Sunday, February 24, 2008

Real Top Ten

Just in time for the Oscars. I went to the AMC all day screening of the five Best Picture nominees yesterday. What a weird mess that was. It was cool, don't get me wrong, getting to see all five movies in a row and survive off mall food, sugar, and caffeine. But the crowd was not what I expected. Instead of raving film geeks eager to watch some of the best films from the year, it was mostly fat, middle-aged suburbanites looking to save a buck on their inevitably empty Saturday. After "There Will Be Blood," one of the fatter loudmouths got up at the end and said loudly enough so that all could hear, "I could have made that movie into five minutes" and then to her friend, "Thanks for not making me feel retarded. Terrible movie! Terrible!"

I had my own quiet revenge as the print for "Juno" was abysmal and blurry, thus ruining everyone's stupid fun. Plus, we all got free passes out of it. At the end, after Tommy Lee Jones recounts his highly important, metaphorical dream from "No Country for Old Men," the audience burst into angry interjections of "What!?" and "Ughhh!," a girl behind me declared "I'm never doing this again," and a man said, "One and a half out of five." His wife, presumably, said, "You give it 1/2 out of 5?" And he said, "No. One and a half out of the five movies was good." What a stupid fat shit. YOU CLEARLY DON'T ENJOY FILM, SO WHY BOTHER SEEING FIVE OF THE YEAR'S BEST IN A ROW????????

1. There Will Be Blood
2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
3. Zodiac
4. King of Kong
5. Michael Clayton
6. Into the Wild
7. Hot Fuzz
8. Paris Je T'aime
9. Control
10. Ratatouille

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Woman Under the Influence

I'm still slowly making my way through the John Cassavettes boxset I got two Christmases ago (nothing to speak of for the film noir boxset and the Hitchcock boxset from so long ago that I'm still working on). I sat down with a chai tea latte and watched "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974).

The most striking thing about the film is the idea of perception, being how society views behavior and how it labels that behavior. Gena Rowlands plays Mable, who's a very sweet, whimsical, although childish, mother. At first, she seems a bit overwound, but as the film moves forward, we see that her behavior is out of step with how we expect her to react. While it is odd, her behavior certainly is malevolent, just naive attempts at fun or humor. The point at which they're deemed unacceptable is announced by her husband, played by Peter Falk, often in the form of a loud reprimand.

At one point, he brings home a group of coworkers for lunch/dinner after a night shift. She doesn't introduce herself with a "Hello" or "My name is..." but instead asks, "Would you like some spaghetti?" Later at the dinner table, she begins asking the coworkers at random what their names are, and she asks one of the men to stand up and dance. He replies shyly, saying "No, I don't want to" or "I don't think so." Saying no but being pleasant and gentle about it.

It's at this point that Peter Falk tells her to "Sit your ass down!" that the scene becomes uncomfortable. The moment prior to this has tension, but it's benign, and we assume that she would have eventually given up asking the man to dance. But it's the declaration of Peter Falk that something extremely out of line and socially unacceptable is taking place. And I think there's weight and history behind the way he says it. It's not a sudden anger, but one that's always ready to surface in Falk's character. While he loves his wife and cares for her, it's the years of tension built from people asking what's wrong with his wife and dealing with her behavior that create this fury that can lash out and bring Mable back to Earth.

And this is no justification for his behavior. He often goes too far, screaming to the point of discomfort. And yet his wife's sanity is on the line, not his, because anger is an acceptable emotion, even in these extreme amounts. No matter how hot-tempered he gets, no one would say he's the one who's crazy. Her socially awkward behavior is what's under scrutiny because that's more unfamiliar, and we're not quite sure how to react to it. Anger makes more sense, in some regard, and becomes easier to react to and deal with. But the film shows clearly the damage involved in defaulting to anger to grapple with normalcy and acceptability.


This is the loveliest article I've ever read on the semicolon:

Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location

The whimsy and sort of nerdy joy celebrated in the article reminded me of my own nerdy joy. If watching films, reading film news, and writing about them were a paying job not coveted by every Ain't It Cool News reader who posts "First!," then life would be easier. Lately, a grain of thought that's been working in my mind is that I'm sick of waiting on a job or waiting to rely on a job like that. Obviously, if one were hired into that sort of ideal position, then that would be just perfect because it's just sitting there for you. But since that's an instance of waitin' and wishin', I dunno...I admire entrepreneurship. That's one of the things I most admire about Twinhead is their sort of natural camaraderie that comes from just wanting to do and create, and how work just blossoms from that desire.

I would definitely like this blog to become more geared towards production and following that along. I meant to take pictures during the shooting for "Are You the Love of My Life?" but next time, whatever we end up shooting this Friday.

In other news, I have been suddenly overtaken by chai tea lattes. Despite all of her efforts and orders of them, Katie hadn't converted me. No, it was a free sample in a box of Celestial Seasonings Green Tea and the adding of soy milk. It's not as harsh as getting a coffee and it puts me at ease, which I think is better for me. I love being fucking pepped up and going, but too many things can get distracting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

No, I discount Kroger!

So the other day Katie and I were looking for a bottle of wine, and when decided whether to get the 750 ml bottle or the 1.5 liter bottle, I noticed this strange discrepancy. Do you see it?

Without the Kroger discount, the larger bottle is the better value ($15.33 per liter). But with the discount, suddenly the 750 ml bottle is 67 cents cheaper per liter ($11.99 vs. $12.66). If you bought two of the smaller discounted bottles, thus equaling 1.5 liters, you'd be $1.02 richer than if you had bought the discounted 1.5 liter bottle. Wow, I know. I was amazed, too.

Sleep with one eye open Kroger, I'm watching you!


We are back from New Zealand. Every time we would tell someone, particularly New Zealanders, that we were only staying for a week, they'd say, "Only a week?" And we'd go "Blah blah we only have so much vacation time." And after the trip was over, I thought a week was definitely the right amount of time. Now looking back (all the way back an entire week) I think a week was short only in that I can't fully wrap my head around all we did. Still reeling from Arthur's Pass, which was definitely the highlight of the trip and featured the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. Sorry Sylva, NC. You're now a close second.

There is much to say about our trip, too much for one post. So, I'll probably break into up into a million smaller posts to give them their proper attention.

Maybe the air in New Zealand was too clean (and it really was. It was incredibly refreshing, and Christchurch was probably the cleanest city I've been in. Despite that, I still thought it was gross that people were walking around barefoot.), but within a few days, I have managed to get both strep throat AND the flu. It sucks, but on the upside Katie and I get to stay in and watch movies all day.

And I might spend more of today watching this:

Lost Theme Song