Friday, March 23, 2007

A Friday Quiz from Prof. Irwin Corey:

1) What movie did you have to see multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?
Mulholland Drive
2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated
Jules et Jim
3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another film or bit of pop culture within another film.
The scene from CQ which is a note-for-note remake of the Nico portion of La Dolce Vita from another angle.
4) Favorite Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger movie
Never seen one.
5) Your favorite Oscar moment
I don't watch the Oscars.
6) Hugo Weaving or Guy Pearce?
Weaving, because I am a geek.
7) Movie that you feel gave you the greatest insight into a world/culture/person/place/event that you had no understanding of before seeing it
F For Fake, which interested me in art forgery, and the saga of Elmyr de Hory & Clifford Irving in particular.
8) Favorite Samuel Fuller movie
The Big Red One
9) Monica Bellucci or Maria Grazia Cucinotta?
10) What movie can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Anything starring Mary Tyler Moore. Actually, The Big Lebowski does better.
11) Conversely, what movie can destroy a day’s worth of good humor just by catching a glimpse of it while channel surfing?
Anything starring Adam Sandler.
12) Favorite John Boorman movie
13) Warren Oates or Bruce Dern?
Oates, easy.
14) Your favorite aspect ratio
15) Before he died in 1984, Francois Truffaut once said: “The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it.” Is there any evidence that Truffaut was right? Is it Truffaut’s tomorrow yet?
For auteur directors like Altman, yes.
16) Favorite Werner Herzog movie
Either Fitzcarraldo or Grizzly Man.
17) Favorite movie featuring a rampaging, oversized or otherwise mutated beast, or beasts
18) Sandra Bernhard or Sarah Silverman?
Can I choose death?
19) Your favorite, or most despised, movie cliché
Favorite: car chase. Most despised: car chase.
20) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-- yes or no?
21) Favorite Nicholas Ray movie
In A Lonely Place
22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated
The Iron Giant
23) Your favorite movie dealing with the subject of television
Battle Royale was my initial answer, but seeing others reply The King of Comedy made me realize that was probably more true.
24) Bruno Ganz or Patrick Bauchau?
Bauchau. Ganz is great, but I'd rather have a slice of ham right now.
25) Your favorite documentary, or non-fiction, film
Gimme Shelter
26) According to Orson Welles, the director’s job is to “preside over accidents.” Name a favorite moment from a movie that seems like an accident, or a unintended, privileged moment. How did it enhance or distract from the total experience of the movie?
The fleck of blood in Children of Men: enhanced for me, even though it was not supposed to be a documentary, because it flipped the movie through the mirror for me and felt more real than fiction. Others, my wife for example, felt differently.
27) Favorite Wim Wenders movie
I don't like Wenders very much, but I could say The Buena Vista Social Club.
28) Elizabeth Pena or Penelope Cruz?
Pena, I guess.
29) Your favorite movie tag line (Thanks, Jim!)
This time it's personal.
30) As a reader, filmgoer, or film critic, what do you want from a film critic, or from film criticism? And where do you see film criticism in general headed?
A personal connection with universal implications, well thought and well-argued. Where it's generally headed is the opposite of that.
EXTRA CREDIT: Do movies still matter?
When did they ever matter? Which is to say: yes, to me they matter; no, to history, they don't really matter; and maybe, because I can only speak for myself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This is from May 1982, after Richard and Linda Thompson had divorced. With the unexpected success of Shoot Out The Lights in the U.S., they toured America to try to salvage a career in the wake of their divorce. This was not an easy tour on either of them or their bandmates.

Look how Linda is holding on to the mic stand as if her life depends on it. Richard is his usual insanely talented self, but Linda tears the shit out of this. Well, ok, Richard is above-and-beyond on the solo. Have you ever loved a song so much that you want to tear your heart out?

I didn't realize I would have to add this, but HOLY CRAP! How does the guitar not break?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Things that happened in the last week:

  • My sister had a birthday. Happy birthday, Jenn!;
  • She called from Brazil, where she is visiting her husband's family;
  • SXSW rolled through Austin, bringing many out-of-town friends;
  • I ate bbq twice with some of these out-of-town friends, including the ultra-cool Maud Newton and the mysterious man known only as Mr. Maud;
  • My parents visited and we played Cities and Knights of Catan not once, but twice;
  • My in-laws visited and gave/sold us a brand-new Prius;
  • We spent time with in-town friends who we don't see nearly as often as we should;
  • We watched Borat;
  • I worked on the book.

I think that's it. All of these deserve more words, but my words are all committed to other projects at the moment.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Oh yeah: Happy birthday to my little brother Patrick, who is 28 today!

Being a bit clueless about cool new things, I've only yesterday heard about Library Thing, which is an online database of your books. I've only added a couple of shelves from home and my two shelves of history and public policy books from work to my online library, but I sorta love this chance to put my taste and refinement (or lack thereof) on display. I'm not an extrovert, but I am inordinately proud of the things I like. The books and CDs and movies I love and the songs I've written and the little articles I've published here and there are all little lights of mine, and I'm going to let them shine. Self-indulgence, thy name is me.

My position is a little naive, to be sure, but I believe that if you are a person interested in the arts, your aesthetic preferences indicate something about your character and your humanity. This isn't a blanket truth; the best point of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity is that there are many wonderful people out there who are utterly unconcerned with the value of art. Their choices of, say, Celine Dion or John Grisham say very little about their character and humanity. However, if you found out that a rock critic, someone who has essentially appointed himself or herself as a public philosopher of aesthetics, thinks that all guitar solos, and in fact, all extended pieces of music by rock bands, are masturbatory and pretentious, shouldn't this ear-blindness call this person's viewpoint into question? I'm willing to cut Noel Murray some slack, because although he's overly concerned with how his opinions fit in with critical hegemony, he's willing to point out that his tastes change and that he's willing to try to appreciate music that may be outside of his comfort zone. Kyle Ryan, however, comes across as a bit of a douche, lumping any instrumental music with a long running time together, as if Can = The Grateful Dead = Tortoise = Funkadelic = Rhys Chatham = Sleep = Sonic Youth. Although I'd guess that he'd claim that his aesthetics are formed in punk (which may be true), he took the most conservative (and worst possible) lesson from punk. Punk bands had a lot of different flavors. They weren't all the Ramones, and they didn't all hate prog-rock. Many of the first- and second-wave punk bands were art-bands, as likely to find influence in King Crimson as in the Stooges. Any music critic for a 'zine with a national footprint ought to know his history well enough to know that.

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