Monday, January 03, 2005

Back in Olympia. I have a decent amount to talk about, kind of, in that if I had access to a computer I would've written about a ton of shit. But instead, I'll just talk about movies.

I saw House Of Flying Daggers today, with my dad. And let's just say I have no interest in seeing Hero. It's got some moments... There's a fight scene with bamboo that owns Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's fight scene with bamboo. The ending scene cuts away to a shot of soldiers that imply a BIG FIGHT on the horizon that never comes because the ending scene tells the story the director wanted to tell, and a battle between the House Of Flying D aggers and the government isn't the focus of the story... It's just the setting where all of the plot points come from. Well, not all of the plot points. Most of them. At least one comes from the love story that is, I guess, the story's plot. There's also CGI shots of daggers and arrows going through the air. No wire-fighting, though.

New year's eve I saw The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Which... it's really very good. Weird in that the reviews seem to miss the point of Wes Anderson... For fuck's sake, he's NOT ABOUT the set design. I mean, he likes it. But that's not what his stories are about, ever, and that includes this one. The most important thing about this movie, moreso than how awesome everything looks, (and it does look awesome, and if you try to hold that against the movie, you're a dick) or the artifice of moviemaking, (there's some moments that are intentionally over-the-top but I took them at face value, it's a goddamn movie and the over-the-top moments are good ones, awesome ones, tongue in cheek or no) is the characters. Which should be fucking obvious for people who've watched Wes Anderson movies before. This is another one of those movies that's an ensemble piece where every character has reasons and emotions and is sympathetic. There are also stop-motion crazy-looking crabs and seahorses. The set design is amazing. But the only way that should get in the way of your enjoyment is if it's all your paying attention to, because you're a dumb fuck. Okay, yes, movie critics: It's an easy criticism to throw at Wes, that all he cares about is art direction, especially in this movie, where the visuals are so much more intentionally spectacular. Whatever. I figure people will get over their complaints the more they watch it. The first time they watch it, they see the easy jokes and the set design. Which is a surface reading, and is really the main thing you pick up the first time through most Anderson movies. The second time the characters come through more and the smaller stuff is funnier. This is true for pretty much all of his movies, yes?

The night before I watched The Life Aquatic, I saw The Harryhausen Chronicles, which got me psyched on stop-motion. Stop-motion's so goddamn awesome. I prefer it to CGI in terms of interaction with live-action. Harryhausen points out that one the cool things about stop-motion is that it doesn't look perfect, and this aspect is what lends a dream-like quality as it interacts with real people. Makes sense. The Harryhausen Chronicles is pretty great, a documentary about Ray Harryhausen. His work is so time-consuming, and he has all of these unfinished projects, which might be sad for him, but is amazing as a testament to the man's creative powers.

I saw Anchorman on DVD, which was pretty damn funny. I saw the uncensored version, but there's not a lot there that would've needed to be cut... One scene. I didn't get to see the bonus disc with another feature-length movie on it, but that's probably pretty great. The commentary track's kind of funny: The movie itself is rarely addressed, and the commentary features people not involved with the movie in any way. Like Lou Rawls. Awesome.

My brother also rented the SNL best of Christopher Walken, which is a weird thing to exist. The more recent seasons are kind of over-represented (cowbell sketch is one thing, other stuff is considerably weaker) but they still leave out the thing where Walken is a doctor and Will Ferrell is a patient with a badger in his ass. But there is a brilliant sketch I'd never seen before with Tim Meadows as a census-taker, which I highly recommend.

Other comedies include The Jerk, which I had never seen. Do I need to say that the Jerk is good? I don't think I do.

My brother wanted me to watch Freaked, and holy living christ is that a bad comedy. Wow. Made in 1993. The funniest part of it is Bobcat Goldthwair, doing schtick not entirely dissimilar to his character on Unhappily Ever After. Mean-spirited frat boy garbage. A character wears a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt... My brother's current girlfriend has fond memories of watching it on USA Up All Night. I seriously can't imagine someone finding this funny. You know the episode of South Park with the title Do The Retarded Go To Hell? To find this movie funny you'd have to be both retarded and soulless. That's a twofer of going to hell.

Cannibal! The Musical is pretty funny. A lot less cannibalism than you'd expect. Actually I'm not so sure this one was funny, but I laughed at it once or twice at parts I can't remember. It's enjoyable. Unlike Freaked.

I finally saw Eraserhead, and I laughed more at Eraserhead than I did at Freaked. This is to say it got out like three small exhalations of air that were faintly laughter-like. Eraserhead isn't mind-blowing. It's very "arty." It had moments I liked. Not the best David Lynch, and probably not even important to see in terms of his overall work... Really, I think of the main body of work being everything from Blue Velvet on. Eraserhead is a long student film and Dune and The Elephant Man are done to get paid.

The Saddest Music In The World is kind of dull. It's stylistically interesting and it's got some funny moments, but at one point I looked over to see that my brother's girlfriend had fallen asleep, and that made a lot of sense to me. It's not a bad movie, but I wouldn't recommend seeing it to most people.

I watched Cinema Paradiso and didn't dig it. Although I realized in the middle of it that Evie was in France and that I had forgotten about this completely the time I called her to bitch about New Jersey. A dumb thought, but that conversation would've hit upon an obvious contrast that being in France is considerably preferable to being in one's parent's house in New Jersey.

The reasons for winter break being kind of weak will not be discussed here, for now I am back in Olympia were such things don't matter that much to me. I don't need the therapy. I figure movie reviews might actually be helpful to people.

Although: My brother's house, where I spent my second week, is unheated. Because of this, it is very cold.

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