Wednesday, January 26, 2005

In Retrospect It Was All True

As Star Wars keeps coming up in blogversation, I'm reminded of my short, miserable stint living in San Francisco. I was working as the head of mailroom at the San Francisco Art Institute, a relatively pain-free job in which I did crossword puzzles with my student worker underlings (some of which were older than me) and visited the same four or five websites incessantly (at least two of which I still visit, to this day). While I now consider myself to have about an 87% fully-formed adult personality, back then I'd say I was running at about 53%, with many growth experiences still on the immediate horizon. One symptom of my semi-empty existence at the time was an unhealthy fixation on Star Wars, and a ravenous appetite for information pertaining to the then as-of-yet-unreleased Episode One, which by all common wisdom was to be the absolute zenith of cinematic accomplishment. You can imagine my excitement when a co-worker from the development office told me he had a friend that worked for ILM, and that said friend had smuggled out a rough cut of the film on VHS, which my co-worker was keeping at his house. He hinted that he'd be willing to show it to me, but it would have to be at his house, as he couldn't lend out the tape himself. My mind in a tizzy , he further knocked me off balance by non-chalantly stating that the film wasn't very good, but that perhaps seeing it on a small screen hampered his experience. I refused to truly let that register, figuring he just wasn't much of a space-opera fan, or maybe the film hadn't been scored yet.

During the next couple weeks I tried to drop hints and schedule something with him without seeming too pushy or desperate, but we never quite got it together. Finally, one day I brought it up, and he regretfully informed me that his friend from ILM had taken the tape back, and I wouldn't be able to see it.

For the next few months, I figured the whole thing was bullshit. Only after walking out of Theatre 12 at Union Square Cinemas, feeling like I'd been punched in the heart, did I realize he was telling the truth, and in fact did at one time possess a rough cut of TPM on VHS. The giveaway, of course, was that months before the film came out, he alone knew it sucked.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

In No Particular Order

Now that I look at this list of movies which I am fond of, I feel like many of my choices are not in sync with my current consciousness cycle. That being said, I am only fond of them. I'd be hard-pressed to defend The Last Boy Scout or Edward Scissorhands as top 100 of all-time material. These are just movies that at one time or another made an impression on me or when I thought back on them, I found myself musing things like, "Yeah. Cool." If nothing more, I recommend these films for blossoming netflix users like myself.

Movies I am fond of:

1) GRAND ILLUSION – Jean Renoir
2) AMATEUR – Hal Hartley
3) AFTER HOURS – Martin Scorsese
5) RIO BRAVO – Howard Hawks
6) CONTEMPT – Jean Luc Goddard
7) CLAIRE’S KNEE – Eric Rohmer
8) AN AUTUMN’S TALE – Eric Rohmer
9) KING OF THE HILL – Steven Soderbergh
10) REAR WINDOW – Alfred Hitchcock
11) LES COUSINS – Claude Chabrol
12) VAGABOND – Agnes Varda
13) HIGH AND LOW – Akira Kurosawa
14) BREAKING THE WAVES – Lars Von Trier
15) PRINCESS MONONOKE – Hayao Miyazaki
18) FAUST – F. W. Murnau
19) YOU CAN COUNT ON ME – Kenneth Lonnergan
21) GROUNDHOG DAY – Harold Ramis
22) KISS ME DEADLY – Robert Aldritch
23) TOUCH OF EVIL – Orson Welles
24) DO THE RIGHT THING – Spike Lee
25) TWELVE MONKEYS – Terry Gilliam
26) ALIENS – James Cameron
28) THE STRAIGHT STORY – David Lynch
29) UNBREAKABLE – M. Night Shyamalan
30) JOHNNY GUITAR – Nicholas Ray
31) THE LONG GOODBYE – Robert Altman
32) HIS GIRL FRIDAY – Howard Hawks
33) STARMAN – John Carpenter
34) A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH – Powell and Pressburger
35) A PERFECT WORLD – Clint Eastwood
37) DR. STRANGELOVE – Stanley Kubrick
39) KARAOKE/COLD LAZARUS – Dennis Potter
40) VERTIGO – Alfred Hitchcock
41) L.A. STORY – Mick Jackson/Steve Martin
42) NOTORIOUS – Alfred Hitchcock
43) VOYAGE TO ITALY – Roberto Rosselini
44) MYSTERY TRAIN – Jim Jarmusch
45) TROUBLE IN PARADISE – Ernst Lubitsch
47) SHERLOCK JR –Buster Keaton
50) MASH – Robert Altman
51) NOBODY’S FOOL – Robert Benton
52) FLESH AND BONE – Steve Kloves
53) FRESH – Boaz Yakim
54) THE 39 STEPS – Alfred Hitchcock
55) DONOVAN’S REEF – John Ford
56) THE GRADUATE –Mike Nichols
57) A RIVER RUNS THRU IT –Robert Redford
58) NEAR DARK – Kathryn Bigelow
59) REPO MAN – Alex Cox
60) ALL ABOUT EVE – Joseph L. Mankiewicz
61) SLAPSHOT – George Roy Hill
62) TOKYO-GA – Wim Wenders
64) NO END – Krzysztof Kieslowski
65) WHITE – Krzysztof Kieslowski
66) POPEYE – Robert Altman
67) MAGNOLIA – P.T. Anderson
68) HOOP DREAMS – Steve James
69) DARK STAR – John Carpenter
70) THE ABYSS – James Cameron
71) GREMLINS 2 – Joe Dante
72) WINTER SLEEPERS – Tom Tykwer
73) THE GOLD RUSH – Charlie Chaplin
74) THE 400 BLOWS – Francois Truffaut
75) MY LIFE TO LIVE – Jean Luc Goddard
76) ANGEL – Ernst Lubitsch
77) FULL METAL JACKET – Stanley Kubrick
78) SOMETHING WILD – Jonathan Demme
79) NIGHT OF THE HUNTER – Robert Laughton
80) PULP FICTION – Quentin Tarantino
81) EMPIRE OF THE SUN – Steven Spielberg
82) MAD DOG AND GLORY – John McNaughton
83) UNFORGIVEN – Clint Eastwood
84) THE LAST BOY SCOUT - Tony Scott
85) HOLIDAY – George Cukor
86) ORDET – Carl Dreyer
87) BEFORE SUNRISE – Richard Linklater
88) UNDERGROUND – Emir Kusturica
89) OLDBOY – Chan-Wook Park

Movies I am terribly angry at:

7) REVENGE OF THE SITH (I saw an early screening)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I forget why I'm mad.

He who has a subscription to Entertainment Weekly should never cast the first stone.

But here I am, shaking my head at the people who write letters to the magazine - usually about the generally provocative picture on the cover. After a recent issue with a nekkid Lindsay Lohan gracing its front, a flurry of letters seem to have been sent into the magazine condemning or condoning the choice to disrobe and photograph her. In reading these missives, I found myself wondering why people would ever write into a magazine about something like that. I mean, first you have to decide that your offended sensibilities are worth rendering physically, type it out, put it in an envelope, walk it out to the mailbox and with at least one stamp on it, send it off. Seems like an awful lot of work to say something worthless. Don't these people have any counter-impulses that stop them from writing things like that during one of these many steps? A letter to the NY Times or a - let's see - comment on a blog seems to make some kind of sense: either you have a well-thought out opinion you wish to share or in the case of a blog, it takes about five seconds and seems in the spirit of the rant-flavored forum. But writing to a magazine like EW about the offensive nature of their cover choice? Who cares! Essentially, writing to a magazine and/or sending in a letter to complain about sex/violence on a TV channel seem of the same pointless family. Just stop reading or watching it. Are you so arrogant that you think your opinion on a magazine's taste is worth knowing to anyone outside your circle of watchdog friends?

I was going to draw a parallel between these people and the people at lectures who ask questions like: Is the character in your movie based on you? But... it's pretty likely they write/say these things for the reason unto itself of being published - attention. In which case, I guess it's fine. Now that I look at this post, it's pretty clear we're not that far afield. We all just want attention and what's wrong with trying to get it. I just don't like people being outraged. But then... why am I complaining?

I was looking at the EW letters page and I got what I deserved.

Posts are much more fun when you come full-circle.

Also, check out Aaron Hill. I know he's my blogmate but Sethy B has got scary good musical talent.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Aaron Hill & The Crimson Guard

The email list signup currently won't return you to the page you were just perusing as advertised, but I see no reason to let that delay the announcement of my new site:

The main thing is that there are some songs to listen to, and I hope you like them. Some of you might have already heard a couple, but rest assured I have added some bleeps and bloops.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Jump, Jive, and Yawn

The best thing I can take away from Ashlee Simpson's music career is how much less annoying Avril Lavigne now seems by comparison. I must also admit a certain admiration for Avril's appearance on SNL some time back, in which she displayed a stage presence I'd describe as "aggressively bored". It's hard to take my eyes off of people who clearly don't care that I'm watching them. Still, you have to sell it. There are a lot of bored rocker poseurs out there, but they try and walk the line between boredom and mental anguish. Not interested in that. I want total emotional detachment. Like Keely Smith used to have with Louis Prima. If Avril had a fat little latino bouncing around the stage doing duets with her, I'd be her biggest fan.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I AM in THE movie.

First, a few rows ahead of us:

"Hello! Yes! MmHmm."
"No! NO! I'm in the movie. I'm seeing a movie."
Pause. Click. Ring.
"Hello? I'm in THE MOVIE. Right now. I'm in the movies right now. On the top floor."
"What's wrong with you? I'm IN the movie. I'm IN a movie. A movie."
Pause. Click.
A few minutes pass.
"Tsk! TSK! I'm IN... THE... MOVIE. Upstairs. Right now. Come on! I'm seeing the movie."

Then later, several rows behind us:

"Hello. I ordered a nice cake. And the cake we got wasn't right."
"It wasn't FUCKING right. Now I want a new cake."
Pause. Tap the seat.
"I'm going to need a new cake. And I better get one. And some ice cream too."

Other things that blew my mind while I was trying to focus on Flight of the Phoenix at the Court Street Regal Cinemas:

1) A man with a beard who wandered into the theater looking for someone he never found. He would walk from aisle to aisle staring up and down it, maybe trying to remember what it was he had lost. His search process was slow and deliberate.

2) The first person on her phone - a woman wrapped in a black robe, sitting few rows ahead of us - not only talking on her phone loudly and redundantly but walking in and out of the theater. It wasn't just that her conversation was loud. It was inarticulate. She was clearly trying to demonstrate her location to her cohort but could only repeat the same line (I'm in the movie) over and over again with different emphasis.

3) The man with the beard returning to our theater to continue his search.

4) Someone shining a laser light into Dennis Quaid's eyes. I'm not saying he didn't deserve it. But it was rude anyway.

5) At least two couples walking out of the movie 5 minutes before it ended. I mean, it was a bad movie but damn, you've sat through that much. You're really in that much of a rush? "Fuck these assholes trying to rebuild a plane and escape the desert, I've got to go broil that ham!" They didn't even look at the movie screen as they left.

In the end, I was giggling - veritably tickled with irritation. I've been to a lot of rowdy screenings where one or two of these things happened but never all of them. They pushed me all the way past annoyed to giddy. The man arguing about the cake was perfect. That one I enjoyed. Any one who is arguing with a baker FROM a movie theater AT 11PM at night is just crazy enough. Usually, talking on your cellphone during a movie at a high volume, to me, seems not so much crazy as mean and intensely oblivious. Yet many people still do it, with nary a dash of humility. They honestly look like they might not think it's wrong. Haven't you seen the 4000 commercials that warn you from talking on your phone during movies? Have you never seen a movie before? Who are you mad at? These people need to be followed, studied and placed under house arrest - allowed to leave only if they promise to sit quietly or have truly entertaining, borderline surreal conversations.