If I Could Just Get It On Virtual Paper

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I mentioned GreenCine in my last entry, and noted that I received my first two DVDs from them at that time. Osama, which was an early 2004 release, was an extremely sad film about a girl and her family struggling to make ends meet under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It's a stark examination of group that finds religious cause to oppress women in numerous ways. The story shows one woman being stoned to death for a minor crime and teenaged girls being married off to old men. The title actually refers to the girl in the film - she must pose as a boy so that her family can actually make money (women are not allowed to work), and a boy who knows her secret dubs her Osama. The movie has literally no uplifting moments, and is best viewed as a snapshot of life from a culture that we really get little exposure to.

The other film was On the Waterfront, which was Elia Kazan's answer to a Hollywood that castigated him for turning in names of his contemporaries during Senator Joe McCarthy's communism hearings. The film has brilliant performances all around - including Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, and a very young Eva Marie Saint. Highly recommended, particularly for those interested in film history.

I received an additional DVD in the interim; this time it was Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer. This film is a documentary about the final days of Aileen Wuornos, the "first female serial killer" who was recently portrayed by Charlize Theron in Monster. I like documentaries as a genre quite a bit, and "Aileen" proved to be a fascinating film to watch. Clearly, director Nick Broomfield found himself much more involved in the drama that unfolded than he expected. It was apparent that he genuinely liked Wuornos despite his knowledge of her crimes, which makes the documentary a study in ambivalence.

Speaking of documentaries, I've seen four others within the past week. Lost in La Mancha, which details director Terry Gilliam's disastrous attempt to film his dream movie, Don Quixote, is something that anyone who is intrigued by the movie-making process should see. Grateful Dawg, a film I had been intending to see for some time, is a documentary about the friendship and musical collaboration between the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and his long-time compatriot David Grisman.

The other two films are more recent releases. Super Size Me, which I've mentioned here previously, did not disappoint. It's absolutely hilarious and has me off fast food. The other movie, of course, was Fahrenheit 9/11, which I thought was a gripping piece of work. Moore is certainly a master of using emotion to prove his point. More importantly, though, seeing the movie on its opening night was actually fun. It was a communal experience with a boisterous packed house. That's when going to the movies is really fun.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Sometimes, the world passes us by a little too quickly. It's been two weeks since my last post, for which I am sorry. I had to journey to Birmingham, Alabama rather abruptly, and while I was there I picked up a rather nasty flu bug from my parents.

Many movie lovers who make good use of the Web utilize Netflix for movie rentals. They're a fine source and I liked them when I had a monthly membership. But there's another resource out there that focuses more on indie flicks and I thought I'd give them a whirl. GreenCine is based in San Francisco, and considering that I live in the eastern time zone, the fact that I received my first two DVDs from them in two days is pretty impressive. My primary usage of GreenCine will be for indie flicks that either didn't get booked by my local art house theater or that I just simply missed for one reason or another. They've also got fantastic supplies of numerous critical darlings, like the AFI Top 100 or even Jonathan Rosenbaum's top picks (he's a critic for the Chicago Reader). The first two arrivals are this year's Osama and the Marlon Brando Academy Award winner On the Waterfront. Since I'm still at home sick, it seems like a pretty good time to curl up in front of the TV.

I also wanted to note that I'll be publishing a new column in the coming days. If you can figure out what movies like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Stepford Wives, Around the World in 80 Days and The Notebook have in common you're on the way to unraveling the mystery of the topic.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

One of the very positive results of Morgan Spurlock's horror-documentary Super Size Me is that McDonald's has started to sell GoActive Meals, which are basically Happy Meals for grownups. The box that you receive comes complete with salad, water and a pedometer. I decided to try one and the meal was decent, and the pedometer was digital. I already had a pedometer, but this new one seems quite an improvement.

So today I set out for my daily exercise routine, and took the pedometer along. It didn't work perfectly - for some reason it didn't like the shorts I was wearing, but in general it's okay. Especially since if it breaks I can get another one if I'm ever hungry for chicken salad.

Anyway, since I haven't had much to post of interest lately, I figured I'd just give you my playlist of what I heard on my iPod while exercising. It was kind of a fun mix.

Underground - Ben Folds Five (The first Ben Folds Five song I ever heard - I've loved them ever since)

Uncle John's Farm - Owsley (an XM Radio discovery - he actually sounds a lot like Ben Folds Five, which is probably why I like him)

Nine Tail Demon Fox - Toshiro Masuda - from the Naruto soundtrack (what the hell is Naruto, you ask? It's a Japanese animated series that I just adore. Here's a picture for the very very curious.)

He really, really likes ramen.

Shipbuilding - Elvis Costello and the Attractions - a most excellent song off the outstanding High Fidelity soundtrack

Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash - the first song I ever liked. I used to play the record incessantly at three years of age.

Careful - Guster's MTV2 cover of the Violent Femmes tune

Delta (Little Boy Blues) - Badly Drawn Boy - be careful when you throw bread out to ducks.

Short Skirt/Long Jacket - Cake - the perfect tempo for walking

Innocent - Fuel - I'm a sucker for anything that incorporates Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night"

Where the Soul of Man Never Dies - Johnny Cash - yes, more Johnny

Tout doux Bruno - Ben Charest - from the wonderful, wonderful Triplets of Belleville soundtrack

Keep Me in Your Heart - Warren Zevon - poignant and sad

A Silhouette of Doom - Ennio Morricone - I'm only just beginning to appreciate his fantastic movie scores

Some Kind of Wonderful - Joss Stone - a young woman with an amazing voice

Athena - The Who - she's a bomb!


I was a tremendous fan of Batman: The Animated Series when it initially hit and am totally looking forward to the DVDs as they make their street dates. This fall, Kids WB will have another series dedicated to the Dark Knight, this time called The Batman.

He's all About Schmidt.

Early signs are extremely promising. Voice talent includes Rino Romano as Batman (Eternal Darkness's Karim), Gina Gershon (Catwoman), Kevin Michael Richardson as The Joker (he played "big dummy" Captain Gantu in Lilo & Stitch), SpongeBob SquarePants himself Tom Kenny as The Penguin, Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs in SpongeBob's show) as Mr. Freeze, the original Riddler Frank Gorshin as Hugo Strange, Hellboy's Ron Perlman as Killer Croc, Adam West (hee hee) as Mayor Grange, Steve Harris (The Practice) as Clayface/Evan Bennett, Ming Na (as Detective Ellen Yin), Robert Englund as The Riddler (brilliant voice casting here), and 24's Joaquim de Almeida as Bane.

Quite simply, I can't wait.



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