Obviously Losing

Location: Los Angeles, California

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Away from Her

Sarah Polley's "Away from Her" is the best film I've seen so far this year. It's a heart-wrenching yet hopeful picture, so delicate and understanding in its depiction of Alzheimer's disease. And the acting from Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie is transcendent.

Christie, still a natural beauty at the age of 66, doesn't ham it up; her performance is authentic and true, bold and complex. Pinsent matches her in every scene as a husband who must watch his loved one gradually fade away. His initial loneliness and anger seeps into our own perspective; we become him, gazing at this unfortunate situation, grasping at straws in our attempt to somehow improve the circumstance.

Yet, this film's champion is Polley, who at the tender age of 28 has constructed a film with the wisdom and eloquence normally reserved for those directors who've been around the block for a few decades.

Her script never says more than it needs to, and her camera's metaphors never strike a misguided note. One image particularly made an impression. Grant (Pinsent) is outside on the chilly Canadian snow, his voice-over telling the viewer how his wife's brain will slowly disconnect, as if all the switches in a switchboard were individually shut off. He then turns around and looks at his cabin, and as he does, each light in the house turns off one by one until he is left with a completely dark home.

He knows what the future holds. All that's left is to determine how he will respond - with self-pity or with a measure of grace?

Rating: **** (out of ****)

Google Maps Street View

This is flat out amazing.

Caught on the Bound

My friend Kevin's blog, Caught on the Bound, is back up to speed.

Which is good, because it's one of the most intriguing, humorous, and intriguingly humorous reads around.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

At World's End is a Dud

That was pretty damn awful.

- Jack's role has been severely reduced, and when he is on the screen, he's become a parody of himself. His freshness has vanished.

- Still recycling jokes from the first movie.

- The reliance on using the monkey for, what, six jokes? Oh crap, we need a joke here... well, let's use the monkey! People like cute monkeys!

- So many plot-lines... betrayals, counter-betrayals, counter-counter-betrayals... it became incomprehensible.

- The corny homage to the western genre before the final battle begins.

- The corny homage to "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman."

- Keith Richards on screen for 90 seconds, doing nothing.

- Being able to understand about 70% of what Davy Jones said, and 30% of what Chow Yun-Fat said.

- The huge buildup for Calypso, which leads to absolutely nothing.

- Jack's sudden emergence as the greatest acrobat on earth.

- Not being able to tell which ship was which... which ship represented who... who was on which ship... and not really caring to try to figure it out anyways, because you just knew someone was going to unleash another betrayal and throw everything out of whack.

- Lord Beckett's slow-mo scene. That had to have cost millions, and for what?

- Elizabeth's "let's fight for freedom" speech.

Ugh, ugh, ugh... this makes the first film look like a stroke of genius.

Rating: *1/2 (out of ****)

Pirates 3

It would take quite a long time to list everything that is wrong with the new "Pirates" movie.

I may share my thoughts at a later date, but until then, Ask a Ninja's review of the 2nd "Pirates" movie pretty much sums up my feelings.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Discover Your Daemon

At the website for the upcoming movie, "The Golden Compass," you can take a short quiz and find out which "daemon" best represents you. In the novel, a daemon is your soul in an external animal form.

My daemon was Pelagia, a tiger. What's yours?

Slow Motion Food Fight

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jellyfish Paradise

This is one of those sights that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Loney, Dear - Saturday Waits

David Blaine's Street Magic

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pennies Must Go

LA Movie Geography

For movie lovers who live in Los Angeles, this clip is quite cool. For everyone else, you probably could care less.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Real Colbert

An interesting glimpse of Stephen Colbert while out of character.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Wow. That was bad.

Let me count the ways:

1. The promise of this third installment was that Spider-Man/Peter Parker would venture into his "dark side." Yet, unlike "Batman Begins," this struggle isn't a psychological one. Peter isn't truly battling himself; the battle does NOT lie "within," as the trailer tagline promised.

Oh no, because the source of Peter's transgression to the dark is a gooey alien substance. It lands, of all places, next to Peter's scooter, cause, um, well, that's where the alien substance wanted to land.

So it's disappointing that Peter's brief walk on the dark side is a result of a deus ex machina. Peter's not really to blame - it's all the black goo's fault. Yawn. Could you imagine what would happen to Christian Bale's tormented Batman if he was overtaken by the black goo?

Worse, though, is that the movie presents the "dark" Peter Parker as an emo-kid with an appallingly bad hairdo:

We will not mention what happens when the movie decides to pay homage to the original "Nutty Professor," other than that the scene miserably fails to strike the right comedic note.

2. Way too many villains. You should not be introducing a THIRD villain with only 30 minutes left in a movie.

3. Kirstin Dunst's Mary Jane is a drag. Seriously, girl, you're dating Spider-Man. Get over yourself.

4. The movie cost $258 million (although some sources report up to $300 million). The question must be asked - what was all that money used for? Clearly not the special effects, which were a major step down from "Spider-Man 2."

The Sandman was quite the sorry looking CGI effect - a bloated mud thingy that would have been better off as a spokesperson for Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

Elsewhere, you can easily tell when Spidey and his foes are mere computer effects. I even caught a CGI Mary Jane in there.

5. The film chugs and chugs along to its 140-minute runtime. It felt much longer.

Conversely, the two-hour "Hot Fuzz" rolled along at an extremely lively pace, cramming sharper humor, psychologically deeper characters, crisper action sequences, and many more Brits than "Spider-Man 3."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Loney, Dear

Loney, Dear's "Loney, Noir" is the summer album I've been waiting for. The fact that it was released in February doesn't really matter... it's a gem of energizing sweetness. And it's going to be in my car for quite some time.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Summer Resolutions

I'm the type of person who never completes all of my goals, but who doesn't start summer full of renewed hope and optimism?

1. Work out 3x a week and stay with it for longer than 3 months, which seems to be the magic number that always destroys my efforts to get in shape.

2. Read The Great Gatsby and 1984 - two books I've been putting off for far too long.

3. Watch The Seven Samurai, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Godfather Part II - three movies I've also been putting off.

4. Listen to many of the top 100 albums of all time, as determined by Acclaimed Music.

5. Beat Okami, which has taken far too long to finish, and start playing Resident Evil 4 and/or Final Fantasy XII.

6. Have a good time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Way Cool...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bugatti Veyron

I generally don't care that much about cars, but this is just plain awesome.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Rufus Wainwright

The music video for Wainwright's new single, "Going to a Town," which is from his latest album, "Release the Stars."

And for good measure, here's him singing "Poses," which is one of the most beautifully written and sung songs of recent years:

And here's Rufus having a gay ol' time with "Oh What a World."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Variety article

My latest article for Variety is here.

It's about the 501st Legion, a "Star Wars" fan group that does charity work.

Summer Movie Season

So, the summer movie season officially began yesterday with "Spider-Man 3" grossing $59 million, the largest single-day gross ever. I'll get around to see the movie sometime next week, although I've been hearing some pretty negative things about it.

This summer looks to shatter box-office records. There's the third Pirates, the third Shrek, the third Harry Potter, the third Rush Hour, the third Bourne, not to mention The Simpsons Movie, Ratatouille, Transformers, Evan Almighty, and Ocean's 13. Expect to read stories all summer long about how much money these movies are making.

And yet, I'm not really looking forward to most of them. If "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" is anything like "Dead Man's Chest," we're in for one long slug of a movie (the reported running time is 170 minutes).

The trailers for "Shrek 3" haven't impressed me. The movie is looking really desperate in searching for jokes; it seems to be simply relying on previous jokes in the series instead of searching for true satirical inspiration.

Don't get me started on the reasons why we don't need a third "Rush Hour."

Not to mention yet another "Ocean's" movie.

"Transformers" is directed by Michael Bay, so that pretty much means there's a 1% chance it'll be good.

"Evan Almighty" might be fun, but its bloated $170 million budget (this is a comedy, folks) is disconcerting.

So, it's a summer of excess, sequels, threequels, remakes, and a whole lot of moneymaking because the masses love to go see things that remind them of things they've seen before.

It's a strange phenomenon - people are much more eager to see something if they know what's it's going to be like (hence the record numbers for "Spider-Man 3"). But, offer the public something truly original, and they scratch their heads.

That said, this summer may contain a few gems. I'm looking forward to these pictures:

May 25 - Paprika

I'm an anime buff, and this looks to be one intriguing, weird, mess of a movie. Directed by Satoshi Kon, who made the complex and absorbing "Perfect Blue."

June 1 - Knocked Up

Early reports are saying Judd Apatow's new comedy is even better than "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

June 22 - Black Sheep

Gotta see the New Zealand zombie sheep movie.

June 29 - Ratatouille

Pixar can do no wrong, and Brad Bird ("The Incredibles") is one of the most talented animation directors around. The 9-minute preview at disney.com is breathtaking.

July 13 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I've enjoyed all the Harry Potter movies, and the trailer for this one is rather striking (beautiful cinematography by ace Slawomir Idziak).

July 27 - The Simpsons Movie


August 10 - Stardust

I cherish Neil Gaiman's books, so I'm hoping for the best. If anything, it'll be nice counter-programming to all the big-budget gluttony.

August 17 - The Invasion

This started as a picture by Oliver Hirschbiegel, who directed the masterful "Downfall," and has since been taken over by James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta") and the Wachowski Brothers ("The Matrix"). Who's artistic vision will win out? Will it be a complete disaster? Either way, I'm intrigued.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Computer Monster

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

M.C. Escher Animated Short