30 April 2006
  five reasons i love dame judi dench
1. she's the only reason i will probably see casino royale, the next james bond movie, now that pierce brosnan is history. i mean, not that i am a huge james bond fan or anything, but she is pretty sweet as bond's fuckin hardass boss M. i especially love the part in die another day when, after basically putting a hit out on pierce brosnan only to find out he was innocent, she only halfheartedly apologizes, sort of blaming everything on him. it is like she is almost too self-important to apologize to anyone. so cool.

2. she won an academy award for like 10 minutes of work. she is the only woman whose 10 minute performance could outshine others who act for hours. don't get me wrong shakespeare in love is one of the most sucktastic movies ever to win an award (ever). and it isn't like her role as queen elizabeth even closely compares to the best work she has done. but you have to give her props for winning for the shortest performance in oscar history.

3. the episode of the simpsons when they all go to london and homer goes through the drive thru at dame judi dench's fish and chips. (gawd that is effing funny). homer and the family drive up to the restaurant and he has to yell into judi dench's mouth. the guy taking the order tells him that if he doesn't order miss dench will hit him and then you hear the dame in the background getting angry. if there was a judi dench's fish and chips in tucson i would have to stop being vegetarian.

4. her sense of comedy. first of all there is the hilarious bbc series that she stars in. it is definitely hard to pass up at 2 in the morning when you are flipping past pbs. but frankly, it is the combination of her incredibly spartan demeanor with deliberately silly dialogue that makes me smile. i love in mrs. henderson presents when she is talking about the women in her stage show and their body hair. nobody has ever made the word pudenda more fun.

5. one word. dame. how much fun is it calling her "dame" judi dench. the answer? a lot.
28 April 2006
just saw this under the news section on imdb. the strangers with candy movie, whose release has been put off like a dozen times in the past year, is finally going to come out on june 28. (gosh the second half of 2006 is gonna be a great time for movies!). they also finally posted a short teaser trailer. you can see it here.
25 April 2006
  npr versus neoliberal media
gosh npr sure seems to be branching out into the world lately. first of all, now that he is no longer hosting "nightline," ted koppel is now contributing to a bunch of npr shows. then there was a recent announcement that my favorite program on npr, ira glass' "this american life" is being turned into a television series for showtime. also, of course, in about a month and a half the new robert altman movie based on garrison keillor's "a prairie home companion" is being released starring just about everyone in hollywood. this recent shift from the below-90 channels on fm radio to popular mass media is really conflicting for me.

on saturday i was listening to the pledge drive on npr and ira glass was giving this speech about how if you value something and benefit from it personally you should pay for it. he compared npr listeners to the one and a half million people who bought sirius radios after howard stern went satellite. he said that if npr listeners valued the station as much as howard stern listeners valued their self-proclaimed king of all media then they would all be willing to pay to continue to listen to the station. anyways, this whole speech made me really sad. i don't understand the logic that the only people who should benefit from truly valuable media are those who can afford to do so financially. the whole argument seems way to couched in neoliberalism for me.

frankly i don't think that there is any source of good, reliable, more or less unbiased news in the u.s. other than shows on npr (e.g. "all things considered," "the world," and "morning edition"). i read cnn.com a dozen times a day, watch nancy grace every night and probably catch news in hundreds of other places each week. but i am always suspect of the information i receive, except when I am listening to npr. for some reason, this media outlet has been able to escape the traps that have led cnn, msnbc, fox news and the new york times woefully into an inescapable pit of bias and misinformation. why is npr different? i think the reason lies in its status as a commercial free nonprofit enterprise.

so this is what disturbs me when i hear glass comparing npr to satellite radio (an unabashedly commercial enterprise.) i think npr should be different. it shouldn't rely on selling a product to its viewers the way that howard stern sells whatever it is he is producing. it should strive to stay out the grip of the neoliberals. If it becomes controlled by a conservative (or leftist) media logic that emphasizes the salability of the network's programming, rather than its quality, then it risks not being able to escape this trap. then it will become just another sick fascination for me like primetime on fox news, rather than a legitimate respectable source of information.

this leads me to a prairie home companion. i have been looking forward to this movie almost more than any other coming out this year. first of all i love garrison keillor and the npr show. the movie also stars a lot of people i really enjoy (meryl streep, lily tomlin, woody harrelson, virginia madsen, lindsay lohan and john c. reilly). and the trailer looks really great. you can see for yourself here. but i also fear that if npr producers start marketing shows like "companion" and "this american life" as profit building enterprises and start inviting formed bastions of the neoliberal media like koppel to participate in network programming, then the wall between npr and everyone else is starting to get a lot thinner from my perspective.
23 April 2006
  basic instinct, another eszterhas masterpiece

well since i have been writing about bad films i enjoy lately, OBVIOUSLY joe eszterhas has been on my mind. gawd i would like to get into that guy's mind. it must be like a nonstop orgy of cocaine-fueled lesbianic cunnilingus in there. hell yeah!

so this week i decided to go to blockbuster and rent basic instinct, something i almost never do. (i mean, it costs 4.50 to rent even OLD movies now. i could probably buy this one on amazon for 8). but john hadn't seen it and it had been a long time since i had watched and plus i was feeling eszterhasy so i went for it anyway. and i was glad i did. i forget what a told vacuous festival of rancid trash it is. and i also forgot that it is all so gawddamned entertaining.

so, as with other eszterhas/verhoeven concoctions (most notably the incomparable jesse spano masterpiece whose name not even need be mentioned) this film starts off with a certain formula. first you begin with some terrible actors who are willing to do just about anything on film because they are just that desperate for attention/money. then you train those actors to simultaneously exude sexy passion, anger and a callous disregard of the establishment. this is the expression that all actors will hold for the entire film. next you pepper the script liberally with extraneous, uninformed lesbian sex acts, usually in front of a virile male voyeur. and finally, you tie the whole story up with the big yellow ribbon that is the naked female genitalia. VOILA! a film is born.

in the case of basic instinct, as in all other eszterhas films, the story itself is pretty much absent and doesn't really deserve mention. but if there is a plot to this movie here it is. the guy that catherine trammel (sharon stone) is fucking (her words not mine) is killed and she becomes the lead suspect. however the guy working on the case (michael douglas) is a troubled cop in the whole "one more infraction and i'll have your badge, officer" kind of way. this leads to some wacky slip ups between the pair and of course, in the process he falls in love with her and they have wild violent totally disgusting sex, often in front of trammel's other lovers. (yeah this is normal behavior). what douglas finds out is that trammel is actually being framed for this murder and others by an acquaintance of his. . . or is she?

really though, you don't have to know any of this to enjoy this movie, as it is totally irrelevant. what you do need to know is that joe eszterhas has never had sex with a woman EVER. so what he has presented here is a tryptich of masterbatory fantasies in which sharon stone is splayed out in the most totally embarrassing ways for his own amusement. (do you think her mom ever watched this? dear lord). and the final result is a convoluted melange of sexually imagery (she allegedly committed the murders with an icepick of all things, which she always carries around with her), superfluous violence, and bisexuality. SCORE!

here is why i like this movie. well, first of all sharon stone is freakin hillarious in regards to the fact that she appears to be having a single protracted orgasm throughout the entire film. i love how she is constantly talking about how she likes to experience pleasure (she says this like a dozen times). WE GET IT SHARON. YOU LIKE TO GET OFF. and i have no problem with her having sex with women. that is cool. i mean i am not into it but more power to her. but what is fucking funny is how she only ever dykes it up when there are other people around watching. do girls really act like this? i mean i know they do in girls gone wild videos, but i have never seen it personally.

i can't imagine how eszterhas and verhoeven gets financing to make these movies. i have no idea why people act in them. but i am damn glad they do, because they make for some great cinematic accompaniment to my popcorn and red wine.

sadly, i had every intention of going to see the sequel so i could post about its hilarity, but i kept putting it off and now it isn't playing in tucson anymore. so hopefully it will come back to the discount theater next week and i will let you all know about trammell's latest lesbianic sexcapades.
12 April 2006
  the da vinci code: countdown minus 38 days
so who is totally psyched about the da vinci code movie!?! i finally read the book a couple weeks ago after it came out on paperback. john is in the middle of it now. but we are both totally hooked. i am in the process of looking into how you join that whole priory of sion thing. i think i would be a good addition, don't you (maybe i could even be a senechaux?)

anyways, if you haven't read the book, READ IT. it is one of the most entertaining terrible books i have ever read. i mean, i know it isn't like quality literature or anything, but you won't be able to put it down. sure it might be plagiarized. sure it is mostly lies. sure the movie has forrest gump in it. but if you look past that, you will find the beauty that is inherent in murder and religious fanaticism.

also, if you haven't seen the trailer, here it is. but don't watch it until after you have read the book. (as a general rule, i hate watching a movie based on a book until after i have read it. that's why i haven't seen the harry potter movies yet). still, even the trailer gives me chills. i love the part when tom hanks throws the cryptex up in the air. i can't wait to see the whole scene.
10 April 2006
  My Movie Buff Quiz
Neener, I got 90.
09 April 2006
  movie buff meme
i found this on a couple people's pages when i was reading blogs this afternoon so i have no idea who to cite. if you have seen 70 out of 200 of these you are deemed a true movie buff (albeit a decidedly 21st century one). Number the ones you've seen. my number? exactly 70. i just made it. (unfortunately, most of these movies suck hard)

(1) Rocky Horror Picture Show(2) Grease(3) Pirates of the Caribbean() Boondock Saints() The Mexican() Fight Club() Starsky and Hutch(4) Neverending Story() Blazing Saddles() Airplane

(5) The Princess Bride() Young Frankenstein() AnchorMan: The Legend of Ron Burgundy(6) Napoleon Dynamite(7) Saw() White Noise() White Oleander() Anger Management() 50 First Dates() Jason X

(8) Scream(9) Scream 2(10) Scream 3(11) Scary Movie() Scary Movie 2() Scary Movie 3() American Pie() American Pie 2() American Wedding() Harry Potter

() Harry Potter 2() Harry Potter 3() Harry Potter 4() Resident Evil I() Resident Evil 2() The Wedding Singer() Little Black Book() The Village() Donnie Darko(12) Lilo & Stitch

() Finding Nemo(13) Finding Neverland() 13 Ghosts(14) Signs(15) The Grinch Who Stole Christmas(16) Texas Chainsaw Massacre() White Chicks() Butterfly Effect() Thirteen Going on 30() I, Robot

() Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story() Universal Soldier() A Series Of Unfortunate Events() Along Came Polly(17) Deep Impact(18) KingPin(19) Never Been Kissed() Meet The Parents() Meet the Fockers() Eight Crazy Nights

() A Cinderella Story() The Terminal() The Lizzie McGuire Movie() Passport to Paris() Dumb & Dumber() Dumb & Dumberer() Final Destination() Final Destination 2(20) Halloween(21) The Ring

() The Ring 2() Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle() Practical Magic(22) Chicago() Ghost Ship() From Hell() Hellboy() Secret Window() I Am Sam()The Whole Nine Yards

(23) The Day After Tomorrow(24) Child's Play() Bride of Chucky(25) Ten Things I Hate About You () Just Married() Gothika(26) Nightmare on Elm Street(27) Sixteen Candles(1) Coach Carter () Bad Boys

() Bad Boys 2(28) Joy Ride(29) Se7en(30) Oceans Eleven(31) Ocean's Twelve() Identity() Lone Star(32) Bedazzled() Predator I() Predator II

(33) Independence Day () Cujo() A Bronx Tale() Darkness Falls() Christine(34) ET(35) Children of the Corn() My Boss' daughter() Maid in Manhattan() Frailty

() Best Bet() How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days(36) She's All That () Calendar Girls(37) Sideways() Mars Attacks() Event Horizon(38) Ever After (39) Forrest Gump() Big Trouble in Little China

() X-Men() X-2() Jeepers Creepers() Jeepers Creepers 2() Catch Me If You Can(40) The Others() Freaky Friday() Reign of Fire(41) Cruel Intentions() The Hot Chick

() Swimfan() Miracle() Old School() The Notebook() K-Pax(42) Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring() Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers() Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King() A Walk to Remember() Boogeyman

() Hitch() The Fifth Element() Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace() Star Wars Episode II Attack of The Clones() Star Wars Episode III Revenge of The Sith() Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope() Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back() Star Wars Episode VI Return of The Jedi(43) Troop Beverly Hills() Swimming with Sharks

(44) Air Force One(1) For Richer or Poorer(45) Trainspotting() People Under the Stairs() Blue Velvet(46) Sound of Music(47) Parent Trap 1(48) Parent Trap 2(49) The Burbs() The Terminator

(50) Empire Records() SLC Punk() Meet Joe Black (51) Nightmare Before Christmas(52) The Silence of the Lambs() Sleepy Hollow() I Heart Huckabees() 24 Hour Party People() Blood In Blood Out(53) The Virgin Suicides

(54) Space Balls() Big Fish(55) Titanic(56) Mulan() Mulan 2(57) Cold Mountain(58) Moulin Rouge () Kung Pow, Enter The Fist (59) As Good As It Gets(60) Hannibal

() The Exorcist() The Exorcist: The Beginning() The Exorcism Of Emily Rose() Dead Poet's Society() Patch Adams(61) Fern Gully(62) Cool Runnings(63) Austin Powers 1(64) Austin Powers 2(65) Austin Powers 3

(1) Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story() Shrek 1() Shrek 2() 2001: A Space Odyessy(66) The English Patient() Phonebooth(67) This Is Spinal Tap(68) Edward Scissor Hands(69) The Sixth Sense(70) Flight Plan
08 April 2006
  the hills have eyes and other bad movies i enjoy

so on wednesday john had a really bad day at work so when he got home i decided to take him out to watch a really bad movie to cheer him up. you know how that works-- sometimes when you are feeling bad it makes you feel good to make fun of others. i wanted to go see sharon stone make a fool out of herself in basic instinct 2, but john and i eventually compromised on the wes craven zombie remake the hills have eyes. and it more than fulfilled my expectations. it was so freakin terrible that it ended up being crazy entertaining.

it's important to make a distinction between unwatchable bad movies and entertaining bad movies. the hills have eyes falls into the latter category. this is primarily because it has absolutely no plot whatsoever. the movie begins with some nuclear mutants tearing apart and eating some government workers. it continues with almost two hours of nuclear mutants tearing apart and eating passerbys. and it ends with an exciting chase in which. . . you guessed it, nuclear mutants tear apart more people. . . AND EAT THEM. you can't go wrong with that!

needless to say, watching a bunch of deformed nuclear desert mutants chowing down on a family of east coast tourists more than cheered up john and i. my favorite part was when the local gas station attendant, fearful of an imminent nuclear mutant onslaught blows his head off with a shot gun. (gawd that was so fuckin' cool.) it also got me to thinking about a lot of other really bad movies that i really enjoy. here are some great bad movies (other than showgirls) that are guaranteed to cheer you up.

1. urban legends. when i was in high school my girlfriend darshana and i used to take turns playing the noxema girl when we reenacted the scene where she jumps out of the bed and knocks out alicia witt (you know, when her hair gets all big and frizzy). this movie is my favorite unintentionally (maybe intentionally?) funny horror movie. the basic theme: that noxema bitch is frickin unkillable. i mean they throw her through a glass window and off a bridge and she just floats away unscathed. what an amazing chick:)

2. cube and cube zero (but not hypercube). all three of these movies essentially take place in one small cube shaped room. in cube, a group of people wake up in the room and they have to figure out how to get out of it as a group. it is a sci fi movie, and it seems that the government has imprisoned the people in the cube as some sort of military experiment. why are these movies so funny? the acting is so fuckin' terrible that you can't watch them without cracking up. (holloway's speech about pierogies is one of john and i's most frequently quoted). still, i can't include hypercube (the second in the trilogy) in this category, because it is actually pretty good.

3. a chorus line. this is without a doubt the worst movie musical ever made. i especially love big tough mysterious michael douglas as the brooding musical director overcome with drama. i don't think he honestly smiles once in the entire movie; he is so overwhelmed with ennui. still it would be impossible to leave this movie not humming the songs in your head. (i even bought the soundtrack!)

4. spongebob squarepants: the movie. how cute is this movie. basically, this film has no plot other than to see how many guest stars they can cram into a 90 minute episode of spongebob. i love when spongebob and patrick sing the goofy goober song and then they get drunk on iced cream. i also love how they got scarlet johanssen to be in this piece of crap. this is definitely one of the only legitimately cheerful movies john and i own.

5. mommy dearest. in a role that elizabeth berkeley and gina gershon could only ever wish to fill, faye dunaway is fuckin' genius as joan crawford. if you haven't seen this i just feel sorry for you, especially since it is on cable like every other day. everyone knows the line where faye dunaway beats her daughter with a wire hanger, but there are plenty of great scenes. (my favorite: when dunaway is at the pepsi board meeting and she tells her new husband "tear down that bitch of a wall!") this is the pinnacle of melodrama.

6. troop beverly hills. john and i watch this movie entirely too much for two 23-year old men. shelly long is the new troop leader for a girl scouts-esque group of beverly hills preteens. of course, they are all terrible at outdoorsy stuff so she invents new patches for things like diamond appraisal and shopping. this is one of my favorite feel good movies but is admittedly terrible, even when judged solely on the basis of its fashion directing:)
07 April 2006
  manderlay (!)

so here is a brief narrative of the past year of my life:

--may 16-- lars von trier's new film manderlay, the sequel to his incomparable dogville, has its debut at cannes and i anxiously await seeing it in what i hope will be a month or two.

--june 3-- the film is released in von trier's home turf, denmark. quickly following that it is released in russia, the rest of eastern europe and scandinavia.

--november 10-- film released in germany, already released in france and most of the rest of europe. i finally give up on it ever being release in the u.s. await dvd.

--january 27-- hurrah! in a surprise twist of fate, manderlay hits u.s. theaters (one of the last countries in which it is released).

--january, february, march-- the film sees theaters in a couple cities in the u.s. but doesn't come to phoenix or tucson. luke is sad. apparently von trier's reputation precedes him.

--march 16-- out of the blue, manderlay finally shows in tucson, luke and john finally get to see it and the prophecy is fulfilled:)

anyways, manderlay is definitely the movie i have been most looking forward to seeing over the past year. i have seen everything lars von trier has ever done (at least everything that you can get in the u.s.) he is effing amazing. i especially love dogville, but also dancer in the dark and breaking the waves. his most famous theme?: what is wrong with people in the u.s. that is why he is so unpopular in the states, but it is also why he is so amazing. someone who has never lived in the u.s. captures the "american" spirit in a way that no other filmmaker has ever been able to do.

in manderlay, grace stumbles upon a town in 1930s alabama where the residents apparently never experienced the civil war and continue to practice slavery. she instantly deposes the white plantation family and proceeds to instruct the now former slaves on how to live as free beings. at the center of the film is a text called "mam's log" that describes each of the black people on the plantation according to a personality diagram (e.g. clownin' n*****, pleasin' n*****, etc.) in the end, in a typical von trier-esque twist of fate, this personality types come back to haunt grace when she finds out that these aren't necessarily the constructs the blacks are thrust into, but rather those they strive to achieve.

yes it is complicated and yes it is controversial, but it wouldn't be as perfect if it weren't. i can't tell you too much about the plot, because not only would it give away what happens in manderlay, but what happens in dogville too. if you want to see the former i think your time has run out, so you will have to wait for the eventual video release, but you can and should go get the latter. you will be stunned by it. i am sure.

dogville and manderlay are the first two parts of von trier's usa: land of opportunities trilogy. (the third part is the possible eventual wasington). the most conspicuously interesting feature of these movies is that they are filmed on an empty soundstage. that is, there is no scenery at all, just blackness and chalk outlines where certain set features should be like walls, doors, trees and dogs. the absence of scenery makes it that much more amazing that you can sit riveted to a two and a half hour long movie that is composed solely of dialogue.

another amazing thing about this movie is bryce dallas howard as grace. nicole kidman played grace in dogville, and i won't argue that howard even comes close to matching her, but she surprised me as being eminently sufficient. in fact i really didn't miss kidman at all. howard (incidentally ron howard's daughter) is beautiful and interesting and i can't wait to see her in more things.

granted you will leave both of these films feeling decidedly unpatriotic, but maybe that isn't such a bad thing. i think that lack of available real honest media portrayals of "americans" and "america" in the u.s. sort of necessitates that we look outside the states for unbiased views and information. i think that after you see manderlay, you will understand this country and its policies towards minorities (and maybe even gays) in a completely new light. i will be surprised and impressed if this isn't my favorite movie of 2006.
Luke and John talk about movies

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