Tuesday, May 30, 2006

X-Men 3 - The Last Strand<--hehe

No, not a typo, but a reference to the DNA that floats across our screen...The debt to the "Fight Club" opening sequence already as common a tool as "Bullet Time".
First a little about the presentation and what I call pro-active viewing. Went to the first matinee on the first day--discounting the midnight show of course--and after the trailers, the feature.
Without sound.
Now, the movie opens in toned flashback so..Was it intentional? The guy shouting behind me knew better. Sound was restored, but at such a low volume even the mutant nonsense was unintelligible. The guy next to me said that was so the explosions would sound louder. I called bullshit and my sister and I left--another show was just starting down the hall in the gorgeously overdone megaplex.
Ah, much better.
I call the dialogue nonsense because it is comic-book. Knowing this, accepting this before I bought the ticket, made it just fine. Is this the last one? Well, who really knows. I mean there was an "Alien Resurrection" after all.
Let's not forget what the trailer reveals either: Jean Grey blasting foot thick blast doors with her mind.
Oh, and wait, how about the winged boy reveal from the trailer?
Yes, this review is about the trailer because A) we have no choice but to see trailers in the theatre, and 2) trailers are now showing every damn bit of the movie. I don't have to bring up the "Castaway" trailer that showed Tom Hanks knocking on his honey's door after surviving do I?
When will this stop?
Christ, watch the "Big Lebowski" trailer again and see how it is done.
"The Omen" teaser we saw in front of "Akeelah" was superb. The full length trailer in front of X-3 was spoiler laden. Get with the program, please.
I don't have to suggest you see this film, you already have. Right?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Akeelah & the Bee

I must be going soft.
Yet another uplifting story of "triumph against all odds" has moved to sing its praises in this formulaic film. Sure, I could try to hide behind phrases like "charisma rules the day", and I could be referring to Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett or even the unknown prodigy Dakot--oops Keke Palmer...But that would leave out a host of fine actors that populate this disarming and charming film.
I wish I could say I wasn't the only one spelling along in the audience, but it was just me and my sister in the theatre and she doesn't spell.
She enjoyed the movie nearly as much as I, but the knowing what was coming at every turn spoiled it (somewhat) for her. Thank goodness I have Sammy Jenkins disease and watch films from the perspective of a bright but naive child...that doesn't remember "Coach Carter" or those darn Titans.
I could take the critical path and say things like "Angela Bassett is too beautiful to play the role" but that means we might not see her again if Hollywood waits for a film worthy of her beauty.
Another tack (aye matey) I could take would be noting that the best of the best of these spellers were minorities, Dillon, Javier, and Akeelah, and launch into a tirade against against the latest xenophobic immigration policy but that would sour the reading by my short sighted, no history knowing, (who made THE bomb they defend us using if not illegal German scientists?) conservative readers.
Bill Cosby would be proud of the Fishburne character who rails against the abuse of the English language..The lack of respect and decorum in these twisted times..And the movie shows us why he is right.<--deconstruct that Derrida! If I did that though it would belie Fishburne's exhortation in an earlier film: "Wake Up!"<--10 points if you name that film in comments.
See it. Love it. Play some speed Scrabble.
Remember, and take note, of all the ramifications of this comparison: the inner city is the new Sparta.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

"God uses us all." So says Doc Ock.
"I never had much use for a real father, real Father.." Said Ishmael Reed.
Walking out with a group that enjoyed the movie --in a packed theatre-- I pondered the merit of critics aloud. Internally I sank into a dark murk of self loathing and self pity.
There was a time when codes, symbols and logic and math were clear to me..And that is gone, I have lived myself stupid. My brain has atrophied..And when faced with even middlebrow stuff like this I feel like I have squandered my time here.
Books pile up around me, I read them, try to pass on what I learn--where does that all go? The nostaglia pit beckons, the hard stuff is hard in a world where getting by is neither a challenge nor a celebration.
Amassing wealth, living comfortably--the last challenge I had was a jazz album. Music is a language and religion is a faith/tool/weapon/crutch/lie--you pick. This movie nags at the mind, opens a hole that is the past, that is scholarship and research and devotion, and--apparently--self flagellation.
The Pope is nervous. Entire countries are boycotting and the critics are savaging this earnest and religious film. In spite of the Pope (as effective as the critics, apparently) and the Cannes audience, and the LA Times, and the Baltimore Sun, and the New York Times this movie had a top 50 of all time opening.
Ron Howard directed. He also directed "Apollo 13", which also starred Tom Hanks. Audrey Tatou (she'll always be "Amelie" to me)starred opposite Mr Hanks. The critics seem to hate his hair. It looks in the style of academics to me--and, lo and behold--he plays an academic!
Magneto does a great job as does Leon the Professional. Sure, there is some truth to the criticisms leveled. It is wordy, idea-laden, exposition heavy--but the room full of believers enjoyed it without streaming from the doors into the church buses in tears like they did after "the Passion". There were no picketers like at the "Last Temptation of Christ"--yes, even in this ID believing, science hating, state.
Go see it and decide for yourself, IM Pei's scar on Paris demands the big screen!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


This fish (a 40lb specimen)was used as bait to catch a 750lb Hammerhead Shark that was neither edible, nor off the coast of a crowded beach. The shark was caught for sport, photographed and buried.
I cannot think of a cooler example of resource management. Keep fishing!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Natural City

"the Korean Bladerunner"
that was 23 years ago...
Starring: Ji-tae Yu, Jae-un Lee, and Chang Yun. Did I mention this was Korean?
Directed by: Byung-chun Min.
I loved this movie. Let's see: cyborgs, holosuits, dystopia, in a cg universe of guns swords and ducts, what more could I ask for?
My initial criticism of "Bladerunner"-yes, I saw it in the theatre way back when-was that it was a bare treatment of the fantastic novel and not worthy. God I was a critical bastard! Well, I went back a couple times because even though I was disappointed it was terrific Science Fiction. I have since seen it probably 2 dozen times.
Natural City borrows heavily from Ridley Scott's masterpiece, and adds touches from the best Sci-Fi films since. There is a ton of Ghost in the Shell here, some Fifth Element, some Matrix. The intersection of love and machines is at the heart of this, served with self destruction and melancholy and all the discontent the modern world creates.
So I ask again: what more could a po' boy ask for?

New World

I absolutely loved this film.
One of the trends I have noticed about my viewing habits is that I am more inclined to watch movies, rather than plots, actors, or politics. All of those items are components of most movies, but take a look at this short list of recent favorites:
Ultraviolet 130% - Visual Style over paper thin vampire mumbo jumbo plot.
2046 - At least the third version of Won Kar Wai's one movie, "love is an exquisite trap", and the most ephemeral, all tropes and angles and master cinematography.
Silent Hill - Horror is always about atmosphere, but this, of course, is not horror.
What Reviewers are saying:
DVD Verdict
Rolling Stone
Roger Ebert
It was refreshing to finish a movie about such a politicized event in US History without the battle lines being drawn in my living room. My Bush supportin' buddy was entertained without being offended by the "lefty bias of Hollywood".
The reviews I included above were all positive. You are aware that the movie was in theatres for about two weeks--and never went wide. Many reviewers were negative..mocking years of work by many very talented people from their comfortable armchairs. I just don't get it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Next Gen = Blu Ray

Well, I have thrown my hat in the ring. Blu Ray will be my chosen format once it becomes available. I have pre-ordered Ultraviolet--the first next gen movie.
Blu Ray playback is supposed to be part of the PS3 package. I already have a 360, but I am guessing it won't play HD DVD.
The deliberate crippling of both of these formats is truly the deepest argument against Capitalism--except for maybe Coal Mines or Haliburton. Ok, on that scale making consumers dance to adulterated content doesn't even register, but still. The crippling is a pre-emptive strike against copying. It will be even less effective than the current pre-emptive strike against the world the USA has embarked on. We are an uncivilized, single(but unofficial)language speaking, xenophobic bunch of Wal-Mart shoppers and YOU are either with us or against us and if you are against us you automatically drop out of the protected status of "human being".
Oops. This got political again.
Keep Watching Movies. Stop Making Sense. Plan for Retirement. Click the button for your FREE iPod!

Tully Project 7

Neck and Shoulder

Friday, May 05, 2006

New Music Thursday

Received a nice package from PBE: 1 12" LP, 1 3" MiniCD, 1 2CD set, and 3 CD's. I'll fill reviews in as I digest the music. Stay Tuned!
A Guy Called Gerald: To All Things What They Need
Lizzy Mercier Descloux: Zulu Rock
AGF: delayONmyPILLOW <--yes, I'll take my own Picture :)
Otomo Yoshihide Bill Laswell Yoshida Tatsuya: Episome
Japanese Guitarist(Otomo), Laswell on Bass, and a Yoshida on drums. It is hard jazz--power and feedback and precision. Truly sweet guitar feedback and neck bending. Bass all chunky bottom fuzz..Drums skitter and smash through and around..Apparently there are some vocals later on... This is the stuff to see live! This was compiled from in-studio improvisations(or so I've been led to believe).
Machine Drum: Mergerz & Acquisitionz
A two disc set of Machine Drum remixes!!! So one of the kings of rhythm glitch gets the treatment from a variety of like minded..very infectious sub 120bpm electronica. "Just what the doctor ordered.." Nice to hear samples sampled, music turned inward, the laptop an appropriated instrument for navelgazing. 2 discs?! Blip blip treble splash.
A 12in Sire recording of the Talking Heads classic, Once In A Lifetime. Magnificent!

Mission Impossible 3

Let me review this in a word: "evanescent".
As we crossed the parking lot on the way out of the theatre..."That was action packed and completely ridiculous!"
"Yeah, I liked it too-"
"So what was with the scene with the-"
"That scene was for the ladies."
"All four of them that weren't dragged along with their husbands?"
"Those would be the ones."
If I were to fix anything it would be the soundtrack. The "Mission Impossible Theme" has a ton of possibilities beyond the "James Bond" retro big band version..
Great job by Capote, he had me believing he was Tom Cruise playing Hoffman when he was doing the "disguised" scene.
You know, part of me thinks this might make a good TV Show.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The World Before

The last completed novel in the Wess'har Wars Cycle. "The Matriarch" is the next book, due in October of this year. The author has signed a contract for 3 more books..
This series was presented to me as a trilogy. That being said, this third book does tie up a lot of loose ends, but it clearly leaves an opening for the next story arc. By the end of this book we had a very complete picture of 4 different alien species..And a pretty bleak picture of our own! I am afraid calling human beings "xenophobic" seems dated and simplistic and yet, here we are..In the country where science carries less weight than opinion and "you are either with us or against us". We need to get a little Isenj genetic memory so we can actually learn from the past!
There was a point towards the end of this book when I put the book down because I didn't want it to end that way. Well, of course I had fallen for the red herring...But that speaks volumes about the investment I made in these characters. I am certainly looking forward to the next book, and the movie!

Crossing the Line

Book 2 in the Wess'har Wars Cycle by Karen Traviss. This picks up right where the first book leaves off. As is usual in the second book of a series characters are redrawn and then progress. Some of the "identity markers" are heavyhanded in the beginning,but once again I believe that is so readers that missed the first book could keep up.
There is an escalation into the peering into the dark soul of man through the eyes of outsiders.
I certainly wish the view wasn't as close to mine!
I have long suspected that humanity is on the very bottom rung of the ladder to civilization. This book exposes the arrogance of architecture, the collector mentality, and the evils of uncontrolled population growth. Mix a little "Silent Spring" and a Vegan diet into an off-world colony, top with immortal warriors and pheromonically dominant matriarchs.
Serve with a slice of sincerity and an unblinking approach to the barbarism of man.

City of Pearl

First book of the Wess'har War Cycle byKaren Traviss. It is also her first book. This one was nominated for a PKD Award and a Locus Award. Series are an interesting part of the SF world. Corollary concept to the series is "universe"--a setting or history that spans several works that may only be tangentially related. Larry Niven had one, Frederick Pohl, Asimov and of course, Frank Herbert. Heck, even Harlan Ellison overlapped fictional places and events.
These series are like HBO series...Fans patiently (some moreso than others) for the next installment.
I can't wait for the movie version of this work. The novel deals with ecology, biology and capitalism and personal choice. This is well written space opera, pages burn quickly in a matter of fact style, with alien concepts and tropes being explained thoroughly. Perhaps too..I remember part of "Dune" was getting lost in the names, relationships, devices...And rereading.
After "City of Pearl" I didn't want to read it I wanted to read the next one!