Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Kraut by any other name...

The 'Trix wonders why they don't just reproduce the entire script in the IMDb's memorable quotes section of His Girl Friday. She has a point*.

After watching Dr. Strangelove over the weekend, I'm thinking that it deserves the same treatment. There are just too many favorite quotes/moments: Ripper's reasons for launching an unauthorized nuclear attack (bodily fluids), the President's conversation with Dmitri (the Russian PM), any/everything involving the good Dr. Strangelove. But perhaps my most favoritest of favorites is the back-and-forth between General Turgdison and his secretary, Miss Scott. You know, it goes a little something like this:

Miss Scott: Freddie, the thing is, the General is in the powder room right now. Could you tell me what it's about? Just a second... [shouting] Apparently they monitored a transmission about eight minutes ago from Burpleson Air Force Base. [to phone] Right. [shouting] It was directed to the 843'rd bomb wing on airborne alert. [to phone] Yeah. [shouting] It decoded as Wing Attack, Plan R.

Turgidson: Um ah, tell him to call uh what's his name. Base commander. Ripper. I have to think of everything?

Miss Scott: [to phone] The General suggests you call General Ripper, the 843rd base commander. Oh. [shouting] All communications are dead.

Turgidson: Bull! Tell him to do it himself.

Miss Scott: Freddie, the General asks if you could possibly try again yourself. I see. [shouting] He says he's tried personally several times, but everything is dead. Even the normal phone lines are shut down.

Damn. It doesn't read nearly as well. You'll have to take my word for it: hi-lar-ious. If it's not your favorite... well, fine. I don't blame you. Hell, upon next viewing, it probably won't be mine either.

Humor me: your vote for favorite Strangelove moment in the comment section.

*This is the perfect time to point out that the His Girl Friday script was 180 pages long. In any other universe, that would equal a roughly three hour running time. But in Hawksville, where people talk, uh, faster, that translates to ninety minutes. Go figure.

Mao and Hitler and Kinsey (Oh My).

Wonkette point me in the direction of this most important list. (You know how I love me some lists.) Human Events Online presents THE TEN MOST HARMFUL BOOKS OF THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY. Check it:

  1. The Communist Manifesto by Marx/Engles
  2. Mein Kempf by Hitler
  3. Quotations from Chairman Mao by Mao
  4. The Kinsey Report by Kinsey
  5. Democracy amd Education by Dewey
  6. Das Kapital by Marx
  7. The Feminine Mystique by Freidan
  8. The Course of Positive Philosophy by Conte
  9. Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzche
  10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by Keynes

I understand the inclusion of books by insane psychopaths (i.e. Hitler, Kinsey). No arguing there. I understand the Mao and the Marx entries. (Hell, I agree. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.) But does John Dewey really deserve that fifth slot? His crimes (according to the Human Events Panel): writing in "pompous and opaque prose" and urging "the teaching of 'thinking skills'" which would go on to "nurture the Clinton generation." Damn that Dewey!

What's crazy about the Friedan entry is that they spend so little time on what her book espouses and more on gossip gleaned from a Salon.com (!) review of Friedan bio. ("The author documents that 'Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer.'") At least she wasn't a commie lesbo!

I hope that was helpful, kids. Now you know which books are acceptable to bring to this weekend's Sean Hannity - Let Freedom RingTM Book Burning Party.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

An open letter to Scott Rudin.

Dear Mr. Rudin,

As you seem to focus on turning upper-middlebrow works of lit into blah films, I didn't want you to miss the chance to turn what seems to be a scintillating essay/real-life story into a mediocre film.
Perhaps you've heard about "I Wonder Why?" It's an angry piece of work that a PO'd fourth-grade teacher wrote to his class. I haven't read the whole thing (maybe one of your ace interns would be a lamb and track it down and forward it to me), but the excerpt that I did read* makes me think that Will Ferrell could kill with this thing.

I await your response.



*Teacher to class (after failed spelling bee): "What should have been a nice little game turns into anger and sadness. I hate my class at times like this, because anytime I try to do something fun, they ruin it. They can take the best thing in the world and just ruin it."

Fun with Photoshop.

You hipsters most likely caught the Pitchfork scoop that everyone's favorite robo-Björk fetishist/auteur, Chris Cunningham, is dropping a short film called Rubber Johnny on July 12.
Pitchfork, however, didn't show you the artwork.
Allow me to spread the warmth:

You know, scratch that. I was going to post the picture here, but it kind of makes me want to die... so I'll give you the link and you can bask in the sickness. Enjoy.

(Thanks to PL for the link [I guess].)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Things I'd like to discuss but can't (due to time constraints [i.e., The Dumb Job That I Am Leaving]):

  • Tarnation: How it supremely kicked my ass and might just be the best film of 2004 and you should all rush out and see it. (Oh and how I wish there'd been better fonts in the intertitles, but that's neither here nor there.)

  • Primer: How it's one of the most pleasantly obtuse and incomprehensible movies I've seen in ages and how everyone should shoot on Super16. Oh and it's crazy smart and you should all rush out and see it.

  • Billy Corgan's new single: Strike one: It's called "Mina Loy (M.O.H.)" Strike two: it's really a really bland piece of electrorock.

  • Nikka Costa and her single "Till I Get to You": Why do I like this song so much? And is she genuine or a white girl version of Lenny Kravitz? So confusing.

  • How the newly revamped Moistworks is supremely coups de pied de mon âne with posts like this.

  • And finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't provide you with today's ArmondismTM: "Any reviewer who pans [Brian DePalma's Mission to Mars] does not understand movies, let alone like them." (I can't find the full reivew online, but it's quoted in this interview.)

Somebody got their hair did.

Let us pause and give thanks to Phil Spector. Not just for giving us the wall of sound and "Be My Baby" and the ever-tasteful "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)," but for the most spectacular jewfro ever. Ever.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Let the debate begin.

I'm not sure why I'm even bothering... but here's Time Magazin's "ALL-TIME 100 Movies."
These things kill me, but I couldn't not link to it. That's all. Go check it out and get pissy over a dumb, arbitrary list (like I did).

OK, two complaints before I go:City of God made the cut and Blue Velvet didn't? Talk to Her is on there, but not The Red Shoes? OK, I'll stop. (But if you want to share any of your personal outrages, there's always the comment section.)

Friday, May 20, 2005

No, that's not soft; that's obesity.

My new favorite time-waster.

And on a totally unrelated note: don't miss this post over at Moistworks.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Film Crit of the Day.

"Some may claim to not like The Green Mile, but they’d be lying buttwipes to deny its impact."

--Armond White, New York Press.Such vintage Armond, I love it.

Pop guerrillaz.

After languishing on my shelf for eight monts (No late fees! Thanks Netflix!), I finally rewatched Todd Haynes' Safe.I'm not sure I concur that the film--a minimalist portrait of a woman on the verge of a complete and total breakdown--is the best of the decade*, but it's certainly one of the most bold and provocative.

It's been years since I first saw the film, but I remembered how potent it is... the way that subtle hum on the soundtrack and the sting of all the flourescent lighting gets to you, enforcing the notion of toxicity through everyday life. I didn't remember how darkly comedic the whole thing is. Somehow Haynes manages to skewer suburban hypocricy with grace and wit, without it coming off as tired and pathetically obvious (a la Todd Solondz).

And I really shouldn't have been surprised by Julianne Moore's extraordinary performance (for fuck's sake, she's Julianne Moore), but it's so entirely original and fearless and (at times) ugly that it's unreal that a mainstream actress was willing to tackle it**. That's the genius of Moore (and Haynes, too): She's smart enough to find the right risks to take, the ones that push the limits of popular film without breaching them.

Speaking of whip-smart pop-radicals, I tracked down a used copy of Armond White's The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World (for three bucks, no less). Holy shit is this guy good***. I've barely made a dent in the thing, but have already been treated to a passionate defense of Spielberg's The Color Purple adaptation, a dismissal of the "immoral" Pulp Fiction, an essay on why Jane Campion's The Piano is painfully out of touch with modern feminist thought, the assertion that Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video was the best film (short or feature length) of 1989, and an appraisal of Tami from the second season of The Real World. (And I still have--among many others--polemics on Metallica, 2Pac, Spike Lee, Spielberg's treatment of history, and Erasure's Pop! to look forward to.) I'd advise you to track that shit down. Everybody could use a little more combative pop crit in their lives, don'tcha think?

Oh, one more pop rebel bit: I've yet to tire of M.I.A.'s Arular. Months after its release, I'm still repeatedly listening to "Bucky Done Gone" and "10 Dollars" and "Sunshowers," etc. If you somehow managed to avoid or miss the album, go buy it now and start making up for lost time.

* That's a link to the Village Voice's first annual film critics poll. As it happened in 1999, they not only ask for the critic's pick for film/etc. of the year, they ask for a list of best films of the decade and the century. You could spend hours looking at critics' ballots. And when I say "You could," I mean "I could."

** I am reminded of a quote from The Cinetrix's favorite critic, Noni Da: "What Moore does with her role is so beyond the parameters of what we call great acting that it nearly defies categorization." (From her Far From Heaven review).

*** By "good," I mean "crazy." Well, "crazy and obscenely intelligent."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Apocalypse watch.

1. Hot Topic has a special Napoleon Dynamite Store.

2. It features an insane amount of merch. Often said merch is modeled by Hot Topic-y models. (See above.)

3. This makes me:
a) believe the end times are near nigh.
b) want to die.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Z/LCD & M.I.A./D.O.A.

  • I owe Xan Cassavetes an apology. I was under the impression that she had made some boring doc about a community access cable show that specialized in esoteric crapola and the weird cult that ate it up. Oops. Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession is an expertly (and lovingly) assembled look at the first pay cable channel in the Los Angeles area, which specialized in art house fare and esoteric crapola. It's like Boogie Night minus the porn and money and with lots of movie programming and cinephilia. There are, of course, other (darker) elements to it, but I'm hesitant to give anything away. The movie caught me completely off guard and if you know little to nothing about it, all the better. IFC's replaying it a couple times this week, make it a priority to catch it.

  • I caught the LCD Soundsystem/M.I.A. show over the weekend and it made me feel very old. Who knew that every single high school student in Los Angeles county is way into Sri Lankan rappers and middle-aged disco-rockers? These kids must really be into those Interweb blogs and the Pitchfork. Whatever, it was a loud, sweaty, visceral blast. Oh and here's proof that I wasn't the oldest person at the show. (And is it me, or is her nose melting in this pic?)

  • Has anyone seen Three Days of the Condor? If so, is it worth anymore of my time? I ask because I made it approximately 30 minutes in and I had to turn it off. Offense #1: one of the worst, most inappropriate scores I've ever heard. Offense #2: Robert Redford's unchecked preening. He's just the smartest, most dashing translator of foreign texts EVER and he just has such perfectly coiffed hair... you know, for a bookworm and all. It made me want to die. (Confession: I was trashed. Maybe I owe it a sober viewing. I somehow doubt it.)

Sith boom bah.

"The general opinion of Revenge of the Sith seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion."
--Anthony Lane, The New Yorker.

Postscript: Oh, how I love Metacritc Users and the wise 'n pithy things they write. "Dan R." disagreed with Anthony Lane's assessment of Sith. He gave the film a 9 out of 10 and commented: "Very good movie. Only problems were the acting and the script." I'm so relieved to hear that those are the film's only problems.

Postscript, the second: I feel compelled to point out that "Dan R." is no "G. Lee." G. got no love for the Punch-Drunk Love and and he wants the MetaUniverse to know:
"PT Anderson?" More like "PT Barnum". This movie proves that a sucker critic is born every minute. Punch Drunk Love is laughably pretentious excrement. It plays like Paul Thomas Anderson rented a ton of French movies and determined that they used icons and symbols to achieve depth. So he put meaningless icons and symbols in his movie, but forgot the depth. Half the theater was laughing AT the movie even before the film cut to floating colors for two minutes. There are great actors in this film, but they almost look embarrassed. The script is incompetent, the comedy is forced, the end result is a festering pile of faux-intellectual refuse.

Yes! Take that Barnum! (And stuff those symbols and icons while your at it.)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Hollywood ending.

Listen up fellow L.A. Los Angeles denizens, the Cinematheque has extended the run of Thom Andersen's brilliant Los Angeles Plays Itself through May 22nd. Now you have no excuse not to haul ass to the Egyptian and gorge yourself on this epic piece of porn for cinephiles.
Click here for dates/times.

Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday, Joshua.
May your day be filled with JJL, Jude Law, and a neurosurge-free bio-port.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sneaky bastard.

David Lynch's next film INLAND EMPIRE (yes, all caps as per the maestro's wishes) will premiere at Cannes next year. Lynch has been shooting the film on DV for the past two years with Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton, Justin Theroux and other unnamed actors. Variety's got more details.
This makes me a very happy boy.

UPDATE: Silly me. I have a full Variety Online subscription at work and I forget that not all Variety stories are available for free. I've posted the full, above-mentioned article in the comment section.

More buzz from Cannes: Woody Allen's new film is actually good. I remain skeptical. Remember: Melinda and Melinda was supposedly a "return to form." (The unfunny form? The dramatically inept form? Which form?) But A.O. has managed to make me (stupidly) get my hopes up for Match Point.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

N'oubliez pas...

...Noni and Tony have Cannes blog! (I'd say it's off to a good start-- surprisingly thorough. Let's see if they can keep it up.)

I think I already have.

Is former uberagent Sue Mengers trying to make me laugh? 'Cause I find some of her responses to the Vanity Fair/Proust questionnaire hi-lar-ious. And if she's not... well, I guess I'm just evil. (Via Defamer/FishBowlLA.)

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To be left alone.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I'd take any one.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Not having children.

What is your favorite occupation?

How would you like to die?
I think I already have.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Far from Heaven.

Kingdom of Heaven is not so hott, had a lackluster box office debut, etc. Got it. What sucks is this most likely kills any chance for a Crusades film that is, you know, actually good... like my idea for an epic take on The Children's Crusade.

In case you're unawares, there was a Children's Crusade (well, it's actually been historically debated and pretty much debunked, but it's a part of... um, of the people's history) led by a twelve year old French boy in the year 1212. The legend goes that he rallied thousands of fellow urchins to trek to Jerusalem, telling them that Jesus told him to get a bunch of kids to walk with him to the Mediterranean, whereupon the seas would part and they'd stroll over to the Holy Land. Then they'd saunter into Jerusalem and the warring factions would be so moved by the beauty and innocence that they'd throw down their weapons (and give the city back to the Christians, I guess). Anyway, the kids make it to the south of Italy and--surprise surprise--the seas didn't part. The little ones are then duped into getting onto seven boats "headed for the Holy Land." Yeah, except they weren't. The boats were slave boats and all the kids were sold into slavery/prostitution. Except for the ones who were on the two boats that were lost at sea.
The End.

Now tell me that that wouldn't make the best epic ever? My pitch: Gore Verbinski* directing little Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) as the French visionary and darling Dakota Fanning (as if I need to list Ms. Fanning's numerous accomplishments) as his plucky sidekick. (Note: I think it'd be best if the sidekick's a boy, so Ms. Fanning would be dressed en drag).

See? How could you go wrong? Tell me you wouldn't pay $10 to watch little Freddie and darling Dakota lead a mob of charming little jamhands** across picturesque Europe. And remember how you got all super-emotional when Freddie wept at the end of Finding Neverland? Well that was just 'cause one person died***. Get your hankies out, folks, 'cause Freddie got a lot more to cry about at the end of this one.

And that's the pitch. Feel free to leave suggestions/offers/ways to flesh out the plot/additional characters/actors in the comment section. Oh and I am unwilling to change the ending. I will not stand for a Hollywood ending.

* I'm open to other directors if, say, Brett Ratner showed interest.

** (c) 2004/2005 by Nayiri, all rights reserved.

*** Keeping it spoiler free.

Monday, May 09, 2005

California love (remix).

Just a few more bits on Los Angeles Plays Itself:

  • Wesley Morris nails it in the Globe: "It's porn for cinephiles, which is to say intellectually arousing and deeply entertaining."

  • Thom Andersen explains why he excluded Mulholland Drive ("In a a way, [Lynch] is still Betty, the naïve provincial in the big city, and maybe that’s why Mulholland Drive carries conviction when it stays with her point of view and feels artificial when it moves to other scenes, other stories. When she is transformed into a jealous spurned lover, I felt betrayed, and now I’m convinced my response was appropriate. Lynch betrayed his own vision to produce a sour, cynical addendum that is worthy of Billy Wilder.") and where Collateral would've fit in Los Angeles Plays Itself.


I was going to hate on Arianna and her new redonk blog-thingie (specifically, why the hell is she letting Hilary Rosen write sadly uninformed puff pieces?), but lo and behold: the Finke beat me to it. (And it's way nastier and vicious and gossipy than anything I'd write, obvs.)
Forgive them, these bleating blowhards on Arianna's blog, because they know not what they do. Not Seinfeld has-been Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her untalented TV-hyphenate husband, Brad Hall, making unfunny shtick of the anti-gay-marriage movement. Not has-been director Mike Nichols, using the forum to parade his high school grasp of U.S. history by mentioning "de Tocqueville" and "Dr. King" in the same paragraph. Not has-been brat-packer John Cusack, penning the 459,308th remembrance of Hunter Thompson for the sole purpose of letting the world know that the actor scored an invite to the writer's intimate memorial service.

God bless thst crazy bitch.


Last week I menntioned that I was going to see Aimee Mann. It turned out to be an entertaining--and sloppy--show. (It was the tour kick-off, so Aimee & co. were still working the kinks out.) The highlight was an unplanned, by-request performance of "Invisible Ink," wherein Aimee kept forgetting the lyrics and then did an entire verse in William Shatner spoken word mode. I also enjoyed this moment:
The band finishes a rocked-out version of "Sugarcoated." Applause. Then, as the applause dies:
Female Concertgoer: ROCK THE FUCK ON!
Aimee: Did you just yell 'Rock the fuck on'? Encouraging and hostile at the same time. I like it.

California love.

Since Kingdom of Heaven has been properly dismissed* in my neck of the internets, it'd be redundant for me to jump on the haterade bandwagon. So how about a little love?
Thom Andersen's revered doc Los Angeles Plays Itself was finally screened on its home turf over the weekend and it's just as sharp and hypnotic as I'd heard. Andersen, a native Angeleno and professor of film and video at CalArts, delivers a nearly three hour cine-essay (illustrated with some 200 film excerpts) that explores Los Angeles as background/subject/character in film. Like my favorite film professors/lectures in college, Anderson is fiercly intelligent, thoroughly researched, and combative as hell. He loves Los Angeles (don't even think of calling it L.A.-- "a derisive diminutive"), is pissed at the way the city and its inhabitants have been portrayed by "Hollywood" and spends much of the film deconstructing the city's cinematic mythology. What's best is he's not content to just aim his scorn at the easy targets (Cobra, Grand Canyon, Hanging Up, and "Dragnet"), he takes on the beloved and the sacred cows (Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, Short Cuts, Woody Allen, and Joan Didion**). I'm not saying that I buy into all his readings (his Altman/Short Cuts hatred is flippant and off), but his arguments are so damn compelling, it's hard not to hang on ever word.
Even at three hours, Andersen skips some topics I'd think would be no-brainers (namely P.T. Anderson's portrayal of the Valley [or, really, any discussion of the Valley at all], David Lynch's nightmare visions of Hollywood and the hills above it, and Quentin Tarantino's fixation with the South Bay), but with a subject as broad as it is, he has to. No matter, Los Angeles Plays Itself is a masterpiece as is and the best film I've seen all year. It goes without saying that if it finds its way to a theater/festival/whatevs near you, make it a top priority to see it.

* Josh hates on Edward Norton's Brando-as-leper king performance. I loved it-- every magnetic, hammy moment of it. I guess when you've been watching Orlando "Paint Drying" Bloom for 45 minutes, any sign of life or any kind of spark will do.

** I love Anderson's casual dismissal of Didion: "Forget the mystical blatherings of Joan Didion and company about the automobile and freeways. They say, 'Nobody walks [in Los Angeles].' They mean, 'No rich white person like us walks.'"

Friday, May 06, 2005

I Mimi Mine.

Dear Cintra Wilson,

Thank you for your LA Weekly review of Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, it brightened my otherwise endless and thoroughly blah Friday. True, I'm looking forward to an evening spent with a bunch of miserable Angelenos listening to live mopecore/unpopular pop music and it is almost the weekend... But still, your snark is much-appreciated and much-needed, especially these pieces:
  • Carey’s re-invention is particularly fascinating because of her whole new ethnicity — she is one-quarter black but has amplified this and declared her True Self to be African-American.
    Carey is also one-quarter Venezuelan, and half Irish, so the question is begged: If this is her "true self," why didn’t she go Gaelic? If Beyoncé had a panpipe, would Carey be picking up the shillelagh and releasing The Emancipation of Muirgheal?

    I'm adding G.C.M. to my lecixon. Like, now.
  • "Mine Again," a song in the style I have always affectionately referred to as "Ghetto Cologne Music," evokes Alicia Keys evoking Whitney Houston.

    No snark needed. Just quote La Mimi:
  • Mimi’s language is a fusion of ebonics and psychotherapy: "It’s like dat, ch’all . . . open off that Bacardi . . . them chickens is ash and I’m lotion . . . " flips over into, "My inferiority complex kicks in . . . and I’m paralyzed . . . "? "I’m feeling all out of my element/ throwing things, crying/tryin’ to figure out where the hell I went wrong."

See? Wouldn't that make your pathetic lunch-hour at Koo Koo Roo better? I thought so. Thanks.

Your friend,

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Two long years after the first collection, Palm Pictures finally announced the next wave of DVDs in their Director's Label series. Huzzah! The good news: we get super-deluxe compilations featuring videos, shorts, commercials, and whatever other ephemera from Mark Romanek, Anton Corbijn, Jonathan Glazer and Stéphane Sednaoui. The bad news: the street date is Sept. 13.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Film crit of the day.

The same backward and forward: dud.

--A.O. Scott's capsule review of Todd Solondz's latest cinematic hate letter to those bullys that fucked with him in junior high/his parents/the world. (Via Liz Penn.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The 700 Club presents the Quote of the Day.

"Yes, I really believe that."

--Pat Robertson to George Stephanopoulos.
Some background: Mr. Robertson appeared on Sunday's "This Week George Stephanopoulos" and announced that our federal judges are posing the most serious threat to America in 400 years. Stunned, Stenpanopoulos asked him if he was saying that these judges are more of a threat than Al Qaeda, the 9/11 terrorists, Nazi Germany, Japan, and the Civil War. He responded with the above quotation. Amen.

Checking in.

Side-tracked with the usual nonsense... like qutting my job (yes, finally) and finding another.
In the meantime, go appreciate Michael Powell. It's nice when retrospective pieces on esteemed figures aren't totally fawning and can concede some faults. (Best: "[Tales of Hoffman] is gorgeous to look at, pleasant to listen to and murder to sit through.")

Oh and I've been meaning to write something about Look at Me (I might still, but who knows when). In lieu of a lengthy write up, let me just say: if it's playing anywhere near you, go see it, you'll be glad you did.