Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Road to Rhode Island

Providence


Now that I'm home from my PA, NY, CT, RI excursion of the past couple days, I can get to bloggin'. But, not today. I'm tired. I will update throughout the week.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Verses

With the horrible trend of taking ramdom film characters and creating a rediculous and contrived script to place them opposed to each other, I figured I ask you, my loyal blog readers what your favorite fantasy rumble would be? (That means you should post your ideas because I am really not that funny as you can see below)

Screw Alien, Jason, Predetor, and Freddy...
Jaws v. the Anaconda (one likes fresh water, one likes salt, let the terror ensue!)

How about The Bride v. Buffy, the battle of the blondes -
They both are quite snazy with a sword. Both have also dug out from their own coffin.

... but my personal favorite:
Hannibal Lecter v. Catherine Tremmel, think about it.

If you need a pop culture refresher, this is Catherine Tremmel


P.S. The Animal Planet actually has a whole show based on this this concept. My favorite was Croc v. Hippo. I of course was routing for the hippo!

POPCORN REVIEW: Catching up "Bourne", "Bill", and Braff

Determined to play some catch up in the film arena... I made a weekend of it.



Friday, Chinese w/ Darren and The Borne Supremacy - 7/10





The second chapter of the screen saga from the Bourne series, The Bourne Supremacy earns a definite "check +" next to the series debut in The Bourne Identity. This is a solid as a summer film can get (no, I haven't seen Spiderman 2 yet).

It's fun, fast paced, a great story, that's clear without being static, with action that is appropriate and not absurb for the purpose of the film. Matt Damon is great as a quick hard action star instead of the more "Riley Finn" (BTVS reference) type he normally plays.

Supremacy put one more nail in the coffin of James Bond and buried Jack Ryan in film that defines was a post cold war international thriller can be. The supporting cast was all under used, but at the same time, used just enough for what again was appropriate for the story.

The style of this film is sharp. The cinematography, score, and editing echoed top notch fan friendly directing. Always being a fan of the avant garde and high style pictures (not every film can be CQ), for a "normal" film to really stick out in my mind is always good. I think the last "normal" look in a film I really loved was About a Boy. Well, I'm sure there has been more since, I just have that film in my mind at this moment. It's a great film; it's about a boy. If you haven't seen it, you must. See Bourne too.... Okay, back to the task at hand.

What I really loved about the film was the action situations itself and the plausibility if not possibility of the scenarios. For instance, compare the bridge scene from CA: Full Throttle with the bridge scene from Bourne. While the Angels make a fantastic escape... there's more excitement in the Bourne seen because it's "possible".

Speaking of scenes the direction was impeccable securing Greengrass a happy solid future... I'd love to see what this guy can really do. I don't like high motion of this film. It's not that's it poor, in fact it's done well. It's just not my proverbial cup of tea. By high motion... most directors move the camera with slower edits or inversely fast edits with static shots. I don't like Jarmusch super static muted camera/edit style... and Bourne is the other extreme.

The climax of this film is marked by a car chase. No, the climax of this film is marked by THE car chase, and the torch is passed from William Friedkin. Okay, briefly, if you don't know who William Friedkin is, you should. He's renown for 2 things, 1. Directing the scariest film of all time - The Exorcist, and 2. Directing the best car chase of all time - The French Connection. On a weekend Renny Harlin was desperately trying to channel a little bit of Friedkin into Exorcist: The Beginning, the spirit ended up across the hall in The Bourne Supremacy. To call the finale a car chase is to call the Beethoven's 9th Symphony a jingle, the Great Pyramid a tombstone, Catcher in the Rye a good book, or "Blonde on Blonde" a record. And that's all I need to say about that.

This is a sequel that's bigger, and better than the original and well worth a summer escape.



Saturday, a pint from Maggie Moo's Creamery and Darren's dvd, Kill Bill v2 - 8/10




It's not that I didn't love Kill Bill v1, I did. It's not that I didn't want to see v2. I did. But before I knew it, the brief chance I had in the theater was gone and the dvd wait began. Darren was kind enough loan me his copy.

With my week of Olympic fanaticism winding down, Saturday was reserved for attempting to qualify for the World Series of Poker via the internet, watching some Discovery channel programming on Ancient Greece, and watching Kill Bill v2.

The second volume sweetly sums up the journey of the vengeful American samurai, Black Momba, The Bride, Beatrix Kiddos, or Mommie. Tarentino echoes with Pai Mei training (a brilliant sequence) the loveliness of "wiggle your toe" from the first half. That's just one example of the excellent rhythm this film has... having the second best soundtrack of the year might have something to do with it. Not quite as flashy and much more emotional, I actually yelled out "EWE" at one part. I'll let you guess when. Part Deux is beautifully styled, directed well, and written better. The acting was great, showing that these actors really should be working more, especially from Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) and Bill (David Carradine). Uma "The Bride" Thurman was stellar, but at times was so good at giving QT what he wanted that she was really bad. So bad she was good or so good she was bad... one of those. Especially the whole pregnancy test scene. I honestly thought it was unnecessary and for the most part inferred as obvious. Carradine and Thurman should be locks as GG noms. Carradine, in a just world, should be in the Oscar race. Then again, in a year where most all films lived up to or exceeded my expectations (not usual) with better (maybe) yet to come... Closer, We Don't Live Here Anymore, Life Aquatic, I Heart Huckabee's, Alexander, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Lemony Snicket... and more.

As for Thurman, I was never a huge fan of her's except for when she teamed with QT. I think this is by far her best work ever. As for previous roles, Gattaca was on last weekend. I don't think I've watched it since some point in college and honestly forgot how absolutely beautiful the film was. You could freeze on any frame of the film and have a piece of photographic art... that was, until I saw...

Garden State, 10/10


Lightening really does strike twice. For the second time this year, I did not just watch a film, but experienced a film that hit so close to home in my own life, was so well crafted, was so well written, that I was genuinely emotionally disturbed after watching it. If I have such an emotional reaction once a year, I'm stunned. Unlike a film like Mulholland Drive or The Village or AI where I talk and talk and talk about the film until someone tells me to shut up... Garden State now sits along side Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream, The Hours, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in my consciousness. In fact, these are the films I don't talk about. These are films I simply set in awe of. These are films that make me want to be a filmmaker. These are the films that so profoundly effect me, they often offer not only a catharsis as an audience member, but a turning point in my life.

So, yes I like the film. Truly in this film, every frame was a piece of art. Garden State made me laugh more than any film I can remember, more than Mean Girls, more than Elf. I have a peculiar sense of humor which is why I like very few comedies. Well, it's not that I don't like them, I just don't see their greatness. Things I don't really find funny... Sealab and Space Ghost, the Ben Stiller Show, Supertroopers... pretty much anything with Owen Wilson. In fact, everyone I've known (mostly boys) are Rushmore and Ben Stiller Show types, Supertrooper and Old School types, and Dude Where's my Car and American Pie types. I always felt like I never "got" what everyone was laughing at. I love to laugh but find few things really funny, besides my cat (yes, I'm aware how disturbing this sounds) and sharks... I find sharks very funny. I like the masturbating bear (thank you, mr. Blink) and jimmies really bad weekend update commentaries. I really like sad and sarcastic humor. Maybe, it's because in my sad sarcastic childhood, I became really good at making fun of people... which sounds mean, but what's a chubby smart girl to do when other kids call her names for all sorts of reasons? She uses her intelligence to belittle their angry German pants off, that's what. What else makes me laugh besides sharks? While I strongly dislike everything woes Anderson had done before, The Royal Tennanbaums is one of my favorite films... primarily because of Gwyneth Paltrow's character. Arrested Development is the funniest TV show ever and one of the few that makes me completely lose it for hours over one simple joke ("well, let's hope it doesn't come to that!") In fact, I'm laughing right now.

Okay, so what does this have to do with Garden State (a film about nothing)? I laughed through the whole thing, without crying. In fact, my laughter was probably inappropriate at times, and I gave Darren the giggles. I'm sure the 3 other people in the theater thought we were high. The reason I loved this film so much is not because of the characters, but because I could find myself or people I knew in every character. Because of that, I applied so much more love, sadness, depression, and ridiculousness into the scenes because I felt like I was looking through a scrapbook ( I don't keep one, either) of post high school life. I walked out of the film checking my ambitions slightly. It reminded me not of how far I've yet to go, but how far I've come. It reminded me not of what I was, but now of what I wasn't. And, after a mini nervous breakdown this weekend due to undisclosed reasons, the reminder of what I wasn't was really what I needed to slide "happily" back into my stepford molded life (at least temporarily).

After watching Garden State, I will never watch Scrubs again. I feel it violates how beautifully gifted Braff is. This is one of the absolute greatest films ever. Whether or not this is the only story Braff has to tell remains to be seen. If it's his only work, it's a work of greatness. The composition of this film more than lives up to the trailers and the soundtrack far surpasses it. This is the greatest soundtrack of the year by far. It's probably even the best since Magnolia, but that would require me examining my music collection before making such declarations.

If you've never tried to pull yourself out of the working class traps then had to return to the small town woes to face the skeletons you left behind, I don't know how much you'll like this film. If you've never experienced the fact that you've ascended the world you once belonged in, I don't know if you'll like this film. If you've never fallen in love in way to change your entire life in only 4 days, I don't know if you'll like this film. If you've never carried guilt - If you've never self medicated, you might not understand, you might not appreciate how beautiful this film is. If you've never laughed through sadness, it might not give you giggles, but, if you have, this could be the greatest film you'll ever see.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Quote of the Week

During the new season of Real Time, I'll be posting quotes that I love from Bill Maher. The show premiers on Fridays at 11 p.m. on HBO. There are reruns throughout the week.


"Don't make people who hate you, hug you. Whatever the Bush Administration is blackmailing John McCain with, stop!



I am Platypus, Hear me Roar?


Okay, so I figured I'd blog today since I haven't in a week. Nothing is new and everything is boring. I'm up to my ass in Cosmology (think Carl Segan not Estee Lauder) and Mythology research right now and am working on Chapter 2 of my book (the fact that I ever started is brilliant in it's own right). I even felt the need to hop into an early morning Yoga class today. So while I've been studying comic eggs, big bangs, trees of life, goddess mothers, and the world turtle... there was an interesting find in Jerusalem that, since I'm writing a book on religion, I felt the need to update everyone on. Saddly, cultural and scientific news gets lots behind sound bites. Yes we can clone people now, and there is physical proof of John the Baptist.... but hot damn, Nicky Hilton just got married that's gonna be our lead off! Okay, rant over. Yes, they found a cave they believed to belong to John the Baptist. And yes, that's BIG news.

On the Mythology front, most all of the myths about the "beginning" are very similar. The only really different take is that of the Babylonians The Enuma Elish, the misogynistic tale that Genesis was adapted from.

Anyway, I thought I'd share what I think to be the most pleasant of all the myth's... that of the Native Australians (The aborigines).


Of Dreamtime


When the earth was new-born, it was plain and without any features or life. Waking time and sleeping time were the same. There were only hollows on the surface of the Earth which, one day, would become waterholes. Around the waterholes were the ingredients of life.
Underneath the crust of the earth were the stars and the sky, the sun and the moon, as well as all the forms of life, all sleeping. The tiniest details of life were present yet dormant: the head feathers of a cockatoo, the thump of a kangaroo's tail, the gleam of an insect's wing.

A time came when time itself split apart, and sleeping time separated from waking time. This moment was called the Dreamtime. At this moment everything started to burst into life.
As the Sun Mother awoke, she opened her eyes a warm ray of light spread out towards the sleeping earth.

The Father of All Spirits said to the Sun Mother, "Mother, I have work for you. Go down to the Earth and awake the sleeping spirits. Give them forms."

The Sun Mother glided down to Earth, which was bare at the time and began to walk in all directions and everywhere she walked plants grew. After returning to the field where she had begun her work the Mother rested, well pleased with herself. The Father of All Spirits came and saw her work, but instructed her to go into the caves and wake spirits. This time she ventured into the dark caves on the mountainsides. The bright light that radiated from her awoke the spirits and after she left insects of all kinds flew out of the caves. The Sun Mother sat down and watched the glorious sight of her insects mingling with her flowers. However once again the Father urged her on.

The Mother ventured into a very deep cave, spreading her light around her. Her heat melted the ice and the rivers and streams of the world were created. Then she created the fish and small snakes, lizards and frogs. Next she awoke the spirits of the birds and animals and they burst into the sunshine in a glorious array of colors. Seeing this the Father of All Spirits was pleased with the Sun Mother's work. She called all of the creatures to her and instructed them to enjoy the wealth of the earth and to live peacefully with one another. Then she rose into the sky and became the sun.

The creatures watched the Sun in awe as she crept across the sky, towards the west. However when she finally sunk beneath the horizon they were panic-stricken, thinking she had deserted them. All night they stood frozen in their places, thinking that the end of time had come. After what seemed to them like a lifetime the Sun Mother peeked her head above the horizon in the East. The earth's children learned to expect her coming and going and were no longer afraid.
At first the children lived together peacefully, but eventually envy crept into their hearts.

They began to argue. The Sun Mother was forced to come down from her home in the sky to mediate their bickering. She gave each creature the power to change their form to whatever they chose. However she was not pleased with the end result. The rats she had made had changed into bats; there were giant lizards and fish with blue tongues and feet. However the oddest of the new animals was an animal with a bill like a duck, teeth for chewing, a tail like a beavers and the ability to lay egg. It was called the platypus.

The Sun Mother looked down upon the Earth and thought to herself that she must create new creatures less the Father of All Spirits be angered by what she now saw. She gave birth to two children. The god was the Morning Star and the goddess was the moon. Two children were born to them and these she sent to Earth. They became our ancestors. She made them superior to the animals because they had part of her mind and would never want to change their shape.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

QUESTION: What's so scary about blondes?

In the United States, are we only capable of being scared when young blondes are in danger?

Naomi Watts is really scared of brown hair in The Ring

... or is it that we just don't like to read?


Sarah Michelle Gellar learns that the press found her old headshots in The Grudge

The Grudge, the US adaptation of Ju-On: The Grudge, hits theaters mere weeks before The Ring 2, the sequal to the 2002 US adaption of Ringu, another famous Japanese horror franchise.

Ju-On's plot mixes the classic horror senario of a young baby sitter/care taker but puts her in a haunted house, a house that has A GRUDGE (dunh, dunh, duh!). Lions Gate, who is responsible for the aquisition and the remake, released the Japanese original this summer to get people excited about there blonde-in-peril version this fall.

The Ring 2 on the other hand, is an original story springing from the adapted film. Instead of adapting the additional Ring films (Ringu 0, Ringu 2, and Rasen). I guess that means I can't see it again for the first time.

What's next? Everytime Hollywood finds a hit, they beat the genre until it's dead and cliche. The musical, the western, martial arts, and seemingly now, Japanese Horror. While I'll probably see both these films (huge fan of The Ring) I'm just going to sit back and wait for The Ring to find a nemisis like Dante's Peak is to Twister or Universal Soldier is to Terminator.

Poor Megumi Okina after learning Buffy was cast to play her!

POPCORN REVIEW: Don't Look though the "Secret Window"

Okay, I normally don't put dvd reviews on the blog because I figure I'm so behind everyone else viewing habits that it would have no point. But, the more I think about, the more I feel the need to comment on Secret Window.


This is a bad movie. Again seeming to suffer the Steven King curse, it's just bad. The film has a stellar cast headlined by Johnny Depp and supporting roles filled by Maria Bello (The Cooler), and John Turturo (The Big Lebowski). All of whom are excellent actors with outstanding performances under their belt. In fact, I believe that's what made this film so bad was that Johnny Depp was so good.

I by no means will declare this the worst film that Depp has been in (I haven't seen Blow, The Astronaut's Wife, or Don Juan de Marco), but this is one of his best performances... much better (though less fun) than Cap'n Jack Sparrow. In fact, his performance was reminiscent of Ed Norton in Primal Fear (another great performance in a bad film). Here though, Depp's superb handling of an eclectic author in a "Metamorphosis" like state makes the impending twist evident from 15 minutes into the film. The entire time you are waiting for the character to realize what you already know. Frankly, it's a boring wait. Playing a Mississippi man, Turturo's accent makes his performance near comical even though he seems to be channeling "The Preacher" from Poltergeist II & III.

While this film is bad, it doesn't quite, at least not yet, go full circle back around to being good again. Unless you're looking to study a great character exercise, trade in Secret Window for Rear Window and enjoy real suspense from the master of the genre.

Nuclear Meltdown: The Morning After Pills



Okay, being born in 1979 in this region of PA gave the locals yet one more reason to judge us. From grades 1 through 12 we were referred to as the TMI babies. Refering of course to the worst nuclear disaster the United States ever faced at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility. Not being born here, nor living here before I started school, I had no idea what the teachers were talking about. I guess that's whats wrong with everyone else :0P

Anyway, while having my moring crepe and parusing the paper, I found a disturbing article reminding me how close I live to nuclear distruction. This is something I really haven't thought about since my college class on nuclear proliferation when we discussed TMI and terrorists (it's not pleasent stuff).

So, here's the deal. Apparently, the PA Department of Health is distributing "potassium iodide" pills to help sheild the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine that might leak into the air - I don't know what that means but it doesn't sound fun. But just to be clear, the newpaper this morning said, "First of all, get one thing straight. If you're close to one of Pennsylvania's five nuclear power plants and some kind of emergency comes up, get out. Immediately." Wow... thanks for clearing that up. Cause, I was planing to pulling a boat up to the river at TMI and throwing an nuclear BBQ.

So, the health department is now distributing these pills to anyone who is living within a 10 mile radius of the plants. Considering that we have 2 nuclear plants in York County, that means most of us. Not me though... I actually live in a small space inbetween the circles. Yay!

For more information on the entire artcle, click here.

Meet Me in Manhattan

I've finished my first chapter and decided to blog today! As it turns out, I just missing Jon in NYC saddly. I'm heading into the city next week to catch up with and old LA bound buddy who's ventured back east, as least for the moment.

Being broke as always, and pouring most of my money into gas, tolls, and parking which is still cheaper than the train, Kathy and I have decided to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon strolling around the Met, quite possibly my favority place on the face of the earth. From ancient pottery to Giani Versace, to Frank Lloyd Wright, to Auguste Rodin, to Egon Schiele, to Andy Warhol... the Metropolitan Museum of Art has samples of everything one could possibly ever consider aesthetic.



Now I'm all exited at the simple thought of a visit. The Met also is the permenant home to my all time favorite work of art (above), Vampire by Edvard Munch (famous for "The Scream" but he's so much more than that.) ... and thus began my love of German art.

Currently the Met has a exhibition of Drawings and Prints from the Weimer Republic Era.


Otto Dix, Cardplayers 1920
This dark time between world wars in German history was (mildy put) pretty bad. The pain German society suffered after the Treaty of Versailles was manipulate by perhaps the most evil distructive conman to ever live. The general emotions of Germany became a powder keg for horrible atrocity. During the "coping years", before violence was used to deal with the pain, artistic expression became a means of out pouring dark, sullen, heavy, mysterious emotions from canvass to the cinema.

When you have the time -No, instead make time to check out the films Metropolis, Faust, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, M, Vampyre, and Nosferatu just to name a few.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Hiatus

Dear Loyal Bloger Readers: (Darren, Kevin, Ben, Jon, and whomever else randomly ends up here)

I'm temporarily taking a hiatus from the blog to start working on my book in my free time. To those of you who I haven't talked to directly about the project, I'm writing a book on comparative religion including the similarities and differences of the major world religions.

It's always bothered me how much violence and persecution has always existed in the name of "god". Between my friends and family and former roomates, I have been close to someone of every major world religion from the Abraham religions (Jews, Christians, Muslims) to eastern philosophical religions (Tao, Buddah, Hindu) to religions of nature (Wicca, Shinto, Shamanism). It has always astounded me the ridiculous stereotypes that some people associate with each religion. So in a probably futile attempt, I'm going to try and educate people one fallacy at a time. And, if my friends and family have yet to kill anyone over religious differences (that even includes the fundementalists) why are so many people in world slaughtering each other, and why have they been since around 3000 b.c.?

From Gay marriage nationally, to the local debate over evolution, from deciding on the ceremony of my wedding, to thinking about what I want to teach my children about God, from the lady I work with who believes everyone in the office is condemned to hell besides her, to September 11th... something popped inside my head (it might even have been the voice of "God", or space aliens, or simple psychosis) and I decided to write the book. (It's not like I'm busy with my successful film career here in PA).

Anyway, I will probably post certain ideas or questions on the website from now on while writing and researching.

I might also throw a film review out there every now an then too. I'll try and post something once a week.

So, It was wonderful while it lasted... I hope it was as good for you as it was for me. :0P

Check back every now and then.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

20 Things for Me to See Before I Die

Just like VH1, I'm quite fond of lists... maybe it's the aging female in me. Anyway, during my unending boredom at work this morning. I decided to make a list of the places I would like to travel to before I die.

  1. Jerusalem (Israel, Middle East)
  2. Stonehenge, Dover Castle, & the British Isles (Europe)
  3. Serengeti National Park (Tanzania, Africa)
  4. The Great Buddha & Todaiji (Japan, Far East)
  5. Rome & Florence (Italy, Europe/ Mediterranean)
  6. The Giza Plateau (Egypt, Middle East)
  7. Angkor Watt (Cambodia, Central Asia)
  8. The Louvre & Versailles (France, Europe)
  9. Bhutan (Central Asia)
  10. The Parthenon (Greece, Europe/ Mediterranean)
  11. Petra (Jordan, Middle East)
  12. Bran Castle (Romania, Eastern Europe)
  13. Madagascar
  14. Monteverde Cloud Forest (Costa Rica, Central America)
  15. The Great Barrier Reef & Outback (Australia)
  16. Istanbul (Turkey, Eastern Europe/Middle East)
  17. Galapagos Islands, (Ecuador, South America)
  18. Victoria Falls (South Africa)
  19. Montana
  20. Tahiti, Bora Bora (French Polynesia)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

VILLAGE WEEK: The Texas Prince

[SPOILERS]
One of the 2 "twists" of The Village is the knowledge Ivy Walker (Howard) learns regarding "those we do not speak of." In fact they do not exist. As her father says, "it is a farce." The Elders of the village use bones, skins, and other natural materials to fashion boogeymen suits. Dressing up as the horrible creatures reinforces the myth of evil that lives in Covington Woods. The woods completely encircles the village. By using this fear through legend and eye witness reports, the elders ensure that no one will ever go exploring beyond the borders of the settlement. In turn, when those lacking fear have been so daring as to proceed beyond the boundaries, the boogeymen reek havoc (slaughtering the live stock), as retribution and reinforce the notion of fear.

In a tactic normally used by religion and often politico-religious positions, fear is used to acquire power and control of children, subjects, citizens, and worshipers. This tactic is completely antithetical to a "Free" society such as the one we have touted here in the United States (supposed separated from religion as well). Enter, the Texas Prince.

"Since it is difficult to join them together, it is safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking," Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532)
In January 2001, the second non elected man (Gerald Ford was No. 1) took the reigns of our country. How did he do it? Well, money, power, connections, and pure manipulation seam to dominated popular will rather easily. For more details, watch Fahrenheit 911.
The economy was tanking and Bush was on vacation, then September 11, 2001 changed everything. Everyone, including myself, was frightened, confused, angry, grieving, and flooded with an entire host of emotions having witnessed a horror we never in our worst dreams imagined. And what did our President do? (After telling us to shop) He told us to be afraid... to be very afraid and ultimately trust in him. Soon I was being frisked and fondled in airports, but I didn't mind because it was in the name of conserving freedom, right? Then came Mr. Ashcroft, and the Patriot act. Not to mention small town hysteria where Muslims were being attacked and turned into the FBI for suspicious activity. Least we forget the rollarcoaster of color Red Orange and Yellow. And then, then there were the "retaliation" and weapons of mass destruction theories used to justify some good ol' fashion revenge in a family feud.
"There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others, " The Prince
In the early part of the 16th Century, and Italian man, Niccolo Machiavelli, wrote the equivalent of "Political Ascension, Power, and Retention for Dummies." It was called The Prince. In the piece, Machiavelli lays out his amoral, calculating, manipulative philosophy for ruling a city-state, country, or world. While a leader may attain love, love does guarantee respect nor does it loyalty. You only have to take a simple look at an ex boy or girlfriend to understand that. So where does the power come from? Machiavelli I'm sure had only to look to the Roman Catholic Church or the gods of antiquity to find the answer. FEAR. The number one tenet was fear... ALWAYS be feared (but never be hated). Hate inspires... You must scare and give hope at the same time to avoid hate. Oppressed people will kill and revolt and tear down the walls of aristocracy fueled by hate (Bastille Day, anyone?). That is in essence the tenets of communism (good in theory/bad in practice).
Needless to say, The Prince has been a required political read for centuries as well as The Art of War (especially in the corporate world). And why? Because, quite simply, it often tends to work because while civilization may grow and evolve, human nature stays the same.
Do I think Bush is intelligent enough to discern the principal and teaching of Machiavelli... I highly doubted seeing he doesn't read the paper. But, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Papa Bush, these are men who no doubt poise their puppet prince for person gains in power and wealth. President George W. Bush believes he assumed power through divine right and therefore is infallible. It's great to have a president steadfast in his beliefs... But, what if he's wrong? In the end we are all just members of The Village, some of us can see through the woods while others are cowering in the basements hiding from "those we do not speak of."
Will there ever be a situation so shocking that would lead President Bush to say "It's all a farce." In The Village, it was a literal matter of life and death. Since the body bags are flowing through Dover, the value of life seams not enough to quell the ambitions of The Texas Prince.

Monday, August 02, 2004

POPCORN REVIEW: Entering "The Village"

Okay, first, I will try today to make a simple sweet and typical review of this film. Because, ocne you see The Village you'll understand it is simply not just a film (or maybe it will be just a film, in that case you will most likely hate it.) I would also like to preface this review by stating I'm am not, or I wasn't, the biggest Shyamalan fan out there. I liked The Sixth Sense, hated Unbreakable, and enjoyed signs. I always felt that his own ego detrimentally effected his art... and he reminded me of all the arrogant self important boys I went to college with... and I mean that in a bad way. Speaking of Tisch, If only I could watch this film with Richard "Tippi as a Bird" Allen. What I see most likely only scratches the surface of what Professor Allen could bring to light.

The Village, 11/10



Quite honestly, I think this is one of the most brilliant films I've ever seen. I loved it, but I completely understand why 99% percent of Americans, especially Pennsylvanians, will hate it. And those are the ones that won't even understand that the film is mocking them... okay, digressing already.

Back to the film. M. Night Shyamalan, a next generation auteur, delivers another film shot in a hi style manner without flashy FX or slick editing. The story itself is very simple: "Girl goes into Woods." If you were looking for the chills and thrills that Disney's advertising campaign promised... don't go. If you like your popcorn with a little substance... go tonight! This is not a thriller nor is it a horror movie. This film is as much about boogeymen as "The Crucible" is about witchcraft. The film is above everything beautiful, like watching old school Asian or French New Wave films can be.

The writing is odd and antiquated, but it makes sense after a viewing why the dialogue was so unnatural and the acting feeling amature.... Think high school students doing a play that was a cross between "Under the Elms" and "Antigone." The script itself was more a character of the film than a natural blueprint for the piece. The language is simply quite odd in the beginning, yet as the film develops, as do the characters, the uneasy awkwardness flows into normalcy. Yet, it never quite reaches "realism" which is what almost any script seamlessly strives for. If he only had Arthur Miller as the screenwriter. As an executive, I honestly and mistakenly, would have laughed and tossed this script... but Shyamalan knew what he was doing and makes it work.

As far as the cast, Bryce Dallas Howard (my dormmate from NYU) makes a splashing debut playing the blind heroine of this awkward tale. Her emotions are genuine and her ease with the at times ridiculous dialogue prove that she has nowhere to move but up. Joaquin Phoenix and Judy Greer deliver respectable performances that are at times scene stealing in there melodrama. Adrian Brody is either brilliant or dreadful, I still can't decide which... same as I can't decide if his character as the village idiot was creepy or comical. The rest of the cast was padding to these young actors. Nothing more than cameos really.

Roger Deakins, the most brilliant cinematographer working today (Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The House of Sand and Fog) canned another beautiful film. While not his greatest work, he tackeled with finese the difficulty of candlelight and darkness (one of the hardest techniques of cinematography) after a beautiful take on the extremely difficult black and white with The Man Who Wasn't There.

One of the stand out elements of the film were the costumes. The set looked like is was shot at my aunt's house (which happens to be right outside Philly too) so that element of production design, while appropriate, was nothing spectacular. The ;details of the Amish/Victorian costumes were well crafted and beautiful. The works are not flashy (normally my taste, like Chicago, Moulin Rouge, or Elizabeth), but in there also appropriate simpleness they are quite elegant.

Over all, I give this film an Spinal Tap 11 out of 10.

Like I said, that doesn't mean you will like it. To fully experience The Village, do not expect a horror film and be able to look through the stories and characters. Remember, it's titled The Village, not The Woods.

The Village Week: This film is a modern day medievel morality tale through and through. Within the simplistic story are layers upon layers of symbolism and commentary. Throughout the week I will be posting on the different threads of The Village, at least as how I saw them. I will appropriately mark any spoilers where they might occur.

Here's what you can be looking for:

Red & Yellow: It's not just for condements anymore.
Not Quite Amish in the City: Culture outside Philadelphia, Welcome to Dutch Wonderland.
The Texas Prince: The Current Political Climate through the use of Machiavellian Principals
From the Mouths of Babes: A Morality Tale for adults.
To Err is Human: The dark side of human nature.
Shepparding the Sheep: The need for religion, from Moses to today.