Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Post Christmas Post

Life has been insanely busy. The home computer is acting strange and only turning on when it wants to. Working at a Childrens Museum allows for next to no Christmas vacation since all the kids are out of school and visiting the museum. But I'm getting by. Barely. I guess I'll just make a list of the Christmas haul here before hopefully having more time to write in teh upcoming weeks.

1. A fractured kneecap. This actually happened pre-christmas. It's actually a fractured kneecap and top of my tibia. Another indoor soccer injury. The bad thing is it seems to be getting worse over the past week as opposed to better. I am sure being at work at the museum, where it is impossible to get around 9000 people on crutches isn't helping matters. But supposedly I am on crutches till January 25. Needless to say I am frustrated and less than pleased to not be able to run or play soccer. But, considering I thought it was ligament damage initially, I am counting my blessings.

2. A sudden revival for yours and my Philadelphia Eagles. And what a great game on Christmas Day. Seeing the local Philadelphia broadcats after the game was ridiculous. The news anchors themselves could not contain their joy. They realized how much it meant to so much of the city for the Eagles to beat the Cowboys on Christmas day. Just sensational. And to think, a win vs Atlanta will give them teh division title on New Years Eve. How ridiculous. And at this rate, they have as good a chance as anyone in the NFC to make the Super Bowl. What a year. My Eagles Stadium blanket that I recieved will keep my warm at night as I dream of flying back to Philly for the superbowl.

3. A Toshiba Portable DVD Player I can't tell you how handy this came in when I was stuck at teh airport waiting out the traditional US Airways holiday delays. It will also come in contact for me at home and when I am travelling for work. I am just following my parents advice and not bringing it into work, so I don't get fired.

4. Two DVD Box Sets Film Noir Classic Collection Volume 1 and Film Noir Classic Collection Volume 3. The first of which I got with a gift card to Barnes and Noble. These will provide days and days of watching. Great films, great commentaries. I have two copies now of Out of the Past but i can give one to a friend if they are nice enough to me.

5. Giftcards for clothes, tons of food and drink at home, a Philly Sports book of Lists, a painting of the Queen II album cover by the guy who did the cover art to Pavement's Wowee Zowee album (I'm really not making that up!!), another Godard bio (this one not coming out till august, but it's preordered!) and much more.

Yeah, I got much more than I deserved for someone who has behaved poorly. Perhaps fractured kneecaps are the new coal.

I suppose I should get to work for the final time in 2006.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In a Lonely Place

After recently watching In a Lonely Place I have made the decision to watch as many Nicholas Ray films as I can find. At only 90 minutes In a Lonely Place is a quick view, and seems even quicker that that. You have brilliant, snappy dialogue. You have great performances from Bogart and a sensational turn by Gloria Grahame. Good lord, where are Hollywood women like Gloria Grahame these days?

There is so much to love and appreciate in this movie. It starts out with Bogart almost getting in a fight at a traffic light and shortly thereafter punching out another gentleman at the bar. This is supposed to be our hero in the film, Dixon Steele. But when he is questioned as a suspect in a murder the scipt is written just well enough that we aren't entirely sure if he has done it. As a love affair grows between him and Laura (Grahame) we are seeing Steele's violent side at the same time she does. Of course, somehow you wind up rooting for Dixon and Laura to be together, but there is that overwhelming sense of doubt in the back of the mind too, or at least mine that made me wonder if that really is a good idea.

This is often classified as a film noir, but maybe not in the classic sense of a noir. For one, Grahame for as sexy, witty, and wonderful as she is, she just isn't the femme fatale in the classic sense. The film is all about Dixon attempting to beat his own ghosts. If anything she brings out the best in him. She doesn't lead him to his own darker side, he gets there well enough on his own. She's there to save him, not to destroy him. Beyond that, at moments this os just a terribly sad film. The kind that leaves you staring at the screen speechless and wishing for a different set of circumstances.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lamar Hunt

Someday soon, I will post about something other than death.

I heard the news yesterday that Lamar Hunt passed away. Earlier in teh week it was known that he was fighting on his death bed, and that the Hunt family was hoping for a miracle.

As a soccer fan it's hard to measure just what Lamar Hunt meant to the sport in this country. He was a true believer in the game and lost millions of his own dollars helping to get MLS off the ground. The fact that the league even exists right now just shows that we owe Lamar everything.

As a Columbus Crew fan, Hunt's influence is even greater. Hunt poured millions more of his own dollars to get Crew Stadium built. I remember watching the first game at Crew stadium on a TV on ESPN or ESPN2. It was tape delayed if I remember correctly, but I remember seeing a soccer stadium sold out, and IO couldn't believe my eyes. There was actually a stadium built specifically for a professional soccer team in this country. Since then, more stadiums have popped up for more teams all around teh country, but after attending over 50 games in Crew Stadium I can tell you it's still the best stadium and most important stadium in this country.

I was fortunate enough to meet Lamar very briefly many years back. I was at Crew Stadium, which was my home away from home those days and walking around before the game, proud as hell to be a Crew fan and proud as hell to be in that stadium. This was around the time when Oklahoma City was the rumored expansion team/target of MLS. Lamar was walkingbehind the North end of the stadium with two suits from Oklahoma. They walked for another view and lamar was just standing behind 137 looking out onto the field. I took the opportunity to just walk up to him and thank him for his stadium and muttered some other things. He smiled and we carried on conversation for a few minutes. Soon after, the Oklahoma suits came back over and Lamar says, "Hey, I want to introduce you to my friend Scot. He's travelled out here from indy for every home game this season and has gone to NY, DC, Chicago, and LA to follow this team as well." At the same time being friendly as hell and trying hard as he coudl to sell the game and the passion of teh fans that followed the game.

For years, many of us have refferred to Crew Stadium as Hunt Park. It's been as official an unofficial moniker as there is. When initial votes failed to fund teh stadium and when rumors swirled of teh Crew moving to Chicago Lamar put up his own money and got the stadium done in Columbus. It really is the house that Lamar built. We have Toyota Park in Chicago, the Home Depot Center in LA, Pizza Hut Park in Dallas, but somehow the naming rights to Crew Stadium were never sold. Maybe, it's beacuse it was already named in most of the supporters minds. Hopefully this season the Crew and MLS will make the name official and officially change the name over to Hunt Park. It's fitting, and it's the least that we can do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

United 93

I gotta admit, I had no desire whatsoever to see United 93 when it came out. I really am unsure I even want to be writing about it now cause what can you say about those events that the film attempts to show. Last night, however, I did finally watch it.

I don't know what changed in my mind from the time the film hit theaters to a few weeks ago when I decided that I would take the two hours (though it turned out to be longer) to watch the film. Part of it had to be hearing admiration for the film, if that's even the right word, from people whose tastes I respect. Another part of it probably had to do with it being directed by Paul Greengrass who I thought did a fantastic job with Bloody Sunday a few years back.

I am glad that I watched it at home, on my own. I don't imagine I would have taken well to seeing it in the theater, beside some stranger chomping on popcorn or goobers. Or talking through the film, or giving political commentary through the film. Watching it at home also allowed me to pause the film 3 or 4 times as I was just gathering myself. I do think that Greengrass again did a great job, despite some websites calling hsi effort "a very special episode of 24." The images that were shown did not seem in anyway an attempt at shock or jingoism as I worried about and many of my friends worried about.

Whether or not the film is a cathartic experience as some reviews have said I guess would depend entirely on the viewer. I don't know if it was entirely cathartic for me, and I don't know whether thats what I wou;d have wanted it to be or what I was searching for either. In the end though, I didn't find the film distasteful as I initially feared it would be and it is a film I will never forget seeing. And at the same time one I would likely not watch again, and wonder if I would even reccomend it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

US Soccer hires Bob Bradley

Huh. I had a whole 6 paragraphs expressing my confusion and disappointment over this hire. But shockingly, I seem to have lost it all except for the title.

I know it's only on an interim basis, still, I wish someone would tell me this was a joke. What a discourging hire.

The LA Times sums it us such...

"This is yet another grand opportunity missed by U.S.Soccer, and you just wonder how many blows it can keep taking."

It isn't all that mellodramatic. US Soccer will continue to exist, it's just very unlikely to move forward under Bradley.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Claude Jade

Claude Jade died today.

Over the summer and the fall I watched all the Antoine Doinel movies. Like nearly any guy who had an affinity for these movies I completely fell in love with Claude Jade. She was Christine. She was the love of Antoine Doinel's life. And she was the girl that he pushed away. Through his cheating, and foolishness she was the girl he lost. Still after that it was clear that she still loved him, though she knew it couldn't be. I remember shaking my had at Antoine and at the situation when post-divorce in Love on the Run after a conversation waiting for a cab she asks Antoine to a movie. And Antoine says no. And I think to myself what an idiot. And then I realize in the same situation I may have done the same thing.

When I read of this death it hit me a little harder than I thought it would. In the Antoine Doinel films, especially those after the 400 blows, I think a lot of guys saw bits of themselves in Antoine, and sometimes especially in the way he made his relationships harder on himself than they needed to be. And I think that a lot of those same guys saw in in Christine, the girl that they wanted. Innevitably she was a little bit smarter than us, a little bit more pulled together, and of course her family was as wonderful as could be. And beyond all that, she was as patient as cold be. Whatever follies Antoine was going through on his own, or putting the two of them through she was always patient and always there. I, and I suspect many others, hesitate to say she was too good for Antoine. I've already projected myself onto Antoine, so then whoever the girl is would be too good for me. And thats not meant to sound melancholy as much as a whimsical smile appreciation for how much those characters came into and became a part of life.

From the Guardian obituary

The director's love shines through his alter-ego Doinel in Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed and Board (Domicile Conjugal, 1970) and Love on the Run (1978), as Christine puts up with Antoine's foibles and affairs, patiently waiting for him to face up to the adult consequences of being a husband and father. Memorable scenes pass through the mind like a montage: her teaching Antoine the best way to butter toast in the morning, their writing each other little notes, his calling her "my little mother, my little sister, my little daughter" in a taxi, and she replying she would rather be his wife; her attempts to guess Antoine's latest job, amusingly suggesting cab driver or water taster, her reaction when Antoine hangs a scissors on her ring finger, his affectionate response to her wearing glasses in bed, the medium tracking shot of her legs as she stops at a shop for tangerines then heads up the stairs, as one of the neighbourhood men longingly admires them.

Truth told I haven't seen any other films she had been in besides Truffaut's Doinel films. Even if I had, I'd likely still remember her as Christine. I think I'll watch Bed and Board tonight.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Feeling a bit Noirish

I recently viewed and then purchased Jaques Tourneur's Out of the Past. Actually I have viewed it about three times in the past week. I can't get enough of it. Robert Mitchum is outstanding. Jane Greer is a knockout. The dialogue is quick, snappy, and poetic as hell.It's one of those films where it's got that dark atmosphere and you know it's gonna end badly but you sit through 90% of it with a smile on your face because you wish you could come up with quick retorts like they do in the film. It's a whole different world.

Of course after watching that, I want to watch more Film Noir. I wasn't entirely sure that I would know where to start. I still don't know. Thankfully the fine people over at They Shoot Pictures suddenly have up a whole Noir primer, They Shoot Dark Pictures, Dont They? so now I have 250 more films to clutter up my Netflix queue with. But still I don't know where to start, if anyone has suggestions, let me know.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A bit more on The Fountain

First off though, has blogger beta been a fuckin nightmare for anyone else, or is it just me? Goodness gracious. I can only ever log into this crap half the time and even then it takes me back to an old blog from 2004 sometimes. Thanks guys!

At any rate the fine people over at Not Coming had one of the better and fairer reviews of The Fountain I have read as of yet. Some money quotes....

Indeed, The Fountain is genuinely concerned with displaying the conflict between religion and science, with the present-day plot serving has Aronofsky’s most direct display of modern scientific practice, while the segments from other eras appear to be his musing on theological politics and spiritual tranquility. However, Aronofsky isn’t really interested in merely restating the simplified version of the argument and choosing sides. In fact, much like Aronofsky’s work on Pi, the director seems to view science as a means to achieve a greater understanding of our spirituality, but he also seems to believe our obsession with knowledge may cause us great torment and misery at our inability to comprehend the unknown divinity of life.

I find myself drawn towards stories with these sorts of themes. Was it too much studying of Philosophy at school? Is it that I find myself believing in the divinity of a life? I don't know. There are certain aspects of my own life that I find myself unable to fully comprehend or explain adequetely. For one, I'd love to give empirical evidence that my faith in a God is not misplaced. But I can not do so. That doesn't stop me from attempting to understand the most that I can of my faith and my relation to God. For me, I think there needed to be a point of letting go in my questioning of my faith for it to finally nourish itself completely. That isn't to entirely discard questions, as much as it is to not be obsessed by them. I don't think that wrestling for knowledge or doubting is the the opposite of faith. And I don't think science needs to be the opposite of religion either.

The one aspect that remains clear throughout all of Aronofsky’s filmmaking bravado is that he is convinced of the enduring nature of love within our infinite universe. Indeed it feels as if Aronofsky wholeheartedly believes love to be the only constant aspect within eternity and that his faith in that concept cannot be shaken. It’s the viewer’s reaction to this particular facet of the film and Aronofsky’s resolve that probably makes or breaks evaluation of Aronofsky’s efforts. Even if it’s disguised as a sci-fi film spanning centuries, at its emotional core The Fountain remains an earnest melodrama regarding a couple’s enduring love. Such sincere sentiment and genuine passion may be blissful for some, but I’m certain most will find such overtly emotional, almost maudlin, material to be downright awkward, if not embarrassing, within its sci-fi surroundings.

I've been thinking about this film far too much since I saw it on Sunday. But clearly one reason that it affected me so much is that I did not find the love story to be maudlin or akward in the overall story The Fountain was telling. As I said earlier and has been noted by this reviewer it is at the very core of the story.

So maybe that makes me a hopeless romantic. Those who know me well might just chuckle at that. So it goes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Sunday, since my knee is still a disaster and I was unable to run around outside in the beautiful weather I went and saw The Fountain. I saw both of director Darren Aronofsky's previous films in the theater and liked them both well enough, though I wouldn't have considered either phenomenal he at least has been an intresting director to watch. I went into see The Fountain skeptical as can be, I really didn't expect to like it. But I came out thinking it may have been one of the best films of the year.

This film will divide audiences and critics into love it or hate it camps. It was apparently alternately booed and cheered at film festivals (much like Marie Antoinette). Green Cine Daily has a good summary of some of the reviews ranging from praise of the film to outright trashing of it. Some of those who have trashed the film have shown no quarter. Some have said while they didn't like it they certainly respected at least the effort. And even those that loved iit (like myself) can't say that the film is without some flaws.

For all the gnashing of teeth over what the film is supposed to mean, at it's core The Fountain is two rather simple formulas. A science fiction tale, and more importantly a love story. Hugh Jackman plays Tommy a Doctor who knows that his wife is dying of cancer. And in him trying to show how valiantly he loves her, by attempting to find the cure for her disease, he loses sight of his actual love for her. But, now add into this simple story another story which Tom's wife Izzy (Rachel Weisz) is writing as she dies. The story starts in Spain a few centuries before and ends somewhere in a Nebula somewhere in the future. These stories all intermingle, hopping back and forth between past, present, future. There is talk of Mayan faith, obvious allusions to the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as Eastern Religion. Now maybe it becomes clearer why some see this film as entirely overwrought, ridiculous, and pretentious. And yes, it is all of these things. That may be the price that it pays for it's ambition, but as I said at it's base it's a simple love story. And also it runs only 90 minutes, which saves it from becoming to caught up in its own web. Another half hour may have made this film unbearable.

The story is at times hard to follow, and it requires a lot of the viewer. But, if the viewer just sits back and allows the film to wash over them, I think they will be rewarded. It seems to be the case that more often than not anymore people go to movies to solve the riddle instead of to actually experience the movie. In The Fountain if you are trying to solve the riddle it's too easy to lose sight of what is actually going on.

I could talk for hours about this film and really haven't stopped thinking about it since Sunday. The allusions to all different kinds of world faith can and will rub some people the wrong way. And while I am not entirely on the same page as the director on his view of life and afterlife (at least that I can tell from interviews I have read), I found it to be an extremely moving picture discussing the simplest and most important of themes, love and death, in a way that I haven't seen any film do in a very long time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friendly Persuasion, d. Wyler 1956

After being intrigued by a review by Tim over at Xanadu I moved Friendly Persuasion a bit further up into my Netflix Queue. It finally came to the top, I watched it last week and I loved it. It's a film that will stick with me for a long time.

Like Tim, I was taken back by the first scence of the film. A goose prances around to lighthearted music while a young Amish child gives a voiceover about how much he hates the goose. Soon, the goose bites the child in the back of the leg and of course the child seeks out revenge on the goose. I was taken back by the tone of the scene and the music that accompinied it, but figured I may as well stick with the film. Two hours later I was looking back at the movie and questioning if one had trouble living a pacifistic lifestyle even back in civil war times, how can one try to go about living such a lifestyle now?

Friendly Persuasion tells the story of a Amish family in Southern Indiana at the time of the civil war. The family is devout in their faith and then is faced with challenges to their beliefs in pacifism when the Civil War reaches close to their farm, and then even more so when their son decides that he must fight on the side of the North.

The scene with the goose I mentioned earlier along with many others throoughout the first hour of the film point towards the more violent conflict of the civil war ahead. Whether it be a buggy race on the way to meeting, the chasing of the goose, a wrestling match at a state fair, or the purchase of an organ for a house who does not even believe in music in their religious meetings, the scenes seem incidental or inconsequential at the time. But when viewed as part of the larger whole of the movie it seems obvious that Wyler was showing us each different conflict, and their subsequent effect on the family as small act of violence. When the mother (Dorothy Maguire) reads the Bible to her son and prays asks him to pray about his decision the morning before he sets off to fight, it is the clearly the harshest confict and challenge to their faith the family had to deal with. But, it can also in hinsight be seen coming.

Gary Cooper plays the father, Jess, and has an extremely powerful scene when he is searching for his son and faced with teh opportunity to kill a confederate soldier. The Mother is faced with teh rebel yell of Confederate soldiers while her husband is gone and faces a greater challenge than she could have imagined, which also puts the first scene of the film in better perspective. And let's not forget the daughter who has fallen madly in love with a soldier fighting for the North from their community of faith.

In the end, the family is not ever going to be the same after all these events. And at once their is the feeling that Wyler is presenting the neccesisity of a pacifistic life and the impossibility of one and 50 years after it's initial release and in our current political climate, the film truly remains timeless. Not only are the questions posed pertinent today, the performances (by Cooper and Maguire especially) and comic moments still work well and do not feel dated at all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Work, a lost Eagles season, a lost indoor soccer season? a lost blog?

It's been a busy week. The lack of posts sort of bear that out, but it really has been a busy week. Work is getting busy preparing for the holidays and my personal life has had me more or less running around in circles the past week or so.

Sadly, one thing I am not doing right now in this cool beautiful Indianapolis afternoon is actual physical running. This is in large part because I am unable to run, or even walk at a decent pace. About 15 minutes into our indoor soccer game Sunday evening I was chasing a much quicker player from behind. Through sheer determination and will, I wound up equal with him, but as I planted my left leg for an akward challenge that would have surely resulted in a foul anyway, I collapsed. My knee just entirely gave out. I lay on the ground for a good 3-4 minutes before being helped off the field. I swallowed some field turf after screaming into the ground, which was about as disgusting as it sounds. I have since been to IU Med Group. They could not do anything to really help me and the refferal process apparently takes a week from them. With the holidays, it will really be two weeks. So, next week, if my limp, which has only gotten slightly better, doesn't improve I may be building my own MRI machine to see what damage I may or may not have done. At any rate it's a foregone conclusion that I will not be able to play this Sunday outside of a miracle which is depressing as can be to me. I hate being injured, I hate feeling old. I hate typing this while housitting right next to a treadmill at a house I am houseitting and knowing I won't even be able to take advantage of that. Bullshit, says I.


Earlier that very Sunday I was at Moe and Johnny's to watch the Philadelphia Eagles. I was feeling pretty confident about the situation. They were coming off a 27-3 victory and playing at home against a Titans team they should beat. But, then it all inexplicably came crashing down, like almost every season in Eagles memory as long as I can remember being a fan of this team. Donovan McNabb went down to a torn ACL and is gone for the season. The play didn't even look like anything significant. Less than one minute after McNabb was carted off the field I recieved a text from another long suffering Eagles fan that simply said, "We're done." He also gave me a ring Monday evening and we talked for 30 minutes about how this team has been on the precipice for half a decade and now just seem ready to fall into another decade of mediocrity. I don't want to sound like a Red Sox or a Cubs fan, cause I find them much more obnoxious and ridiculous than Philadelphia fans, and because they had other teams in their city win numerous championships during the Eagles drought, blunting the pain a bit. But, my word, the shit that happens to this team is ridiculous.


As if to underscore the point about ridiculousness that same Monday that my friend and I were talking on the phone word came that ex Eagles safety Andre Waters had committed suicide. Andre Waters was the one of the mostr memorable players of the most memorable Eagles teams in history. Buddy Ryan's Eagles teams were always built on defense and an in your face attitude. And Andre "Dirty" Waters played and hit harder than nearly any of them. I look back at those teams now. I remember coming up from a canoe trip in the Pine Barens to see Reggie White speak at the Billy Graham crusade at the Vet one summer day, but only seeing him sob as he told the thousands there about his teamate Jerome Brown's death. I remember hearing that Reggie White died, and now Andre Waters. And I can't help but think, what the hell? And I can't be any more eloquent than that either. It's awful, its strange, and thats it.


This is the first post I have had with the new Blogger beta. Actually this would have came two days ago, but I was unable to log in after upgrading. Thanks, blogger! But they have it fixed now, so now posts will be labeled at the bottom, even if I don't really understand what the labels do.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Devil's Backbone

There are plenty of films I am excited to see that are coming out towards the end of this year. But the one which excites me the most is Pan's Labrynth. But before seeing that movie I wanted to go back to another film by Guillermo Del Toro that I had remembered seeing a few years back and remembered really enjoying and that was The Devil's Backbone.

The Devil's Backbone is a ghost story told in an orphanage against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. As viewers we don't aren't given much of an insight into the Spanish Civil War, and a knowledge of Spanish politics isn't neccessary to actually enjoy this movie. This is because the film takes place almost entirely inside a orphanage where children are left after their fathers have either died or gone off to fight for the cause.

The film starts with a voiceover , "What is a ghost? a tragedy condemned to repeat itself..." among other responses. Soon after, we see a twelve year old boy, Carlos, being taken across landscapes that look straight out of a John Ford movie to the orphanage. When we get there if the ominous tone hasn't already been set by the ghost questions it is set when in the middle of the schoolyard we see an enormous bomb. Earlier we saw the bomb drop and not explode in a sequence that took place quite a while before, but now we see it is still in the schoolyard. Even though it's supposedly been switched off some children claim to hear it's heartbeat.

For the most part the film follows Carlos as he quickly learns who his friends and enemies are at this new place. He also learns quickly about "the one who sighs." Besides the wonderful visualswhat makes The Devil's Backbone so effective is that the ghost isn't just a ghost, it isn't their just for scares and thrills. Some thrills and scares are there, but mostly Carlos is attempting to find out who the ghost is, why he's a ghost, and what he needs or wants. carlos's curiousity and willingness to find out puts himself and friends in danger before leading up to one of my favorite movie endings of all time, and including another John Ford-esque closing shot.

The initial reviews of Pan's Labrynth such as this one at Not Coming have said it is a fairy for grown ups and a film that takes some of the themes and styles in Devil's Backbone and expanded them even more. That couldn't thrill me more. The Devil's Backbone may be one of my favorite ghost stories ever and if Pan's can top that, I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Marie Antoinette

I finally got around to seeing Marie Antoinette over the weekend. This film has so harshly divided critics and audiences that it supposedly got booed and also a standing ovation at Cannes. As far as the critics on Rotten Tomatoes it has recieved favorable reviews from just over half of the critics while the other half seemed to have loathed it. This was all coming off the almost universally acclaimed Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides which had me thinking that Sofia Coppola was suddenly a critics darling. I guess that faded away.

As for me, I loved this film. I think it is the best American movie of the year. I also think it's Sofia Coppola's best film.

A few days removed from seeing the film, I am struggling to see what some critics would find so offensive in this movie to attack it with the vitrol that some critics have. Yes, it's about a figure that is more or less reviled in France. But Coppola does not go directly at the politics of the era, instead she handles those issues subtely. Instead of showing a beheading or a peasant throwing a potato at her carraige we are primarily shown life inside of Versailles. And it is in this way that Coppola shows the politics of that time. We see the ridiculousness of protocall within Versailles. We hear the gossip within the walls. We see how the whole of the Versailles existed to watch the Queen and serve her, but this doesn't mean they neccessarily did this with a kind heart. Antoinnette was a synbol of an agreement with Austria handed over for France to make a Queen and proviode an heir to the throne. Coppola attempts to show in the film that she never was ready for this lifestyle and never had the chance to grow up. The themes of young women being made to grow up before they are ready is a theme Coppola touched on in her previous two films, and seems to have found different tones to tell these stories with.

Here for long parts, it looks like a fluff piece and may even be one, if you want it to be. The subtelty of the politics within Versailles is often taken over with extended scenes of Antoinette partying, shopping, eating, and partying again. I wondered before the film how Coppola's over stylized way of direction would work in a period piece, and it was during those scenes where this all could have gone wrong. At times this is all covered with a soundtrack of 80's new wave rock, but it worked suprisingly well in many of the scenes. Part of the reason was despite the music video feel of the trailer it was not an 80's new wave musical. There was some use of romantic era classical music as well.

And yes, those scenes did show ridiculous amount of excess which was enough to give you an idea of why such a queen would be despised by the French people. At the same time though, Coppola painted Antoinette sympathetically. This was especially shown to be the case in the way she chose to handle the matter of Antoinette's death.

I don't believe you need any familiarity with the history to enjoy this film. If you want you can gather rather broad political storylines from it. If you would rather sit back and just watch a beautifully filmed and paced story you can see that as well. When I look at the vitrol from some critics I can't help but think it's become part of teh build them up and then tear them down sort of criticism that has been prevalent in music and film recently. In the end though a few years from now, I do think this film will be looked back on as a rather remarkable achievement and likely the best of Coppola's early career.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An eventful weekend

Let's see....

My roomate turned 30. We went duckpin bowling, and ate Egyptian food. Indy cats, check out Luxor for an awesome dining experience.

The Cougars fell to 1-2 after a crushing 12-0 defeat against a team of androids. A deflating loss, perhaps if we weren't playing against androids. Oh, and one of our best players broke and dislocated a toe. Solid.

I saw two great movies Marie Antoinette (more on that later) and My Darling Clementine. And one dissapointing movie, Tout Va Bien

And oh yeah, the strangest damn concert I have ever seen.

Friday night I headed down to Cincinnatti to one of my favorite venues to see one of my favorite bands, Twilight Singers do a show. Now, the last time that Twilight Singers played Southgate their was a mini Afghan Whigs reunion during the encore. This of course pleased the crowd tremendously, soince Greg Dulli was from Cinci at one point, and the Afghan Whigs has a very loyal following, many who have stuck with Dulli's new band the Twilight Singers.

So, the Twilight's initial set was great. Fanstastic. Superlative. Even better than when I saw them at teh Vogue a few months back. They exit the stage for the encore break. I go get myself and some friends a drink, figuring we'd be there another 25-30 minutes at least. When I am walking back, I think to myself, "Wow the crowd isn't as boisterous as I would have imagined. Given Dulli's reputation, I could see him not coming out for the encore." My friend Bruce was thinking the same. Shortly after I get back. House lights go up. Crowd gets unruly. Gear starts being taken down. Beer can flies on stage. And people start shouting at Greg Dulli's mom, who is in the balcony to get her son and the band back on stage. The house lights go up and down three more times before suddenly Dulli comes back out in sweats, and sits at the piano (the only isturment save one other mic not taken down by the crew so far) and tells the crowd, that they waited back there for five minutes and didn't hear shut so they didn't come back out. But Dulli then launces into a two or three song encore at the piano before calling it a night. It was a tense and ridiculous atmosphere. My friend Bruce called it, "the strangest concert I have ever been to that didn't end in tear gas."

This actually all happened. The guitarust Scott wrote on the Twilight's website...

So tonight, the exceptionally vocal and excited crowd suddenly became nonchalant and apathetic during the encore break. Honestly, we were surprised as we waited backstage taking the well-deserved five minute break that we rely upon before coming back out and tearing it up. So, we figured that the crowd was done and nobody (including you dear reader) likes to witness anyone else's sense of self-entitlement. So we went back to the bus. Show over, done deal.

So Jeff heads back into the venue fifteen minutes later and comes back on the bus to tell us that nobody has left and it looks like a riot is going down. I gotta tell you, we were a little shocked because it certainly didn't feel that way as we left the stage. So, after debating whether or not to head back onstage we decided that if the crowd felt that strongly about an encore, that we'd oblige. Due to the fact that our crew had torn the stage down and the only thing left was a piano and two microphones, we improvised.

Greg took to the stage, seated behind the piano and explained in only the way that he can why we'd not returned previously and then launched into what has become known as the 'Killogy'. At the end the rest of the band got on stage and provided vocal harmonies for 'Wolk Like Me'. All in all it turned into a remarkable musical moment and something I felt really proud of.

A unique night for sure and one I hope those of you that stuck around until the end will never forget, I sure won't.

Also now, Greg Dulli has an open letter on the Twilight's front page.

It appears that Scott's explanation of encore etiquette regarding the show in Newport, Ky on November 3 has drawn a divided response. Let me first thank those who wrote supportive words and expressed their grand enjoyment of that evening's performance. It means a lot and we all appreciated reading your observations of the chain of events that transpired. I too, thought it was a great show and the eventual encore had a unique and spontaneous magic to it that i truly enjoyed.

To those who expressed anger, confusion and/or feelings of betrayal, I offer my most sincere apologies for your having experienced these emotions. It seems that audience and band were on two different wavelengths in regards to how this particular show should come to a close. As Scott explained earlier, we waited in the back changing clothes and re hydrating in preparation for an encore. When we heard crickets, we believed that the evening was concluded and gave the signal that the show was over. This decision was not made with malice or disrespect, it was based on the five minutes of relative calm we heard from backstage. It was our mistake, perhaps, that we did not look out into the room to see that it was still full and I will take responsibility for that. And while I stand behind Scott's eloquent philosophy of the encore, I am humble enough to empathize with and respect those with a differing viewpoint. For those of you who traveled great distance and felt your evening incomplete, again, my deepest apologies. You mean a lot to me and the fellas and the last thing we want are bad feelings or unexplained unexplained decisions. We will somehow find a way to make it up to you in the future.

As for the full blown haters, I wish you the best and thank you for the love you once had for me. Based on a couple of you, it's probably best we end our relationship anyway. That wasn't a rock and roll concert for you, it was the Holocaust. Nasty, nasty and no quarter given. Ain't no good coming out of that and it's best we all move on.

As for me, I alternated between initial anger from the moment wishing to see the Afghan Whigs mini reunion that I had hoped for, since I never saw them live before. But the further removed from the situation I just laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. In the end, I fail to think of 5 concerts that were more memorable. The encore did have a spontaneous magic to it as was mentioned, even if it wasn't what I had initially hoped for. And as I said before, they are one of my favorite bands, and the set did not dissapoint.

So yeah, long live rock and roll. Or something.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Eyes Wide Shut

I threw in Eyes Wide Shut earlier in the week for the first time in a few years. Amazingly enough, this is still the only Kubrick film I have seen on the big screen. I remember it being released soon after I moved to Indianapolis. I remember being thrilled to see it, and I remember walking out and having loved it. Earlier this week when I watched it again, for only the second time since that day in the theater, I came away feeling even more strongly about it than I had before. This has been my favorite Kubrick film for a while. But I truly wonder if it will ever get the recognition it deserves.

First, when it hit theaters, it was shortly after Kubrick's death and three storylines dominated all talk about the film, Kubrick's death, the Kidman/Cruise were married in real life and playing a married couple, and finally the talk of the mask party sex scenes seemed to dominate even the previous two topics. Watching it years after it's release one can drop the Kidman/Cruise side story if they wanted, we are a bit further removed from the shock of Kubrick's death, but the mask party sex scenes still remain and seem to be what people remember most about the film. To me, that seems a bit unfortunate.

When I watch Eyes Wide Shut I am completely taken in from the very beginning. The connection between Dr. Bill and his wife Alice is fragile at the get go. Dr. Bill seems so secure in their marital happiness. She asks how she looks before they go to the initial party, he says great, but without looking at her. She is visably bothered by this and Bill gives her an almost demeaning kiss while telling her she always looks beautiful. At the party Alice is drunk dancing with a Hungarian, and Bill thinks nothing of it as he is off walking with two women who want to lead him to the "end of the rainbow." Is Bill this naive about moves other men will make on his wife, or is he overly confident in how secure she feels in their love. Why would she leave him? After all, he is a Doctor, something we are comically reminded up numerous times throughout the film.

When Alice then mentions to Tom, there are other men she has imagined being with, that she would have been with if only... Tom is then visably shaken, and from there the film either takes off or annoys the hell out of people. I love it from here on out.

The Doctor walks the streets wondering how his woman could imagine being with anyone else. And then, it is as if cosmic forces align and every single person the Doctor comes in contact with is sexually attracted to him or has sexual interaction. After the doctor gives the speech to Alice in the bedroom about the differences between males and females, she turns the table on him entirely and seemingly has the power while stripping him of any feelings of masculinity, or protector, or maybe worst of all sexual provider. So as Dr. Bill goes place to place haunted by his imagination running amok of pictures with Alice and another man, the woman with a dead father in the room comes on to him, then the prostitute, a bell boy at a hotel, the daughter of the costume shop, and of course the Mask party/orgy where the Doctor is asked to strip naked in fron of the crowd. All of these opportunities for the Doctor to either regain some feeling of sexual dominance or manhood, or possibly even get back at his wife.

It'd be ridiculous to not mention the party here as well. The party, to me was not meant to be sexy. The party is in a way a nightmare. There have been few films which have left me with the feeling in my chest that the party left me with. It's an ominous, all together uncomfortable and horrifying event. Those who have walked away wanting that part, or the overall film in general to be sexier may have been missing the point.

And as to the casting of Cruise and Kidman. Kidman, as usual is excellent, complex, and wonderful. Cruise may be punching above his weight with this script but that is in part what makes it work! When Cruise is walking the streets confused as hell, unable to tell if he is living a dream or reality, the fact that it is Tom Cruise helps it to make more sense. I mentioned to a friend yesterday, that I wished at some point down the line people would be able to seperate the persona of Cruise and Kidman from the roles they play in this film and just enjoy it, but that may truly be impossible. And if that is impossible, than the sheer absurdity of Cruise walking around in the enviroments and situations he has walked around in may in fact actually be an advantage to the already intriguing story.

Some critics have mentioned they see a false note with the ending, and the reconcilliation between the Doctor and Alice at the end. Some of these people (like Mr. Ebert) are the same that love a scene just prior when Ziegler (played by Sydney Pollack) gives the most ambiguous explination of the Doctors last 48 hours? Was the prostitute really killed, what about the piano player. Ziegler says they were not, but can we trust him? Likewise when we see the Doctor and Alice shopping with the child and they agree to attempt to stay together and work things out, and make mention that they must "fuck" as soon as possible, are we to believe that will remedy everything. That maybe the act of sex alone will bring back the obviously more fragile than he outwardly shows Doctor to a feeling of security in his relations with his wife, personal and sexual? I am not sure what to believe. I am not sure the reconcilliation is anything more than ambiguious as well, which to me is a fine way to end the movie.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sight and Sound's Critics and Directors Top 10's and 64th and Broadway's Top Ten

Four years have passed since the last top 10 from the BFI and Sight and Sound Top Ten Poll. But over at Greencine Daily yesterday they made note of it, and more specifically about Rules of the Game which I have inexplicably yet to see. About rules of the game, they said...

The Rules of the Game. There it sits at #3 in the most recent Sight & Sound Critics' Poll, #9 for the Directors'. And now that it's been restored from a master print, it's seeing a rerelease. J Hoberman: "It is required viewing, if only to understand the ideal that filmmakers from Robert Altman to Woody Allen have been after. And even if you think you know it, see it again for its newly rediscovered depth of field, and even more, for its infinite wellsprings of character and empathy."

That's then been bumped up a bit in the Netflix queue.

But the looking through Sight and Sound's top ten, and another gentleman's ambitious top 300 Movies list got me creating my own top ten list. One of favorite movies, which is slightly different than best movies. They are presented below...

1. Contempt - d. Jean-Luc Godard, France 1963 - Godard is my favorite director and this is his best. It's commentary on film, it's Homer's Oddesey, and marraige or at least the dificulty of marraige or love. On top of that it's beautiful to look at. And it has the most wonderful haunting score of all time. One that Scocese even borrowed for Casino. It's not for everyone. It may be viewed as cynical, but I love it and watch it at least once a month.

2. Band of Outsiders - d. jean-Luc Godard, France 1964. - Jean-Luc Godard once said all you need to make a movie is a woman and a gun. Here is a simple tale. An english class, a house by the river, a bundle of money, a romantic girl. It also contains my favorite film scene ever. You will know it when you see it. It oozes cool. This movie actually made me love film again after being lukewarm on it for years. And, Anna Karina is the most beautiful woman ever, and shines in this film.

3. Late Spring - d. Yasijuro Ozu, Japan, 1949 - Ozu is one of our greatest directors. His films move s-l-o-w-l-y. Some say at the pace of life. Here a father wants to marry off his daughter. She wants to stay and take care of her father. All Ozu films focus on generational conflict in Japan. This is the best and most affecting.

4. Au hasard Balthazar - d. Robert Bresson France, 1966 - - Yes its a film about a girl and her donkey and the hardships both go through. No it isn't just that. I was more affected by the life of this donkey than nearly any person in any film. Beautiful.

5. No End - d. Krysztzof Kieslowski Poland, 1985 - A woman widowed by her husband attempts to find solace by contiuing on his work in the Solidarity movement through legal trials, at least for a bit. Kieslowski is only behind Godard on my list of favorites. This may be the saddest of his works though.

6. Birth - d. Jonathan Glazer USA, 2004 - Yes, there is Nicole Kidman and a 12 year old boy she is convinced is her husband reincarnated. It's more than that, though. This film is all about memory though. And it's nearly perfect.

7. Before Sunset - d. Richard Linklater USA, 2004 - Before Sunrise should probably be counted in this too as one film. But this is the better of the two. As two people get older, they deal with memory, love, regrets, life, dreams. As romantic as it gets, and as perfect an ending as possible.

8. Ugetsu - d. Kenji Mizoguchi Japan 1953 - 16th Century Japan, two peasants try to get rich against their wifes wishes during war time. A timeless moral fable, and visually the most beautiful black and white film ever, save #10 on this list.

9.The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - d. John Ford USA, 1962 - The western is such an underappreciated genre. John Wayne may actually be an underappreciated actor. James Stewart is one of the all time greats.

10. A Place in the Sun - d. George Stevens USA, 1951 - The most beautiful black and white film ever made. Poor boy moves to LA to get job with rich uncle. Wants a place in the sun. falls in love with elizabeth taylor who was actually 18 and beautiful once, and then....Montgomery Clift is amazing in his lead role.

And just for good measure 20 which just missed the list...

11. Wings of Desire - Wim Wenders Germany 1987
12. Decalogue d. Krysztof Kieslowski Poland 1989
13. Small Change d. Francois Truffaut France 1976
14. Bob Le Flambeur d. Jean-Pierre Melville France 1955
15. Young Mr. Lincoln d. John Ford USA 1939
16. In the Mood for Love d. Wong Kar-Wai Japan 2000
17. Kwaidan d. Masaki Koboyashi Japan 1964
18. Do the Right Thing d.Spike Lee USA 1989
19. the Deer Hunter d. Michael Cimino USA 1978
20. Rear Window d. Alfred Hitchcock USA/England 1954
21. Crimes and Misdemeanors d. Woody Allen USA 1989
22. Three Colors d. Krysztzof Kieslowski Poland 1993-4
23. L'Aventura d.Michaelangelo Antonioni Italy 1960
24. The Searchers d. John Ford USA 1956
25. Beautiful Girls d. Ted Demme USA 1996
26. All the Real Girls d. David Gordon Green USA 2003
27. Solaris d. Andrei Tarkovsky Russia 1972
28. A Woman is a Woman d. Jean-Luc Godard France 1961
29. Le Petit Soldat d. Jean-Luc Godard France 1963
30. Eyes Wide Shut d. Stanley Kubrick England 1999

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Army of Shadows

Sunday night I made the trek down to Key Cinema's to see the restored print of Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows

The film is only in Indianpolis through Thursday, but it really is a must see. The story is pretty simple. We follow a group of French Resistance fighters over a 4 month period on Nazi occupied France. This isn't a shoot them up thriller by any means though. The tension is definitely present throughout the film, but there are very rarely any moments of release. Any victories are small, nearly even unoticeable, any losses are tragic.

There are maybe 4-5 primary characters that we follow throughout and they operate under alias's. They don't have a glamorous life by any means. They operate against a bleak grey landscape. They are in hiding most the time. They can't tell even their loved ones of teh work they are doing. If they are caught they are tortured, if they die, they will die an anonymous death. If one of their comrades or friends turns, they need to kill them. This isn't a James Bond espionage thriller.

History tells that Melville was actually a fighter in the resistance, which gives this film an extra whiff of authenticity. The story itself is chracter driven but the most memorable scenes are scenes of silence when the actors convey more with their eyes than any dialogue Melville could have wrote. Some of those scenes I'd like to talk about but I think hold the most power if you don't know they are coming.

As I said this is only here in Indy for a few more days. And Key Cinema's isn't really that far out of anyone's way, just off I-65. If you have a chance to see it, definitely take the opportunity.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Woman is a Woman

It may be true that I fell in deep film love with Anna Karina during Band of Outsiders, but if anyone really wants to see a film that Anna Karina just takes over entirely it must be A Woman is a Woman.

Truthfully, I had an awful week, and I just wanted to smile a lot and laugh, so I decided that last night at the end of my shift at Barnes and Noble that I would go ahead and purchase A Woman is a Woman and watch it after the end of the strangest, but higly entertaining World Series.

It's really impossible to catch the essence of A Woman is a Woman in just a few paragraphs. It was Godard's 3rd film. His first shot in color. His second with soon to be wife Anna Karina. It's a musical. It's a neo-realist musical. It's breaks all the rules of musicals. It pays homage to musicals. It's a tragedy. Or a Comedy. It's a masterpiece.

Angela (Karina) wants very badly to get pregnant. Her man at the time Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) will have not have any of it. he's a bicycle racer. Champion cyclists are slower after their wives pay visits. So, she, on Claude's urging turns to their friend Alfred played perfectly by Jean-Paul Belmondo. Alfred has been in the film since the beginning and makes no secret of his affection for Angela. It is because Angela and Emile love eachother that everything will go wrong.

The musical aspect of this film comes and goes. Godard uses the template of a musical to play with sound throughout the film. Random bursts of song out of nowhere, seemingly having no real dramatic meaning. The actors wink, bow, and talk to the camera. Godard and his actors have all reached the level of celebrity by this point, so the actors reference Godard's previous films, films of Truffaut, and their own celebrity throughout. It's incredibly self concious, and fun as can be all the way through.

And yet, as strong as Brialy and Belmondo are the film belongs to Karina. She became pregnant during the production of the film, and eac shot Godard and cinematographer Raoul Coutard frame of her seem to be handled with the greatest care. She dances around the apartment. She cries, she laughs, she recites poetry, she sings, she stripteastes, she holds two men in her grasp. She's perfect throughout and never hits a false note.

A Woman is a Woman is incredibly romantic yet cynical as can be. Some could see it as painting women as unsure, simple minded, and maybe even dishonest. Some could see it as a total homage to woman, and specifically even maybe a valentine from Godard to Karina. I don't know that they have to be mutually exclusive. It's romantic and cynical. Optimistic and pessimistic. A comedy and a tragedy. It's a masterpiece. It's about as fun as film gets.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Army of Shadows coming to Indy

To say I am excited about Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows coming to Indy would be an understatement. I have been jealous of friends in other cities who have had a chance to see this for months now. I checked the website weekly to see if there was any addition for an Indy showing, but nothing. It's not even noted on there now!

But, I check Key Cinema's website and there it is. Coming this Friday! Outstanding.

This film was made in 1969 and was not seen in America till this year. Some of Melville's work predated the the French New Wave, though this was made at the end of the 1960's as Godard was going off his rocker into Marxism and the FNW was sort of dying out. Yet, Melville is cited as an influence on the New Wave and is likely one of the most revered directors of the last 50-60 years for good reason.

At any rate, here is a description from Rialto Picture Website...

(1969) France, The Resistance:an escape from the Gestapo, so sudden and hairsbreadth as to leave the toughest of tough guys gasping with the icy sweat of terror and relief; two brothers remain unaware, to the end, of each other’s clandestine activities; patriots who, in relentless pursuit of traitors, must steel themselves to the most brutal of face-to-face violence. Lino Ventura (Elevator to the Gallows, Classe Tous Risques, etc.), aided by compatriots including maitresse of disguise Simone Signoret, goes underground in face of the German Occupation – but the price of heroism can be truly horrific.

Precursor of the New Wave and legend of the French gangster film Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob Le Flambeur, Le Cercle Rouge, Le Samourai) realized the dream of a quarter century when he adapted “the book of the Resistance,” written by Joseph Kessel (Belle de Jour) in the white heat of immediacy. Melville turned the detached, unblinking gaze of his film noir classics on these memories of his youth – he himself served for years underground – adding a jarring finale of his own, so stoically uncompromising as to reduce Kessel himself to sobs on his first viewing. But Army of Shadows shared in the general U.S. indifference to Melville's now-acclaimed-as-classic oeuvre and was never released here – until now. Original cinematographer PierreLhomme personally supervised this superb new 35mm color restoration.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cougars Update

It's been a while and you may be wondering what happened to the premier indoor soccer outfit in all of Indianapolis, the Eagles. Well, truth told, we finished 7th out of 8 teams last season. Have no fear though.

The Eagles, much like Voltron, have morphed into a new outfit and are now the Cougars. There are a 4 or 5 holdovers from last sessions fan favorites, and plenty of new faces. The season started off last Sunday at 11pm with a 6-2 defeat. A bit unlucky of a result if I say so myself, we'll blame it on the start time and maybe the new faces needing to get adjusted to one another.

So, move on to this past Sunday when the Cougars had to play none other than Barcelona (can you believe it?). Luckily the Cougars seemed to have got it together and pleased the 10 or so fans that showed up and came out with a 3-2 victory. The game could have easily ended 9-3 or so, but finishing still seems to be a bit of a problem for the Cougars. Luckily there is a bye week this week before we resume play the following week.

We are working on t-shirts for our lady fans that say Cougars Meow. Maybe. But if so, they will definitely be hot!


I had Yi-Yi at home for almost a week from Netflix. Such things happen when you are working 70 hours a week and you only have late evening hours to watch a movie and the movie happens to be 3 hours long. I actually started it two seperate times and got about 30 minutes in and realized I was not ready for the commitment of watching a 3 hour film at midnight. When I finally got around to watching it yesterday morning, uninterrupted and in it's entirety it took me a while to figure out how I actually felt about it.

Yi-Yi is set in present day Taiwan and follows one family over the coure of what seems to be a month or a few weeks. The film starts out with a wedding. Before the wedding a grandmother falls ill and needs to be taken home. Shortly after we find out she has had a stroke, and falls into a coma, which sets strange things in motion for nearly every member of the family. The mother (and daughter of the grandmother) feels her life is empty after she feels she has nothing to say to her mother as she lies in a coma. She goes on a religuous retreat. NJ, the father of this family ran into his first love Shelly by chance at the wedding. As his wife is at the religious retreat he needs to go to Japan for business and takes that opportunity to meet up with Shelly again to examine the "what if?" Ting-Ting, the daughter can not sleep as she feels Grandma's stroke is her fault since she did not take out the trash. She takes Grandma's stay in a coma as a sign that Grandma has not forgiven her. Meanwhile, she has her first experience with love, or something close to it. Finally, Yang-Yang the 8 year old son gets in and out of trouble at school and somehow becomes the most endearing kid I've seen in many years of film.

At first glimpse at a story like this, I think "I have seen this movie before, family overcomes tragedy hardship through the collective human spirit and everything is terrific. Hurrah!" But this film didn't work like that. In fact there was a ridgidity or lack of closeness that seemed to penatrate all of this families dealings with one another. You almost never saw them together in the same place except for the large gathering of the wedding and two other points in the movie. There were not any moments where you had teh Hollywood father daughter/son heart to heart talk. Yet at the end of the movie, after a very well written and emotional final few words I felt deeply moved. And because of the apparent lack of closeness in the family I could not initially tell if I had been duped by an terrufic finale, or if teh film itself actually had that hold on me the entire time.

Truth told, the first two hours of the film I found myself wondering why I should care about members of this family, or there stories. It wasn't till the final hour that the stories connected in a way to make this family seem like, well, a family. And while it may have been maipulative "we are all connected, by certain moments" storytelling, it worked. Also, as has been pointed out in some other reviews the lack of closeness i tended to observe may not have actually been what I thought, but instead a commentary on the compartmentilization of city and family life in Taiwan. And, truthfully, I don't think that feeling is limited to just taiwan, I get the feeling it is very much present in modern city life in America. It's been present for ages, and was even explored in the Jaques Tati film Playtime while talking about 1960's Paris.

In the end, while I think Yi-Yi could probably have used a bit more editing and cut away maybe 30 minutes or so from the run time, I did find it to be a much better film than I had anticipated, even if it doesn't live up to the "modern masterpiece" title that some have given it. It's a film that is beautiful to look at, deliberately paced, and leaves you with quite a bit to think about even days after seeing the film, which is an achievement in and of itself.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Notre Musique, d. Godard

I was nervous then getting ready to watch, Notre Musique. The last Godard film I watched, In Praise of Love may have been the most visually beautiful film I have seen of his, but parts of it just did not click for me. I have such high expectations for Godard that I wish to love every film of his. I am happy to say that I found Notre Musique much more to my liking as a whole. In fact afterwards, I felt as if I'd been hit by a train.

Later Godard films don't seem to be about plot, they seem to be more about ideas or just a vessel for Godard to talk about film, quote literature, and discuss the world. In fact even in the 60's half of his films were that way, but the dramitic swing for him may have come with Weekend. Notre Musique is told in three parts; Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. Godard calls these three parts Kingdoms.

The first is Hell. Hell goes on for ten minutes and is footage of war with a piano soundtack. The editing is remarkable. Some of it is real war footage, some of it is film footage, but no distinction is made. Ther are sparse moments of narration over this. But mostly we are just watching war footage. It very effectively gets across the idea of hell.

The next Kingdom is purgatory and here we have the bulk of the film and the bulk of the ideas. Here we also have Godard playing himself. At one point he holds up a photo and asks where and when the photo was taken to a gathered crowd at a conference. They guess Sarajevo, where most of the film is taking place. But it is a photo of a charred building in Richmond, Virginia in 1855. He's telling those in sarajevo that teh war is nothing new. It's been going on forever. We are given the usual Godard quotations and moments of dialogue. Questions like, "Is it okay for one to invade another over inferior poetry?" Or, "Why aren't revolutions started by the most humane people." We witness an Israeli and a Palestinian journalist go into dialogue. We have the Palestinian mention how they are fortunate to have Israel as their enemy, because everyone cares about Israel. An Israeli journalist visits Sarajevo because she wants to see a place where change is possible. Throughout the Purgatory section, people just contemplate their place in a world that is constantly at war. By themselves the questions look trite, vague, and maybe pretentious. Throughout the film they come together to create a much greater and emotionally resonant whole.

Last is paradise, paradise is only the last 10 minutes of the film, like Hell was the first 10 minutes. In Paradise we see a woman who we met in Purgatory. Though the voice over of that is of a woman whom we believed to be dead. Paradise though is a strange place. We see a woman walking arou walking around a densely vegitated forest. We see it's fenced off. Some people are playing games. One person shares an apple with Olga under a tree looking at the river. Two kids sit by a fence with guns. It's a strange and confusing ending to the film, but yet one that somehow fits. The whole movie is about war, and our relation to it, and in paradise we see kids with guns at the fence. And afterwards, and especially with the world as it is now I couldn't help but wonder, will it ever end?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Days of Heaven, d. Malick

It's a shame that I haven't seen any Terrence Malick films until the past few months. Just a few months back I saw Badlands for the first time and though I didn't so much care for the story itself, I found myself likeing the way it was presented and definitely enjoyed the direction. Days of Heaven was Malick's second film and in my opinion a wholly more enjoyable film than Badlands.

The story is simple enough. Early 1900's America. It's a love triangle that goes horribly wrong. Bill (played by Richard Gere) needs to leave Chiacgo after assaulting his foreman in a mill. He and his little sister and his lover leave and find work on a farm. Bill and his much younger sister refer to Bill's lover as his sister, because as teh narration tells us it's easier that way since people talk. The farmer develops a love for Bill's lover/sister Abby and Bill, knowing that the farmer will soon die, convinces Abby to marry him in hopes that they will inherit his money. Simple story, and obvioulsy, anything like that is bound to end tragically, and 93 minutes later it does.

But, somehow this film became much bigger tha the sum of its parts. First may be Malick's direction. Scenes never seemed to last longer than 2 minutes or so and semlessly disolved into the next. Most of these scenes were set against a wide expanse of the plains and were just soaked with beauty. Then, there was the narration. The naration was done by Bill's younger sister, seemingly years after the fact and seemingly far removed from the events. In the narration she doesn't even seem to fully gather the wieght of the evnts weare seeing, or maybe it is her distance from the events. In any case, it provides an odd and stark contrast to the story we are seeing on screen. The end result for em after 90 minutes was a thought that I had seen something far greater than the sum of it's parts. After only 90 minutes I felt as if I had seen a far longer, far more epic story.

There was a discussion started at Criterionforum on the film just last week where someone started off by mentioning the characters as detestable. Perhaps it's just my state of mind but, I found them far from detestable. I did not condone the actions of Bill, and if I really loved someone, I would not let them go for thoughts of future riches, but I understood the motivation. It's a risky proposition to be sure, but it's not one I saw as entirely selfish. Also in that discussion at Criterion Forum was a link to a very good piece on the film, which goes into great detail on the social and political norms at the time the film was set. In the end, even though I have only seen two of his films now, this film is enough to catapult Malick iup to a list of favorite directors for me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Weekend Ahead, good times in Indy

It's a good weekend to be in Indy. Better yet if you are in Fountain Square, where most of the action is. Or if you live at my house, which is 20 yards away from a secondary hot spot.

Starting Friday night at the Luna Music at 52nd and College the consistently excellent Mojave 3 will be performing an in-store at 6pm. Their latest album Puzzles Like You is this guy's second favorite album of the year. The new album finds Mojave 3 in a much poppier more upbeat place than some of their earlier work. Not that their early work wasn't poppy and wonderful, cause it most certainly was. It just did not get the booty shaking like many of the songs on the new record do. That instore is just a warm up for their show Friday evening at Radio Radio which I will definitely be at. From looking at last night's setlist in Chicago, it looks like it will be a fantastic show, with Tim O'Regan (formerly of the Jayhawks) and locals Svetlana opening. I will be there for sure.

Before that show though, why not stop by Big Car Gallery. At Big Car there will be an opening for Local artist Kyle Ragsdale and his new show Unbeknownst, which sounds pretty awesome.

In this show, artist, Kyle Ragsdale and historian, John Beeler have collaborated to shed light on several long-forgotten events in Indianapolis’ history. Ragsdale’s paintings beautifully capture the mystery of these often overlooked stories. Beeler’s accompanying text provides the fascinating details of the people and places buried in the city’s past. As Beeler explains, “We are not just trying to dig up new information, but rather recast some of these places in a different light. We have made every attempt to shimmy up to the "truth" of each place, but all of us are well aware that truth is an elusive beast. After all, "history," wrote historian Carl Becker, "is an imaginative creation."

Saturday may be a day of rest. Actually I will be working from about 8am-11pm. I just don't want to think about it.

Sunday is gonna be interesting.

The cats who have made my favorite album of the year Asobi Seksu are playing at Radio Radio as well. My #1 and #2 shows I would want to see here in one weekend! Ridiculous, right? Too good to be true, correct? Actually, yes.

A new indoor soccer session kicks off Sunday night at the Sportzone up on 66 and Coffman (a ways from the wonderful smoke free environs of Radio Radio and yours truly has kickoff at 11pm Sunday evening. Obviously, I can not miss the first game of the season. But, obviously I am meant to see Asobi Seksu.

Thank you Luna Music. Thank you for opening a store within spitting distance and giving Asobi Seksu an instore so I can see them at 430, even though I will miss them later that day. If you like walls of sound, or songs sung in Japanese, or just well constructed songs, you can't miss this. I saw these guys a few years ago on my birthday, and it was one of the best concerts I had ever seen. It still is.

A great art opening, two great in-stores, a two great and affordable shows at Radio Radio ($20 will get you into both!), and the start of a new indoor soccer season. Fantastic.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Picnic at Hanging Rock, d. Weir

1900 Austrailia. A group of girls from an all girl prepatort school go out for a picnic. 4 girls disappear. 1 is later found but doesn't remember a thing.

It may sound ridiculous to say, but Picnic at Hanging Rock is about everything that I wish a suspense movie to be. From the opening shot straight through the end of the movie there is an air of suspense that does not let up.

If the viewer actually allows their mind to wander, there are about 1000 explinations for what could have happened, and where these girls could have disappeared too. The thing is through the storytelling, and through the search for the girls, almost none of these thoughts is discounted or eliminated. It could be what you think, it could be something different alltogether.

Each time the camera comes back to Hangin Rock I was watching closely looking for a sign, looking for some sort of clue, but really, there is none. There are no scary monsters, no goblins, no gratuitous shots of blood. Yet, through the ridiculously haunting score, or maybe the way the light catches the rocks, or maybe the rigidity of the characters in their 1900 way of communicating there are more than a few uncomfortable moments.

There are many articles written on this movie, some of which talk about how supressed sexuality which to this viewer was very clearly apparent and gave the film a further eeriness. But, in the month of October, when it seems in vogue to watch some good thrillers or horror movies, this is one that I know I will find myself coming back to again and again. It's the air of mystery, the lack of closure that will have this film stand up to repeated viewings.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Playtime d. Jaques Tati

Our motto is slam your doors in golden silence... We were the first to study silence It's strange that the first two scenes or moments that come to mind after viewing Jacques Tati's Playtime were actually few of the moments where dialogue played a role. Playtime as the sleeve suggests is a largely silent film. This however really only speaks to the relative lack of dialogue. Throughout the film sound does play a major role. Whether it is the infectious theme that pops up and plays throughout, the bustling sound of the city streets of Paris, or the band playing at the end.

I had a vague idea of what I was getting into when I threw in Playtime. I knew that it was going to be a man, attempting to run an errand in Paris, but he would continually be engulfed by the city, or by tourists, or by a combination of the two. What I didn't expect is that I would have a smirk on my face the entire movie through. There were a few laugh out loud moments, but overall, the film was just warm and kept me smiling the whole way through. The sets and streets of Paris are so modern looking that I almost felt like I was watching a film set in the future. For some reason it made me think of Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville but there the streets with no additional effects were made cold. In Playtime through Tati's interaction with his surroundings what I thought of as initially cold in the end left me smiling the whole way through.

I'd highly reccomend this film, if for no other reason than you just don't see anything like this made today. As Johnathon Rosenbaum stated in his essay the sharing of space that we see in this film simply doesn't happen anymore thanks to technology. But beyond that it's just a very engaging and thoughtful film, and though at times the characters look like complete buffoons, at the end I couldn't help but walk away optimistic, even if I didn't know what exactly I was optimistic about.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I never could have scripted that. Best Eagles game in 2 years. My voice is entirely gone. Speechless. It will take a day or two to get back to normalcy.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Focus, Focus, Focus

Is anyone else finding it impossible to focus this week? I mean we are just two days away from the renewal of the greatest rivalry in all of worldwide sports. The soon to be Super Bowl 42 Champion Philadelphia Eagles vs the Dallas Cowboys.

Bounty Bowl. Bounty Bowl 2. 4th and 1 James Willis to Troy Vincent

The Pickle Juice Game.

Lito Sheppard's 101 yard INT return in 04.

Michael Irvin's last game ever.

I get chills thinking about these games.

I have not been able to focus all week.

I haven't mentioned TO yet. These games mattered before him. They will matter after him.

Sunday can't come soon enough.

Fly Eagles Fly

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Philip Glass and the Photographer

I'm a sucker for Philip Glass. I like the guys soundtracks. I love his operas. It's true that numerous rainy winter afternoons I have just laid down and listened over and over to all three discs Einstein on the Beach. Some people can't stand his music. I love it.

I was lucky enough to see the Indianapolis Symphony do his Symphony No. 5 a few years back and was incredibly moved. I found myself lucky enough to see the Philip Glass Ensamble do a performance of Koyanaquatsi in front of a screen projecting the film down in Bloomington a few years ago as well, which may have been the most special thing I have seen to date.

Now this month, we here in Indianapolis get a performance of The Photographer.

Nuvo tells the story here

Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs documenting the movements of animals and humans helped make the development of motion pictures possible. The story of his life, though, is better suited for theater.

A story told by using what Butler Theatre Department Chairman John Green calls “the theater of images,” The Photographer focuses on Muybridge’s killing of his wife’s lover, a military officer named Larkyns, on Oct. 17, 1874, after he found their love letters. Muybridge greeted the man with these words: “Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge and here is the answer to the letter you sent my wife.”

Muybridge then shot Larkyns. A court ruled the killing a “justifiable homicide.”

Glass’ telling of Muybridge’s story segues from language to abstract movement. Part one uses words from court transcripts, letters Muybridge wrote his wife from jail, letters she wrote to her lover, letters her lover wrote to her and things Muybridge said in court, all pieced together with poems by Walt Whitman and Thomas Hardy in a sort of language collage. Music written by Glass accompanies the material.

Part two is what Glass calls a concert: It’s a 14-minute orchestral piece with violin solos, during which slides of Muybridge photos of human and animal locomotion are projected, plus some other video.

Yes, I am excited. Very, very excited.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Don't Come Knocking, d. Wim Wenders

It's a bit difficult to watch when an artist either musically or in film has obviously lost the ability to create anything as powerful or meaningful as his earlier work. This isn't meant to come across as snobbery, this isn't about when someone has a crossover hit and someone outside the cool indie crowd starts singing their praises. This is more about when, in this case, you finish watching a film and you are unsure what the point even was.

I love two of Wim Wenders films. Wings of Desire is just about the most thought provoking and beaiutiful film I have ever seen. And in college, Paris, Texas was different from anything I had seen up until then. So, I was naturally excited to find out that the latest Wim Wenders film Don't Come Knocking reunited Wenders with playwrite and screenwriter Sam Shepard for the first time since Paris, Texas. It seemed to have the same quirky pseudo western feel about it too. But, for me the film just failed.

In the end the script just wasn't there. You have a washed up movie star returning to the town where he filmed one of his earlier films after his mother (whom he hasn't seen in 30 years) gives him news that inspires him to change the course of his life. Before all this, the film star (Sheppard)went AWOL from a films set and is being tracked down so he can go finish the film and honor his contract. The cast did as well as they could with this. Tim Roth, Sam Sheppard, Jessica Lange, and the always strangely intriguing Sarah Polley especially, were all at least competent in their roles. But, in the end it was difficult to connect with any of the characters.

Wenders has made a very good career of using the setting of his films to his advantage in storytelling. Wings of Desire would not have been nearly as bautiful outside of Berlin, or without Wenders overhead shots of the city. Paris, Texas had it's ridiculously beautiful landscapes that almost seemed to come straight out of a John Ford film. And in Don't Come Knocking Wenders has the town of Butte, Montana. And, there are numerous wonderful shots, and a decent eeriness and something special about the place to be sure. But, in the end it still just seems like a town without a decent story to tell, or maybe Wenders and Shepard just picked the wrong story to tell.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Back From South Bemd

It will be back to work starting today for a crazy month after my last real excusrion of the summer, even though I guess it's technically fall. My dad came out last Thursday evening and we went up and visited his alma matter, Notre Dame and caught the Notre Dame vs Purdue football game.

As expected Notre Dame had their less than impressive victory against an inferior opponent. They only beat Purdue 35-21 after being ahead 28-7 with a minute left in the first half. In addition we got absolutely drenched for most of the third quarter. But that added some character to the game, truth told. And I have viewed too many soccer games in the pouring rain to be too bothered by it.

Regardless of the actual outcome of the game there is something special about being on Notre Dame's campus for a football weekend. Especially when my father graduated from the school. And when you live 700 some miles from home and the football weekend is one of two times a year you actually get to see family. As for the campus itself, it's one of those places where even if the football team was absolute crap, something would still be special about a football weekend up there and keeps me hoping that these trips remain a tradition each year.

At any rate, hopefully this week I will get back to some regular writing. It's scary movie month, and I finally got around to watching Wim Wenders Don't Come Knocking so yeah.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Busy Week

A total lack of updates.

But, Netflix is taking 4 days to send me movies anymore.

I am in my 16th day in a row at work. Seriously.

It is my last day though this week, thank god.

Tomorrow I head up to South Bend with Dad to see Notre Dame vs Purdue.

And cross my fingers that the Phillies can make up this game in the wild card.

Did anyone watch that game last night? My. God.

Come on Phils, Come on Irish, and stop slacking, Netflix.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lost and Found

Sometimes my own absentmindedness stuns even myself. After working all day Sunday on my day off at the museum I decided to hit the Fox and Hound to watch the Eagles dominate and demoralize the 49ers. I only had one beer since I had an indoor soccer game that evening at 9pm. Around 630, with the Eagles in complete control I wind up heading out to leave and realize I have no idea where my keys are. Fantastic. I look around, check the bathroom, check the car. Nowhere to be found. Ask if any have been turned in, it's a negative.

I wind up calling a friend for a ride back to my place. I get what I think is my spare key, but it's to a differenr car apparently. After some pleading with her, I am able to borrow her car. It's 830. Just run home quickly, get a change of clothes and be at my game for kickoff. I get home and am locked out. Terrific. Of course my house and car keys are on the same chain. I miss the game, our last game of the session.

Eventually, around 10pm, just as our indoor team's game was ending I get a ring from the Fox and Hound. They found my keys. They had been there all along, someone just put them in a different lost and found drawer. But, the Eagles both won. The Philadelphia Eagles and the indoor soccer Eagles. So, all is not lost.

Now, we are just in the process of trying to get a team together for the next session. I hope our goalie returns my call and is game.

Friday, September 22, 2006

All The Real Girls, d. David Gordon Green

The first time I saw All The Real Girls was about 4 years ago on DVD. I was at my girlfriends place at the time. We were just spending a day inside watching films. It was about 2 years into a start/stop relationship. But I had recently decided to treat her better and try to make it work. To grow up in a way. The second time I watched All the Real Girls was last night. 4 years later. That perviously mentioned relationship long over. And two other relationships including one which I thought was definitely headed towards marraige over. Viewed in the wake of failed relationships this film is about as devistating as they come.

The first scene, the first shot is about one of my favorite moments in film. A steady camera sees two people against a grey fall landscape. The woman is looking away when a man asks her what she is thinking. Her response is that she likes him, she likes him cause she can say what's on her mind. But what's on her mind? What follows is a good two minutes or so where the characters decide if they want to kiss. The camera stays still and they are in the center of the frame. Fade to black 4 times, each time with a different shot of the town, a rundown Tennessee or North Carolina mill town, before coming eventually restarting the movie with 4 guys, 20 somethings walking down the railroad tracks. One of them is the guy we just saw with the girl.

We find out that it was Paul in the first seen with Tip's sister. Tip and Paul are best friends. #1 best friends. But Paul has slept with every girl in town. Tip's sister is back from boarding school, and doesn't really know of Paul's past escapades. At one point she mentions she will not ask him about them. He only needs to tell her if he wants to. Paul at one point tells Noel that he doesn't want to sleep with her, because he doesn't want her to be like all the other girls.

It's simple really. Two kids fall in love and attempt to stay in love despite everyone around them thinking its a bad idea, that its gonna fail. Paul does his best to prove that she isn't like every other girl to him, which is easier said than done for just about anyone. What seperates it from other love stories is there is absolutely no gloss here. Paul and Noel both say and do incredibly stupid things. At times inmature, at times hurtful, at times genuinely beautiful. It's clumsy as hell all the way through. It's not easy. It doesn't seem to all fit together. We don't know really how Paul and Noel met, in the opening scene we just see them and we know that they are connected in a very meaningful sense of the word. And we watch them clumsily and akwardly try to maintain or sustain or maybe just understand that connection.

I've spoken to many people who I respect about this film, who's tastes seem similar to mine, and they have hated it. One reason was the language. It's shot in a mill town. The language is simple it's drawn out. And as I said at times immature. But this is the template that David Gordon Green is working with here. We recognize that in the still images of the town right after the first scene. It's not a judgemental eye that he casts on his characters at all. He is not saying that everyone from these towns looks, talks, and acts like this. He is just saying these people do. When Zooey Daeschnel says in a southern draw, "I like you because I can say what's on my mind..." there is so much emotion behind those words, it doesn't matter that you have heard them 100 times before, or that she says it in a souther drawl. What matters is she gets so much life into that line, its impossible at least for me, not to be affected.

In Green's direction the town is also a main player. Sometimes we will hear voiceovers of conversation, but all we see is the sunset. Or the river, or mountains, or trees. It's fall or winter, but nothing is especially bright, or beautiful. It's brown, it's dreary, it has it's moments sure. But only when the two are really in love and sharing that love can some of the beauty of the town be realized. People don't leave this town. They stay and work at the mill. They can have the shadow of the mill and the thoughts of never leaving run and be their life. Or they can create something beautiful within, and have the mill be behind them, even if it is central in the town.

I know someone who saw this movie after a terrible breakup who just flat out refuses to watch it again. Maybe it was too real. Maybe that clumsiness in the way that we sometimes try to show we love eachother is too much. Some people will be turned off by that clumsiness. Other people will see it and be totally drawn in or captured by it. I was entirely captured by it.