Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Inmates are Running the Asylum

So let me get this straight:

- Andrew Breitbart releases video of Shirley Sherrod saying she didn't want to help white farmers
- Fox News spreads the video hither and yon
- NAACP condemns Sherrod
- Tom Vilsack (vil)sacks Sherrod
- NAACP gets ahold of the full video--in which Sherrod's not wanting to help the white farmers is preceded by the story of her father being murdered with impunity by a white man, and followed by seeing the white farmers get screwed by the white lawyer she recommended and learning that it's not about white vs. black but rich vs. poor--and apologizes for being "snookered"

- Vilsack stands by his decision
- White House stands by Vilsack
- Fox News, by way of Glenn Beck, attacks the White House for firing Sherrod

Remember those boisterous town hall gatherings last summer? Those were nice, weren't they? I imagine we'll be looking on this episode equally fondly this time next year, when the Republicans have gained seats in the House and the Senate, and Breitbart and his horde have trashed the careers and organizations of countless others in the meantime.

It's not like Obama's going to stick up for them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mock Their Stylin'

This website claims to analyze your writing style based on whatever samples you provide. Eric Martin of Obsidian Wings, for instance, seems to have absorbed David Foster Wallace's technique without having ever read him. I plugged in some of the most recent posts of this blog, and the results were thus:

- Where the Wild Things Are review: Stephen King
- Notes From Underground Analysis: Leo Tolstoy
- Shutter Island review: Chuck Palahniuk
- Wisdom teeth removal: Charles Dickens
- Finding Nemo review: David Foster Wallace

Based on these results it seems the algorithm is based more on name associations than style. Tolstoy was, of course, a contemporary of Dostoyevsky, and Fight Club and Tyler Durden are explicitly mentioned in the Shutter Island review. This, and the fact that the list of authors includes almost exclusively white males brings its worth down from mere timewaster to waste of timewaster. Lame.

UPDATE: Worse than waste of waste of time, the website is actually something of a scam for a vanity publisher.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Deep Blue Sea

I missed the boat when this originally came out, but Finding Nemo deserves praise even seven years after release. Marlin teaches Nemo early on that “The ocean is dangerous,” and he isn’t kidding. I don’t think I’ve ever gasped in that “Omigodthey’reinsomuchTROUBLE!” way so many times in one sitting since I was, well, a kid. Besides the tremendous effort that went into making sure every element in the film works exactly as intended, I think a big reason for all that open-mouthed suspense is the movie’s first scene, which would be traumatic even in an “adult” film, and is downright shocking in a kids’ flick. But damn if it doesn’t put the stakes right up front. Louis Fantasia defines drama as “expectation mixed with uncertainty,” and Pixar have consistently proven themselves the celluloid champions thereof. I just wish I had gotten over my moody/rebellious/edgy teenage ‘I’m too old for this stuff’ attitude when most of their previous movies were still in theaters. Luckily, Toy Story 3 is still making the rounds, and I may be able to continue my penance yet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shutter Island

I had an inkling before I saw Shutter Island of what The Twist was going to be, and hoped I was going to be wrong, the better to be surprised. I ended up being right, and though it's not as damaging to the rest of the movie as it could be, it doesn't do it any favors, and that's still a problem.

I very much enjoyed the ride up until the point that it pulls the rug out, at which point everything basically started over from square one. That's not true in, say, Fight Club; Edward Norton's Narrator actually being Tyler Durden doesn't in any way negate the development their relationship has undergone. It's one more complication that sends the third act towards a conclusion (Tyler vs. The Narrator) that's literally been building since the beginning of the movie.

Rather than enhancing the themes and conflicts that we've been watching unfold for the last two hours, Shutter Island's Big Twist throws them completely out. To its credit it takes a good twenty minutes to try to square this new circle, and the performers are all game, but it doesn't change the fact that an entirely new story arc is beginning and ending in less than a half hour, mostly as an apology for having essentially wasted our time.

'Wasted our time' doesn't exactly do justice to what I'm trying to say, because I actually did say I liked everything before the switch. It's not time wasted, but cheated; the movie is cheating on its audience, and coming from a broken home, I don't take kindly to infidelity.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wild Things

It's been over a month since I've written anything, mostly on account of being incredibly busy. Seven Devils happened, work picked up so that I'm now actually working full-time, and I've started rehearsals for David Mamet's Oleanna. My internet time has receded accordingly. I'll do what I can is all I can promise, and even that's uncertain.

I thought I would just say for my return post that I found Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are to be....distancing? Cold? Off-putting? I don't know what it is--and this is why I'm not a film reviewer--but something doesn't feel right throughout the proceedings. Maybe it's the way the documentary-style shakeycam clashes with the fantastical nature of the story. Maybe it's the way the fantastic wild things likewise behave like grown up children. Maybe it's the score (which I would like to blame more on Karen O than Carter Burwell) that's constantly intruding on the action rather than complementing it. I don't know.

I read somewhere else that WTWTA is not a kids movie, it's a movie about being a kid, for grown-ups, and that sounds about right.