Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's better to "burn yourself out" than to fade way.

Enlightening shit from TopSynergy's astrological relationship profiles of the stars:

Neil Young is intensely amorous and attractive to the opposite sex, and is not inclined to friendly platonic relationships. There is a great deal of tension in his love relationships - often because Young puts his desires ahead of his partner's, and is impatient to have his love needs satisfied. The whole arena of love relationships, romance and sex is endlessly fascinating to Neil Young and he is not happy without a love partner. Young can "burn himself out" by pouring so much of his energy into romance.

Nelly does not appear to be an intensely emotional or sentimental person, and he is often unaware of his own or other people's deeper feelings and emotional needs. Tears and tantrums bewilder him and make him very uncomfortable. Nelly would rather settle differences by talking things out reasonably and rationally, but he tends to ignore or poke fun at any attempt to probe his own or others' inner depths.

Chad Smith genuinely appreciates and understands women, and is likely to have many female friends, a network of women who love and support him. It is relatively easy for Chad Smith to attract companionship and affection, and there will never be a lack of such relationships in his life. Children are very important to Smith also.

Fred Durst becomes very cross if he lacks vigorous physical activity. Durst feels his best if he frequently "does battle" on the tennis or racquetball court (or engages in another form of competitive sport).

Steven Seagal craves very intense, deep, emotional relationships, and would even prefer stormy, tumultuous relationships to ones that are smooth but lacking vitality and passion. Steven loves wholeheartedly and expects all-consuming, total devotion and attention from his partner. Casual, light relationships hold no appeal for Seagal.

Olympia is attracted to foreigners, exotic places, traveling, and to people who can expand her horizons, teach her something, or show Dukakis places and worlds she has never experienced before. Sharing a philosophy or ideal with her love partner is important to her.

Henry Rollins has a knack for making others feel good and is likely to enjoy a harmonious sex-life. Henry also has a strong need to create and may have a flair for designing fashionable clothes.

Dick Cheney has a magnetic personality, are unconventional, and a bit unpredictable. Dick loves to flirt and is likely to have sudden romantic relationships that do not always last. Dick Cheney likes variety and always is seeking new experiences with people.

When he cares about someone, Richard Dreyfuss likes to show his affection with small favors or tangible gestures.

Walt Disney may be attracted to older persons who are emotionally mature and reliable and can provide the security Walt desires.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Folks prepping for another season of yelling "wtf, Nader?" owe it to themselves to read the transcript of his recent Meet The Press interview. I won't be voting for him, in part because Obama's inspired me to give the Democratic party one last chance, and in part because I'm disappointed Nader can't find a younger, unscarred mouthpiece to voice his refreshing, entirely merited complaints about our current nominees. Surely some charismatic celebrity like, I dunno, Eddie Vedder, or maybe a cute policy wonk, would be willing to hold a similar stance for the Green party. Better that than have Nader once again suffer the smears of self-loathing Dems, who would rather criticize those who actually voted their liberal ideals for abandoning the party rather than acknowledge its unsatisfactory record. Why sneer about the crippling futility of staunch liberalism when the centrists can't seem to achieve anything themselves? Why claim change must happen from inside the party when those in power silence worthwhile debate? Accusations of him ruining the 2000 election are not just ill-informed, they're pathetic.

Nader rightly notes in the interview that if the Dems fail to win this election, "they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form." America is hungry for reform, something that should be incredibly easy for either nominee to exploit. But I'm also sympathetic to the idea that neither party is truly motivated to achieve it. If the next four years fail to prove otherwise, I won't be screaming for a third party so much as a new second.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Invasion, Nicole Kidman plays a troubled mother whose face randomly changes shape thanks to the months between reshoots. In Margot At The Wedding, it's her state of mind that's unpredictable. Both efforts are remarkable. A side effect of the botox boom in Hollywood is that we have a new way to verify commendability: if we can think of a character outside of the star that plays them - DESPITE obvious, horrifying and unacknowledged plastic surgery - they and the screenwriter must have done a pretty good job.

If Jennifer Jason Leigh's had any work done, then that doctor did an even better job. Her graceful response to aging gets in the way of distinctions Margot director Noah Baumbach, again offering a teenager's memoir of adult dysfunction, wants to make between her and Kidman (unless an artifically tightened face is supposed to signify the hollowness of the latter's upscale, writerly existence compared to Leigh's dowdy, rural one). It's Leigh's smirk and open nightshirt that rescues a bedroom sequence that would have been otherwise unforgivable thanks to an thorough presenation of Jack Black's bare ass.

Black is entertaining as a schleppy dud of a boyfriend ("I haven't had that thing yet, where you realize that you're not the most important person in the world"), but its easily the shtickiest performance in the film, and part of the Margot's threat to descend to Solondz-like levels of quease-for-quease's sake. Maybe I'm just more familiar with the male adolescent reaction to divorce than life with a family of crazies, so I'm less likely to accept the presented scenario compared to Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale. But the pathologies and motivations develop as the film goes on, gaining sympathy if not total understanding. This is only fair, as nobody on screen really gets things either.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Daniel Day-Lewis does deserve Oscar acknowledgement for being such an attention-grabbing force of arch, but he's pretty young, and I'd be surprised if he doesn't don a moustache again sometime over the next twenty years. Tommy Lee Jones can't play autumnal cowboys dealing with conflicted emotions brought on by a recent death forever, so I feel its only fair to give him the Oscar he should have received for The Three Burials of Meliquiades Estrada.

In The Valley Of Elah isn't nearly as good as that underrated film (probably my favorite modern western), even if it takes Paul Haggis a lot longer to smother it in gratuitous contrivance and "who's the real villian?" confusion than Crash. Jones' convincing performance helps tether the rural crime procedural, giving us something more rewarding to pay attention to than what's offered by Haggis, "one of those national dishes that is both beloved and reviled by natives, and sometimes horrifies people who hear it described for the first time" ( A more straightforward plot that put Jason Patric and James Franco to larger use would have been great, but Jones is so engaging you might even forget that the film ends with a shot of a tattered, upside-down American flag. He's like Eastwood with a third dimension.

In The Valley Of Elah is one of at least three films critiquing the war on terror released on DVD this week, and one of two DVDs out this week to feature Josh Brolin as a dislikable cop. It is also one of two recent films starring Josh Brolin in which Tommy Lee Jones pays a visit to Barry Corbin, a genial old friend.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm pleasantly surprised when a film shows a novel visual sensibility, especially when its the debut directorial effort from the screenwriter of such films as Armageddon, Devil's Advocate and The Cutting Edge. Michael Clayton is feverish and claustrophobic, its lighting either paltry or blurred. Tom Wilkinson's sweaty mania, which almost scared me away in the trailer, seems like the most sympathetic response to the palpable air of anxiety.

Cost-benefit analysis is a real enough source of horror that the film's dark blue dread doesn't come off cheap like in Adrian Lyne films or Flightplan. Which isn't to say that showing the climax at the beginning was a good idea, or that the payoff isn't pat, or that the final shot doesn't scream "for your consideration." But Clooney takes a long time to choose between hero and anti-hero, and Tilda Swinton's androgyne Hillary is a question mark herself. Having failed to catch Atonement or the second-best-at-best pregnancy comedy of the year, I'll take this rumination on The Evil That Men Do over the hollow, more cartoonish pair it's competing with.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Aside from an embarassing bit of Training Day on TV (which made me believe his Oscar has the scent of a Pacino on it), I haven't seen a Denzel Washington movie since 1998's Fallen and The Siege, so it was comforting to have his gifts reaffirmed - one could watch him watch the world all day. One reason I haven't seen anything he's done over the last decade is that he keeps working with Tony Scott and folks who wish they were Ridley, Tony's classier and equally vacuous brother. It's hard to believe Denzel's never worked with the real deal until now.

The climax of American Gangster threatens to crosscut between a violent shoot-out and the anti-hero at church, and its disappointing they didn't go for such a blatant Godfather lift. If a film's going to lack any coherent message or intent (other than a desire to siphon some of Scarface's merch money by making an epic about a black druglord grander than New Jack City), it might as well have the energy of camp. The film may excite class-seekers like Jay-Z, but I wonder if the film's Oscary patina - as well as its "then he became a snitch" ending and lack of mouthfoam - will keep it from gaining the street cred it needs to achieve mob-movie immortality.

While Russell Crowe doesn't rise above his material like Denzel, he is an expert at charming his way through it (this is his third Ridley Scott film). Almost all the actors are welcome sights (though I'm worried that today young black men can't get into movies without a multi-album rap career), but no one gets a garish, memorable scene to chew into. Compare Ruby Dee's nomination-reel speech to Beatrice Straight's and you'll see they don't make 'em like they used to.

One of two movies coming out on DVD this week to star Josh Brolin as a dislikable cop.

Friday, February 15, 2008

If I saw this trailer before a movie, I would no longer want to see that movie. I would want to see Pineapple Express and be grumpy about my inability to do so.

Have you heard about joke jocks? Evidently Seth Rogen and the like are being called joke jocks. Guys who are treated like studs for telling so many good jokes that it makes your head spin (oh nooooooo!). See, the crime is that these Apatow folks are making comedies about guys who need to grow up that are actually funny. I don't remember any critical thinkpieces about '90s comedy blockbusters like Liar Liar or the fucking Waterboy, even though they don't have women as funny as Leslie Mann, Charlene Yi or Kristen Wiig in them. Daring to make small-scale, big-laugh comedies that strike a nerve rather than simpering cartoons, the "joke jocks" are treated like a new low when they're a huge improvement (also, I have never heard anyone say they find Jonah Hill attractive, so there must be a ceiling to this "he's funny so he's cute" thing).

I can't call myself a fan of Diablo Cody, but I like that her announced reaction to Superbad was "hey, women deserve a movie like this. I'll write it," rather than "hey, women deserve a movie like this. I'll write an article on how it sucks that they made a really funny movie where the guys told more jokes than the women." As a whiny armchair chap myself, I'm not saying its wrong to merely criticize. I just wish people put a little more thought into what they're really complaining about.

Sorry if this rant seems outta nowhere and a bit of a rehash. It's inspired by a months-old issue of Bitch my housemate left in the bathroom. And this joke jock trailer that I can't stop watching.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"With You" is nobody's pick for the best clap-track campfire ballad produced by Stargate of late, and Chris Brown's best quality is that he isn't Frankie J. "With every kiss and every hug/you make me fall in love" is some Paul Anka shit, and "You're the best part of my day!" should climax a Maxwell House ad. But lately I'm in the mood for some inane, sentimental pap sung by an earnest cipher.

Happy Valentine's Day, Leila. It's your fault I love this song.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

If you were going to set a film in Brooklyn 1988, would you score the lengthy opening club scene to "Heart Of Glass"? Would you set later scenes to "The Magnificent Seven," "Rapture," and "Let's Dance"? Maybe those songs felt appropriate because most films about Crime and Family are set about a decade earlier.

I was going to make a wry comment about James Gray's next film, which would presumably be a brooding meditation on (well, not a meditation on, more like an exercise involving) Crime and Family released in 2013, starring two conflicted young men and an aging patriarch. But it looks like he's got a movie already in post-production about Romance and Family featuring one conflicted young man and a matriarch. Guess he showed me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

So the moral of Rambo is that you shouldn't go la-de-da'ing up into foreign biz, but IF YOU DO find yourself in the middle of Other People's Genocide, one should blow the raping soulless child molesters up real good, so that the rebels can appear afterwards like Ewoks and take it from there. Not sure how its taken the Burmese military over sixty years to eliminate its helpless Christian farmers when it looks like they've got this atrocity thing down tight.

Easily the goriest non-horror movie I've ever witnessed - never seen so many flying limbs, or bodies shot to jelly in 3 seconds (looks like Stallone could have a more extensive career behind the camera if he wanted it). Heard at least two crying babies in the audience. It might be trite to note that we can take our infants to see ninety minutes of people dying while if the film cut to baby making it'd be NC-17, but there I just did it anyway.

I haven't seen Rambo III yet (working on that), but I think Rambo had fewer paragraphs of dialogue than Rambo: First Blood Part II (RIP Richard Crenna) (gotta love the sequel math). Stay for the credits to see a long, long list of Thais briefly interrupted by a visual effects staff whose names end with "trov," "kov" and "nov." Twenty years ago, Rambo would have preferred to work with the Taliban.