Wednesday, May 25, 2005


A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.

I was having a chat with fellow crimefighter, The Britannic Brawler and was remembering movie palaces of yore.

The absolute, hands down movie Xanadu from my youth was the illustrious Northpark 1 & 2. You can count seeing a movie there as a sort of happening. It was (for a couple decades, at least) the technical zenith of movie theaters. It was also one of the very state of the art THX certified theaters. Read all about it hither.

It only showed the absolute big event films in the number 1 theater. Star Wars, E.T., Blade Runner. They didn't just cater to the newest blockbusters, they often had retrospectives and would have special screenings of classics.

A quick rundown of movies I saw at the Northpark 1 & 2:

The Empire Strikes Back
The Color Purple
Jurassic Park
Blade Runner: The Directors Cut
Lawrence of Arabia
The entire Star Wars Trilogy with Dennis Muren
The Star Wars S.E.

Just to name a few.

Man, I really miss that place. Seeing a movie there was truly a unique experiencence that even the newest DLP DTS joints have yet to touch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Revenge of the DVD Addict

On the DVD acqusition tip: It's been a relatively restrained past few weeks. A few key titles here and there but this is the first Tuesday of May where a $100 clams will be offered up to the movie addict gods.

What does my sacrifice allow?

The Aviator

If Bill hadn't been killed. If Oh Daesu hadn't wielded a hammer for vengeance. If Spidey hadn't stolen that guy's pizzas (all hail Ashy Larry). The Aviator would have easily held my coveted top spot of 04. I saw it something like 3 times and was consistently wowed by the almost baroque styling Scorsese brought to a what could have been rote biopic. A real beauty that I'm dying to get in bed with on DVD.

Batman: The Animated Series v.3

I don't buy a lot of TV on DVD. The exceptions tend to be stuff that I think eclipses the shitty TV norm. Batman has been a TV series that I feel compelled to archive like The Simpsons, Freaks and Geeks, and Futurama. Arguably the greatest vision of the character to exist outside the four-color panel. And as far as the main man goes, Kevin Conroy simply IS Batman. No room for dissent on this one.

Chappelle's Show Season 2

The ultimate tribulation that can determine the inheritant worth of sketch comedy is if it can still be funny when the 50-year old overweight secretary in your office quotes it endlessly. From barely cute marijuana whores to sublimated homosexual frat boys from agricultural colleges, the most annoying clusters of people have tried their damndest to suck the life out of the bold and energetic Chappelle's Show only to look like the lamest whiteys in Whiteyville. Although, I think these douchebags have driven Chappelle out of the country and into the loving arms of the bad guys in Lethal Weapon 2.

Man on Fire

Most misleading title EVER. Tony Scott = must-buy.

So, what else ya got?

With the Star Wars out of the way, what does the rest of the summer have to offer? Besides oppressive heat.

In no particular order, the shit I will brave the masses to watch:

Batman Begins: The trailers and first salvos of interviews are getting me more interested. Of course, there was never a chance in hell that I'd not see a new Batman movie directed by Chris Nolan. I think the anticipation was obscured by a certain Sith prick.

Land of the Dead: Romero. Zombies. Asia Argento. Skipping this might mean you are either dead or gay. Or both.

Mr and Mrs. Smith: Two of the most attractive humans in the world fucking and fighting. Yes please!

Lords of Dogtown: I love the doc and the whole raggedy mythos of these that's a definitive maybe.

War of the Worlds: Opposite effect that Batman's marketing campaign is having. The more I see the less interested I am. But it's Spielberg. There's a glimmer of hope that the aliens will disintegrate the titular airport terminal that so bored me from his last outing. Also, Marketing people: Enough with Dakota Fannings enormous eyes.

Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance aka High Tension: I have the region 2 dvd and this is naughty, nasty fun. the kind of flick you want to steer the unassuming to. Also, perfect atmosphere for a beer-house screening on a Friday night.

Fantastic Four: I can't NOT see this. By all accounts, I will be angry.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Love the book, love the original movie, love the recent output of Burton and John August. A must see opening weekend film fo' sho'. Also, I had the goddamn jingle in my head for weeks after seeing the teaser.

The Devil's Rejects: This looks vile. Can't wait.

Bad News Bears: Typically, I get possessive and weird about remakes of favorite films. Let's look at the recipe here: Linklater, William Robert, probably some foul language in front of and by small children. Sold Armenian.

The Island: um...ok, I guess.

It's not the nuclear winter of cinema (I love this word being used in regards to some of this summer schlock) that some are forecasting. Of course, in this narrow community it's all or nothing. It's either The Golden Age of Film part XXII or The End of Movies for All Time Forever and Ever Amen.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I find my lack of faith disturbing

The circle is now complete. I have seen every Star Wars movie on opening weekend with the throngs of the devoted. Having been less than satisfied with the first two prequels it was out of sense of nostalgic obligation that I attended the 12:01am screening of Revenge of the Sith.

I really enjoy seeing these genre monstrosities with the die-hard fans. The emotional connection to the movie is vastly different between those willing to que up weeks in advance versus those taking their booger-eating kid to the cheapest matinee. Last nights Jedi swansong was no different. The Legacy was literally buzzing with excitement. It was hot and crowded as the massive line snaked through the lobby and out the front doors. Goodwill never seemed to ebb. These people seem impervious to the condescending looks the regular movie patrons shot their way as no one had a greater sense of humor about being a Star Wars nerd than the nerds themselves.

As the theater lights dimmed the crowd performed according to all my expectations. They cheered at all the right moments and immediately silenced themselves to not miss even a syllable. These people made the experience for me. Then there was the actual movie.

I think I’m at the point that I consider these prequels of the Star Wars movies of my youth to be huge wasted opportunities. Or worse, I think they are a cautionary tale for all artists about the folly of excess. Admittedly, the Revenge of the Sith was stillborn for me. Due to the odd, erratic timing of the movies, the inclusion of background material into the foreground, the focus on state of the art digital f/x…I was left without that love the original movies nurtured. I reminded myself during the months and weeks leading up to May 19, 2005 that this was the story I had been waiting for since Obi Wan mentioned to Luke that a Jedi named Darth Vader helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights.

Hayden Christiansen surpassed my highest hopes. This was the Anakin I have wanted to see all along, a true hero with a tempest of conflict on the horizon. Finally we get a sorely needed peek at his relationship with his mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi. I was surprised how confident the film was to let scenes play with dialogue or stilted exposition. Lucas seemed able to let the images convey emotion. Nicely done with the scene where Padme and Anakin long for each other across the spires of Coruscant. Whoever Lucas got to assist with his script or his actors deserves commendation because it definitely shows.

Who was no surprise at all was Ian McDiarmid once again pac-manning his way through scenery. He goes from so deliciously sly to cackling insane in 12 parsecs. My only complaint is that this relationship with Anakin needed to be explored in the previous films. Attack of the Clones probably would have benefited from another scene or two of Palpatine skillfully manipulating young Skywalker.

There’s so much to love which makes it all the more frustrating to be aware of the Sith’s shortcomings. I feel George Lucas had an opportunity to take his films out of the realm of Sci-fi/fantasy and craft something delicate and heartbreaking. I widely regard The Empire Strikes Back not only as one of the greatest genre films of all time; but as one of the very best American movies ever made.

All in all Revenge of the Sith is a beautiful looking film that the less you are emotionally invested in the more you might enjoy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Coming Soon: Like in 12 hours

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Go to bed you sons of bitches!

I felt like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon deflating after my initial viewing of Wes Andersons latest; The Aquatic Life with Steve Zissou. I did my usual rounds of the print and internet pontificators of film. Yeah, we were in that rare vortex of agreement. What was with the disappointment? One of the loonier (but funniest) theories was that Wes had gotten cool and therefore his art was suffering. He had hip clothes, a dandy haircut and waifish model funny to see a writer put his insecurities about his own lack of trim-getting out there. Out There.

The flick seemed so droll, so dry that it was unapproachable. I craved that emotional sinkhole where the characters eccentricities caved and for the briefest of glimpses were mortal, like me. I'm not one to abandon a filmmaker for a few stumbles (I'm looking at you, George) and I'm also an inveterate DVD addict, so I picked up the Criterion two-disc set.

I wanted this film to work for me, so I popped it in for another look. It was a far better film this time around. I think this is Anderson's unique version of a testosterone drenched Adventure Flick. It's a Men on a Mission movie, it's a revenge movie all swaddled in Wes Andersons surreal universe.

The plot is straight out of DTV. Steve Zissou, aquatic adventurer and documentary filmmaker takes his assembly of seafarers/film crew on a search & destroy mission of the never-before-seen Jaguar Shark. What's the scientific purpose of killing the Jaguar Shark?.......Revenge. The beast ate his best friend, Esteban. To complicate matters a young man (Wilson) claiming to be Zissou's illegitimate son show's up seeking to form a relationship. Along the way Zissou and his mates are menaced by pirates, a pregnant journalist, and ultimately Zissou's Ahabian quest itself.

Bill Murray as salty dog, Steve Zissou, is the Atlas of the film. Whatever else fails, Murray has the film on his shoulders and it's nothing less than magnificent when he's in charge. Willem Dafoe takes a thankless role and with a few well-placed scowls exhibits why he is one of the best characters actors. Owen Wilson, for better or worse, plays the Owen Wilson role with a on/off southern gentlemen twang. Anderson has upped the quirky bit-player quotient. There's a David Bowie-in-Portuguese folk singer, a Sikh cameraman, a mute Noah Taylor , Jeff Goldblum (whom I always hope will vomitdrop on some poor slob) playing an effete half-gay rival of Zissou's. Not to mention Henry Selick's brilliant aquatic inventions.

The film is choked with creative insanity. It's a seven course meal on one plate. A second (and third) viewing is essential to penetrate the veneer of snark.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

It was compulsory to buy this. As it was with Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace, the Special Edition re-releases, the Original Trilogy boxed set (WITH LAPTI NEK!!)...whatever gripes I've had with the films themselves, the music has never ever been one of them. I'm not a score fetishist like a certain Bristolian rogue, but I adore the music of Star Wars.

The bonus dvd included is worth the purchase price alone. It's got Ian McDiarmid (and thank fuck that now I can pronounce this fine gentleman's name) introducing several pieces of John Williams Star Wars music over wonderfully edited together footage from all six movies. There's a theme to each one. Like "A Hero Falls" is all about Anakin succumbing to the dark side. It's a great little bonus that really reignited my anticipation for the last chapter of the saga.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005