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.