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Category Archives: movies

I used to rent Bond movies on Saturdays. It probably started with Goldeneye because I couldn’t get over how much fun I’d just had. Famke Janssen sexy gun shooting! Hawaiian shirts in tropical places! Aston Martin versus bikes! Pretty much everything a kid needs to throw that shit in the VCR all over again. So I slowly worked my way through all the Bond movies, watching them all twice–Twice, Dad! Go rent it again!–until I finally understood the subtleties of things like “Pussy Galore” or “being Scottish.”

So of course I wanted to see Skyfall, the 50th Anniversary Bond, if at least just once. It’s this new James Bond who’s edgy and different and blond and surrounded by a lot of the same characters as always and also still named James Bond. They’ve made a lot of really solid decisions, though. There seems to be a conscious effort to update for the Jason Bourne set. Indeed, Q’s role is to hand out a gun, a radio tracker, and advice about how the kids are usin’ the ‘puters these days, you goddamned relic.

And that’s where they came off a little heavy-handed. This is the new Bond in a new era fighting new adversaries, despite owning a murder rate on par with Pol Pot and a body that’s somehow actually 50, even though this is supposed to be the prequel. It seems to be the cap on a prequel trilogy where we get things back that made the old Bond Bond: a male M and a Moneypenny, and nary a question of loyalty. The work of all three new Bond movies only worked to embed us back in the old story arc and reveal that the young rogue we come to love in the next 20 movies is confusingly old, weathered, and supposedly now not just mourning his parents (still, forever) but also the lady M.

Which makes me wonder: How much of Skyfall is a rewards-based system where the joys come from catching references? Knowing why he’d reveal the Aston? Who Moneypenny even is? Is Javier Bardem just a smart Jaws? Because the rewards we usually see involve following all the clues just as closely as Bond (hot babes) until he unravels the scheme (hot babes’ clothing) just in time to save the entire world. But this movie’s villain’s evil plan, spawned by revenge, is to get agents killed until he can kill M. Which one of his henchmen does. Yep, not only does Bond not stop him but the man doesn’t even achieve his fiendish plot on his own.

So what is this brave new era of Bond we’re stepping into? Obviously, the references to the progression of social media and secrecy will continue to be a theme, but hopefully the idea that James is close to retirement will slowly fade to the background as he carries on with his job. In fact, I would prefer an older Bond; who really trusts the new recruits, freshly minted with minor computer skills in Langley, to travel around the world while foiling conspiracy theories that took years to put into place? I want the haggard old guy who looks like he ran to every meeting he’s ever had while carrying two Heckler & Koch MP5s and a scotch. That’s the guy I ask, “Hey, do me a favor and take out a multinational terrorist cell only using a helicopter and this unreasonably gorgeous woman.”

Also, who really gives a crap if he’s had some parent issues? I think completely leveling his childhood home should be reason enough to let that be just another one of the little Bond details, like how Bond got married once, that we let add to his character instead of demanding it drag him down.

But enough of that noise, I have a Bond movie to go see again.

To be honest, I’m surprised The Descendants got the kind of circulation it has. It’s not that the reviews are wrong, it’s certainly a good and beautiful movie–but it’s a difficult one. My theater has it listed between Ghost Protocol and Game of Shadows. Not to shit on those two movies (I’ve seen the latter and intend to see the former), I’m just saying, sandwiched between two popcorn stuffers with more explosions than layers of thought is this movie speaking in metaphors whose antagonist is a dying, comatose matriarch who doesn’t say so much as a single word.

It even seems to have been purposefully set in Hawaii to make it more difficult to deal with: right from the beginning, they address how it’s not that beautiful vacation land where people go to get away from everything for the people who live there. People have lives there. Almost systematically, something unbelievably shitty would happen then the cinematographer got to go to town (but the opposite of town: beautiful beaches and valleys and the like). The only thing keeping the whole ship from going under might’ve been the setting. That is, it’s a little bit of a black comedy masked by a beautiful drama.

I think I remember seeing some review calling it the comedy of the year. I’m no stranger to hyperbole, but it really is a very funny movie. It’s just not a gut-busting, raucous romp through the perils of old age–that lady’s in a goddamn coma. But I laughed out loud a few times and felt uncomfortable just as many times. They’re the kind of funny things that no one should really laugh at and, in a theater, no one really does.

Which is to say it’s a challenging movie. It’s funny, it’s bleak, and it’s thought provoking. It’s good enough to make me surprised that it’s not in an art house.

I saw The Girl Who Played with Fire two weeks ago and holy shit it was awesome. I don’t know why I’m only getting around to writing about it now, though.

The subject matter is neither pretty nor clean, but it’s an amazing story. It is absolutely refreshing to be able to sit through an entire movie and not be able to predict what happens next. Most of the movies I see these days it’s, “Seen the preview, know the entire plot now, will go to see if they add any funnier jokes or plot lines anyway.” That is, undeniably, the only thing that keeps me going to the movies these days: jokes and proving myself wrong. If I don’t get to prove myself wrong, then I usually get popcorn (Thanks, AMC Moviewatcher card!).

But this was one of those movies where I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. People talk about pitch-perfect movies and I’m convinced this is one of them. When the screen finally went to black, I wasn’t the only person who sighed in relief. Endless tension, endless driven plot with endless epiphanies.

A phenomenal movie.

I stopped following @KanyeWest.

I started following him the day he joined and four or five days later I was tired of his tweets. I even came to view his tweets as spam1.

The novelty of Twitter is being able to receive one-liners from your favorite comedians, celebrities, models, brands, etc in real time. But the real genius of Twitter was switching the vocabulary: instead of “subscribe” to this person’s RSS feed–essentially what you’re doing and what you can do in Google Reader anyway–they’ve had you “follow” people. Thus, your friends are on the same level as celebrities. You follow them, you merit their 140 characters valuable.

But Kanye was the stick that broke my Twitter account’s back. I had been following maybe 10 rappers or so and I swiftly trimmed that crowd down to about two or three. I have friends on Twitter who write genuinely humorous material; indeed, they justify the “follow” nomenclature. And, as per the operating theory of why Twitter is successful, they tend to share things I enjoy more often than not. Kanye broke that trust for me: it turns out the only peek I want into his life is the peek that comes every two to three years in the form of an approximately forty five minutes of rapping2.

As for the other rappers, I suffered some internal turmoil before I concluded, “Screw it.” I am a fan of their work, I follow them, their careers, their albums. I know that I don’t have to prove it to them by following them on Twitter. Furthermore, I don’t give a shit about random follower #1,045 who got a retweet because he said something one of my favorite rappers enjoys along the lines of “This is a good song.” I’m glad the both of you think that, but I’d like to be able to judge for myself or at least be able to find the things my friends have said and your original content. Unless your content reads like Kanye’s.

I thoroughly enjoy @Therealbigboi’s tweets because he answers questions, but he answers them for everyone instead of just for the person who asked. I also like @Chamillionare’s tweets because he’s using Twitter the way we all do: either to share something funny or ask a question, to get a recommendation. He’s keeping the conversation alive. And furthermore, @Ludacris is funny. Also, tweets like “In terms of landscape, alcoholism and literary prowess, The South is America’s Ireland.” are why you should be following @pattonoswalt. That shit is epic.

1. I will say I enjoy following Eric B. The first tweet I saw from him was “Hope you had a good day.” Uh, hell yes I did–hope you had fun making one of the most important albums of all time. I’mma let you Finnish, terrible Kanye tweets. BOOM! Live-texting from Sweden and a Taylor Swift joke all at once!
2. I was very careful about my word choice here. “Rapping.”

I reluctantly went to see Robin Hood a week ago. Glenn Beck was a huge fan and I already knew the story so I figured, there’s no reason to see this movie. Nothing else piqued my interest so I finally broke down and said, Fuck it, I’ll see Robin Hood despite Glenn Beck’s love for it. It’s a free ticket, so no big deal (yes, I am a card-carrying AMC Moviewatcher).

I’m sitting in the theater and there’s this couple making fun of every commercial that comes on. It’s like they haven’t been to a movie theater in 5 years because they’re disgusted that TV commercials are in movie theaters. I gave up hating TV movie commercials like 4 years ago–it’s just what’s happening now. My hatred of commercials won’t make them disappear.

And the couple has disdain for every clip that shows up, like these commercials are beneath them. After the commercials, they start making fun of the movie previews like, “What’re they going to sell us now?” And I will admit, the husband’s comedic timing was phenomenal. He placed that quote right between commercials and movie ads, right in the deadspace between the two. I somehow stifled a giggle.

The amazing thing though is that we get to the end of the movie–spoiler alert (but probably not because everyone knows the story)–and right after King John outlaws Robin Hood, the husband goes, “Why did he do that?” I could not stifle a giggle that time. Walking out, I looked back at him, see he’s a geriatric man dressed in an all white suit and I think, “Even if you’ve read The Prince, it’s fairly obvious. Robin Hood is a threat to King John’s hold on the throne. Go make fun of some commercials, dumbass. Too smart for commercials, but not too smart for a movie. The kids are losing their grip.”

But the real issue at hand here is that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. A surprisingly good movie. Two weeks before that I had had the choice between Robin Hood and Letters to Juliet. For some reason my thought process was, “I love action but I also love chick flicks and I’m in more of a chick flick mood today. I love Amanda Seyfried. These previews look okay.”

And of course, the previews tell you the entire story. I guess I should insert a spoiler alert here again too, but if you’ve seen the preview, it’s fairly obvious she’s going to break up with the brunette for the blonde. It’s just how it has to happen. There’s no other way for that movie to work. After seeing it, I called my parents and warned them to steer the fuck clear of it and they were puzzled why I’d Juliet in the first place.  They’d thoroughly enjoyed Robin Hood.

Perhaps the only good thing that came out of that movie was how it contributed towards my Free Ticket to See Robin Hood AMC Moviewatcher fund. Completely worth it because now all I want to do is manly stuff like wear chain mail, hunt for dinner with superior archery skills and get into fights with the French. But it’s 4th of July weekend and I’m part French so…thanks for helping us become independent, beef squashed. But I still want chain mail.

I saw Iron Man 2 in Imax and all I can say is, Holy Moses, Toy Story 3 is going to be amazing. And I enjoyed Iron Man 2.

I recently realized that some of my most popular posts are about music. Also, some of my favorite things are music, so I did some thinking after watching Julie & Julia. I realized that I have no reason to ever set a deadline for this blog but I can’t just keep writing about things that really only matter to me or people who matter to me.

So I figured I’d start a series–in addition to Talk Like a New Yorker and 5 Questions–called This Week In Music. The idea is to write about what I’ve been listening in the previous week to and, perhaps, why. I spend a lot of time commuting or writing cover letters and I tend not to do either without a soundtrack of some sort.

For a while I was sharing all of my current music manias with my college roommate, but I feel like this information would be more relevant for the masses because I like to think I have a fairly eclectic taste in music that spreads across more than a few genres. Thus, I’m hoping it’ll be more interesting for more people than just me.

The whole plan had been to start it yesterday, post consistently on Sundays, but I worked an 11 hour shift at Vickie’s. I spent time doing things like moving half of the beauty supplies in one stockroom into another stockroom. By throwing boxes. By climbing shelves without a ladder. By closing the store the night before and sleeping for only 5 hours to come in and work 11.

Sorry my plan got fucked up, but my priority was sleep because my back was fucked up. But no worries, my loss will be your gain…promise.

I think the best part about When in Rome might have been Ghostface Killah.

[Spoiler Alert] The big surprise ending about how Nick never threw a coin into the fountain was a little predictable. Perhaps more importantly, I was not willing to suspend my disbelief just because Beth had five coins, lightning striking all the time, and five dudes following her the whole movie. And the part where the four dudes all decide to help her because they love her? C’mon, Will Arnett. You should have known better.

But, then again, Ghostface Killah was the DJ

Saw Avatar in my local Imax theater yesterday. Stupid humans.

I’ve also been hearing rumors about stolen story lines and assorted complaints, but I tell you I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m also sure when the DVD release date comes up people will start complaining about how it’s not the same as Imax or RealD or whathaveyou, but all I can tell you right now is that it was a beautiful movie. Perhaps a  little weak in places–how the unobtainable-on-Earth mineral was called “unobtanium,” or the guy named “Selfridge” because it sounds like “Selfish”–but I think I was busy staring at Pandora and falling in love with Zoe Saldana or imagining flying on that pterodactyl-thing like Sam Worthington.

[Ed. note: Spoiler–even though they totally foreshadowed it–Alert] Right after Jake Sully conquered the larger pterodactyl-thing and gave his speech about uniting and aligning and strength and stupid humans, I shed a tear. That’s why I liked this movie (even though it made me feel like I have a vagina).

Anyway, love loves to love love and I loved it.

I saw Up in the Air about a two weeks ago and there’s a scene in which three of the main characters discuss what they look for in the ideal partner. It reminded me of this one time when I wrote a personal ad, so I decided to go back and update what I’d written—oddly enough, it was already pretty accurate:

Looking for a woman who loves jokes nearly as much as ice cream and building forts. An open mind regarding music is preferable and a deep admiration of High Noon, chess and David Bowie’s “Heroes” is absolutely necessary. An admiration of Transformers would be ideal but is not necessary. Must also be amiable and an excellent conversationalist–at least with me. Preferably, you’ll not only enjoy a game of grab-ass but also, on occasion, instigate it. Must also be averse to tiger-, leopard- and zebra-themed undergarments because you know your breasts are not untamed African beasts. You should be the kind of person looking to raise 2-4 children and secret handshakes with me and understand my ambitions to be a Stay-At-Home-Dad (hint: it’s because I’m good at cooking, organizing and loving you).

Kinex lovers need not apply.