this time, we’ll build a better town

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

that’s what i really meant to say.

miyazaki is the best there is.

holy roman empire, batman

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

i kind of have a rule for my netflix – i try to arrange things so that i always have one fun movie, one serious movie, and one tv show. this came about because i found that if i had too many “you should really see this!” movies at once, they would often just sit there for weeks because i would secretly be in the mood for buffy reruns, not hotel rwanda, but that would be hard to admit even to myself so i just thought about other things. on the other hand, if i always Have buffy reruns (or actually what i’m hooked on now is 24), i will watch them and then enjoy the more serious options while i’m waiting for replacements to come, so a constant inflow of freshness is maintained, i get my money’s worth, And i am a well-balanced media absorption machine.

psychology is fun!

anyway, sometimes i succeed at diversity within my selections and i Still don’t watch anything for a while, which is the boat i was in this week, so i just made myself sit down and start watching. as a result, i ended up watching Rome (Season 1, Disc 1) and Why We Fight in rather quick succession, and this was an interesting experience.

Rome is a rather new HBO drama about life in the roman empire, and the first two episodes are basically about the events leading up to caesar’s revolt against the republic and establishment of himself as, well, Caesar. that sounds all serious and historical and shit, and i guess it is, but the war and sex and corruption bits make for some rather gritty TV, which is more of what drew HBO to the subject matter, imho. the historical element is just strategy to make people feel classier. those marketing folks are no shirks. and did i mention psychology is fun?

in the other corner, Why We Fight is a prize-winning documentary about the american war machine, and while it doesn’t exactly qualify as piercing cultural commentary to point out the potential thematic similarities between its storyline and the history of the roman empire, the thing that really appalled me was that i didn’t even have to take the time to enter into highschool english class “study questions” mode in order to draw such connections. at several points in Why We Fight, they actually come right out and talk about the fact that we are engaging in strategies to “build the new Rome”, and having just watched the Old rome displayed as blatantly corrupt, warmongering, and the playground of elitist power plays, i could only just sit there and be all “um… you know how that whole approach turned out last time, right?”

the more i thought about it, though, and the more i listened to the speeches from various governmental officials throughout Why We Fight, the more i realized that yeah, we Do know how it turned out last time, but that doesn’t seem to sway us from believing that this time we’ll go all colonel sanders on the whole thing and do empire RightTM. i might just be slow on the uptake here, or maybe it’s the whole “e”s become “i”s and vice versa when you conjugate it confusion, but somehow hearing “imperialism” bandied around all the time in the media never really smacked me in the face hard enough to realize that this? this is one of those things that isn’t just hype where they borrow words from movies to make things sound flashier on the news. i mean, star wars and age of empires probably doesn’t help our brains much with the “process this literally and not just as a tagline” function, but seriously folks, it really is the same word it always was: EMPIRE. US OR THEM. THIS IS OUR FOREIGN POLICY. NOT FREEDOM. DOMINATION. SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

ok that many caps means i’ve lapsed into “too preachy” mode, but really? i’m just trying to capture that feeling where something completely and utterly obvious blows your mind a bit, and you feel kinda stupid about that but at the same time it really does feel like a little sliver of something new slipped through, and i think blogs are for trying to capture that little sliver, or my blog is for that, or my blog Should be for that, and every day is a new chance to make that more of a reality, and thereby balance that “fluff” tag over there with some other tags of a similar size.

so i guess my blogging strategy and my netflix strategy are kind of the same in the end…

now that we’ve had personal insight time, it is time for tea and princess mononoke. weekend of the netflix ninja continues. they sent me walk the line and some iranian movie to replace the conquered dvds above (I AM BUILDING A CINEMATIC EMPIRE!!! RAAARRRGGHH!!). is there a way to put my netflix queue in the sidebar? hmmm….

officially done typing now. in case you were wondering if i got that i should have stopped already. yep. making up for lost time, i suppose.

praising leo and feeling grown up

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

lynn and i saw blood diamond this evening, and it was a sobering experience. first and quickest, there is the disconcerting feeling that comes from seeing leo play a character that is so firmly an adult, and therefore being forced to admit that he, and consequently I (since we are close enough in age that i can say things like it seems like just yesterday he was competing with kurt cameron for the charming badboy title on growing pains), are now firmly in the ranks of the grown as far as the cultural machine is concerned.

another reminder of this occurred the other day while i was washing dishes in the sushi bar where i worked for a couple of weeks to make some spending money before leaving the country, when the ‘safe but stylish’ pop mix on the intercom played nirvana. i know that the beatles and the stones were piped into department stores and arranged for cello and bassoon as soon as their principal audiences acquired enough purchasing power to merit such undertakings, but it still felt a little weird to be reminded that the cycle was continuing by learning that smells like teen spirit can now be lumped in with mack the knife for marketing purposes.

but i digress.

blood diamond, while still in the cloud of first impression, was quite impressive. a fair measure of predictability, sap, and emotional manipulation was surely to be had, but it was deftly executed as such, and the characters succeeded in convincing me that they knew that they were a bit cliched but still believed their story worth telling despite such hindrances, and that is an attitude that i can respect, particularly with a story as important as the abuses of the diamond trade. ed zwick, whom the poster can tell you was the director of glory and the last samurai, and my own early-nineties geekdom can tell you was also the director of legends of the fall and one of the key producers behind my so called life (in case there aren’t enough references to cultural icons of my youth in this post already).

jennifer connelly’s character was a bit too clearly there to fill the love interest gap, but she had some good moments of her own nonetheless, and i think that i am coming to like her.

djimon hounsou was very good, but i feel bad that i know him only from this and amistad, because important as the stories both are, i feel like his africanness is inseparable from my image of him as an actor, and i feel bad about that, though perhaps it’s only

and leo

acting grown up

no diamonds for vday
at the oscars?

little children

Monday, November 27th, 2006

i saw a good movie today, but then i saw a talk and took notes and chatted with several people, so i’m all writed out at the moment, and i’ll have to talk more about it later.

but if you get the chance, you should consider seeing it in the meantime.

night night!

a new way of looking at the world

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

i got new glasses while i was in new york city, which made me feel rather responsible. i’ve been wearing them for a few days to break them in, and i think i like them quite a bit. maybe soon i’ll have a new camera and i will be able to take a picture. i haven’t made that particular purchase yet because being in new york for a week made me freak out a bit in the financial department, and i am still working on my recovery.

anyway, i made it out of the city successfully (after only two wrong turns and a last minute decision to take the lincoln tunnel instead of the gw bridge), and had a splendid last few days. we paid a fortune for margaritas on wednesday, saw a play on thursday, had ethiopian food on friday, and spent the whole afternoon on saturday at the 5 story movie theater on times square to get out of the heat. we bought tickets for a scanner darkly and then also saw little miss sunshine and scoop. it was fun, and then today i saw cars with jen, so i am making pretty good use of this heat wave business to catch up on lost time in the movie viewing department.

tomorrow i’m going to hang out with jen a bit more in the morning and early afternoon, and then head to charlottesville to see jeff for a few days.

it is now ten days and counting until i leave the country.


my chronicle of narnia

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

so i saw the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe last week, and i started to write about it, but i was having a hard time, and then i got sick, so i’ve been less inspired to finish for the last day or two. the difficulty arose, i think, because i really wasn’t writing about the movie so much. the main thing that inspired me to write was a funny feeling that i had while watching the movie, a feeling that went something like “you are not going to be able to criticize this film.”

i was struck by this feeling about 5 minutes in. they were shipping the kids off to live with the professor and the camera was hopping back and forth a lot among their trying-to-be-brave-for-mother faces. i was munching on popcorn and settling into my seat. one moment i was fiddling with my purse, and the next i was thinking: “they’re trying to get you to believe that those are the faces of the kings and queens of narnia. if you buy it, then you are looking at people you have known and loved your entire life.”
and the obvious corollary of this, at the time, was the feeling that i mentioned above. i realized that i had only love for these characters, and i was going to like watching the movie, and it really wasn’t going to matter whether the movie was bad. it was as if narnia was so deeply emblazoned on my psyche as a good and stirring thing that i was powerless to consider otherwise, no matter the evidence. it was as if my opinions on the matter were forever preserved at the 1st grade level, and no matter how much probing or explaining i might do, it would still just come down to liking them the way i like campbell’s tomato soup or kraft macaroni and cheese – it doesn’t really matter if i have otherwise become something of an epicure and shouldn’t really want to go near the stuff. it makes me feel good inside, and that’s all that i can say.