.

for all its critical acclaim, danny boyle's slumdog millionaire is just as guilty of sending similar bad messages which reinforce idiotic cultural stereotypes. that being said, i enjoyed slumdog too. its kinetic energy and rushes of color are almost too powerful as to give me any choice other than to be arrested by his brand of cinema on the run. but again, i find some things need hashing out.

as a midwesterner(see: not worldly) i find that there is an inherent danger in the hype machines insistence that i go see the exoticised violence of films like slumdog and city of god as i feel that for a lot of film goers this will be their first taste of india and brazil respectively. with that in mind, i feel it is important for artists to fully understand what kind of ideas they are putting out there, and in this case i feel that mr. boyle does not.

boyle's film(charles dickens by way of eli roth)presents a view of india as a torture laden place where corruption runs roughshod throughout all levels of society. slumdog makes a point of showing a brutal, corrupt, poverty stricken india as it serves as a counterpoint to the improbability of his story. however for many people, who have never been to india or seen a bollywood film(let alone sampled the humanist faire of satayajit ray) this film is giving them an idea of india as reinforcing another stereotype of the third world. by eschewing the representation of the more positive aspects of the culture(bright religious ceremony, strong family ties) boyle has essentially laid out a portrait of india as nothing more than savagery to the nth degree, and that is just not the truth, at least not the whole truth.

but unfortunately for many, they will never get to understand the richness of the culture as the oscar hype machine only tends to pimp out films that take place in india once every 30 or so years(and then only by british directors...colonialism anyone?) for quite a few, this may be the only feel that they ever get of india, in a similar way that city of god is the only taste they have had of brazil (outside of the utterly tasty brazillian grill)and to judge these countries in the ways represented in these films is a tragedy.

it makes me wonder about, what, if any, responsibility an artist has to their subject and setting...kwapis and boyle obviously feel no responsibility to anything other than what serves their story best, no matter what kind of negative shit they are putting out into the world.

12 February 2009

how many times can that bitch get married?

while talking with dionne this evening, she told me that rachel getting married will be making it's third run through the landmark theatres...really? that makes me wanna punch somebody in the jeans. i want wendy and lucy, and i want it now.

this will cheer me up

go buy incredibad by the lonely island you will be glad you did.

07 February 2009

notes on the auteur theory in 2009

(note: this all started the other day when i convinced myself that i should go see spaz, sorry baz luhrman's australia at the dollar theater strictly on the basis that it was the work of a genuine filmmaker(as opposed to hollywood trash) thankfully, i have yet to do this...but it got me thinking)

there is a question posed in andrew sarris's notes on the auteur theory in 1962 that i beleive to be the second most important question facing the art after french critic andre bazin's famous "what is cinema?" sarris asks with humor, "how do you tell a genuine director from a quasi-chimpanzee?" it seems as if this is the moment in time when film studies trancended the notion of a mere survey of entertainments and became a "serious" endeavor. by asking this question, sarris implies that there is indeed an answer, a way of differentiating a good director from a bad one. this way, which may or may not really exist, constitutes in some ways a science. the way that sarris describes has come to be known as the auteur theory. akin to the theory of montage which attempted to apply a science to the making of films, the auteur theory became one of the first major developments in the history of film theory that attempted to put a scientific spin on the value judgement of the art. by developing a system of context within which to place a film, auteurists turned the perception of cinema from that of petty, pithy entertainment into an artform, tinged with all the psychology, humanity, and beauty that life has to offer.

the auteur theory, or the politique des auteurs, started in 1950's france as an abstract aesthetic engrained within the writings of the film journal cahiers du cinema. the seminal early works of this movement were alexandre austruc's un camera stylo(the camera pen) and francois truffaut's a certain tendency of french cinema. the auteur theory at this time, however, was still rather undefined and served a greater purpose in the promotion of the young critic's burgeoning careers as film directors. the young writers of cahiers went on to direct feature films of great originality and keen understanding of the cinematic form under the monniker of the french new wave.

the auteur theory at this time was in its rudementary state. the cahiers critics essentially had only formed a few tenets of this burgeoning piece of theory. the main tenet at this point of evolution revolved around the idea that a director was the author of the film, that he used the camera as a pen to write his story in a manner similar to an author of a book. this was important to the new wavers, as at the time, the screenwriter dominated french cinema's "tradition of quality." truffaut set out to show how the writer's influence could be felt over the whole of france's cinematic output and was an ourage to a youthful movement full of enthusiasm. he contested that the same ten or so screenwriters, all of whom shared a similar, popularly assimilated stance, dominated the output of nearly a hundred or so films a year. this article argued the merits of such "cinematic" men and the films they made over the studio based "tradition of quality." truffaut held up on a pedestal directors like jean renoir, robert bresson, alfred hitchcock, howard hawks, and orson welles as directors whose art was not based in what truffaut beleived to be literary concerns, but was based in the image and all that was contained within. their films were considered better becuase they represented visions of a singular artistic statement as opposed to the films from writers jean aurenche, pierre bost, and clause autant-lara which the critics saw as nothing more than a popular, moralistic(often cynical and mean spirited) idealism transferred onto the preexisting aesthetic of the object of adaptation.

the history of auteurism served the cahier critics well. it started a shift in ideas on cinema that helped them immensely. by shifting the importance from dialougue/plot to the image/mise en scene, they made the director the most important figure in the film. they did this by giving the director the status of creator of the particular piece of art. this allows for the art to be put into context with the other pieces of art created by the same artist. this context and the greater idea that a single film is part of a larger whole served to turn film into a more "respectable" medium by providing a system of classification by which to study film and its merits. the placing of the diector as the high point on the totem pole that governed a "seious" artform gave the critics who revolutionized the theory a special status once they began making films. by placing themselves as sole cretors of a singular, individual vision, they, by default, garnered an audience that already respected them as artists instead of as mere entertainers and respected their films as art instead of entertainment.

the beginnings of the auteur theory paved the way for those who theorized to become auteurs. but in reality, what does that mean? the auteur theory, as conceptualized by the new wavers, doesn't really have shape. it eludes concrete definition. it still cannot answer the question it poses because of this lack of definition.

so, how do you tell a genuine director from a quasi-chimpanzee? in 1962, andrew sarris attempted to set up a criterion for answering that very question. for sarris, the director is not always necessarily the author of a film. sarris argues that a film's sensibilities can come from a multitude of places(producers, prevailing social concerns). occasionally, there are directors who will exude their will over their films to the point that they become authors. in these cases, the directors distinct psychology permeates the work and becomes the psychology of the piece. it is at this point that the director becomes an auteur.

and only an auteur can be an auteur. but what does it mean to be an auteur? how can one judge whether or not one is an auteur? in his article notes on the auteur theory in 1962, sarris offers up three things that he feels necessary in the consideration of a director's auteur status. an auteur's film must be technically sound, possess recognizable characteristics that link it with other films in the director's oeuvre, and an interior meaning. in sarris's mind these criteria exist as concentric circles placed within each other. an auteur is a director who moves beyond technical achievement and similar motifs and into the smaller circle of interior meaning.

interior meaning is what the auteur theory according to sarris hinges upon. it also happens to be the least defined of the three criteria. as to wher technique and style (technically good diecting and recognizable characteristics) can be charted easily through the occurrence of recurring motifs and their technical execution, interior meaning is an idea represented in abstract, therefor eschewing classification. truffaut describes interior meaning as the director's temperature on the set. this is a good description for what the french regard as that certain "je ne sais quoi." but i feel it is best described by another truffaut statement.

in his essay, what do critics dream about, truffaut writes, "a succesful film had simultaneously to express an idea of the world and an idea of cinema." i like this as a quasi-definition of interior meaning. (a quasi-chimpanzee's definition, no doubt) as the meshing of a director's notion of the world with how they see cinema creates within a work a complete expression which, through its dependence upon images, refuses any verbal or literal framework for defining. in short, interior meaning is an atmosphere, or rather, it is the heaviness of the air that creates what we know as atmosphere. abstracts rule.

in reality there is no clear definition for interior meaning. but auteurs have it, and therefore, it must be open to investigation. after all, we still need to be able to tell the difference between a genuine director and a quasi-chimpanzee. critc/scholar peter wollen believes that unlocking the mystery of interior meaning is the key to answering this question. in signs and meaning in the cinema, he drafts a blueprint for trying to answer the tricky question of interior meaning. he draws from foucault the idea that an author is nothing more than a tool for cultural appropriation. the contention in this way of thinking is that the author is nothing more than a filter for the ideals and structures of the culture that surrounds them. while this would seem to turn the notion of an auteur as the author of a text upside down, in wollen's hands it becomes something much more interesting.

wollen understands that the hierarchy that dictates that a culture controls an author who, in turn, controls a work of art reduces that work of art to the role of cultural artifact. what wollen skillfully point out is that a film's creation really exists within a synthesis of culture and author. film, to wollen, seems to represent the reaction of an author to the cultural structures around them. wollen describes the films of john ford as being portraits of ford's unease with the opposing structures that pull at him from within his cultural surroundings. he points to the oppositions such as the garden vs. natural wilderness and human law vs. natural law as recurring themes of discussion in ford's films. while at first this seems like nothing more than a charting of recognizable characteristics, therefore rendering him as a mere "stylist" on the sarris scale, in wollen's world this becomes the foundation for interior meaning.

wollen finds interior meaning in the relationship ford has with the battle being waged by these recurring opposing forces. wollen finds interior meaning in the fact that over time in ford's work, the winners of these structural battles change. sometimes these battles would overwhelm a ford hero, such as when the home based vs. nomadic lifestyle battle leaves ethan(john wayne) in the searchers on the eternal quest for the meaning provided by the missing pieces of his life. but the interior meaning, wollen points out, exists in the constant war that these opposing cultural structures are fighting. over time, this collection of wars waged on film becomes, in effect, a philosophy on life. but the workof an auteur is far from being as definitive as philosophy attempts to be. rather, the work of an auteur is more of a conversation, a continuing dialogue between the director and the issue that life has put upon them. this constant negotiation and renegotiation is where interior meaning is established as life is nothing more than one's negotiation with their problems. an auteur's work, as a whole, boils down to nothing but a filmed, cinematic representation of their dialogues with problems and how they reconcile themselves with the world that caused them.

so, how does this allow us to differentiate between a genuine director and a quasi-chimpanzee? i mean, really, how do wollen's ideas on interior meaning help to further define what an auteur does, and, more importantly, how does it help us scientifically prove one's status as an auteur. the sad part is, that here in 2009, it really doesn't mean anything. i could sit here and say that an auteur has a consistent message, or at least that they are saying something about similar things consistently. but that means nothing. there are assholes out there(like me) who would argue that michael bay is an auteur because he has a consistent discourse about explosions and how to run from them. but, again, that means nothing. basically, auteur, as it exista today, is nothing more than a phrase like hippie, yuppie, or genius. nobody really knows what those words themselves mean, but everyone feels free to use them to label others. so i say, keep the word auteur as this. keep it as a superficial label to put upon one's favorite filmmakers. this way i can keep such "non-cinematic" men such as john sayles and whit stillman on my list of favorite auteurs, whil keeping spaz luhrman as a pathetically shallow stylist.

the auteur theory is nothing more than an abstract theory that means practically nothing to the art of cinema outside of the classrooms where theory is studied. a director can not even become an auteur until a bulk of work has been made and only then is the term auteur used as a way to historically canonize the work after the fact. so, how do you tell a genuine director from a quasi-chimpanzee? you don't do it with a theory. you don't do it with auteurism. you do it with your gut. because only an auteur is an auteur, and only you can decide for yourself exactly what that means.

all i know right now is that baz is not...and i still haven't made it to australia.

02 February 2009

i can smoke like ten blunts and still smoke your ass in the hundred freestyle

of all the stories emanating from yesterday's crush of coverage from the super bowl, the one that intrigued me the most was that of american hero michael phelps. for those readers that do not already know, apparently over the weekend a london tabloid posted a picture of mr. phelps smoking some weed at a party.

as anyone who knows the staff here at beer cannes knows, we don't particularly care about that as we are not really in any place to cast judgment on anyone who partakes. in fact for the first few minutes after the venerable bob costas broke the story, we were running around the old office here and touting phelps as possibly the finest american currently living.

but then something kinda bullshit happened. roughly ten minutes after breaking the story, mr. costas came back on air and read a pre-prepared press statement that found phelps asking for forgiveness and blaming his "transgression" on youthful misjudgment. and it was then that i became truly saddened.

i wish, instead of responding with remorse, that phelps would have either not responded at all or, as in my dream scenario, would have responded with a somewhat caustic, "so the fuck what?"

i mean, really? who the fuck cares? and if you do, why? seriously, the double standard in this country is absolute bullshit. twenty-three year old michael phelps takes one toke off a pipe at a party and suddenly it is world news. meanwhile, if at the same party, phelps would have attempted to destroy his liver with like 15 irish car bombs and passed out on the sofa, nobody would have blinked an eye.

while the smoking vs. drinking double standard obviously irks me, i find that i am most disappointed in the phelps response as i feel that to end this ridiculous prohibition of marijuana people, and in particular people with a certain amount of cultural cache, need to start taking a stand and being honest about their recreational use. i wish phelps would have used this public forum that his fame provides to further the discussion on the legalization of pot. after all, it is no more detrimental to a person's system, or society as a whole, than the alcohol that is put up on a pedestal in this country. nobody ever apologizes for over-inbibing, unless they get caught behind the wheel. but get caught taking one hit, and the media blitz of judgment that eventually leads to false remorse is on.

so with this in mind, i have drafted my dream response to phelp's conundrum. it follows as such:

hell yeah, i smoked weed. i'm 23, i'm the best in the world ever at what i do, i only work like once every four years and after winning a record eight gold medals this summer, i feel it is my right to blow off a little steam at a party every once in awhile. really, why the fuck do you care and who are you to fucking judge me? i can smoke a pound of weed and still kill all you fools in a swim race, because that's how i roll. i'm michael phelps, bitches! and it's just a little weed, it's not like i'm making crystal meth in my bath tub. i'm just trying to get a little high, peace out.

but then again, if he made that statement he would have to apologize for the use of profanity because our precious puritanical american values(see: hypocracy)just couldn't handle it.

america has shit on its face because its head is stuck up its ass.

30 January 2009

reasons and reasoning

as anyone who monitors my cinematic viewing patterns by perusing the the dear diary section directly to the left already knows, i have recently and very unintentionally completed a weeks worth of film spectatorship that contained three films that dealt with various themes of race relations. at this point i will concede that the discussion henceforth will not deal with my own thoughts on the issue, but instead with how well, or in instances not too well, clint eastwood's gran torino, tom mccarthy's the visior, and alan clarke's made in britain present their somewhat pre-structuralized takes on the issue.

in addition to serving as the endcap to this threesome, my viewing of made in britain also served as my introduction to the supposedly realist world of english resident genius filmmaker alan clarke. as one of a series of clarke films that deal with the structural failings of the conformity seeking mentality of the english educational system, the film started off well enough as clarke used his camera to calmly record, without much in the way of emotional hystrionics or pyrotechnics, a young tim roth's maniacal rampage against society. i begin to fall in love with the long tracking shots that casually observe the goings on with an almost bemused view of the anarchist rebellion on display and i convince myself that i am truly watching a master of the kitchen sink realism as clarke is allowing me to calmly observe while allowing me to reserve judgment for a later time, if not suspending it altogether. but then clarke does something that seems a bit out of character for the aesthetic that he has previously built. just as the film reaches the crux of it's issue, and finds itself at a point where it can finally provide some clarification on tim roth's seemingly unprovoked rebellion against society, it really seems to chicken out, allowing roth's character to babble incoherently and unconvincingly about the supposed fall of england being somehow tied to the influx of various non-native cultures. it is at this point that i am unsure whether clarke is making some blanket statement about racism being a crutch of the unenlightened or if he is just rendering his character as completely idiotic, therefore taking the stance that the rebellion has no idea what is even causing it to rebel. for argument's sake i will choose the latter, because it will allow me the room to compare clarke's ideology with that of the establishment educational system that he seems to distrust. when clarke hangs roth out to dry in that interogation scene, he essentially makes the point that these kids have no choice but to rebel because they aren't bright enough to see the systems at work that keep them in place, for only smart guys like alan clarke(or the english government) can do that. so they misplace their hate in petty things like racism until hopefully one day they see a slice of alan clarke's realism on the telly and realize the bullshit system in place and make a change. nope. clarke dips his otherwise aesthetically appealing film into the realm of smug intellectual finger pointing and therefore renders his "realism" as both artless and uninspired and he fails to reach the standards that accompany his premature annointment among the greats of british realism like leigh and loach. nice try alan, but next time save the political meanderings and intellectual superiority complex and just stick with the facts.

similar in smug intellectual approach is tom mccarthy's lackluster follow up to his heartfelt, emotionally complex station agent, the visitor. where in the station agent the battles toward forging a friendship and emotional connection are hard fought, the ones in the visitor are often times too easy. it's like, so let me get this straight, a cold, lonely, grieving, introspective prig of a professor comes back to his long abandoned old apartment in the city and finds two illegal immigrants have taken up residence and two seconds after everyone calms down from the all too quick emotional outbursts, this prig instantly becomes a neo-hippie, socialist who starts a commune for illegal immigrants in his apartment and sits around in his underwear playing in drum circles. really? that fast? shit doesn't change like that in two seconds. nerdy economists don't just adopt new personalities and become extroverted immigration law challengers over night because a few things happen to them or they witness some shit. it takes time to develop a new voice like that. it takes fighting and biting and piss and vigor. it's hardfought, like the station agent. and it's this lack of understanding of simple concepts of human personality that essentially negates mccarthy's right headed, sense of understanding between cultures as merely pre-programmed liberal agenda. this is a lite version of a film for the new yorker reading set who like to feel that they only have time for "important" films. i can't believe that the generally amiable and spot on richard jenkins pulled an oscar nom for a softball lobbing, walk in the park role like this one.

and that clint eastwood didn't for his badass turn as walt kowalski in gran torino. to be honest, i have never been a big fan of eastwood as a director, but i do love this film because it ascends to seemingly higher plane of human understanding than his usual turns at revisionist demythologising. while eastwood still relies on some tropes of genre to deconstruct the very essence of the "macho" myth of male behavior, i find that this time around eastwood id finding a bit of beauty in the gray area between violent reaction and a more peaceful resistance. whereas the eastwood demystification machine has previously stuck to the credo that violence, especially the unwarranted variety, only leads to more violence, and there is that message in this film too, this time he seems to revel in it. he seems to goad the audience into wanting an outlaw josey wales type response where clint goes in and mows down everyone. we want the violence and when we get the more intellectual resolution we are not entirely pleased or displeased. and the endpiece is more effective because of it. clint wins again with his level headed, anti-dirty harry, anti-"shoot first" mentality. but this time he does so in a way that doesn't condemn the violent reactions and responses in anyone. in clint's "shade of grey" world racists, who behave as such with a certain amount of dignity and reasoning, can be good people. people who lend a hand one minute can be bad news the next. things and minds are fluid, everchanging things, yet the essentials will always ring true. good people will find other good people even if they have to climb through all sorts of bullshit to do it. that and the mind is a better problem solver than the fists. good lessons, indeed.