Archive for September, 2008

Precautions and Perils of the LA Dating Scene: A List

September 30, 2008

1. Be prepared to deal with all dating issues via text message or email where people can let you down easily without having to show their look of distaste or middle finger to you.

2. Be prepared for the first date to end really well, because the other person doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, only to rely on the first point to tell you there’s really no interest.

3. Be prepared for the other person to presume how you feel so that they have reason to not like you.

4. Be prepared that when you try and explain yourself, they take offense and tell you how awful you are to press the issue. Even if it’s I’m not really interested, they will assume you’re lying, because how could you not be interested. Right?

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“Appaloosa”: How the West was Mediocre

September 25, 2008
Lounging lawmen.

Even they're wondering when something's going to happen.

Only a Western could have a name like Appaloosa, and so this film is a Western that follows two roaming lawmen for hire, played by Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. The film is full of characters that want to be colorful and interesting, but they also want to be brooding and serious, which works most of the time, and needed to work all of the time since the story is really only a way to examine the three main characters’ traits. The score by Jeff Beal uses a classic western feel with a James Newton Howard strangeness (that gets a big unintentional laugh when Renee Zelwegger appears), which I guess should suggest to us that Harris, also the director, is trying to turn the Western on its head.

The problem is the film begins creating a wonderful character in Harris’s Virgil Cole only to peak out at about the halfway point with a violent action that’s bold for the character that when the film neither delves into or cares to explain the psychological reasonings we stop caring what the film has to say about him. After that it’s no longer Cole’s film but becomes about the people that surround Cole.

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“The Duchess”: Or Cold Apple Pie

September 24, 2008
It's like a plume of peacock feathers.

Okay, that hair is overwhelming...got me there.

I love apple pie, especially with ice cream that drizzles down the side. You look at it, imagine how savory it would be, then imagine the pie still warm. Now walk across the room and see another apple pie, no ice cream, you bite in and it’s cold…even lukewarm…and somehow, even though you love apple pie, it’s underwhelming. That’s how I felt while watching The Duchess, somehow cheated by what it could have been. I felt…underwhelmed.

The wonderful Kiera Knightley has been proving herself a marvelous actor over the past few years. Ever since her performance in The Jacket and Pride and Prejudice I’ve been wowed by her with each and every role since. She has a fire in her eyes, a hope she brings to each of her characters that allows you to believe in her. As Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, that fire has been doused.

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Burn After Reading: Deceptively Incoherent

September 18, 2008
The face that starts it all.

The epitomy of insecurity.

It’s like the good old days when all of the big star names would get together to make a nice bit of nonsense. Everyone here is great. J.K. Simmons, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins…and yes, more. Sometimes I wonder if the Coen Brothers just like to make movies with big stars just to show us they can. We all know that’s not the case.

As Antonio says, “I’m far more serious than my custom.” So are the Coen Brothers.

While watching Burn After Reading a song popped into my head, Eleanor Rigby by The Beetles. It’s a song about lonely people, Burn is littered with the people of this planet that are so lonely and depressed they don’t know how to not dig themselves into a whole. The insecurity factor in this film is so high the first place I walked to when the movie finished was a mirror in the men’s room to tell myself how great I was. Everything in this film – each action and reaction is based on the character’s inabilty to cope with their own decisions…so they make worse ones. It’s really quite amusing to watch, only because I see a lot of them in me.

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“Righteous Kill” Great Duo + Lousy Movie = Lousy Movie

September 17, 2008
Long time partners have an amusing conversation.

Long time partners have an amusing conversation.

The performances in Righteous Kill are so nuanced that the already weak story becomes that much more transparent.

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino play police partners who are on the trail of a serial killer that’s killing bad guys whom they believe is one of their own. At one point a psychologist says, “A serial killer cop, never heard of such a thing.” Guess he hasn’t seen Dexter.

After thirty years on the force, the two detectives, can finish each others sentences, but a psychological rift is created as they get closer to the killer. What transpires is supposed to be a mystery, but unless you’ve never seen a movie before you’ll know what the director, Jon Avnet, and screenwriter are up to long before they show their final card.

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Towelhead: Innocence Distorted

September 17, 2008
Racism comes a'knockin'.

Racism comes a knockin'!

There are so many places I wish to begin with this review, which as I write it becomes much more involved – more of an essay. So to keep my thoughts somewhat cohesive, I’ll just start over again whenever I feel like it…as a forethought, you may want to see the movie before reading this. It goes into details about themes and characters that may reveal plot elements. This is a movie to experience first if it’s something you want to see at all.

Alan Ball likes things that provoke (before they evoke – though surprisingly the film draws very genuine emotions out of the viewer by the end), or situations that perchance titillate in an uncomfortable way, but that’s a thought I’ll come back to. His new film, which is also his directorial debut, Towelhead examines the unfortunate sexual awakening due to racism of a 13-year-old Arab American girl, Jasira (Summer Bishil), as she finds herself suddenly thrust into the heartland of Texas.

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