Tuesday, October 17, 2006

So anyway.

Right, so where was I? Oh yeah... A list of random things I want to get out of the way. Huzzah for lists.
  • Two years ago I read Tom Perrota's Little Children. It didn't make a huge impact, but it was a pleasant enough read. Odd, as novels about sex predators and the havoc they create aren't normally "pleasant," but whatevs. It was well-written and smart enough and I enjoyed it. When I heard that Todd Fields was following up Granola Death Wish In the Bedroom by collaborating with Perrota on a film version of Little Children, I was intrigued. And when the eerie/ominous/beautiful trailer dropped, I was actually excited for the project.


    Look: I get it, the film's gorgeous. Antonio Calvache is a fine cinematographer. And yes, Kate Winslet is one of the best actresses working. Noted. But I have a really hard time sitting through two-plus hours of reactionary, puritanical claptrap masquerading as "progressive" satire. Sorry. Do we really need another film that tells us that the 'burbs are a hotbed of hypocrisy? Really? Oh I forgot, there's also a really weak bit of Iraq-allegory and a whole lot of anti-sex posturing. To recap: the suburbs are filled with hateful, ignorant people; fear controls us and that's stupid; porn is bad. Thanks, Todd, but no thanks.

    Of course, while Little Children is being ridiculously lavished with praise, John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus is being largely ignored. It's far from a perfect film, but it's legitimately progressive and patriotic and that's... well, refreshing.

  • Best passage from a book I couldn't manage to finish:
    "You will not apply for membership, but the tribe of the elderly will claim you. Your present will not keep pace with the world's. This slippage will stretch your skin, sag your skeleton, erode your hair and memory, make your skin turn opaque so your twitching organs and blue-cheese veins will be semivisible. You will venture out only in daylight, avoiding weekends and school holidays. Language, too, will leave you behind, betraying your tribal affiliations wherever you speak. On escalators, on trunk roads, in supermarket aisles, the living will overtake you, incessantly. Elegant women will not see you. Soon detectives will not see you. Salespeople will not see you, unless they sell stair lifts or fraudulent insurance policies. Only babies, cats, and drug addicts will acknowledge your existence. So do not fritter away your days. Sooner than you fear, you will stand before a mirror in a care home, look at your body, and think, E.T., locked in a ruddy cupboard for a ruddy fortnight."
    --David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.

  • Worst passage from a book that I did manage to finish:
    "I was able to enter the room and stroll about and, magically, I did not get in the way of the Gestapo officer and the Chinaman who were having their way with Nicole [Kidman]. She wore a very revealing brassiere, a size or two too small, I calculated--how else was her bosom such a promontory? And her matching white panties were meshed with a garter belt that held up her long stockings. She gasped and sighed at every intrusion and indecency from her odd Abbot and Costello. You know the sort of thing."
    --David Thomson, Nicole Kidman.

  • Regarding David Thomson's Nicole Kidman:
    (1) Dude, "chinaman" is not the preferred nomenclature.
    (2) The book isn't as bad as the passage above. It's actually a really entertaining riff on Kidman's body of work.

  • When I was 12, this was, like, maybe the sickest shit ever:

    No, I'm not joking.

  • Trust me on this, bump Weeds: Season One to the top of your Netflix queue. Thank you.

  • Oh, one more: buy AIR's Late Night Tales pronto. I know, I know, just what you need, another chillout comp. I ask you this: how many chillout comps do you have that successfully segues a Cure song into a Black Sabbath song into a Nino Rota track? Yeah, that's what I thought. Buy it.

  • Monkey portraits!

  • And because it's been two months, an Armondism just for you:
    "The difference between Infamous and last year’s Capote is the difference between feeling and sophistication. Hoffman and his writer, director team Dan Futterman and Bennett Miller took pride in loathing Capote (a subtle, culturally accepted homophobia). They built their bad-art, Oscar-nominated reputations on Capote’s dead body while sneering that Capote had built his literary reputation on the deaths of Smith, Hickok and the Clutter family. It was an arrogant indie attempt at seeming superior to an artist of an earlier era. (There are Hitler biopics more compassionate than Capote.) This contempt gave itself away in the film’s pseudo-sophisticated literary exposé. But condemnation of Capote’s careerism actually reflected Hoffman’s own gloating egotism, his look-at-me stunt performance."


At 4:15 AM, Anonymous Nayiri said...

So Keith went to a conference in Germany, blah blah blah, and this guy that he just met through a mutual colleague comes up to him and says, "So I hear you have an Asian wife. I was stationed in Nanking during the war and picked myself up a China doll." Just as bad as Chinaman? Perhaps, perhaps not...

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Oh...how right you are about Little Children. In a way I'm angry I only wrote a tiny capsule review, for it truly is a disaster of the highest order.

Dude, "chinaman" is not the preferred nomenclature. That killed me.

"This is not a guy who built the railroads, this is a guy who peed on my rug."

I might just have to read that Thomson book now.

You couldn't get through the Mitchell book? I find him to be one of the most consistently fascinating writers. Have you read Ghostwritten? You should give it a try. Very clever.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Ny: China doll? Mwa-ha-ha. Sorry. Shouldn't laugh. But mwa-ha-ha.

FB: Thank God, there are not enough people who hate Little Children.

I understand why Thomson's book has largely been dismissed (I mean, yeah, his infatuation is a little creepy and his constant invocations of the above-mentioned Belle De Jour fantasy is way creepy), but I love his voice and his writing on Eyes Wide Shut, Birth, etc. is really effing great.

Have you read Cloud Atlas? The concept is this: there are thirteen (I think thirteen) chapters and each one is told from a different narrator in a different narrative form. I was knocked out by the first six or seven and then I arrived at the "interview with an android in the year 4027" chapter and was just totally derailed. I really need to pick it back up.

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Filmbrain said...

I've read all his books, save for Black Swan Green, and I've been blown away by each one.

Do give Cloud Atlas another go. There's a great payoff at the end.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger John Barleycorn said...

I read Little Children in a day. It was fluff. Books that cannot take pedophilia seriously (or take its satire of pedophilia lightly enough), are stupid. He should watch Happiness and learn what funny molestation is all about.

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Filmbrain said...

B.A. - Have you seen the film? It's beyond pathetic what Field does to the McGorvey character. You see, we morons who go and watch films are too stupid to realize just how scary child molesters are. On top of that, a Hollywood film MUST include a round of redemption at the end for all characters.

God I had Todd Field. He should have stopped with Nick Nightingale.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Dashiell said...

i think you all are wrong about the movie of 'little children', but that's fine. who are the characters that got redemption?

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Redemption? I would argue that one character gets redemption: the ex-cop. I fail to see how this negates my problems with the film.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Dashiell said...

just bringing up what your boy filmbrain was saying.

i'm not trying to negate your problems with the film. i don't think i could say a goddamn thing that would change your mind. but i'll wait a few months for when you maybe will watch it again and somehow change your mind about it :). !!!!

At 3:24 PM, Blogger girish said...

Welcome back, Ben!

Thanks for the AIR tip. Just plopped it into my cart.

btw, I've been groovin' on Diplo's Fabriclive mix, which is amazing, esp. if you're into Miami Bass-style sounds. First time I'd heard of the Fabriclive series; any recommendations from the series? I had a feeling you'd know about it.

And have you heard the new DJ Shadow? What do you think? The reviews have been really mixed, but I'm probably going to pick it up anyway. (Haven't heard it yet.)

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Thanks, G.
I think you're really going to like that Air comp.
And yeah, that Diplo mix is great. The only other entry I have in the series is #9 from Jacques Lu Cont. It's a really fun mix of electro and pop and '80s rock. I mean, how wrong can you go when your mix includes Röyksopp, Steve Miller Band, Tom Tom Club and the Pixies?

At 9:26 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Oh and as for Mr. Shadow... yeah, I really haven't heard anything from it and I'm almost scared to, the reviews have been that depressing. Let me know what you think.

At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dude, 'chinaman' is not the preferred nomenclature."

In the passage you site, Thomson is deliberately writing from a 1940s perspective, to place Nicole in the Hollywood of that era by employing one of its non-pc idioms.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Ben said...

I know. I was quoting The Big Lebowski in an attempt to be humorous.

At 5:25 AM, Blogger Joshua said...

speaking of androids in the year 2047, did you ever finish "Specimen Days?"

And those monkey portraits are by the same chick who did those crying baby portraits everyone got so mad about. Now PETA will want to kill her too.


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