i would definitely support any two 'scantily clad cocktail waitresses' who want to make woody allen's dream come true by stomping him to death. indeed, anyone, cocktail waitress or not, has my unconditional support in their efforts to stomp woody allen. at least there wouldn't be any more woody allen movies, of which there are way too many. actually, i could do without anything woody allen ever made, not to speak of his basic persona, which makes me ashamed to be a human being. you know really i don't see anything by woody allen unless some woman drags me, so i missed his cult-of-the-artiste francophile jivefest midnight in paris. so perhaps i shouldn't express an opinion. ok, keep buying tickets and wake me up when he's over.
speaking of indiana jones and the turkey of doom and the era of copyright protection, the government of belize is apparently suing lucasfilm for using the 'likeness' of their national treasure, the crystal skull. or i'm not sure from that piece who is suing whom for what, precisely. but i do like the idea that governments own the likenesses of the 'national' treasures in the territory they claim to administer. oh you know you can't freely reproduce those pictures of the rockies or the new york city skyline or the great lakes or the declaration of independence. or my ass. just speculating now but any crystal skulls there may be are of non-ancient origin. but that is as nothing compared to this whole new world of intellectual property. well, you never should have started down this road of people owning the likenesses of themselves or others or works of art and so on because, just a bit further on than that, all representations - all images and pictures, for example, of any sort, also reflections, shadows, and footprints; in short, all likenesses - are potentially litigable. now on the other hand say you are, per impossibile, a proponent of intellectual property. why exactly can't persons or governments or corporations own things like that? is there any plane of reality that can't be colonized by imperialistic regimes or sold off in tracts? now this particular battle could be complicated, because no doubt lucasfilm has trademarked the adjective-noun pair 'crystal skull.' so if i were their squad of attorneys, i'd be preparing to counter-sue on the grounds that the government of belize and its representatives say, without permission, that the crystal skull is their national treasure.
there has never been a clearer expression of provincialism than americans' obsession with paris, which just seems to redouble every few years. hasn't this gone on long enough? the food! the wine! the angst! the sex! the pseudo-sophistication and clumsily simulated identities! honestly i'm tired of paris in the 20s: fatigued by hemingway and stein, exhausted by picasso, etc. even if these people weren't excruciatingly overrated, there surely could be no point in writing or thinking about them any more, after infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters have worked them through for decades. i'd be more interested in south-eastern north dakota regionalism of the same period, and its influence in alberta.
i more or less share the current moral panic over bullying (well, sorta), and it's hard to look at gay students committing suicide and not suggest that something should be done. but i also scent a new tsunami of censorship and self-censorship in the offing: a new and even narrower and more excruciating political correctness. so various groups have been protesting the use of the word 'gay' in movies. i saw the statement of one group accusing vince vaughn squarely of causing the death of untold young people with the fatal phrase "that's so gay." please. you know there has to be some notion of art. so for example if you were trying to realistically depict loutish young american heterosexual men - and this is the essence of the current idea of comedy in america - they would absolutely have to say "that's so gay," as this is central to the actual vernacular. treating actual problems by demanding that people delete phonemes from movies is a sad admission that you can't do anything actual, and that you have massive totalitarian impulses, and that you are a philistine from soup to nuts. it's like blaming jim crow on mark twain using the word 'nigger' in huckleberry finn and suggesting that the greatest american novel must be burned. that is some gay shit, y'all.
i'd personally like to do the real-life expendables, with a twist. so i say parole mark david chapman. maybe hook him up in a team of super-schizos with the person who shot selena. parole bob marley's cancer, or janis joplin's self-destructive impulses. arm them to the teeth and send them after...sting, billy joel, the indigo girls, elton john, etc. it's a matter of aesthetic security.
watcha watchin, crispy? well, tackled guy ("god i suck") ritchie's revolver (2005) last night, 'cause jason statham rocks. it is certainly the worst movie ever made by anyone up until sherlock holmes, which is a film made by idiots for inanimate objects. at any rate, revolver is unbelievably portentous clap-trap, really the last thing you want to see in an action movie, and though it is formulaic, it is incomprehensible: a very tough thing to pull off. what i don't get is how you make "lock, stock, and two smoking barrels" and "snatch" and then this butterball. it's the kind of film tarantino would make - indeed it's filled to the brim with his mannerisms - after the lobotomy.
took janie to see percy jackson the other day. pretty damn good movie for what it is, and i would also say of the books that they are written with far more wit and verve than hary potter. the movie in a stray remark gently suggests that barack obama is a demi-god, and i'd say that that has been the problem both ways round. the worship was ridiculous and unseemly and pathetic, and the disilliusionment is in process. a reasonable assessment of the human being would have been better for him, and for you, and for us all.
just watched the spirit, and it's got me thinking about comic books and movies. well, it is a failure as a movie, and it mystifies me a bit why that is. it's written and directed by frank miller, which ought to get some respect. the writing has a lot of wit: half campy hardboiled quasi-noir a la the original will eisner material, as in "i'm gonna kill ya real, real dead." the other half is pop culture references and high concept humor, as when scarlett johannson (playing silken floss) tries to explain why she's trying to help a madman (samuel jackson) become a god and take over the world: "my ph.d. will be paid for." the imagery is stunning, and it does seem like this is the time to do this: the time when film can create a true visual equivalent to the kind of stark power sometimes achieved in comics. miller's sin city was considerably more successful, maybe because it just wallowed in sickness, and the spirit uses the same visual vocabulary, such as making everything black and gray and then coloring in one neon-yellow or hot red thing.
some of the failure has to do with pretty obvious stuff: it should be more of a tribute to eisner, and the decision to set it now instead of eisner's 1940s is questionable. or rather, it's set both in the 1940s and now (and also the future, maybe), which isn't a clever idea anymore, and is one of the factors disanchoring this movie from any discernible world. and though eisner and miller's visual sensibilities have some affinities, probably due to direct influence, ultimately miller erases eisner's look and substitutes his own, when trying for something more true to the original would have been appropriate (since eisner has himself become a god), and quite the little visual challenge. eisner's story arcs were short and often beautifully, perfectly constructed in their irony: i don't think miller actually gets that construction, and certainly doesn't try to achieve any cinematic equivalent for it.
other problems raise more general issues. i think film and comics have been in dialogue since there were comics. in some ways, of course, film and comics are very different. a comic book gives you a couple of hundred panels or whatever it may be. trying to get that kind of visual intensity into a moving image either breaks the cinematic flow into a series of frames - which miller does constantly - or it just visually overwhelms you: i almost felt assaulted by the visuals, even while i kept thinking how cool they were. sitting in a theater, you can't put the thing down and come back to it later, and 2 hours can be an awfully long time when it's that impacted. i think miller needed to back off or calm down: the striking frame has to emerge from a background or be suddenly salient; you have to build toward it.
comic books do not primarily rest on characterization, and eisner really did not. but if you don't feel anything for the hero, really, except vague admiration or something, you can't build a film around that character. and the movie star system is pretty central to film, but is kind of irrelevant to the comic medium, and we have to peel away too many layers to deal with actual human interactions. there aren't any in this movie at all, really. that's precisely why alan moore's v for vendetta worked infinitely better as a movie. it's also why, even though they are much less imaginative movies, the spider-man and x-men things have worked ok on the screen. the characterization might be lame or even pretty perfunctory, but it's central for giving the film some kind of arc and the viewer some kind of connection. again, what eisner substituted for character was perfect narrative construction; miller doesn't do that either.
the visual atmosphere is stuck between the real world and a comic book world; different directors have negotiated this in different ways, for example setting the comic book characters into the real world a la spider-man, or on the other hand trying to come up with a whole comic-book atmosphere through set design or cgi, a la batman. or: merely presenting the manga as an animation. miller seems to want to take the real world and paint on it, which works beautifully at moments, but seems mannered at others. i still think the visual vocabulary is developing
watchmen is not exactly my favorite graphic novel, but i'll probably give some commentary when it comes out on dvd.
down at my mom's doing xmas, we watched the wonderful film man on wire, about philippe petit's wire walk between the towers of the world trade center. crime as beauty. beauty as an act of revolution. one couldn't help thinking that this was a better use of the wtc than as targets for jetliners. also better than the uses for which it was intended.
well just went with son sam to see "clone wars." um, not so good. the animation had cool aspects, but the human figures looked and moved like dolls: no discernible personality. and the dialogue, as in the last few star wars movies, was just pathetic, reams of witty repartee written by droids. it gets off to a nice start along these lines: "sir! we must send all the jedis we can!" "impossible! there are only two available." maybe these folks haven't mastered english? or at any rate the various concepts connected to possibility. a billion dollars to make the movie, but we can't afford $17.49 to hire an actual writer.
watcha watchin profcrispy? well last night had the great emma over to the new house in the woods, with her boyfriend jason. we watched the astounding the thief and the cobbler. in some ways it's probably the greatest feature-length animation ever produced, but what a tale. richard williams spent some 26 years on it. then lost the ownership of it. miramax put out a version a week before aladdin - which in some ways derived from it - was released, and on a budget of 24 million it grossed 300,000. and they seized the film, adding the voices of a bunch of movie stars to a picture that was conceived as mostly silent. they also added a series of songs that were as bad as the worst that ever appeared in a disney film. in the process of finishing the thing they sent the art to thailand, where it was lost. even with all of that, the visual imagination is stunning, abstract, various, utterly brilliant. someday somehow a decent version of this film has to be produced.
i got to say i'm looking way forward to walk hard: the dewey cox story. why? well i think "walk the line" and "ray" sucked elephant schlongs. i'm never gonna forgive the singing in walk the line, e.g. but they were incredibly too-big, utterly inert, completely dispiriting. plus i have downloaded one of the wonderful dylan parodies from walk hard: "royal jelly." someone finally figured out that dylan was deeply fullofshit from the getgo. "royal jelly" is from dewey's "political period" and consists of incomprehensible pseudo-surrealist claptrap, switching on the chorus to "so let me touch you": the sixties in a nutshell. ":
here's a snatch of "subterranean homesick blues
Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D. A.
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't try "No Doz"
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows
that this was welcomed ecstatically as the great poetry of the age is just one of those things, like the rise of mike huckabee. who knows how or why? here's the entirety of "all along the watchtower":
"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."
"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
this could have been written by carl jung, had carl jung been a blithering idiot (or: even more of a blithering idiot than he actually was).