Friday, February 27, 2009

Tigerland And Gloria's Hands




The other day my sister left a comment on the "Why Keanu Reeves?" post I made...and it's an example of why "good acting" is not only a subjective term...but also a performance or movie doesn't always have a concrete need for "realism". We've come to expect that good acting is "believeable" or "realistic"...but it's not always been that way. When we watch an older film, or a film from another country, we might give it a different expectation level...(? do we?)

My sister, the Underground Baker, wrote...

Speaking of acting I just caught the last half of sunset blvd. on the weekend. OH my god, the woman (ok, I've forgotten her name, can you believe it?) with the over the top characterture was so amazing.I bought into her character because it worked in the context of the movie and because I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Not to mention the total creep factor. And how refreshing to see a male character playing the whore.

(I can't get her claw like hands out of my mind)

What is great about Penn and many other actors is that its not just about emoting feelings - but movement, gesture, breath and for some actors that metamorphasis on what seems like a cellular level to becoming a character is just magic. I especially love it when they can turn the characters on and off on cue. (not that I get to see that very often but it's wonderful to witness)


Well, that was Gloria Swanson, the terrifying Gloria Swanson. I thought she was a god when I was a kid. Her and Suzanne Pleshette. I loved Glora Swanson because she played such a good villian. And I loved Suzanne Pleshette because she got her eyes poked out in The Birds. :)

Yes, it is cool to see a man, William Holden, cast as the whore...and considering that was 1950 it shows how insightful film noir is for studying the human condition. I love George Peppard in Breakfast At Tiffany's for a similar reason that he plays a whore. (well, so does Audrey Hepburn)

But we would probably reject the style of acting Gloria Swanson does in her body of work today...because acting styles and approval are subjective and go in and out of fashion. Merryl Streep pretty much comes close to pushing the limits with her role in Doubt...very Gloria Swanson-ish! Notice Swanson's hands in the above pictures...it's as if they aren't the same hands!...how they help communicate what kind of person she is playing.

"that it's not just about emoting feelings-but movement, gesture, breathe" ...Yes, that would be part of the study of "body work" performers practice. Here are some books on that topic...click here. There are a number of actors who I think of who are so adept and use their body in movies. Some I think of are Martin Short, Lisa Marie (remember how she moved in Mars Attack and Planet of The Apes?) Matthew McConaughey (his performance in Fool's Gold is a perfect example...okay okay...and his raw sexuality didn't hurt either), Edward Norton...and lots of easy examples would be comics, like Jim Carrey and Steve Martin, Bill Murray. (which reminds me...Buster Keaton had a cameo in Sunset Blvd.)

A lot of people trash Colin Farrel but I've always been a fan. I actually was very curious when he did the movie Phone Booth ...how can a whole movie be made in a phone booth?... but it was not bad actually. His steady performance helped with suspending disbelief. Realisism is valuable in unlikely situations or plots. I also liked a little seen movie called Tigerland, I landed up buying it on dvd (I really like war movies, okay) and in the dvd extras...are Colin Farrels screen tests. I was pretty blown away watching them develop...and here they are for Underground Baker...because it's true, unless you work with actors, most people don't get to see the process of building a character. (I hope these videos work in Canada...if they don't just go to YouTube and search for "screen test tigerland")









I guess maybe I might do a special shout out to Ireland for giving us Colin Farrel, easy on the eyes too, Sinead O'Connor, U2, The Pogues, The Waterboys, Aidan Quinn, Albert Finney, Cillian Murphy, The Cehiftans, Gabriel Byrne, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Day-Lewis, Van Morrion...jesus, whats in the water over there!

Yum...Irish hotties...way more fun than talking about the public outrage towards the Octuplets.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Get It On

More Literary References On LOST


Is this Foucault's Pendulum? After last weeks episode we can add another book to LOST's list of reading material. Has there ever been a tv show that encouraged reading as much as LOST? I know...I took another picture off my tv...it was just such a cool set. My pic doesn'tbegin to do it justice.

Above is the scientist Foucault's pendulum, built to demonstrate the earth's rotation.

Some of the books that have been on the tv show...and probably help follow plot or characters...

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Lancelot by Walker Percy
Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
A Wrikle In Time by Madeline Engels
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Bad Twin by Gary Troup
After All These Years by Susan Isaacs
The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky
Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
The Third Policeman by Falnn O Brien
Hindsight by Peter Wright
An Occurance At Owl Creek by Ambroise Pierce
The Invention of Morel by Aldolfo Bioy Casares
Are You There God, It's Margeret by Judy Blume
Evil Under The Sun by Agatha Christie
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Left Behind By LaHaye and Jenkins
Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carol
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
A Brief History of Time by Stephen J Hawking
Valis by Phip K. Dick
Gilgamesh
Quran
Heart of Darkness by Conrad
The Odyssey

Some previous posts about LOST (for Wandering Coyote)

1.) Text Messages
2.) Sexy Reader
3.) 13 Things About LOST, November 2006

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Octuplet Mum Round Two: "Selfishly Delusional"

You know...when I was about 16 years old, I wanted to be a wildly famous and rich artist or film maker. When I got a little older, I began to learn that the desire to be famous is related to wanting to be "like God" or "close to God" after all...God is famous and known all over the world. The craving to be famous is unresolved spiritual or philosophical peace of mind. By the time I was a single mum and a practicing artist...fame seemed like a curse and a terrible thing to want...

I can wholeheartedly say that I am SO HAPPY I didn't have a film crew or cameras following me around when I was a young single mum and a young club partying dance freaking woman.

When my daughter was a baby I used to take her to Beacon Hill Park, in small town Victoria, B.C. and I would stretch out a blanket and fall asleep while she slept in her stroller. I was absolutey exhausted and was always trying to catch up on sleep. The idea of falling asleep in a public park with my baby beside me is quite ...well...horrifying...isn't it? I would never do it now and I can admit to being very naive and trusting. I just kind of give myself a quick cross when I think of it...I can see the headlines now "Single Mum Sleeps Through Kidnapping". Today it would be as bad or worse than say, Britney Spears holding her kid on her lap while driving around a parking lot.

I can only think of one thing worse than having cameras follow me around and that is...if someone publically asked my parents whether they thought I should have children on a major tv network...about me being be a single mum. I can tell you what they would have said...because they nagged me about it over and over and their opinions will probably never leave my memory.

They were dead against the idea! My father begged me to get an abortion. I can only imagine how awful it would have been to have one's parents on tv talking about this kind of stuff. Yikes!

On todays' Oprah her guest was the father of Nadya Suleman. I found him to be rather sympathetic and in shock about his daughters choices but also a fairly dedicated father...to some degree. He said he didn't want his daughter to have all these kids...but he also said and he seemed to be terribly sincere that he loved all his grandchildren and that their birth and life was God's will. He even believed that his daughtes decisions were part of God's plan. He intends to make as much money as he can till she finishes school and gets employment. He also wonders about her emotional health but says she is an intelligent and good mother.

I found this fascinating. Yes, there were audience members who were very judgmental, one woman called Nadya "reckless"..but two women had the perspective, it's done, now lets show some compassion and help the mother.

Dr. Oz described Nadya's decision as "selfishly delutional". I can't say he is wrong...I feel perhaps Nadya Suleman is a little over enthusiastic heh heh and quite likely..."selfishly delusional".

But no more selfishly delusional than anyone else in the world who drives a car, buys food that isn't organic, eats too much, buys too many clothes or houses, eats wheat, or noodles, or has a lot of animals or abuses substances...etc etc


Isn't the very nature of capitalism and the American Dream a kind of selfish delusion? Eat more for less, get more gas for less, big deals on lots of products...we have restaurants that offer deals on extra starches, Red Lobster, like many U.S. restaurants, would go out of business if it didn't have it's all-you-can-eat slogans. What about shoe stores "buy one get one" and two for one sales.

Is it any wonder an allegedly crazy fertility doctor could take advantage of a citizen who is subjected to this kind of economic doubling and layering philosophy to life? On every level we could take any persons lifestyle in North America and see how conspicuous consumption was appearing to rule the decision making of most of us.

Most people at some level in their lifestyle make decisions that are selfishly delusional. We all know noodles and bread and baked goods are processed foods and make us gain weight...but we still eat them: selfishly delusional. Our excuse: it's cheap and easy to eat these processed foods like bread and noodles...and they are "comfort foods"

We all know that the environment is affected by driving our cars...but we all still drive our cars...selfishly delusional. Our excuse: we are not able to find a way to work or shop without our cars, it's easier than taking public transit etc etc

A few days ago...when I posted this here...I was very surprised at the views towards family planning (or not) and the comments gave me much to think about and offered a wide berth of perspectives. On Oprah today...Dr. Oz said that people are reluctant to help Nadya because they feelthey can't trust her..."Will she take any donations for the children and go get a manicure?"


Meanwhile we do have all these magazines rejoicing how Heidi Klum, and Julia Roberts, and Kate Winslet, and Kate Hudson lost their baby weight. Famous images of Hollywood mums with manicures on the beach,with whole make overs after having a baby. Then...we trash Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears for shaving their heads or gaining weight.

(I am of the camp...that it's good for mothers to take care of themselves, dress clean and have manicures...so I say give Nadya donations to cover BOTH caregiving and clothing and food for the children...and her own hygiene and allowance. Why shouldn't a mother go get a hairstyle and some new yoga pants? It's common sense as far as I can tell...every other mother does!)



When I was a single parent...there were times of prejudice and hurtful comments at parent/teacher meetings...my daughter came home crying once because the kids at school had called her mum a slut. (oh they said way worse sometimes too). I had thought that the hate towards women and especially single mums (on welfare or not) had ben cleared up since Murphy Brown. Remember when Dan Quayle said a derogatory remark about the sit-com? TIME MagazineIF FOR NOTHING ELSE, DAN QUAYLE DESERVES POINTS for audacity. In modern America taking on a popular TV character, even a fictional one, is politically more precarious than taking a clear stand on a substantive campaign issue.

It seems that we still have many ideas and issues to struggle with the more science gives us...the more variables we are not expecting...outcomes that make us think. And it seems that gay parents, single parents, and poor families will continue to be the sitting ducks for attack regarding social taboos and intolerance for some time to come...rather than addressing the issues behind "get more for less" and our own delusional selfishness.



Thank you to L.M. at Digital Media Treefor the following article from The Toronto Globe and Mail

JOHN ROGERS
Associated Press
February 24, 2009 at 8:32 AM EST
LOS ANGELES — It seems so long ago now, but for just a day or two last month Nadya Suleman was known as Miracle Mom, the amazing woman who did what had never been done before: gave birth to the longest-surviving set of octuplets.

But in short order the public learned that Miracle Mom was also Single Mom, Unemployed Mom and Welfare Mom. And as fast as you could Twitter “I hate Nadya Suleman,” scores of Web sites were dedicated to denouncing the so-called Octomom, others to making fun of her, a rap music video lampooned her (“pops 'em out like a toaster/needs a pacifier holster”) and angry citizens threatened to kill her publicists.

“In terms of reaction to her, I would say not in my experience have I ever seen anything like it. And I would add that I was involved in public relations for Three Mile Island after the accident,” said publicist Mike Furtney, who quit representing Ms. Suleman after receiving death threats. (Lest anyone forget, the Three Mile Island accident of 1979 involved the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor that for a time threatened to prompt the evacuation of a wide swath of Pennsylvania.)

Not that Ms. Suleman is the first person to go radioactive overnight. Don't forget O.J. Simpson. But as pop culture historian Leo Braudy points out, Ms. Suleman has never been accused of killing anybody.

“This is not something that is usually considered a crime,” Mr. Braudy, who teaches at University of Southern California, said of giving birth to children. “It's something that in the past was celebrated. People would say congratulations.”

Of the nearly 50 Suleman discussion groups found on Facebook this week, however, not one was headlined “Congratulations, Nadya!”

Instead there were titles like, “Nadya Suleman Should Be Sterilized,” “Nadya Suleman Disgusts Me,” and “Stop Idiot Moms Like Nadya Suleman.” (And those were the printable ones.)

To be fair, there were also a handful of pro-Suleman groups, although the “Leave Nadya Suleman Alone” one had only 61 members on Monday compared with the 3,478 people who had joined the “What Nadya Suleman Did Was Totally Wrong” group.

Although never venerated as a candidate for mother of the year, Ms. Suleman was, for about two days after the Jan. 26 birth of her octuplets, more the subject of curiosity than of ridicule and scorn.

That began to change as it became known she was a single mother with 14 children who was living on a combination of food stamps, student loans and disability claims while her elderly mother, who was caring for Ms. Suleman's six older children, couldn't make her mortgage payments.

It didn't help, either, that Ms. Suleman's own parents have publicly criticized her decision to have so many kids, or that Ms. Suleman bears a striking resemblance (some speculate a plastic-surgery-enhanced one) to that other famous mother, Angelina Jolie, and that she's been said to be looking for book, TV and movie deals.

Elsewhere on the Web, Jodie Rivera, a popular YouTube parody singer known as VenetianPrincess, put up a video of herself looking eerily like Ms. Suleman. As she sang, a doctor in scrubs (also Ms. Rivera) used a baseball glove to catch flying newborns.

“It was all in good fun, to bring a laugh to a situation people are taking very seriously,” said Ms. Rivera.

The site momlogic.com, which provides both lighthearted and serious reports on motherhood, also got into the act, offering eight suggestions for reality shows Ms. Suleman might do. One example: “Fear Factor: Octuplets Edition,” in which contestants are lowered by harness into the Suleman home.

“Whoever can demonstrate the guts and determination to endure one round of octuplet diaper changes wins the grand prize — a lifetime supply of birth control.”

Some people have offered to help Ms. Suleman, including a church pastor, a non-profit and even the man who says he was a sperm donor for her when they were dating in the 1990s. Although Ms. Suleman has denied that Denis Beaudoin is the sperm donor who fathered her children, he told ABC he still stands ready to help.

USC sociologist Julie Albright says Ms. Suleman was caught in a perfect storm of events guaranteed to outrage the public, some of her own making, some not.

“First, we're in particularly sensitive economic times, people are losing their jobs,” Ms. Albright said. “Second is that physical resemblance to Angelina Jolie.”

Whether it's coincidental or not, Ms. Albright said, the resemblance has led many to think Ms. Suleman is a “copycat” trying to elicit the goodwill much of the public feels for actress Ms. Jolie, who with partner Brad Pitt has adopted three of their six children from other nations.

People might normally overlook that as just silly if they weren't already worried about losing their jobs and their homes and if the state of California wasn't broke and facing the prospect of paying more than $1 million in medical bills for Ms. Suleman's babies while the state issues IOUs instead of tax refunds.

“If someone isn't stressed and something happens like their car breaks down, that's just annoying,” Ms. Albright said. “But if their parent has just died and they lost their job and their kid's in jail and then their car breaks down, that risks a nervous breakdown. ... That's what's triggering this angry, emotional response in so many people.”

Gran Torino


Note to self: do not move to Michighan. Interesting to see violent hate played out in a formally affluent city of car production in the movie Gran Torino. It is absolutely painful to see the kind of hate in a place where people used to be able to afford to raise a family. Highland Park is the new Compton. We saw this movie a few months ago, again on the recommendation of Stagg's parents. They liked the realistic portrayal by Clint Eastwood and the unusual creation of a new family. Clint Eastwood is a man who needs a new family. His family is totally repulsive and I almost couldn't believe there might really be people like these in the world. Except...my dads wife was just like Eastwoods kids....same kind of sense of entitlement. My fathers wife was such a creep she was just like this family with the same delusion that they know what is best for others: she spoke to my grandparents the same way as Eastwoods kids speak to him. Ugh. The whole family is selfish, dead boring and assholes. But Eastwood is the head honcho of creep. It's very difficult and interesting to watch him in this movie. He is such a pig...yet some of his values are admirable. He sure deserves the shitty kids he made. And the grandkids are even lame. This family is the reason a place could turn into hell. But...despite Eastwoods dictatorship (what children could survive or grow up to be thoughtful under a dictatorship?) Eastwoods character gets a second chance at family. And this...I found really interesting. I could relate to him teaching his young alienated neighbours some tricks of getting along in the world. I enjoyed and squirmed how he would shit on these kids with racial slurs-the dialogue doesn't sugar-coat this character...but the daughter of this Hmong family dished his attitude right back...but with love and tolerance. She managed to teach Eastwood how to love a family in some remarkable way. There are problems with this movie. I knew it wouldn't get nominated at Oscars because there were some script and plot problems. The acting is not so consistent and sometimes it's even very bad. Clint Eastwoods acting is perfectly good, and like Streep in Doubt he brings the camp, he brings the noise and the noise is opera. Despite the poorer acting of supporting roles, and despite the problems with the script...I recommend this movie. It's part revenge story and part redemption story. It hurts to say that it's flawed. Score: 7/10. Acting: 5/10 (except for Clint, he gets a drama-queen 10/10)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Keanu Reeves?

Fame is the first disgrace.

Because God knows who you are."
From script, The Local Stigmatic

If true art is hidden, is the reward of greatness immortality, or oblivion? William Deresiewicz

I have a girlfriend who occassionally will see a movie and add, "the acting is really good". Everytime she says this about a movie, I know there is going to be a major plot twist or some surprise. She said "the acting is really good" for example, about They Usual Suspects and The Crying Game. For my friend, the idea that an actor doesn't betray their own characters secrets is very important and she is highly impressed when a movie tricks her or fools her in such a manner. I rarely recall her saying anything about the acting in many movies. For her, good acting, it's all about being surprised by the actor in a plot twisting movie.

How do we define and recognize or rank "good acting"?

I believe depending on where one grows up, and what culture one is from may affect how we define good acting. As visitors know, I watch and enjoy a lot of Asian action films. The acting is good, sometimes, it is "sufficient" and sometimes, it may be very good...but often for viewers the action in these movies over rides the concern with acting as we expect from other genres of movies. (? maybe?) Scenes of action, gun fights say, in a John Woo movie are highly stylized and operetic...and it seems that as long as we believe in the idea of wild athletic stunts the acting will follow along. Actually, too much time on acting or character can be a distracting factor in the flow of action films. We want to get right into the action, thank you very much.

Some action movies highly depend on "realistic" acting techniques and believable characters. If we don't care about a princess in danger in a science fiction movie, we may not be able to believe the futuristic setting. Harrison Ford's sturdy voice over, smart talking and mature face, helped audiences believe in Los Angeles of the future in Bladerunner. Martin Scorsese explored making high realism films in the 1970's and he worked with intense "method actors" like Harvey Keitel, Robert DeNiro who brought an emotional reality to their macho characters and riveted an audience to accept a study of violence not before seen or accepted as "art" in films.

British film maker Ridley Scott recalls meeting a "method actor" Every director devises their own methodology. By the time I got to do my first feature, in ’77, The Duellists, which was with a certain tough guy called Harvey Keitel … He was what they call Actors Studio and all that—Method acting and that kind of thing. Method? I told him I have a method too. I had absolutely no idea what the fuck he was talking about, and I think he had no idea what the fuck I was talking about.

Acting styles change over time, and have a kind of fashion. There is a story that Dustin Hoffman when playing his role in Marathon Man would actually run marathon's and wanted to be have his head held under water for as long as possible in a torture/fight scene and the rumour is that English style of acting was quite different. Apparently Lawrence Olivier said to Hoffman Hoffman says that Laurence Olivier’s oft-quoted remark, "Why not try acting? It’s much easier," ...the story has circulated...but Hoffman claims the context has been lost....Olivier's comment came out of concern for Hoffman’s excessive partying while trying to forget his personal problems (he was getting divorced from his first wife at the time). It was not a put-down of his Method acting style.

I think Sean Penn is one of the best actors, I think he should have an Oscar for all his roles. Imagine how much I laughed when I was reading a film magazine and read the following...Fostering all this is Sean Penn as Milk, who is here to help, and to care and kevetch. Instead of going too hammy and too heavy as so often before, Penn channels his sprung energy into the man's tremendous likeability: quipping, beaming, confidently adorable.... Nicolas Rapold Sight and Sound magazine.

Too hammy and too heavy? Sean Penn? Maybe...but isn't his style the general measuring stick we hold up against all actors? Compare the acting of 1950's musicals or melodramas to Sean Penn? Those performances of say, a Douglas Sirk star...are hammy and heavy...and that's exactly why their audiences love them...on top of the fabulous sets and stories. I don't think the enjoyment of the performances in certain genres depends on "good acting" (whatever that might be for one viewer or another).

I can see why some critics would feel Penn is too hammy in the same way I can see how some critics feel DeNiro (and Keitel and Pacino and Pesci) seemed to cash in on their previous acting accomplishments by addressing them through spoofs or comedy. It's as if by the 1990's their style of acting was falling out of fashion. It seemed as if Jack Nicholson had begun doing parodies of himself to soem critics as well. I don't happen to feel that way...I feel as if there are just many styles of acting.

I think there is bad acting. I suppose because I tend to enjoy so many movies it might appear I don't notce poor acting and mistakes or tragic flaws...not true. I have my limitations heh heh.I think Renne Zellwegger's performance in Appaloosa dragged down the movie in parts. You can actually see her lose her focus in the first few minutes onscreen when she is climbing hotel stairs. I couldn't believe the director didn't film it over (I suspect a fairly low budget and Ed Harris couldn't do many retakes). A very promising fun premise was spoiled in part by her miscasting for the role....and then her collapse as the character right down to her walking! We can see this flaw in Gran Torino a fantastic movie on many levels with some very poor acting. Clint Eastwood is operatic and it fits the story perfectly. Unfortunately, some of the actors were either too inexperienced and they almost spoil the movies effects...but not quite. Eastood's campiness is part of the appeal and the movie survives despite some weak direction, script and acting. It survives much better than Appaloosa did. Overall though, there has to be something really miserable about an actor's performance to distract me, they need to make an absolute botch of something. Penelope Cruz almost always blows something in every movie she is in...she did manage to be the very best part of a terribly boring movie Vicky Christina Barcelona. (my grandparents slide shows from Europe had more excitement and sex!)..but Cruz was very good. Go figure!

I think an awful lot of an audiences enjoyment of a movie has to do with their own sense of comfort, imagination and personal decision to enjoy or reject a movie. I say this because how do we explain Bollywood? How do we explain martial arts movies? How do we explain the popularity of old Hollywood musicals? In part...because an audience maintains a kind of childlike innocence...and wants. to believe. The trend of streetwise realism in the 1960's and 1970's North American cinema reflected a disillusion in politics and society. The audiences that loved the method actors of Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Robert De Niro...often weren't interested in the 1980's return to imagination and fantasy (Star Wars, Indiana Jones).

There is a segment of the movie going audience that doesn't like to be "taken for a ride" because that triggers the lack of faith of something else where being "taken for a ride" was negative...either their society, family or politicians. There's an entire area of criticism that resents so much of moviemaking, and it's almost like listening to Seinfeld characters bitch about bad dates. I sometimes think people are so cynical to movies and music because the more we hate something it sounds like we're really "thoughtful" and intelligent and "we can't get fooled".

We picked up a movie I've been wanting to see since I first heard about it in rumours...it was a mythical project Al Pacino was working on called The Local Stigmatic. It's been on a dvd set for a couple of years and the play was a kind of grail for Pacino...he was never going to release it...it has an incredible insight into the kind of hatred and seemingly jealous attitude of many movie watchers. It's as if there are some viewers out there who want to ask an actor "Who do you think you are?" "why are you so famous"? "For what?" It's especially rampant negativity on the internet...where so many people think to sound smart and intelligent you have to hate-on someone famous or some red flag topic or subject. The Seinfeld Syndrome. (hey, I loved Seinfeld...it was funny because they were sociopaths and it's fun to laugh at sociopaths...not BE them)

The message of The Local Stigmatic is very complex. I would venture to say that it shows how attracted and exultant we are of chance and being lucky...that fame is just lucky break and the rest of us are bitter about not being so lucky...yet we keep on gambling...

We treat movies like a crap shoot and we don't want to look like easy marks...Yet, if we don't like the outcome we bitch.

And this is sad to me...when going to the movies should be like falling in love...you need to let go...

After winning an Oscar for “Philadelphia,” Mr. Hanks went on to “Forrest Gump” (and another Oscar), “Apollo 13,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Green Mile” and “Cast Away,” thus cementing his position as a new generation’s Jimmy Stewart. New York Times

If the New York Times is correct is giving us the analogy that Tom Hanks is the new jimmy Stewart, I suggest that Keanu Reeves is the new Cary Grant. Reeves has been criticised for a narrow range of emotions and style. The same could be said of Grant. Reeves has been criticized as always playing himself (Ted)...in what ever movie. I think Grant brought a specific attitude and himself to each movie. One of the common appeals of Grant and Reeves is their androgony. And we all know how sexy androgony is...think rock stars...The biggest difference between Reeves and Grant is how they speak. Grant was a master of witty dialogue and banter yet remaining always stable as Cary Grant. it didn't matter what he said, he was always Cary Grant. There is something reassuring about watching him in a movie. We always know who he is.

A sense of stability is also felt with Keanu Reeves. What some critics call wooden, I prefer to call steady and reliable. I think the single most important reason women love Reeves is because he is almost always an equal in his roles with women and he has a totally non-threatening manner and persona which many contemporary women find highly attractive. We love him because he's not John Wayne, or Charles Bronson or Arnold Swartznegger. Reeves is not an actor of words...he often has limited speaking parts and his appeal is from his total character shown by what he does...not by what he says...and this is perhaps not as flashy or intense or multi-layered as Brando, or Penn or DeNiro...but it's highly attractive. Reeves is as erotic moving to fight as he is for a kiss because he hasn't distracted the observer with speech but rather with "peace of mind". Reeve's calm is like an erotic stoicism, if you will :)



Above is an excerpt from an awesome interview with Mickey Rourke...called The Dark Side of Fame-thanks Asterisk!

Movie reviews by Nicolas Rapold:

1.) History of Violence
2.) Chaplin's Killing Joke
3.) Rapold's Top Ten
4.) Phantom Memory Films of Chantal Akerman
5.) Rapold's 2007 picks.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Short Film


This may not have finished uploading yet...check back later...if you have time.

Meanwhile...I have responded to several comments in earlier posts below...

Matilda


When we went to New York this summer on holiday and to do some interviews for our documentary...we had the support of The Algonquin Hotel who lent us their famous Oak Room to conduct interviews.

The Algonquin Hotel was originally designed as an apartment hotel, whose owner planned to rent rooms and suites on year-long leases. When few leases sold, the owner decided to turn it into a hotel which he was originally going to name "The Puritan." Frank Case, upon discovering that the Algonquin tribe had been the first residents of the area, convinced the owner to christen it "The Algonquin" instead

In June 1919 the hotel became the site of the daily meetings of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of journalists, authors, publicists, and actors who gathered to exchange bon mots over lunch in the main dining room. The group met almost daily for the better part of ten years. Some of the core members of the "Vicious Circle" included Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Jane Grant, Ruth Hale, George S. Kaufman, Neysa McMein, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert E. Sherwood and Alexander Woollcott.

In the late 1930s a rather disheveled feline wandered into the hotel searching for food and shelter. Ever the quintessential host, owner Frank Case welcomed the furry traveler into the Algonquin and a tradition was born.

Matilda, the current resident, is very popular with our guests. She has the run of the house (except in dining areas and kitchen) but prefers to oversee the comings and goings of the many guests who cross her threshold.

Matilda receives mail weekly from friends around the world and has been the subject of countless stories. On one occasion, when her collar was stolen, the "Algonquin Cat-Burglary" was the talk of the town.

Each year Matilda is given a birthday party, as befits a New York celebrity. A memorable one occurred in 2002 when, while celebrating her seventh birthday with 150 of her closest friends, she jumped on her cake and ran out of the room, leaving a trail of paw prints.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Doodling At Art Group


We had twice as many people at art group today. Yippee! I didn't take pictures but there were about 10 of us this afternoon. Andy and I were like "High 5!" And Andy and I met and had coffee before and after and just had a good day. One of the fellows who we met last week, and is a very good artist got a job!

I'm under the weather today...I had to get vaccinations related paperwork since getting hitched... and I'm feeling all woozy today and tonight. I felt like a little kid getting vaccinated, kind of funny. Fortunately my arms aren't too sore...just a headache...later sports fans...off to lie down and watch LOST...please please let Sawyer take his shirt off...

Why The Hate-On For Octuplet Mum?


Last night, I was noticing a magazine headline about the "Octo Mom"...and I realized, I keep hearing about this mother who had a few kids...and the headlines are always vile...so I asked Stagg "Why all the controversy about this Octo-Mom?". There are some stories that get such ridiculous airplay and fetistic media coverage (like Michael Phelps alledgedly smoking a bong)...and this poor parent ...WHY?

The article that drew my attention last night wonders "are those new-mom nails?". Like she isn;'t supposed to have long nails with a baby? Are you kidding me? If long nails were a strange phenomenon then all of Hollywood would have to give up having kids. I've had a manicures and long nails since I was a teenager...they have almost always been painted black...and trust me, back then there wasn't any black nailpolish. I used black paint laquer!

Probably the worst insult one can give someone in the United States isn't the word "cunt". It's "bad mother". Being a bad mother is the lowest most reprehensible insult in the United States...and why have we delegated this mother to such a status?

Why do people hate this parent so much? Why is this even a news story?

Because we are a sexist asshole society.

Above is the Duggar family who has a reality tv show called 17 and Counting. People love this family so much and no one is calling them names.

Jon and Kate Plus 8 is a wildly popular reality program following parents who had assisted fertitlity pregnancies. They have 8 kids and the whole world loves them. The family has media sponsorship, donations, they have had trips to Hawaii given to them, even the mother had free plastic surgery given to her to return her tummy to pre-birth size and flatness. Yet we attack Nadya Shulerman for having kids and having donations:Some kind of right-wing capitilist anger says she is going to be the burden to society!


"Octo-Mom vs. Angelina Jolie: Who's the Hotter MILF?" (make sure that pregnancy, motherhood is sexualized and relates to men by labeling them "mothers we like to fuck")

(this quote is from a real bitch, her own mother...maybe this is part of the reason the Octo Mom is looking for unconditional love in babies and children?) "Angela Suleman, 69, said, "Instead of becoming a kindergarten teacher or something, she started having [babies], but not the normal way." (Oh right, women are supposed to have careers that reflect "mothering and nurture", kindergarden teacher is the classic job allowed to women. And "the normal way"? Family planning issues of fertility and birth control aren't narrowing the options for women and parents but ever expanding challenging the notion of "normal" and tolerance...and "family" in mostly positive beautiful ways. )

"octopussy" (it's one thing as a James Bond satire...but really? We are allowing this gender stereotyping?)

"obsessed with children" (everyone loves children and kids...that is natural and healthy!)

"battles with depression" (what people with depression aren't supposed to have kids? Or they are supposed to only have a socially sanctioned number of kids?)

"OBSESSED OCTO-MOM ALWAYS HAD A 'BORN' IDENTITY" (if she is emotionally or mentally ill, isn't this a hate-crime making fun of her?)

The emails and letters threatened both Ms Killeen's personal safety as well as that of her former client Suleman stating that her "client's uterus should be ripped out" and that Ms Killeen should be "put down like an old dog." Ms Killeen filed a criminal report over the weekend and provided them with all the information of the threats. Telegraph

This is a mans world even to this day. god forbid a woman has kids without a man...on her own...and loves children: she must be a freak.

Our society in an unconscious mass movement has become hateful in order to control birth rates and population growth. Why don't those reality tv families approach the media and stand up for this poor woman's life? Even her mother is a super bitch and complaining to the press all the time.

Did you know that the more money we make and the more education we have...the lower the birth rate? This is a natural pendulum we see in developing countries contrasted with economically suffering countries. This is not true though for the very rich. People used to have many children in order to create a farming employment fleet. We needed lots of kids because living near livestock and farming introduced cross-species diseases to agricultural communities. Hunter-gatherers have less children as they had less diseases and infant mortality, and breastfed their babies longer.

Now Hollywood rich adopt and have multiple babies. Rich people can afford to have lots of kids. All kinds of overacheiving divas are having twins, Julia Roberts, Rebecca Romin, Angelina Jolie, Diana Krall, and adopting kids. Does this mean instead of a woman having the right to decide her family planning options she is only free to conceive or abort or raise kids if she has money?

George Lucas adopted three kids, but we don't see spoofs of him on SNL (where spoofs of Jolie are a staple sketch). Steven Speilberg and his wife Kate Capshaw have 7 kids.

But one enigmatic low income woman "obsessed with children" is the bane of our society...

We don't like women to be single mums, we don't like women to be opinionated, we don't like women to talk back, and even friends and family will betray a woman if she says or does things we don't like, but would accept from a man. We don't even like women to notice sexism. We don't like women to decide their own fertility, and we extend this hate to gays who are "effeminate"...so they have to fight to have children, to adopt and to be married.

Instead of bitching about this woman having some kids why don't we get university to be a subsidized option for young adults?

Because we are all sexist assholes...and all of us are culpable for allowing this kind of hate-on in order to control women's behaviour.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Congrats Dolly!


I love Dolly Parton, as a performer and singer/songwriter, and the above song was nominated a couple years ago for an Oscar...in movie Transamerica.

KNOXVILLE -- Entertainment legend, philanthropist and East Tennessee native Dolly Parton will be honored by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with only the second honorary degree ever granted by the campus.

Thanks to my buddy Wes, at Uof T for the heads up...congrats Dolly! I wonder if Wes gets to meet her? This is the same school that Cormac McCarthy dropped out of and it kind of cracks me up that Dolly Parton is now a degree bearer.

Heres an absolutely terrible picture I took of a plaque honouring McCarthy's association at this school.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Like God's Vagina


If you didn't like Tropic Thunder or Superbad you're not gonna like this one. Like Tropic Thunder only instead of inside jokes about movie-making and acting...this has inside jokes about pot-smoking.

Pineapple Express has some of the best comedic acting and the body-work comedic acting is brilliant. There is one scenen where James Franco is running with Slurpies...how do I explain how very brilliant and funny he is...it
's the way when he sees the cops he runs sideways. I can't explain it. It's visual and primordial and as good as Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin.

It's no surprise the James Franco got nominated for a Golden Globe for this movie (he is also in Milk and superb). Robert Dwoney Jr, is nominated for an Oscar in Tropic Thunder, he won't get it but it highlights how fantastic his role is in that hilarious movie.

Now, generally, women aren't crazy about these genre comedies. Let's face it, it's really a guys world. I should have been born a guy as I find this whole new crop of films by some of these folks...Seth Rogen, director David Gordon Green, Judd Apatow are really combined great comeddic acting, body-work and characters. Even when Seth Rogen wakes up after sleeping in his car overnight I was laughing...his face did all the work.

"The best weed, it's like from Hawaii and Canada"

"It's like God's Vagina"

"a trifecta of joint smoking"...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Stories In Film

I got dragged kicking and screaming to Doubt. I just am not a huge fan of straight ahead dramas...I prefer genre films I guess. But...I saw a clip on a talk show from this movie where Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are talking and Adams is kind of chewing out Streep's character and a light blows out. And Streep's character says "see you blew my light out"...and I thought it was so surprisingly hilarious I decided to see the movie. It's not only a very funny movie it is operatic camp. And dead serious. It was such a good movie with such good characters I almost shit my pants. Meryl Streep is off the chain. She is an animal. I know...what a sudden burst of insight I am "look Meryl Streep is an amazing actor!". We all know that, right? I'm killing myself because it's like I just discovered Streep ha ha. I used to have a friend who hated Meryl Streep and then he saw her in Bridges/Madison and he fell in love with her and how beautiful she was in that role. As Doubt begins it's an obvious parable about invading Iraq. I immediately regretting starting the film...but all of a sudden it changes and becomes something no one even the playright expected. I went online and the author says he wrote it as a parable for invading Iraq...but then...that Streep's acting and conviction actually inspired him to alter his focus of the characters and play. Steep is an animal...did I say that already? I absolutely loved this movie and have been thinking about it non-stop since I saw it. And I believe I could build an argument about "whodunnit"...

Perhaps a lighthearted genre film might offer an ever greater view of an actors capability? I was so enamored over Streep in Doubt I decided to watch another movie I didn't think I was interested in...of all things...Mamma Mia. I don't like this kind of singing, I don't really like very many musicals...but I thought this was great gay Shakespearean fun. It really had the vibe of a Shakespeare story set by the sea, kind of like The Tempest but not at all. Some of these guys couldn't sing at all, listening to Pierce Brosnan was both funny and sad..except, he was so commited to his role he kept me interested. I really loved this and now I wished I'd seen it in the theatre with a bunch of friends. If it isn't enough that Streep can act, she can sing AND dance too. she climbs all over the place while singing and does a great job. She is charismatic, ebulient and when she did a cannon ball off a dock, my eyes welled up. What an animal. Movie 5/10 Streep and fun: 9/10.

Meryl Streep singing with Canadian band Blue Rodeo in Postcards From The Edge, 1990.

Sean Penn makes the world a better place. Why doesn't he have an Oscar for every role he's ever done? I had absolutely no idea about the real life Milk and so Stagg and I got right into this counter-culture story and learned a lot. I grew up and went to a school where two of my girlfriends would hold hands at a party. It's hard to believe so many people were grossed out by gays and lesbians back in the 60's. What a great coverage of the times, of this aspect of human rights revolution and what incredible characters these mad gay guys were. I felt like I knew them! Like saying "Streep is a good actress" I'm going to sound like an idiot again...this movie knocks your socks off. It's good to see Van Sant back at a fully rounded story arc. Score: 10/10.

Definately, Maybe is one terrific sweet chick flick. It is also a fine example of good script-writing and story telling. I was fairly tepid about the main actor, Ryan Reynolds, but he was terrific as was the delightful Abigail Breslin. So many good things are in this movie it is an example of how there are good chick flicks and bad chick flicks and what a mistake it is to dismiss a movie because it carries a love story. The plot and time references surround music and a presidential candiacy. It's quite well done how we know what is going on time-wise due to President Clinton's story arc! Ryan Reynolds plays a political campaigner and divorced parent and his daughter wants to know her history as if it's a "love mystery story". The chemistry between actors is fantastic, and the characters sincerity keeps this movie moving forward and real. Score:9/10.

We were totally taken by surprise with the quiet charming movie The Visitor. All the actors draw the viewer in and it is so wonderful to have character be the major source of suspense and entertainment in a movie. Richard Jenkins totally deserves his best actor nomination. Score: 9/10.

I love monster movies and the Alien movies are among my favourite. I saw the first Alien movie by accident. Some friends and I went to see the suspense movie Altered States at the drive in where the William Hurt movie was the feature film. The way drive-ins work is they had a mainstream big seller blockbuster movie play first, then they would pair it with a B-movie. The B-movie that night was the first Alien. I remember begging to move to the front seat I was so scared sitting alone in the back seat with my friends. When film makers create such an astounding primordial character as the Alien...they know they can always market another movie to their die-hard fans. I am one such fan. I am also a fan of the B-movie Predator. So of course, I was looking forward to seeing another sequel, this one a second feature film pitting the Alien again the uber-hunter Predator. No, I know, no self respecting "film buff" would ever admit to seeing such low brow fare...or even more shocking enjoying it! Alien versus Predator: Requiem had some of the best special effects I've ever seen in a movie. It's beena long time and very rare to watch a contemporary horror or monster film that lacks any irony or self-referential humor. I found Requiem to be refreshing in it's lack of irony. The characters are straight-ahead archetypes, two former friends, one grows up a cop, the other a criminal, returning Iraq soldier, female, alienated form her daughter, a popular girl with a geek in love with her, etc etc. These characters had no idea they were in a monster movie and I loved that for a change. (see also The Decent and Cloverfeild. Unfortunately, Stagg doesn't like horror movies so I have o watch them by myself...and this one had some scary moments. I loved the mano-a-mano between a Predator and an Alien, no armour! Acting/plot score: 6/10. Special effects score: 10/10.

The 1970's movie Caged Heat scared the living shit out me. Jonathan Demme has always been able to bring a documentary feel to his fiction films maybe because he has made some of the coolest docs around with Neil Young and Talking Heads. Demme seems to me to be that kind of director who shows strength working with women, (like George Cukor and Ridley Scott) and Rachel Getting Married is an intense, languid and penetrating story of two women, neither of them especially likablee...that is...until they like each other first. Sometimes, I was really surprised how languid and slow the handheld camera work was...how much time was spent following very mundane family activities, how the music was sometimes annoying...even one of the characters complains about the drone-like quality! But also...it is a movie that incorporates music as ambiance and plot, there are extremely tense emotional scenes. I am very close to my sister and it was painful to see a mean sister relationship. ..and I felt a claustrophobia and fear of loss in this movie like I did when I first aw Caged Heat. No one is meaner to women than other women.These two sisters are so immature, competitive and each seeking to be the center of attention craving approval, it is a painful movie. The cast is incredible with singer from TV on the Radio, Bill Irwin, Roger Corman but the most wonderful surprise cast member was the magnificent Debra Winger. I was not a really big fan of Anne Hathaway, but she won me over with her chops and her chopped haircut. Score: 8/10.

Many powerful portrayals of predators can be found in film history, but none has quite scared me, repulsed me, and compelled me as Kate Winslet in The Reader. Right when she first preys on a sick boy there is something seemingly innocent and damaged about Winslet's character and I felt oddly emotionally pulled. How clever of a true predator! One of the amazing things about this movie and about Winslet is that it challenges certainty in some ways. I am a fairly easy going person about ambiguous topics, often I enjoy approaching topics or movies and picking out a different angle. But there are a few topics in the world where I am not ambiguous, where I am absolutely uncompromising. Some of those topics are children and drugs, abuse in positions of power, and nazis. I will not compromise. Like Indiana Jones "I hate those guys". Two grandfathers signed up to fight nazi's and one of them spent the rest of his life reading action war stories about fighting nazi's. You could say, I come by it honestly. At one point during a trial scene Winslet is so naive and subtle that I almost felt like I could almost sympathize with her...and this really shocked me and is a credit to her performance. Not since Kevin Spacey playing an equally disturbed killer in Se7en have I felt this frightened and interested in a predator. We discover that this predator has a pattern of adopting sickly children...in one act as kindness, in another she is the worst kind of monster:unaware and remoresless. Finally, by the end of the movie there are two characters who are the spine of life (the prof)...I absolutely loved the woman/character of a rich Jewish New Yorker who will not accept any ambiguity about actions during her childhood. I relate to her resolve. Her lines and acting are awesome. I did not want to like this movie but Stagg and I were riveted. Score: 10/10.

Meryl Streep singing in Silkwood, 1983.

Art Group's Baby Steps


Coffee pow wow before going over to the Outreach. That's Andy and Stagg.






Father Manny, Stagg and Andy.

Andy and Stagg grabbing lunch. As soon as we sat down all three of us said at once , "That was so much fun".

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Here We Come


Well today we start. In an earlier post here that I'm setting up an art group at the soup kitchen I work at. Stagg is on holiday this week so he's is helping me...thanks! Stagg!! (I'm so glad Stagg is interested in coming too. I'm actually a little nervous. I know I don't seem like the nervous type but I have my moments. I'm totally fine with public speaking though. It's just kind of nervous energy...excited though!) Stagg is way better at this stuff than I am and he has had so many awesome ideas. I love collaborating with him on anything...but this is so great because he's so cool! We are meeting a friend Andy for coffee in Wicker Park first this morning...(from a bookclub) and he's also helping us out. Above you can see we've made some flyers and posters. I also cut out tons of piictures. words, images from magazines for collage stuff. We DO have some donations from art supply stores too. Some sales reps from local stores are working on getting stuff so over the next month or so we should be able to build up some great supplies. I went in the day time for the last two weeks to meet and hang out with some case workers and some clients. Just casual to get acclimatized to the daytime clients. Father Manny is arranging a bunch of snacks for us to have while we work in the dining room today. Maybe with any luck I'll get some pictures, we'll see. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book Sources for Blood Meridian


"There is an awful lot of material about the southwest and I read over 300 volumes over a period of 3 or 4 years when I was working on Blood Meridian. The first person accounts were the ones that interested me............all of these books are packed away. I'll just jot down a few titles as they come to me...... The Texas Santa Fe Expedition - Kendall..... The Doniphan Expedition -Hughes....... Adventures in Apache Country... Browne...... On the Border with Crook.... Adventures in Mexico (a classic) .... The Border and the Buffalo - (cook)... Savage Scene- Mcgaw....Lt Emory's Notebooks.... Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies... Life Among the Apaches- Cremony... Bartlett's Account of the Boundary Expedition.... Wildlife in the Far West by? ... THere is an account of Glanton in a book called Led and Likker; another in Yuma Crossing..... If you want to read about the Judge, read Chamberlain's My Confession, but with a grain of salt." C. McCarthy to Tom Caskey

90.00 here

Doniphan's Expedition

At Amazon here

Love Looking Good



Courtney Love has claimed that the meltdown she suffered after the 1994 suicide of husband Kurt Cobain laid a path for Britney Spears’ nervous breakdown years later.

“I had a long, hard fall. I set the stage for Britney to crash and burn. I went through it all first,” the Hole singer says in the January 2009 issue of British Elle.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Jungle Boogie


I like to see as many of the movies nominated for awards as possible 1.) because it's a great excuse to catch up on recent releases. 2.) Seeing a lot of movies also adds to the annual pagan celebration of gods and goddesses. 3.) I like to compare movies not nominated and if I think the nominated movies aren't as good or worthy as the ones not nominated I nurture my feeling of umbrage with the whole system poetically. And with cuss words. In the middle of rounding out the list of Oscar nominated movies to watch...what a total treat to see Tropic Thunder. I laughed so much during this movie that I missed some of the lines and will have to see it again. Robert Downey Jr. is nominated for a supporting Oscar playing a white guy acting in a black man's role. I often forgot it was even him in the movie. Seriously, some of the movies nominated for Oscar's are so depressing, even Rachel Getting Married which is romance slash drama slash comedy was exhausting (it's very good though!)...we were really happy to see something funny. Tropic Thunder: reminded me of Nam. 10/10.

I wrote down some of the lines from this movie and will be using them in daily conversation for a long time. "Man, I don't drop character till I'm done the dvd commentary."

Kirk Lazarus: Can I tell you that I'm sorry for any offense I might've caused, man? I just got caught up in...
Alpa Chino: In being a dumbass?
Kirk Lazarus: I guess so.
Alpa Chino: Why you still doing this Chicken George shit, I have no idea.
Kirk Lazarus: Neither do I. It's beyond me.
Alpa Chino: It's beyond me.
Kirk Lazarus: It's beyond me.
Alpa Chino: You confused.
Kirk Lazarus: I am a little confused.
Alpa Chino: I know.
Kirk Lazarus: But are we cool?
Alpa Chino: Not really.

Censored Prayer?

The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly Gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire , gave the opening prayer at the Lincoln Memorial event. It was the first event in the inaugural festivities this year. HBO, which had paid for exclusive rights to the event chose not to broadcast Bishop Robinson's prayer. So if you watched there you wouldn't have caught it or even known that it occurred. NPR didn't air it either. There's no record of it in images placed on the sites of Getty Images, New York Times and the Washington Post.

It's a complete erasure of his ever having delivered the prayer.



Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington , DC
January 18, 2009

Delivered by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson:

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States .

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

Amen.

Rachel Maddox speaks out...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Fancypants Quote...


A buddy in my Shakespeare bookclub had recently seen the following clips I had put together on my YouTube page about a workshop video I made...and he said it reminded him of a quote by Bertrand Russell. He tracked down the quote...and although I have posted this video here before I am going to again...with this quote. Now...with this quote it sounds like I actually know what I'm doing and I feel very fancypants...

"The story of Cain and Abel is a piece of propaganda intended to show that shepherds are more virtuous than plougmen." Bertrand Russell.

From In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays, Chapter 8 (Western Civilization), near the end of the 4th paragraph.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Lux Interior, R.I.P :(



The world won't be the same without Lux. I am so so glad to have seen them play live. This is part of the music that changed my life. It feels like a part of my history has been ripped out of me. Some people just play music and that is great. Live music has a different dimension depending on the power of the performer...and some people play music and perform putting them in a whole other realm, The Cramps did rock and roll as the likes of other massive performers Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Manson, James Brown, Garbage...as a transformative event.

The band became a staple of the late '70s Manhattan punk scene emerging from clubs such as Max's Kansas City and CBGB, and was one of the first acts to realize the potential of punk rock as theater and spectacle.

Often dressed in macabre, gender-bending costumes onstage, Interior evoked a lanky, proto-goth Elvis Presley, and his band quickly became notorious for volatile and decadent live performances.

The Cramps recorded early singles at Sun Records with producer Alex Chilton of the band Big Star and had their first critical breakthrough on their debut EP "Gravest Hits."

The band's lack of a bassist and its antagonistic female guitarist quickly set it apart from its downtown peers and upended the traditional rock band sexual dynamic of the flamboyant, seductive female and the mysterious male guitarist.
From Los Angeles Times

Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach were married for almost 40 years. They have one of the most romantic longevity rock and roll relationships peered with John and Yoko, Johnny and June, Patti and Fred, Bruce and Patty...

The Cramps had some of the best song titles:

Bikini Girls with Machine Guns
Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?
What's Inside A Girl
Ultra Twist
Goo Goo MUck
I Was A Teenage Werewolf



Bus Stop

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Blogs Continued

I am working on getting art supplies and at the Outreach program all day today...no time to write so...I'll finish listing the blogs I went to visit...

Maybe in the first year I started blogging a fellow blogger came up with a cool idea to once a week post a list of blogs one visited and left a comment on. It kind of faded away but I thought I'd make a list of blogs I visited and commented on today surfing around...

1.) A Blog About Nowt: Today Asterisk posted a memoriam to Buddy Holly. I can't beleve Buddy Holly was only 22 years old.
2.) From A Lofty Perch: has some terrific photos today
3.) Always something fishy over at Mister Anchovy's.
4.) "Bridging racial gaps one post at a time" at Diversity Ink
5.) Queens have sex? Apparently they do because Wandering Coyote wrote a book review about "Sex With The Queen".
6.) The Hubs has new posts
7.) Don't know what to read next? Check out Cat-Trampled Reviews
8.) Vote for "best picture" at Malcolm's blog.
9.) Beautiful photos
10.) One Gal's Musing wins the prize as most unpretentious blogger. I like that about her.
11.) "This Blog Sits At" is always thoughtful. I love his books and Stagg and I interviewed Grant in New York City this summer.
12.) The X Spot has articulate renderings of strange real-life events in history and media.
13.) Fond of Snape love Johnny Depp, The Joker, Alan Rickman and photography.
14.) "Living Oprah" has a book deal. No more blog :( Well, her experiment of doing everything Oprah said to do was only for one year...so it makes sense she's going to write about it now. I wish her lots of luck with the book!
15.) Tweetey's blog usually describes some fairly interesting neighbours and people she works with. Today I just told her sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
16.) "Apartment Therapy" is just that...cool stuff.
17.) 3r highlights eco-friendly products.
18.) There isn't an option to comment at Scrap, our friend Danny's clothing design site, but I stop in to see what he's up to.
19.) Better Living Through Design
20.) Love this blog for music: Stereogum
21.) Also Chromewaves
22.) More Design
24. "Molecule Of The Day". No, seriously. Where else can you read: These lipid assemblies are pretty counterintuitive to begin with - something similar and equally amazing happens when you use soap. You're generating a bunch of spheres with negative charges packed closely together. All this is because the water wants to interact with itself so strongly that the greasy tails make their egress from bulk solution into the nonpolar interiors of self-assemblies ("micelles")

25.) A fellow who specializes in circadian rhythms and photoperiodism. What is a circadian rhythm? Click the yellow text. He writes a fair bit about animal life and natural history.

He has a great quote on his blog today from Winston Churchill...a motto I, in fact, like to practice, as anybody who knows me will recognize:

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.

26.) The Preacherman always has the BEST stories and anecdotes.
27.) Cynnie is living a much more interesting life than she thinks, somewhere warm
28.) Sociologist Pjazzypar writes about change and ideas and traditions. And music.
29.) Tim's got digital art going on.
30.) "The Pinnochio Theory" is deep. Interesting post on celebrity.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Some Movies

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: David Fincher is one of my favourite directors. I will see every movie he makes. I was very curious when I saw the trailers for this movie because it kind of looked "cutesy"...something I don't associate with Fincher's edgy, fast and stylistic movies. The adverts for Benjamin Button suggest a strange charming love story. What? Now Fincher is sexy and has some awesome love stories and sex scenes in his movies but "sweet"? No. David Fincher makes film noir. Period. Doesn't he? Paul Schrader points out that “film noir's techniques emphasize loss, nostalgia, lack of clear priorities, insecurity; then submerge these self doubts in mannerism and style. In such a world style becomes paramount; it is all that separates one from meaninglessness.” (Notes On Film Noir, 1972) About half way though the very long movie it begins to hit me, this isn't a love story at all. It truly is film noir: it's kind of Forrest Gump meets John Irving in hell. I really liked this movie, Brad Pitt is very good and it's important that he is so good because the entire movie is setting one up for the emotional delivery of images in the last ten-15 minutes of the movie. I really liked this movie, it's beautiful and is a lot about how everyone is a cool lonely story. Existential. I don't recommend it for everyone. I had a couple of problems with some of the conflict in the plot but they were minor distractions. 10 tissues. Score: 8/10.

The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is just dam good. Perhaps it will be a little artsy and slow for action fans, but really cool for art house fans. Everyone's performance is super. 10/10.

Bullet: as "Benjamin Button" is oversold as a great love story (it is a good love story...don't get me wrong...it's genre-bending because it is about finding love despite our solitary journey) Bullet is just plain undersold. Especially undersold considering it is a really good movie, is Tupac's last movie and it was written by Mickey Rourke and stars Rourke as an ex-con Jewish junkie. Although the movie overall may only be a 6/10...maybe a 7/10...Mickey Rourke is beyond charismatic and compelling. He has written one ofthe most beguilling families I've ever seen in a movie. The entire time watching Rourke on screen he provokes what we all hope an actor might summon: the audience asking WHY? Why is this guy like this? Why is his family completely broken? There are half a dozen portrayals in this movie worth your time. Tupac is pretty good. You can see he is coming into his own, he's comfortable on screen but I had the sense he wasn't fully working it yet. Tupac was fantastic to look at and believable enough, he adds to the atmosphere considerably. But Adrien Brody, Ted Levine, John Enos III, Jerry Grayson, and Suzanne Sheppard are very good. (Of note, Michael K. Williams Omar from The Wire and Donnie Walberg have small roles) The tv Guide gave this movie 1 star, and that is a huge crime. I still can't believe I had never seen or heard of this movie before...but it came out when my grandfather was very sick and I was helping my grandmother...so I must have missed any press about it. More oddly, Stagg had never heard of this movie! It felt impossible to look away from Mickey Rourke or see anyone else on screen when he was on...he was stunning, his body was incredible, gorgeous, only outshined by the role he played. Rourke gets 10/10. I'll be thinking about this family for a long time. Directed by Julien Temple. Score: 7/10.

Great chick flick, Australia: 5 tissues. I enjoyed this movie for a number of reasons. I loved the stars and they looked like they not only belonged in the setting but were having a lot of fun. Big story, big sets, big land. Perfect cinematography, costumes, atmosphere. There is something for everyone in this love story. Hugh Jackman is really cool. I was very happy to see David Gulpilil who was in an old favourite of mine, the classic Walkabout play the grandfather to scene stealer Brandon Walters. I loved the attention in the story to some of the tragic history of Australian Aboriginals. Loved the romance and the action. The kid is fantastic! Score: 9/10 because I had a lot of fun watching this movie.

Burn After Reading: Pitt totally deserves his Oscar nomination for "Benjamin Buttons" and after Keanu Reeves and Jeff Bridges he is probably the next most under-rated actor. People tend to think of him cast only for his looks. Wrong. He is an amazing actor. (Kalifornia, 12 Monkeys, The Mexican, a cameo in True Romance show his subtle range). The delivery of the finale in "Benjamin Buttons" depends on his acting. Here he and his partners in absurdity create some fine silly moments in comedy. How often do we see a comedy rolled out starring middle aged actors? The Coen Brothers seem to sadistically want to make fools out of their wife, George Clooney and anyone else they manage to convince to be in their screwball comedies. Frances McDormand said she forgot all her lines when she was in a scene with Pitt. I can imagine, he brings something different here and his hair is massively distracting, the Coens don't do any pretty lighting on Pitt. He is playing a scary fitness obsessed middle aged man in spandex. Ambulance. He also takes a great punch in the face. How much do I love John Malkovitz? As much as I love Mickey Rourke! This is just plain old fun. Get over yourself and watch something silly. Score: 7/10.

The Trials of Ted Haggard : you can't make this stuff up. HBO doc follows Haggard as he lives in exile for a year after being caught in bi-sexual relationships and chrystal meth habits. Irresitible. Score: 6/10.

There's something really interesting about how we don't see Rourke's face for the first 5:40 minutes of The Wrestler. I've watched it a couple of times because I just couldn't believe we we're looking at the back of his head or face in shadows until 6 minutes into the film. The device helps us notice other details about his character. The Wrestler has yellow hair, wrinkles on his hands, duct tape holding is coat together, his posture is exhaustion. One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in a movie is when all the kids attack him as he gets out of the van and he beats them up. The movie is worth it just for that early moment. When I first heard about this movie I had mixed feelings. I've been working on a script with a wrestler in the plot and at first I thought "shit". I've been studying and researching, often happily following small league wrestling leagues or WWE for 5 years. Some of you might recall we went to Lucha Libre (click on yellow text to see my posts regarding the Mexican Wrestling League) and I filmed some matches. I was also really excited to see Mickey Rourke in a starring role. It turned out this movie has been really inspiring and I just loved it. I probably really extra loved it because of my research and investment in the wrestlig world. I also spet a fair amount of time in Jersey and like this refreshing view of the people and place. I'd like to recommend this film as a great date movie but so many women have a pickle up their ass about strippers and violence in movies and they might not have an open mind about a unique love story and miss this movie. Too bad. Marisa Tomei is beyond generous in her acting and bringing soul to her character. The director doesn't overkill the comparison between sex workers and performers. Mickey Rourke is an angel. I love him so much! Scars, tats, needles, make up, theatrics, loss, rebirth, love, Jersey. Score: 10/10.

Regis Philbin was promoting Slumdog Millionaire quite ahead of the word of mouth. He had been to a special premiere and couldn't stop raving about the movie. I had figured he'd be a good judge since he was the original host of the reality program Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. If you've ever wondered why reality tv is so popular, Slumdog Millionaire gives a good demonstration. I suppose it is obviuos why I like this film so much. I don't give much respect to cookie-cutter education or school and I enjoy the study of diversity in learning styles. I set a tone of exploration on the topic of learning here at my blog almost from the first post. I don't want to abolish schools or anything I'm just not romantic about school or conventional education. I think the education matrix is a kind of bullshit system. School is a way to prove people can jump through hoops. Trying to look at the industrial society anthropologically we see that formal education is taking up more and more of peoples time. We are keeping young people in school longer in order to keep them out of the work force and competing with older people for jobs. We've almost lost the notion of university as "universe city". Apprenticeship and practice have lost status to high-cost privately paid tuitions. University is a status symbol and packaged by marketers for consumers. University originally meant "a community of teachers and scholars". We have so little regard for learning now that we make teachers beg for their money.
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So along comes a movie that directly addresses the illusion of the value of learning within strict formats like school. Slumdog Millionaire is also brilliant by contrasting our contemporary ethical concerns with torture to the popular reality tv show Millionaire with its own interrogation methods lit in fetishistic blues. Contrasted with the yellow lit scenes: condemning those institutions as cowardly that enforce schooling and how we measure intelligence? (I like this contrast much more than the same pattern used in Traffic). An all round great movie and I think it will, and should, get the "best film Oscar" this month. I love this movie because it reminds us how limited mainstream industrial society defines intelligence and learning. I love this movie because it's a fantastic story with wonderful characters. Experience is the best school....but this movie is the best argument for why school should be available and subsidized for everyone. Score: 10/10.

"My company sells a product that's better than the competition at a price that's lower than the competition". Frank Lucas. American Gangster: There are two moments I could watch over and over...and sometimes I have paused the dvd player to look at them. One is when Denzel Washington's gangster hugs his wife after she gives him a fateful gift. His face is outstanding. Washington is a master. The other scene I especially love, and what the movie leads us to...is the interogation room scene with two actors at the peak of their abilities. Stagg and I LOVE this movie. We've watched it a few times and we bought the 3 dvd set. We've watched it entirely with directors commentary too. The movie was promoted as an action film and not released according to the directors preferences. I believe this harmed it's reception with many viewers. The director's cut is incredible and once you realize this isn't an action film, but a character study, you can see how marketers sometimes really screw up a movie. Unfortunately character studies aren't sexy to the mainstream and action sells. It's not that this crime drama isn't exciting, it does have some cool moves. I love when Crowe is entering the projects to bust everyone, there is a lot of tension and confidence in his body work. I could watch this double study of these two men again and again...little did we know it was a buddy film. Director Ridley Scott riffs on classic gangster movies, the more gangster films you've seen, the more you appreciate how he did this and also genre-bent it to create a buddy film in the last five minutes. Who cares what fucking bridges are in the background shots, this is a beautifully constructed story. Or at least the directors cut is. Too bad corporate suits don't trust artists. Score: buyer beware. Unrated extended version, 10/10.

From the booklet in dvd set In the early '70s, police corruption was rampant in New York city. The Vietnam War was taking a devastating toll overseas and at home. Soldiers were brought back to the US either in body bags or addicted to an opiate called heroin-which they shared with curious experimenters who became instantly hooked. With the assistance of law enforcement, the Mafia operated with relative impunity in this noncompetitive market, selling thousands of kilos of smack to addicts hungry for their product. A priveledged and untouchable class of white men paid hundreds of millions to New York judges, lawyers and cops to keep quiet about this mutually beneficial relationship. La Cosa Nostra and their underlings were unbeatable.

Until a black entrepreneur named Frank Lucas took over the game.


Nothing is like a William Burroughs movie. Nothing is like a David Cronenberg movie. Together heaven. Naked Lunch: Often forgotten, the cinematography and set design in Cronenberg's movies are awesome. We got the Critereon Collection dvd set of this and watched it last week. How can something be so gross, so far-fetched, so absurd and yet magical and bring one to tears? I don't know, but Cronenberg's adaptation of Burrough's literary world manages such. Having seen this in the theatre when it was first released and it's been a few years since I've seen it again...I wondered, how will this resonate?The saddest music in the world plays "transformation and art demands loss and death but love is also a rebirth". Dvd extras are excellent. Score: not for pussies. 10/10.

Zodiac: might be David Fincher's masterpiece and you all know how much I love Se7en, The Game (genius!) and Fight Club (don't ask me how many times I've seen this). The opening few minutes are so pretty and so violent we feel the tricks of film noir working on us. Right away Fincher pulls from film history as Scorcese uses Donovan in a similar sick satiric manner in Goodfellas. What are we in for with this movie? We really begin to feel the obsession the characters have for finding a serial killer. We relate because most of us share the same curiosity, what makes a person a serial killer, who are they? Instead we study the people on the hunt for the killer and it is a beautiful investigation. There are many layers going on with the mise en scene, from phallic lamps and VW cars to the Zodiac killer being a movie buff, and the main characters often have movie posters in their personal spaces. Nice touch. The cinematography is stunning and of note...the cinematographer Harris Savides is also the director of photography for American Gangster (and The Game, Elephant, and Coldplay, Madonna videos). The cast is an incredible ensemble and it's good to see Anthony Edwards in a movie again. I will see anything Mark Ruffalo is in, he is so good. Ted Levine is in a small role too and he is a fascinating actor even though he is not leading man (he was serial killer in Silence of the Lambs, the Vietnam Vet older brother in Rourke's Bullet, small roles in American Gangster, Assasination of Jesse James, Heat). Brian Cox is really good as Melvin Belli. Score: 10/10.