October 2010

Who Killed Nancy? Does Anyone Care?

Alan G. Parker has made a career of chronicling the Sex Pistols. From this vantage point in history, while the band remains tremendously important, it all just seems curious. After a few books, now a film attempting to crack open a murder case near forty years in age?

The impetus for such work is probably still exploratory for Parker – or at least we can hope. Of course, any journalist or non-fiction filmmaker totes around the stench of opportunism at points. And Who Killed Nancy? could easily be understood in such light.

For Academic Viewing Only: Synecdoche, New York

Well, Charlie Kaufmann’s got to be one batty fellow – in addition to being pretty smart.

An ability to construct the narrative which constitutes Synecdoche, New York is probably only possessed by a handful of people. And out of those capacious folks, Kaufman was the only guy to suss it out.

Brilliance aside, Synecdoche is basically two hours of feeling uncomfortable, being let down and an unsettling feeling down in your gut. So, if you’re predisposed to fits of depression, doing something else with your time would be a wise choice.

Blur's No Distance Left to Run: Inconsequential to Americans?

The premise for most rock docs is goes something like this: A group of poor, well meaning friends write a clutch of great songs, perform relentlessly and are ignored until a random big break rains down fame and fortune.

Viewing No Distance Left to Run, a document detailing Blur’s rise to fame in the UK and the States, goes more like this: Some really handsome guys wrote songs, got drunk, signed a record deal and wound up being horribly famous.

It’s not the stuff of legends. Nor is the film something that most folks are gonna need to watch. Having said that, it’s still an engaging piece of entertainment.

The Art of the Steal: A Gov't Sanctioned Art Theft

Art crimes are apparently on the rise. But that’s only because art seems like a pretty phenomenal business to get in since every price is arbitrarily set and works are authenticated by those who basically answer to no governing body. It seems like all one needs to get into this racket – and I do mean racket – is a boat load of money.

Either way, before the Nazis perpetrated heady art crimes for themselves, a gentleman from Philadelphia named Albert C. Barnes earned a hefty wage for inventing some medicine. Which one is kinda immaterial. But he did have enough money to buy paintings by then burgeoning artists like Matisse and a slew of Impressionists.

F is For Fake: Orson Welles On-Top, Again

The last years of Orson Welles’ life weren’t the glimmering exemplar of an artist crafting his finest and best received work. The director – he also worked in theatre, radio and the fine arts for a time, a very short time – basically toppled from favor during the fifties after a series of well wrought, but not commercially advantageous, filmic works. Then he got fat.

It wasn’t ever the man’s girth precluding him from success. Instead, the fact that as time wore on and Welles realized he wasn’t going to be Brando – or a Brando with an acumen for directing – he landed upon a series of increasingly obtuse projects. Shakespeare, while omni-good source material, isn’t most times going to result in a box office success.

Gothic: Ken Russell Disappoints?

Well, just like normal, daily life, even one’s heroes eventually go and let a guy down.

Ken Russell isn’t as famous as he is talented, but the guy was able to spit out a spate of well wrought, interesting films for a time. Of course, missteps occur. And one might go ahead and figure Gothic as one of those. The thing is, ‘critics’ didn’t really seem to think that the film, which fictionalizes the circumstances around Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein, was over the top or remotely nonsensical.

Upcoming: The Hunger Games Movie

I should probably come clean about my addiction to "The Hunger Games" trilogy. This would generally not be a problem except I am a 20-something year old man instead of a 15 year old girl - although in fairness I am emotionally more like the later. I started reading the series this past year and I found myself trapped in the world of Katniss Everdeen - her life, loves, and the situations her futuristic world ruled by Authoritarianism has presented. I honestly could not put the books down.

10 Family Friendly Halloween Movies

While I made my daughter’s Halloween Advent Calendar this year, I planned on including a few kid-friendly films as some of the activities. I figured that ABC Family would have some great ones running on TV and I could just plan those out by date, right? Wrong! It turns out that ABC Family’s lineup this year is pretty lame, and none of them look appropriate for my daughter.

Instead, I devised a list of 10 fun family-friendly Halloween films we could choose from. A few of these are actually a bit too old for my daughter to enjoy, but that won’t stop my husband and me from re-watching some of our favorites this month!

10. Harry Potter

The Killer Inside Me: Creepy, in a Good Way

Jim Thompson’s long been regarded as an important name in the fine lit game. Fine lit being anything I enjoy as opposed to high art, ‘cause ya know, high art’s for reprobates and closet child molesters.

That being said, Thompson’s novel The Killer Inside Me has now been recast in terms of film twice within the last thirty some odd years. The book – and yes, by extension the movies – deals with a small town cop, a likeable enough guy, and the problems extending from some odd, early childhood experiences.

Low Budget:: The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

With all of the assorted folks associated with The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, one would imagine that the end result would have to be some weird, skewed comedic high water mark that in a few decades will still be examined by those devotees to the whoopee cushion and the rubber chicken.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The premise of the film, a set of hired guns in the sales field rove the country picking up freelance work and settling in a town for a few weeks, makes it seem as if there’s a bit of promise. And even when we get a bit further into the plot and specifics are defined for this car lot the film concerns, it all seems like it’ll turn out to be an entertaining film.

Accepted: Just Like Superbad, but Not Rewarding

Man, Jonah Hill used to be fat. I mean, he still is, but during Accepted, it was just out of hand (Sorry, Jonah Hill. You’re still really funny…Like he’s reading this).

Anyway, earning a pretty hefty role in a move Steve Pink directed was a decent shot in the arm for Hill’s still young career. He’d already appeared in both I Heart Huckabees and Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin during 2004 and 5. Landing this gig, though, easily set him up for Knocked Up and subsequently Superbad. And in reality, Accepted isn’t really too distant from that last mentioned Apatow film, Superbad.

Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s"

Audrey Hepburn is known as being one of the most remarkable, highly respected people in the world with her breathtaking performances on-screen, humanitarian work, beauty, and of course, iconic fashion of the 20th century. Not only is she a woman that strikes beautifully in her fashion masterpieces and movies, but her love for the world in helping humanity is wonderfully touching.

Billy Budd: We Should Have Already Known

Through all of my wasteful schooling, I’ve somehow been able to skirt anything Herman Melville penned. At some points, that’s endlessly rewarding seeing as the man is part of a literary tradition not tremendously important to my today. At other times, though, Melville’s works wind up passing for pop-culture and find themselves referenced, even vaguely in certain cases, that just don’t help me out with meaning. So, part of my struggle with Melville is that he’s an old tymer, but an old tymer whose still, somehow, a vibrant part of the arts culture today. And I don’t know why.