Monday, August 31, 2009


I was looking over my recent blogs, specifically the more rant-related ones , and realized that to a certain degree I’ve become an octogenarian in this blogworld. My blog, aside from all that wacky movie stuff, has basically become a series of “letters” penned to a variety of companies that have, in one way or another, spited me. In return these companies, strangely enough, have responded to me in some way or another with offers of help, or in terms of the zealots over at Greenpeace, stern reprimands.

Seriously, I could be caning my way in to a McDonalds and complaining that the coffee’s too hot, and the hashbrown wedge is too damn expensive. I could be lifting my pleated, sky-blue pants to my belly-button and typing out a letter to a cereal company ‘cause there wasn’t enough raisins in my bran flakes.

I’m sure this is something I learned from my mother, as I can vividly remember an altercation at The Embassy Suites in Lynnwood, Washington, and my fireplug of a madre responding in kind with a berating letter … a berating letter that netted her two free nights at said trashily-fancy establishment.

In my early days of blogging, I was once to referred to by a cynical co-worked as a “poor man’s Mickey Rooney” which seemed nice at the time as Mickey Rooney is connected in my brain as “vaguely famous”. Later I looked up Mickey Rooney and just found a washed up old man ranting on and on about street signs and diapers. Not exactly what I dreamed of being compared to when growing up, but hell, I could probably do worse.

I don’t really know where this scree of ranting is going. I was just thinking the other morning, over a bowl of pureed figs and Ovaltine, that I’ve always been a complainer, and that this blog could probably be seen as just a laundry list of my complaints, and as I’m getting older, it’s probably marking me as a crotchety old man of sorts. I thought this and then sort of shrugged and thought, “not bad.”

That’s what I was thinking..


I watched Saving Private Ryan this weekend on my day off and had a few quick thoughts:

1. If you were a male actor and you had even the slightest bit of clout in the industry in 1997, you were in this movie. Sure you might’ve been Ted Danson or Paul Giamatti and played faceless XO that somehow interacted with Tom Hanks, but if you weren’t a part of this film, you probably should’ve been hunting for a new agent.

2. This has to be the most overblown film made during the 1990s. Steven Spielberg just can’t help himself, every shot is huge, every moment epic, every scene filled with exactly one million extras. I want someone to take away his big budget, put him on a soundstage with a closet full of props ten actors and tell him to make a fucking movie. I think it’d be good for him.

3. Tom Hanks is great. Yup, say what you will about some of his film choices, but the man is one of the great actors of his time. His character in this film is a man broken by way, stretched so thin that he’s literally shaking his way to the grave. And you can see it in every wrinkle of Hank’s everyman face. He’s just like us, a teacher in a small town forced in to the war, and he’s given everything he has and they just keep asking for more. I often as I found myself drawn away from this movie by all the crosses and American flags, I kept finding myself drawn back by Mr. Hanks.

4. Good grief, if I ever hear another batch of swelling strings indicating a dramatic moment, I might just snap. Spielberg absolutely loves himself a leit-motif (thank you Alex Healy for the correction of my butchered phrase-work) and they pop up just about every moment someone’s going to catch hot lead or when a story about home is about to pop up. I found myself dreading the violin’s twang.

5. Nonetheless, I like myself a war movie. This is the second time I’ve sat through this film, the first with my sophomore girlfriend Rachel Leibold (all I remember is her flat iron bangs and a lot of sleepy explosions). If I can sit through this ball ‘o’ corn twice, I must like something about sweaty, dirty men killing Nazis.

Tuesday: Similar thoughts on Inglourious Basterds

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The best comment ever and L'AVVENTURA (98)

Perhaps you remember from a few days back, I wrote THIS little angry blurb about the state of internet in our fair country. The crippling, needy hands of the major corporations that have taken away a God-given right and colonized it in to cyber-secure web territories turning us, interweb lovers, against one another.

Because of the faceless nature of such corporations I thought my rant would spear in to the darkness of the interwebs, never to be seen again, just one more angry laser beam idly floating about out there.

That is, until I got this comment on said rant yesterday:

For of War? Hmnn... This is the first time I am hearing about that.

I am sorry for the trouble with your internet. I hope the coffee was at least good at the cafe!

I am sorry you had to go there to access the internet.
I work for Comcast. I'd like to help in getting the internet restored for you. Please send me the phone number on the account so that I can assist.

Mark Casem Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations

WHAT!?! SAY HUH!?! I blindly thrust my sword in to the beast that is Comcast and what spills out but an actual response from a real person somehow unclogged from the tubes of corporate bureaucracy. And not just that, but a friendly, inquiring bit of correspondence actually seeking to help me with my problems.

Sadly, I've already dropped Comcast like a bad habit, but Mark, sweet Mark, I appreciate your kindness, your ability to step out from the shadow of Papa Comcast and try to help lil' old me with my internet woes.

L'Avventura (98) you are a film I could barely understand. I don't know if it's my natural aversion to recently deceased Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni, but I sat through this strange, slightly moving film last night, and came out of it shockingly confused to as what I'd just witnessed.

Here's a few of my addled thoughts on it:

1. Who is Monica Vitti?

This thought was first posited because I couldn't figure out which painfully attractive Italian woman was the world-famous Monica Vitti. The charming blonde or the snake-eyed brunette, both had leading lady looks, but neither jumped out as the star of the film. As the film progresses, and one lady goes missing, it becomes apparent, thus my second thought became "Who is Monica Vitti?" As in, how have I gone this long without perusing every film her gorgeous mug has ever graced? Lord knows.

2. Brown-haired lady = evil snake-eyes; blonde-haired lady = sweet and charming

Yup, I'm observant like that. Though, I truly think that the color of their hair becomes as important a symbol in this film as anything else.

3. I've seen this film before and I still can't remember what it's about.

This is probably because this is a confusing, long film and I probably spent most of my first perusal asleep or surfing the 'net. I've seen the film twice now and still probably can't tell you what happens between minute 30 and the two-hour mark. It's just that kind of movie.

4. Island = purgatory

This film revolves around a rich lady gone missing and the search for her and all the craziness that happens to her sister and former lover during that search. There's an island, a craggy rocky mess, where she disappears that becomes a sort of greying purgatory where her rich friends are stranded for the first hour. There's creepy shots of water and mountains and falling boulders. For some reason my stomach lurched a bit during the whole forty-five minutes spent on this rock. Maybe I have an aversion to rocky outposts.

5. Why do they care?

The lady that goes missing, Anna (Lea Massari), is pretty much a snake-eyed devil woman. She plays with the mind of both her friends and her lovers and as the movie progresses with her disappeared, we learn more and more how lame she always has been. But her absence creates the space in which these characters grow. With her gone, characters fall in love, her best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) literally starts to fill her space, and the world teeters awkwardly on its emotional hinges. But in the end, things are changed, but still the same, and as Claudia and Sandro (Anna's lover played by Gabriele Ferzetti) sit on an empty bench staring blankly out at nothing, you wonder, is Anna's disappearance a catalyst for further change or just another flash in the pan.

6. Escape

The feeling I kept getting as I watched this film was that Anna was sort of a form of imprisonment for Claudia. That her presence kept her back, kept her in the shadows, forced her to the side, the lady always in waiting. But with her gone, Claudia not only has a chance to find herself, but to see how vastly she differs from the world she thought was hers. In her search for Anna, she discovers herself, and to some degree her love for Sandro, and starts the process of escaping from the grips of the society and familial trappings she's become such a part of. Sadly, though there are moments when Claudia does find absolute escape with Sandro, at the end of the film she's still racked with the fear of Anna's presence in both her and Sandro's life. And when she stumbles upon Sandro in the fervent embrace of a half-naked Anna-lookalike, it seems too much. Again, Sandro and Anna stare out from the bench, bereft of emotion, and you wonder, is Claudia's new found independence a fleeting thing?

Everytime I sit down and write about this film, I feel pretty good about it, but every time I've watched it I just feel confused. Damn you Italians!

Friday: A Inglourious Basterds/Saving Private Ryan double-feature!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I hate you Comcast and FOG OF WAR

I hate you Comcast, and by Comcast I mean all of you giant overbearing corporate internet/phone mongering sum'bitches. I hate each and all of you with a special bit of anger I reserve only for those who blatantly drink the general public to ensure they can continue to sleep on beds made of diamonds.

Here's my question: why isn't internet free? Why aren't we all sitting on street corners or at bars or on remote hills, laptops flipped open, enjoying the benefit of the overarching web of free interwebs that embraces us all? Because Comcast and the rest of these big, greedy, assholes know that if everything was free, they'd have a nth of their yearly net gain shaved off and some CEO wouldn't be able to take his mistress to Cancun for her birthday.

Thus, they've tricked us, meanly and without remorse. They've told us that there are hackers and dangerous web criminals out there looking to chop in to our personal computers and drop viruses and steal precious information and that because of these bad seeds we must encrypt our internet. We must throw a password on the free flowing world of the webs so these "criminals" can't look at our flickr accounts and our myspace pages.

In truth though, Comcast and the rest of these heavies just want to build walls, so you and I and the neighbor down the hall can't legally share with each other. As it always seems the more powerful have erected the walls in this newly forged world, and as always, it pisses me off.

And that's why I'm sitting at some cheese-dick, Tom-Jones-playin', cafe right now and not in the comfort of my own home. As my internet is broke and I can't steal from the neighbors. Blast you Comcast.

I think the Oscars were wrong. I'm glad several years ago my favorite documentarian Errol Morris walked away with the gold for Fog of War, his two hour interview with recently deceased former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. The man's been putting out the best documentaries around for years and Jesus, it's nice to see him get a little credit.

But, I just don't think Fog of War is that great of a film. Yes, it's above and beyond each and every documentary released that year, but in terms of Morris' amazing repertoire of films, it's a bottom feeder for me. The premise: Morris explores the history of America (the more warlike aspects of the country that is) throug the eyes of the exceptionally entertaining and well-spoke McNamara. It's an exceptionally long First Person in truth, a beautifully shot interview interspersed with archival footage as well as Morris' trademark artfully put together reenactments.

And sure, it's interesting, it's well done, the music is beautiful, but I've seen it twice now, and both times (as a solid lover of history) I found it a little boring. It doesn't have the laser beam accuracy of most Morris films, rather a sort of meandering look at life and war and its effect on the people who fought it and those who ran it. McNamara isn't a character you hate, he's a complex human being and when he cries talking about the assassination of JFK, your heart goes out to him. By the end of the film you can almost feel for this man, and the terrible misery his involvement in these wars has created and that's certainly a feat. Read the history books about McNamara and you'll come out with an image of a despicable man. Watch this film and you'll find yourself almost liking him.

And maybe it's my pea-like attention span, but something about this movie drags for me. Two hours of one man talking and I'm half asleep again and again.

Thursday: L'Avventura

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something to do with interviews and DO THE RIGHT THING (97)

As always I'm trying to think about different ways to not only make this site seem more readable for you my sometimes absent, but often loyal readers, but also make it more entertaining for me as a writer to actually put together. If you ask anyone who blogs or writes daily, the hardest aspect of the whole damn thing is just sitting down and every day and writing. Especially for the little guys, the people like me and the other 9 billion normal schmoes piecing together a bit of writing each and every day for an unknown audience, not getting lauded with free films or screenings, just sort of putting together for the sheer love of doing it - it isn't always the easiest thing.

Thus, I've been putting my head together (i.e. picking Alex's wildly creative cranial parts) for ideas on how to make this blog interesting for you and me and all the unknowing readers out their in the world. The idea that's jumped to the forefront is a new sort of short interview piece I'll put together for each and every film I view. I'll reach out to a filmmaker or a writer or an artist or a friend or just an unknown who dearly loves a movie and I, with the help of Alex, will throw five somewhat silly, somewhat probing questions about the film and the subject's interaction with the film. On top of that it'll be a nice way to spread the word on whatever the subject is working on - their film, their article, hell, their life.

What I'm asking you is to take a peek at the list of Criterion films right HERE, and see if any of them in the next few weeks jump out at you. Films you've seen, films you love, films you hate, films you'd be interested in just givin' a look and a talk about. If you're interested, or know someone who might be, float me an email (sanders.noah at gmail dot com).

I'll have my first interview up in the next few days with a lovely documentarian named Emily Chapman about Do The Right Thing (97).

Speaking of Do The Right Thing (97) I sat down yesterday and rewatched this contemporary American classic. And hell, even had a few thoughts about it. Thought I might share.

1. What a start

I remember being told once that Simon & Garfunkel's soundtrack for The Graduate was one of the first times an entire song had been played from start to finish over a scene. And that shit has nothing on Spike Lee's usage of PE's "You Gotta' Take The Power Back" over Rosie Perez shaking her, well, everythings. I have no idea what Lee was intending to get at with the image of Perez pelvic thrusting for all its worth as the film cuts back and forth between her in various gaudy outfits, but damn if didn't draw me right in to the flashy, hyper-colored New York Spike Lee loves.

2. What a cast

Samuel L. Jackson! John Turturro! Danny Aiello! Martin Lawrence! Ossie Davis! Rosie Perez! This is one of those films where you can see the glimmer of stardom creeping on the edges, the sort of glow of fame sweeping across its inhabitants. If not for this, we'd never have had Martin Lawrence in Wild Hogs 1 & 2.

3. Universal

From the very beginning of Do The Right Thing (97) Spike Lee forms this tiny world of Bed-Stuy as a microcosm for the entire world. It's a multi-cultural street corner, and all the goods and bads of such a place are here to rear their ugly heads. We're introduced quickly to all the characters, and then throughout the film, they appear, regardless if they're the focus of the scene. We see Smiley in the background (always with the pictures), the Korean family at their corner, the three elderly black guys as Mookie walks past. This is a world connected. What I found most interesting is the idea that within this world everything is universal, the anger (when it spreads) spreads fast and to everyone. The film could be broken up in to a five-act script, each with a different emotion, and each emotion burns across this community, this universe, like a forest fire. There's a universal love and a universal hate that exists in Spike Lee's Bed-Stuy, and both are needed to keep everything in balance, and when the scale tips at the of the film, it's an explosion of riot and sadly, death.

4. Thea-tah

Spike Lee is kind of a theatre director. This is certainly a film steeped in the cinematic arts, but there's also a truly theatrical way the film is staged. The sets, the streets, the camera shots, make us feel as if we're kicking down the fourth wall, and staring in to the world of these people. At some points it works exceptionally well, and at others it seems hammy and overwrought. But what it does, is give the film a specific look and feel, one that Lee would continue to use whilst creating his oeuvre.

5. Mookie's the key

When Mookie (Spike Lee) leaves the streets of Bed-Stuy to fight with his sister and to take a shower, that's when everything starts to fall apart. All of sudden, Pino (John Turturro) is spreading hate, Buggin' Out is organizing a boycott, and Radio Raheem is fighting with the Latinos. It's as if Mookie's the glue that holds this world together, the short, Nike-wearing sum'bitch that balances this treacherous world of love and hate, and when he's taking a break to clean up, that balance falls to the wayside.

6. Final thoughts

Do The Right Thing (97) is well-documented as a classic, a film that touches without gloves the thin line of racism that runs through every corner in this United States of ours. It has been years since I've watched it, and it still resonates, even though I find as it gets older some of its more late-80s visual choices seem dated. What it most makes me feel is sadness for this Spike Lee, the Spike Lee of brash colors and swooping cameras who didn't feel it necessary to make films about bank heists and WWII. I like me a small-scale Spike Lee, one who points out the grand ideas with the simple creation of a few street-characters and the daily routines of their mundane lives. Sigh, maybe he'll have a late career renaissance.

Friday: Mystery, always mystery.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A second stab at credibility and ERROL MORRIS' FIRST PERSON

Looksie, looksie, I'm a credible writer again ... well, I would be if I could get it together and have my information faxed to the good people at the SF Weekly so they'd pay me.

Regardless of my responsibility inadequacies, here's my review of the Method Man/Redman show from Sunday night at Mezzanine:

Method Man/Red Man @ Mezzanine 8/16

Here's some additional thoughts I had while standing on tip-toes amongst a cloud of weed smoke, attempting to see these two rap legends perform:

1. Sigh, I sort of hate hip hop shows. I've been to so many in my brief life (there was a period of time, where hip-hop shows were kind of my thing - who'da thought huh?) and after 27 years, I've come to realize that they're just not my bag. There's a hardline of hip-hop standards that so many groups adhere to I find myself feeling a musical sense of deja vu at nearly every show I attend. I just find myself scratching my head afterwards, wondering where my ten (or thirty-five dollars in this case) went to.

2. That said, I'm also a pretty negative person. I came in to Method Man and Redman expecting to hate it, and thus for the first twenty minutes of their set I just sat and stewed, bouncing negative remark after negative remark off Alex. After the show was long done, I turned to the lovely lady and asked, "What'd you think of that show?" And to my surprise, she said, "I liked it." Which prompted a long and thoughtful discussion about the show and why I didn't like it, most of which informed the article above. This negativity thing's a real downer sometimes, and it's nice to have a second mind to let me see that.

3. I wonder if there is some sort of genetic trait that allows some folk to smoke a ton of weed and still be able to perform phenomenally well at, say, anything? Lord knows how much sticky green these two gentlemen devoured before the show, but I saw each of 'em smoke at least a few hits of passed along weed trees through out the show. I know if I'd smoked two or three hits I'd be half asleep in frog pajamas, let alone remembering how to rap an entire set list worth of lyrics. Call it long-term acclimation, but I think there's a gene - one that I don't have.

Would love to hear any and all thoughts about the write-up. Thanks a lot!

Do you like Errol Morris, the award-winning documentarian who's never filmed a movie I haven't enjoyed? Do you enjoy interesting subjects like squid hunting, frozen heads, singing serial killers and the women they love, or autistic cattle slaughterers? Do you like well-put together shorts that you can consume quickly, feeling far more intelligent post-consumption?

Well then lordy, lordy, you need to tromp out your door to the video store and track down a copy of Errol Morris' First Person. Morris released this television series on Bravo before the station had devolved in to bastion for shitty reality television. It's everything any of his films has, just in smaller chunks. Fascinating subjects, Morris' brilliant questions and some of the better editing and music (aside from the opening and closing music) you've seen on television - yup, it is all there, awaiting you on the shelves of some fantastic challenging video store.

I've only seen the first disc, but the amount of knowledge I'm now tossing about in terms of giant squids and the hunt for a live one is impressive.

Wednesday: Do The Right Thing (97)

Friday, August 14, 2009

A lot of film watching and WRITTEN ON THE WIND (96)

I'm sort of one-track mind when it comes to my multitude of slightly geeky obsessions. I can't dig in to each and every one at once, I just don't have the time to at once be watching films all the time, reading books with every spare moment, filling my ears with some new tune. It would drive me just a bit crazier than I actually am.

Thus after two or three months of near mind-bending musical obsession (the number of albums I've accrued in the last three months is sort of nauseating, honestly) I'm completely spent on music. The gears of my brain have turned and the films that I'd lost interest in are all of sudden the only thing I want to be involved with. I'm still listening to it, but all of a sudden the silence of a warm summer day seems pretty nice.

That said, now I'm checking my Netflix queue twenty-five times a day, day-dreaming about wandering movie aisles at my favorite video store, spending hours each day burning through DVDs. Sure, I mindlessly select my next musical choice at my coffee shop, barely able to muster the energy to fill the empty air with a new set of tunes, but, when it really comes down to it, films my big passion, thus I'm glad my chore-wheel of obsession has flipped back on over to a more filmic bent.

Just thought you should know.

Written on the Wind (96) was a strange, sordid movie about oil magnates, their best friends, and the tawdry ladies of Texas. Here's a few things I wrote down about it:


Yup, the voice behind Unsolved Mysteries once had a promising film career and he's the first boozy bastard you see in this film, cruising between oil derricks in a brilliant yellow sports car, rye whiskey in hand. Sure, I'm more used to his creepy voice announcing the fate of some murdered Midwestern, but it's nice to see him in an actual acting role.


Yup, Robert Stack is really creepy. All bulging eyes and touchy hands and oily charm, Robert Stack is a creepster. Hell, he makes Rock Hudson look downright huggable.

3. Rich people are hussies/boozers/tramps.

I think Douglas Sirk hates rich people. His films are full of mindless folks who are just loaded to the gills. Manipulative women, abusive, gun-tottin' men, all aimed at being rich, staying rich, and looking good while doing it. If you're rich in a Sirk film, you're probably a nasty person, hell bent on bringing down any one who even shows of a bit of moral regard. Go get 'em Sirk!

4. Old school fights are the best.

Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, and some local yahoo brawling in a podunk bar? Awesome. Chairs breaking, fists flyin' - there's just nothing like it today.

5. Is Texas always this sordid?

Have you ever seen a movie where Texas isn't a cesspool of big-haired bimbos and drunken oil magnates? I have not. I'm going to be road-trippin' through the South some point in the near future and I think there will be severe disappointment when I arrive in TX with a ten-gallon hat on a white horse, and find myself staring at dusty plains, decrepit housing and heat instead of drunken millionaires and flaming derricks.

6. Douglas Sirk loves a happy ending.

This film ends with a drunken suicide, a blackmailing attempt, a seedy bimbo turned evil, and the dissolution of a family fortune, and somehow Douglas Sirk still strangely make it a pretty happy ending. Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall (an almost alien-looking Lauren Bacall), the unwitting pawns of the Hadley Oil Family, end up happy and driving off in to the sunset. Take that rich folk! We poor lads and ladies always end up happiest!

This wasn't nearly as enjoyable as All That Heaven Allows (95) but it's still an attractive bit of mid-50s melodrama. I highly recommend.

Monday: Do The Right Thing (97)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hey you, start tipping and AMERICAN MOVIE

A few more thoughts I've been having on coffee customers now that I've moved from the mechanical hellhole of Blue Bottle Embarcadero to the soothing churn of a little spot in Dogpatch. Turns out, regardless of where you are and who you're serving joe, there's always annoying people who do annoying things.

I'd like to tell you about a few more of 'em:

1. Dear regular who does not tip, you are so much more annoying to me than the random schmoe off the street I've never seen before. Why? Because I know you, I know your drink and your pasty face and your greasy hair, and when you slip in each day and buy two regular drip coffees and then palm a sweaty five dollar bill on to the table all the while creepily staring at me from underneath the bill of your leathery hat, I'm already mad at you, because I know you aren't going to reward me with even a modicum of tip. Nope, I'm just going to get a gander at your long, dready beard, and a wiff of your stink and find my dislike of you building all that much more. Take this to heart dear readers, if you're a regular at a coffee shop and you aren't tipping, the men and women behind the counter are angry at you, displeased that you arrive each and every day, no matter how fantastic of a person you might be. Just keep that in mind.

2. Why can't people just come in to a coffee shop and order what's on the menu? People are coming in asking for wheat-gluten free snacks and coffee with almond or rice milk. Marina folk stumble in with their huge shades glued to their faces, I-Phones pressed to their ears, demanding non-fat decaf mochas. Everyone, EVERYONE is always asking for single shots when our sweet lady of a machine can only make doubles. Please please, for the love of my sanity, drop by our shop, say hello, but just take a gander at the menu, a quick perusal of how simple everything is, and then just order a fucking cappuccino or a latte or a fucking double espresso - as that is what we serve.


You really have to settle in to American Movie to enjoy it. Chris Smith's big splash of a documentary about a Midwestern filmmaker obsessed with putting together a horror film called Coven is a strange piece of movie. It's straight forward, in a way that Smith seems known for, and thus you're placed in to the world of Mark Borchardt and asked, quite simply, just to enjoy your time there, or get the fuck out. Borchardt is kind of a maniac, a father-of-three who lives with his mom and dad and is absolutely fascinated with putting together a film. He'll use anyone and anything who even show the slightest interest in the film and the three year ordeal he wades through to get the flick to screen is absolutely entertaining.

It's not just Borchardt either, it's the cast of characters he brings together - his stoner friend Mike, his near-death Uncle Bill, his accent-tinged mother/editor, his hoodlum friend Ken Keen, the diva of main male actor in the film - and the list goes on and on. Strange folk up in them Midwestern parts, and putting them through the trials of a movie is absolutely fascinating.

Alex compared the film to early Errol Morris (Gates of Paradise era Morris) and I couldn't agree more. Smith finds nothing wrong with just leaving his camera rolling on some strange scene, and I think that there's a possibility that this could seem boring. But keep watching, get invested in the life and times of Mark Borchardt, it's well worth it.

Friday: Written on the Wind (96)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Roadtrip and quick notes on OKIE NOODLING and ZODIAC

Oh boy, oberto, I slipped in to San Francisco last night after a monstrous, burning hot, fifteen hour drive from the very middle of northwestern Washington. A few thoughts on road trips:

- Do them with somebody you love. I'm not trying to yack up the sappy juice on your face and shoes here, but seriously, Alex and I cruised up the West Coast starting on Tuesday night, and I was awash in shit-faced grins nearly the entire time. There's just something about meandering along the highways of America with that certain someone that makes each and every activity just a little better than it could be. I found myself expunging stories of our activities ("We swam ... in a RIVER") to any and all who'd listen and was baffled that these good folk weren't as excited as I was. Turns out when you haven't been roaming the wilds of the Northwest in a dented blue Honda Civic hatchback with your special lady, some things just don't seem as monumental.

- Learning how to drive a stick on a roadtrip is wonderful for a few reasons: once you push a car in to fifth gear, it's pretty much start and stop like an automatic, thus it doesn't really feel like you're driving a stick anymore. Sadly, as soon as you pull said stick in to the hilly, crowded climes of San Francisco, it's pretty much a fucking rum jungle, and your stuck outside an indian burrito joint, sweating uncontrollably and being talked down by the aforementioned wonderful girlfriend. All I can say is, I'm trying.

- These roadtrip things are beautiful. Open road, a new bed every night, wild experiences - I don't know if it gets much better than this. And even if I am coming home to a beautiful house in one of the greatest cities on Earth (a city I absolutely love) it's a little difficult to get myself back in to the nitty-gritty of my usual daily life. Coffee and records are fantastic, but I fell asleep last night with thoughts of the sun dipping behind mountains and the blood-red of taillights.

I'm back, but still adjusting.

Okie Noodling is a short, not terribly fantastic documentary about a wildly interesting subject. What might you ask is "Okie noodlin'"? Oh you know, the age-old art of reaching one's hand in to the deep dark murky underwater holes in lakes and rivers of the south, and wigglin' your digits about until a giant beast of a catfish (hopefully) latches on to your arm. Yup, that's Okie noodlin' for you. The film, put together by an Okie noodlin' enthusiast, clocks in at barely an hour and as you might expect, barely touches on the sport. Instead the viewer is introduced to a handful of noodlin' (or grabblin, as I prefer) experts and roughly follows them on a few noodlin' expeditions. Sure, I was entertained by these folk and their propensity for catching catfish with their hand sausages, but did I learn anything or glean any fascinating thoughts from the picture? Not really. I enjoyed the heck out of this film, found myself smiling through out, but can't say that as a documentary that I can completely endorse it. You want fifty-seven minutes of good ole Southern boys plucking cat-monsters from murky water? This is your pic.

I just finished Zodiac for the nth time and am still love with this dense quirky little tale of obsession and the Zodiac murders. This go around I snatched it from the webs because Alex and I wanted to see if SF was properly portrayed and I'm never terribly sad about watching a David Fincher flick again. Turns out, upon repeated viewings, the story and characters of this film only grow in enjoyment. I love the idea that this is only partially a film about killings, but more so a film about those that the killings derailed. Not the families of the murdered or the murderer, but those who lost so much of themselves in to finding out who this person, or persons, was. Fantastic. Do you have two and half hours to kill on a cold and grey night? Pop this in, it won't cheer you up, but it'll give you something to chew on.

Alright, I'm snatching another Criterion film tomorrow, so lets get this quest moving again.

Wednesday: Written on the Wind (96)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Still road trippin!

I'm gone, all up the West Coast, sometimes in a car, sometimes in the entertaining embrace of a solid set of wonderful people.

Thus, there's been no time for Criterion. There's been no time for movies. But I've stumbled upon the interwebs and I thought you should most certainly check this out:


Quite easily, my most anticipated film of the year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On the road ... again. And ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (95)

I'm leaving. For the Northwest. So I have very little time to chat today dear friends, loyal readers, and green-eyed villains.

Thus, I'll just get to a few quick thoughts about a strange little movie called All That Heaven Allows (95).

This is what I scribbled down, with annotation, while watching the Douglas Sirk film All That Heaven Allows (95)

1. Rock Hudson = Creepy

My mom's best friend was related to this gay heartthrob. I grew imagining him to be some sort of good looking God. Instead he's sort of a craggy old man with a voice so smooth I literally felt a little violated when he was talking. Seriously, he's all manners of disturbing in this film (not entirely on purpose) and whenever he spoke I felt like someone was slipping me a roofie.

2. Far From Heaven

Do you remember that Todd Haynes movie that came out a few years back that was supposed to look just like a Douglas Sirk film? Well, it's supposed to look just like this one, and the similarities are shocking. That film is almost this film with the addition of a black gardener and a gay husband. I still don't like that film very much.

3. Rich people suck.

No seriously, if rich people are actually like the rich people in this movie (catty, nosy, uncaring of other's feelings) they suck. And though I don't know for sure, I'm almost positive this movie speaks nothing but the truth, thus, rich people you suck.

4. Children, they also suck.

If you were thinking about popping out a few, watch this film. Those little bastards get old and turn on you when you least expect it and then come crying back to mommy when they the guns turned on them. Two words: birth control.

5. How did men talk like that in the 50s?

There's just this weird sing-songy, educational tone to every spoken by any man on film from the 1950s. Like every word is an adage that you should write down to pass along to your children. In Alex's words they sound "dickheadish". Say that fast, it sounds like foreign cheese.

6. Best ending ever.

So at first I'm watching Rock Hudson fall off a cliff and the main lady drive away unknowing and I'm like, "best ending ever!" But then he's pulling out of his coma and she's by his side, and I'm like, "Total letdown!" But then they start kissing and a snowy elk appears by the window and I'm like, "Hmmmm ... still pretty awesome."

Weird movie. But really entertaining.

Wednesday: Who knows.

Monday, August 3, 2009


You know, at this very moment, I have almost nothing to say. Oh I'm sure that surprises many of you, but for whatever reason, on a hot, sunny, beautiful day in SF, I feel a little muted. This chatterbox has run out of batteries for a bit it seems, but lucky for you, and lucky for me I actually powered through some films last week (none of them Criterion, now that would just be silly) and have some thoughts/opinions on 'em.

Thus, though my cynical laser beam is set to stun, I actually have something to write.

I'm going to be doing these more often, so I'm going to start referring to them as QUICK NOTES, as I'm just sort of laying down some thoughts quickly about these films. Thus Quick Notes, see, it's actually quite simple. I'll explain it to you later.

SABRINA (dir. Billy Wilder)

I love Billy Wilder. In his time on this Earth he directed some of the great films of all time - The Apartment, Lost Weekend, Some Like It Hot - and the list goes on and on. Thus when Alex was interested in finishing Sabrina, a Wilder film I only knew because of the Harrison Ford/Greg Kinnear remake of a few years back, I was extremely excited. The film stars Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden. It's star-studded and has the reputation of being an absolute classic.

And maybe it is, but I just couldn't get behind it. The film follows a chaperone's daughter (seemingly a really lowly position in Long Island) and a strange love triangle that springs up between a man she's always loved, and his money-driven brother who attempts to put an end to the burgeoning romance. It's sort of the original blueprint for the romantic comedy. A loves B, but B doth not love A. A goes to Paris and gets all gussied up, returns to Long Island, and B falls in love with A. C doth not want A and B to be together, so C starts putting the fake moves on A behind B's back. But B and A start to fall in love ... and on and on and on.

It was enjoyable but there was something about about the back-stabbing, treacherous relationship between the Larabee Brothers that really put me off. Sure, it's sort of funny to snake your relation's love out from under their nose, but it's also mean-spirited, and to do so in the pursuit of extraneous money just didn't seem all that enjoyable to me. It's a goofy, well put together film, but for whatever reason I just wasn't in the mood for it.

I will say the image of William Holden and five women balancing on an industrial grade piece of polymer did float my boat. Indeed.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION II (dir. John Frankenheimer)

A forty-five minute heroin addiction scene matched with another forty-five minute rehabilitation scene set in French prison with Gene Hackman screaming for H does not float my boat.

This movie needed about one hour, and an addiction to heroin sliced out of it.

Not my cup of delicious tea.

Not a bit.

Tomorrow: All That Heaven Allows (95)