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  • Oswald Cobblepot For Mayor

    Posted on July 14th, 2011 Brian No comments

    While attempting to avoid exposure to the 103º heat index the other day, I was flipping through some channels and stumbled across the campy sequel Batman Returns, starring Danny Devito as The Penguin. The movie is downright awful, and I would have flipped past it, except the scene caught me.

    Max Shreck (played by Christopher Walken – how did this terrible movie attact so much talent?!) was convincing the Penguin to run for Mayor of Gotham City. The Penguin is not really sure this is a good idea, but then inspiration strikes: He needs a platform!

    Stop global warming. Start global cooling. Make the world an icebox.

    PENGUIN: A platform?

    PENGUIN (framing the space in front of him with his flippers): Stop global warming. Start global cooling. Make the world an ice box.

    SHRECK: I like it!

    Think about this for a moment: This was a joke line in a major summer action movie nearly twenty years ago. The idea of Global Warming was mainstream enough that the writers could a) assume their audience was familiar with it, and b) understand the situation well enough to know that the Penguin’s proposed solution was clearly ridiculous.

    So here we are, nearly twenty years later: We have progressed from Batman Returns through Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight. How far have we progressed dealing with Global Warming?

    It’s time to vote for somebody who will make a real difference on Global Warming: Oswald Cobblepot for Mayor!

  • Exit Through The Gift Shop

    Posted on January 23rd, 2011 Brian No comments

    Instead of football tonight, I watched Exit Through The Gift Shop. I’m a bit of a Banksy fan, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this foray into film. I was not disappointed. Banksy’s talent really isn’t with spray paint and stencils, though he drips with natural ability there, but rather with his eye for taking something ordinary and expected and twisting it into something wholly and unexpectedly beautiful. What starts out as a documentary of a non-documentary on street art turns instead into a question of what art means to its creators, how it’s valued by its consumers, and whether or not an artist can sell out and still be an artist.

    Speculation as to whether the film was a “hoax” or not seems to miss the point to me. Rather, I see this project as an attempt for Banksy to tease out his own personal understanding as to the definition of art, and to maybe teach us something about it at the same time – a reasonable goal for someone whose most acclaimed work typically involves the willful destruction of other peoples’ property! And maybe that very introspection – arriving at understanding of creation through creation – that’s what it means to be an artist?

  • Lucky Day

    Posted on March 6th, 2007 Brian No comments

    Go watch the short flick Lucky Day before you read on, so I don’t spoil anything.

    Back? Good. Now, for those of you who know him: Isn’t Nick the only person you know who could play a guy who tries to hang himself on a playground? On the other hand, I hear newspaper clippings can drive you to that….

    Nice job, sir. I snap my fingers for you.

  • A Second Observation on An Inconvenient Truth

    Posted on June 3rd, 2006 Brian No comments

    As an aside to my thoughts on seeing An Inconvenient Truth – a sort of secondary take-away from the film if you will – is how stunningly the act of campaigning for public office ruins a person. Most of us remember Al Gore from the 2000 presidential election as the sheet-faced academic automaton whose droning voice bored us to tears and narcolepsy. Yet in this film, the man is completely different.

    Away from his political handlers, and speaking on a topic about which he is clearly passionate, he is engaging, funny, charming, principled, moral, and extremely human. If this had been the man running for president, the doofus now in office wouldn’t have had a chance!

    Who are the political strategists that think the U.S. citizens are so stupid that we would only elect a bland moron? (Apparently they are mostly the Democratic ones, judging by the current make up of the government.) Why do they still have jobs? How can we even wonder at our own ennui, evidenced by our constantly abysmal voter turnout? If the football fans got something to watch besides baseball, they might get interested again.

  • An Inconvenient Truth

    Posted on June 2nd, 2006 Brian No comments

    Okay, this one is for my mom:

    Hedda and I just got back from seeing An Inconvenient Truth. It is very good. Most of the film is merely a recording of Al Gore giving his perhaps famous Global Warming speech and slide show, although it is interspersed with a bit of his own history and back story. Mostly, though, the film is a very well presented statement about the ugly truth of global warming.

    Go see this film, Mom. Make an afternoon or evening trip up to the city for dinner and a show. It’s worth it.

  • Kill Bill vol. 2

    Posted on January 3rd, 2006 Brian No comments

    Hedda surprised me Friday night with a date to see Kill Bill vol. 2. The first film was an amazing amalgam of different film genres. It was packed to the brim with blood, gore, swords, and breathtaking battle scenes. It paid homage in multiple ways to the enormous Japanese anime subculture that is largely unknown to the American public. The only complaint was the minimal plot.

    Kill Bill vol. 2 picks up where the first film left off, but not just in the story. These two movies really must be seen together to be appreciated, as the second volume is everything the first wasn’t, and nothing the first was. Only together do they make a whole film. Volume 2 replaces the massive odds-out battles, kung-fu, and swordplay of Volume 1 with 1-on-1 psychological games and thought-provoking banter. Where Volume 1 told you very little about the players in the story, Volume 2 fills in the gaps with lots of back story, flashbacks, and voice-overs. Quentin Tarantino’s risky leap with the epic battles and anime aspects that defined the first volume are paralleled by the creative filmmaking he achieves in the psychological games that play out in the second volume. The grave scene is a brilliant example of this. Where most directors would be shy away from such a scene, Mr. Tarantino recognizes that the absence of music is as important as the most vibrant chords, and is even more powerful when it is part of an entire symphony.

    These two movies, considered independently, lacks something fundamental needed for a film to truly great. When taken as a whole unit, however, they become much more than the sum of their parts. Kill Bill vol. 2 is definitely worth watching, but it is not necessary to see it on the big screen. The epic battles from the first are gone, and so is the need to experience it in theater. In fact, the larger role of dialog might make for a better home-viewing experience. Either way, though, watch them both and enjoy some great filmmaking.

  • Super Size Me

    Posted on January 3rd, 2006 Brian No comments

    Hedda and I saw Super Size Me on Satuday evening. This film should be shown to children in high school to help them learn of the dangers of (over-)eating in our sugar-laden, saturated-fat-devouring nation. The devastating effects of merely eating McDonald’s food on Morgan‘s body are simply beyond belief. He gains almost thirty pounds, his cholesterol numbers go through the roof, and it almost destroys his liver. There are many more side effects, but that’s just the highlights from the results of his 30-day trial.

    Obesity is the #2 cause of death in the United States, right behind tobacco use, and more than four times ahead of the next runner-up: alcohol. And this is every year.

    I don’t think the word irony even begins to cover it.

  • Fahrenheit 9/11

    Posted on January 3rd, 2006 Brian No comments

    Fahrenheit 9/11 isn’t going to change anybody’s minds. It’s a good film, don’t get me wrong, but the journeys it leads you on begin firmly in the anti-Bush hemisphere of the globe. At the bare, unrealistic minimum, you would have to be right on the equator of indecision. (After all, who is undecided about this issue?) Moore assumes you are already aware of the deception and trickery that this administration has foisted upon the public. He assumes that you are already against the war, although many of the images are strong enough to remind both pro and against of the horrors it brings.

    The film preaches directly to the anti-Bush choir, and it does so quite well. It gives them a good deal of fresh ammunition, along with a lot of genuine laughter. The USA PATRIOT Ice Cream Truck was hilarious! The movie will be most successful, though, as a bellows to stoke the fires of those of us who want him out. If Michael Moore’s real goal with this film is to help provoke political discussion that will lead to the removal of Bush, he should arrange for a series of free or low-cost screenings of the film at large social events a few months before the election. For example, Chicago holds an outdoor film festival every fall. Universities might show the film “on the lawn,” and invite local townsfolk to come join them. The point is to pump the bellows a month before the election to help keep the fire burning in peoples’ hearts.

    The film does carry an R rating, and I was very curious why. Hedda had mentioned to me that some large corporations had spent something like $2 billion to coerce the ratings board into choosing an R rating over PG-13. While that may be true and despicable, the film really does garner an R rating on its own accord by showing graphic scenes of the aftermath of our war. It’s definitely not a movie for children in its current form, but hopefully an edited version will be released suitable for younger audiences. The current rating precludes a large population of potential passionate volunteers in the fight against Bush from seeing the film.