Showing posts from August, 2008

Spout Mavens Disc #14, Part 5 of 13: Shorts! Volume 3 - Seventeen (2003)

Director: Hisko Hulsing
Netherlands, 12:00, color animated
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

At what level do we begin to recognize our own failure? If we start out with imperial ambitions, is everything else short of controlling the world considered to be a failure? Since most of us will never, or should never, wish for such power, I guess we all have to just be thankful for whatever success we might achieve, and accept our fate from there.

I worked at my previous job for 22 years. I won't go into the details of the five Ws and an H of the situation -- I have discussed these matters elsewhere in bits and pieces on the Cinema 4 Pylon, and if you are actually interested, for whatever reason, I suggest you delve into it there. My need to bring up the length of my stay at that particular hovel of a business was merely to impart the message that 22 years at any one place, home or business, is far too long a span. I started young, full of piss and vinegar, but not quite enough to make me burn the place d…

Spout Mavens Disc #14, Part 4 of 13: Shorts! Volume 3 - My Name is Yu Ming [Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom] (2003)

Director: Daniel O'Hara
Irish, 0:13, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

I have no facility for foreign languages. Some would say that even English gets the better of me most of the time. Even in a situation where it would behoove me to learn Spanish -- such as at work, where we often publish stories, sometimes my own, in what seems to be the predominant tongue of this region -- I find myself unable to negotiate my way through the Spanish language, except for a handful of words I absorbed through umpteen years vegging out in front of Sesame Street (peligro; abierto; cerrado...) I know that it would be wise to learn it, and it would greatly enhance my situation at work were I to get it down at least part of the way. Most of all, even achieving some small form of fluency would make it easier to converse with people on the street, and especially in my own neighborhood. But until I get a little pro-active and take a real course or at least hook up with that Rosetta Stone thing, I am a man displaced…

Spout Mavens Disc #14, Part 3 of 13: Shorts! Volume 3 - Passing Hearts [En del av mitt hjärta] (2004)

Director: Johan Brisinger
Swedish, 0:15, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 8

There is a dam bursting about ten minutes into the short film Passing Hearts that justifies everything. It justifies a tenuously made decision. It justifies the lives of a quartet of people. It justifies the bold adventure that the main character sets out upon which serves to give this short its deliberate, steady pulse. And it also justifies each and every second that the viewer spends up to that dam-bursting moment, studying each detail of the main character's actions, every line spoken around and about him, and every understated emotion on his face and the connected thoughts that can barely be discerned behind his eyes. It justifies our search for meaning in a story in which we are placed delicately in the surroundings of one seeking his own justification.

This dam burst is not literally a dam bursting, its torrential waters filling the screen and nearly drowning the populace. But the emotional effect is nearly the s…

Spout Mavens Disc #14, Part 2 of 13: Shorts! Volume 3 - Gowanus, Brooklyn (2003)

Director: Ryan Fleck
19 value-soaked minutes, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

Half Nelson? What is that? A documentary about only one of Ricky Nelson’s offspring in a particularly ridiculous hair band from the ‘80s showing up for a gig?

Ah, I know what Half Nelson is… I just haven’t seen it yet. Even Oscar-nominated for Ryan Gosling’s performance and all that, I haven’t seen it. Even with a crack-smokin’ teacher and all that, I haven’t seen it. Honestly, it just didn’t sound like subject matter in which I would be particularly interested.

Then, without ever knowing the connection, I watched Gowanus, Brooklyn, the second of sixteen short films on the Shorts! Volume 3 DVD collection. Apparently, the film basically served as a demo reel for director Ryan Fleck to get a fleshed-out feature version with these characters made, the film we now know as Half Nelson. But I did not know this fact as I watched Gowanus, Brooklyn. I do not like to read the backs of DVDs before I view them; I would much rather …

Spout Mavens Disc #14, Part 1 of 13: Shorts! Volume 3 - Hyper (2002)

Director: Michael Canzoniero & Marco Ricci
5 minutes, something-something seconds, b/w & color
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

Even speaking as somehow who can multi-task and also walks about in a far quicker fashion than about ninety percent of humanity, I don’t want to hear about some other loser’s ideas or tips on speedier personal locomotion and time-saving. I figure everyone goes the pace that is best suited to them. No one wants to hear me whine about how slow the rest of you are; I don’t want someone telling me I need to slow down… doctor, girlfriend, boss… My personal velocity is my business, and to paraphrase Robyn Hitchcock, I am merely moving at the speed of things.

And who wants to hear from a messenger on a motorized scooter anyway? In Hyper, the first of sixteen short films on the appropriately named short film collection Shorts! (which has a “Volume 3” appended to its title, but I have never seen or heard of the first two, or any succeeding, volumes thereof), we meet just such a…

Netfluxxed Beyond All Recognition "Not Really A Quiz Anymore" Quiz #2

I knew that I could only try it once. The whole point of my initial Netfluxxed Quiz on weird Netflix recommendations was that there was no way in hell anyone could predict that a movie like Flamenco could come out of a Buster Keaton silent comedy, a rough Ridley Scott sword duelling epic and a British TV series featuring Fry and Laurie as a posh ninny and his brilliant butler in the 1920's. (To see all the hubbub, click here and here.)

So, there is no point in continuing such a quiz. But I do wish to continue putting up these silly things, mainly because it gives me a quick post for those extra busy days (or those days when I am feeling "not so fresh"), but also because it is so damn silly. And for this round, it will also serve to celebrate the fact that, near the end of my fourth summer here in Southern California, I recently spent my first Sunday (albeit a mere couple of hours) on one of the many beaches here. Unlike most of Alaska, this beach had sand. And bikinis. An…

Spout Mavens Disc #13: Wondrous Oblivion (2003)

Director: Paul Morrison
Pathé/Momentum, 1:46, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

Last week, I wrote a piece about a film involving a young Brazilian lad with whom I was able to identify due to a shared love we both had for sport. In each case, it was a different, particular sport: mine, baseball; his, soccer. The connecting factor between us was that we both created worlds in which the trivia and paraphernalia surrounding each sport, rather than the sport itself, were the primary basis and focus of our individual obsessions. And each obsession was a way in which we could protect ourselves, sometimes to our detriment, from the familial strife surrounding us, though the boy from Brazil's problems perhaps a bit more political heft to them.

In Wondrous Oblivion, we meet another such lad, perhaps the third member of our party, though I am fairly certain that our true number, this group of game-obsessed, youthful dreamers, is in the tens of millions. Given the proliferation of fantasy sports leagues …

The Way Things Work for Me (Parenthetically, Eddie Izzard @ the Kodak Theatre, August 6, 2008, 8pm)

You would have thought it was enough that I was stepping inside the Kodak Theatre, the home of the Academy Awards, for the first time. Because of my immersion in film history and my near worship of many of the people celebrated in the over-sized photographs that adorn the walls of each floor (and my lack of worship of certain ones amongst their number, such as Ms. Roberts, who beguiles me not at all), you would be forgiven if you assumed that here, at last, I was at peace with the world.

Oh, yeah. Jen and I were also there to take in a live performance by Mr. Eddie Izzard. So I had that going for me.

And yet, this wasn't enough for me. No, even though I was somewhat out-of-body as I left the portico and slipped through the front doors, the journey (encumbered somewhat by a missed turn into the parking lot that left us driving about for half an hour just to return to the same point, taking in Hollywood High School, a pair of mounted police officers, a nearly passable drag queen, a fi…

Netfluxxed Beyond All Recognition, Answer #1: Flamenco (1995)

I'm not saying I wouldn't want to watch an entire film filled with flamenco dancing. In fact, it could be quite entertaining, especially were it to be filmed with the flair appropriate to such a beautiful and dynamic dance form. From all signs -- largely positive reviews, high ratings from random viewers on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and other movie boards -- Flamenco, a 1995 film by Carlos Saura, could really be something to behold.

I just don't know how it was suggested to me on Netflix.

Let me qualify this: I pretty much know how it was suggested to me. I know that they compare what you like on Netflix to what others like on Netflix, and then figure if those others like a movie you had not seen, then you would like it if you saw it. I know its a computer program using algorithms that I neither care nor want to bother caring about for too long.

But I want to pretend I just don't know how it was suggested to me on Netflix. I wish to feign astonishment for the sake of a hearty…

Spout Mavens Disc #12: The Year My Parents Went on Vacation [O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias] (2006)

Director: Cao Hamburger
Brazilian, 1:45, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

I never went out and actively looked for a job in soccer. It never even occurred to me that one would ever want a job in soccer. And yet, I have one. I stumbled upon it absolutely by accident, and it has meant the world to me. I have learned so much through this stumble -- not necessarily about soccer -- and I hope that others perceive that I am the better for it, because that is certainly how I feel about it.

Before I took this job, though, I never imagined just how fully vested the rest of the world outside the U.S. was in this simple sport, what has been termed "the beautiful game" by people far more knowledgeable about these things than I am. Me, I always assumed that the game which had trademarked beauty was my beloved baseball -- you know, the one with the spitting, crotch-grabbing, often yokel players and the brushback pitches and mound-charging brawls. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that eye jus…

Netfluxxed Beyond All Recognition Quiz #1

Those with Netflix will know instantly to what I am referring here. Ever log on to Netflix and check out your Recommendations page? I normally don't. I try to use a more intuitive and organic approach to discovering films, and enjoy making it more of a "found item" journey than one in which one corporation tries to force-feed me the goods of another corporation. But every once in a while, I like to check the Recommendations page out, mainly because its a quick and simple way to add more ratings to Netflix (which I am, now that I think of it, unsure of why I even do that since, ultimately, the only real reason to do that is to get things recommended to you -- which I don't like...)

Most of the time Netflix makes some sort of sense with their recommendations. Take, for instance, the fact they are recommending Madea's Family Reunion to me because I highly rated both Malcolm X and The Color Purple. Recommending Futurama Season 3 to me because I loved The Simpson Movie…

Lettin' It Sink In: Teeth (2007)

Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

Having spent a couple of posts recently squirming in anguish over the lost or squandered opportunities of others (the Undead or Alive posts -- here and here -- and the bit on Severance), it hit me suddenly that perhaps I haven't explained precisely why I get so anguished over such things. In the Severance piece I hinted at the feeling that overtakes me within a viewing of a particularly interesting film where I know I will be visiting that flick again sometime in the future, perhaps even dozens of times. But, for me, there is a level above and beyond even that one...

I am, like so many others, what is described as a movie nut. Honestly, I am probably more of a movie fetishist, but let’s not get into semantics. A fetishist is a nut in most people’s eyes, and most likely some form of addict, so let’s leave it at that. The first step is admitting you have, well, not a problem… I prefer to call it deep focus. (It just so happens that is …