Sunday, May 25, 2008


I’ve seen some more movies... this is a slow year, but I still should post about them anyway.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD – Again – In my opinion still the best film of 2007.

THE BANK JOB – Entertaining British heist flick. I love to see Saffron Burrows getting work, but why can’t the girl gain a few pounds? I also realized that Jason Statham must be incredibly short. IMDB says 5’10” but I seriously doubt it!

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES – I will show this to my kids, when they’re born, and after they’re old enough not to be spooked by terrifying goblins, fairies, and forest gnomes.

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL – I want to support all the people connected to Freaks and Geeks. And I did so by watching this movie on opening weekend. It’s funny.

HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY – Gut-splittingly funny. A must-see, and then a must-see-again.

IRON MAN – Too much time spent in a Middle Eastern cave. And the gender politics are WAY regressive. Whatever, I’d rather see Harold and Kumar again.

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE – Remember those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib? This movie is about those. Hope you weren’t expecting a comedy!

21 – This movie was the 21st movie I saw in the theater this year. And I didn’t do it on purpose! No lie. Whoa, cleavage, guess they used CGI.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL – I saw this at a midnight showing at the Davis Theater (which I was formerly boycotting, and now am boycotting again). I was seated directly in front of a large open pipe – maybe a sewer pipe – with a cardboard cover propped over it, and a bunch of air fresheners laying on top. At least the pipe had rails around it, so I could put my feet up.

BABY MAMA – Ha ha, ladies always get pregnant at the darndest times. Or perfectly, when they just happen to be dating Greg Kinnear!

Friday, May 02, 2008

A few books

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

I finished this book, lo these many months ago, while visiting Maya in Chicago. I had a little cry, and then we went to see There Will Be Blood to complete my day of bleakness. Luckily, the day ended with a lot of booze and laughter while we watched the Oscars over IM with Sandy. Good times.

Anyway, I'm trying to say this book is bleak. But it's also really amazing, and one of the most affecting books I've read in a long time. This post-apocalyptic stuff is right up my alley, but even if you're not into that, I recommend giving it a chance anyway. McCarthy creates a horrifyingly believable world and characters so real, you almost wish you didn't care about them so much. I'm sad to learn that some idiot is trying to turn The Road into a movie. Even the presence of Guy Pearce (!) and Viggo Mortenson (!!) isn't enough to convince me this is a good idea.

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova

This is a fun little adventure story about a couple of historians tromping across Europe on a hunt for Dracula. It's told from the perspective of a 16 year old girl, as she unravels the mystery around her parents' early life together, and the story is also told through letters from her father and other historians. This perspective gives it a young adult fiction feel, so of course I enjoyed it.

And of course, looks like Hollywood's making this into a movie as well. They'll probably play it very serious, like The DaVinci Code, and take all the fun out of it.

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

OK, so I was supposed to read this about six years ago for a Victorian Lit class that I absolutely hated, so of course I skipped it, along with just about every other book in that course (except for the Our Mutual Friend, the 800-page "loose baggy monster" by Charles Dickens, which I plowed through and LOVED). I'm so glad I finally got around to this. Austen is seriously hilarious, and here she's at her most tongue-in-cheek. I don't want to spoil my own fun by looking up any criticism of this work, but I think the whole novel is a joke. A parody of the Gothic novel, but also a response to the social critics who felt that reading Gothic novels was bad for women's minds. That they were too provocative, and women should stick to reading about flowers or some shit.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, but if you hate Austen, stay away because this one's super Austen-y.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Never Back Down

I knew I had to see this movie the first time I saw the trailer a couple weeks ago. It was made with 14-year-old boys in mind I suppose, but come on – super-ripped men doing martial arts training in white tank tops, and then ripping off their shirts to savagely beat each other? It’s like porn for me! I would advise all MMA fans (we know who you are) to see this movie. The fight scenes are great, not as many technical mistakes as you usually see in fight movies, and they take up a large percentage of the screen time. Every time the movie starts to dip into back story about a particular character’s emotional state, don’t worry, it’ll only be a couple minutes before the next beatdown. And the lead actor (if you can call him that) – Sean Faris, who I’d never heard of – is astonishingly pretty, and I was transfixed by his gorgeous, perfect arms. Maybe I’m not being fair, and he could be a good actor in the right project. Who cares? I feel the same way about a handful of actors (Josh Hartnett, Olivier Martinez) – I can’t even tell what kind of acting job they’re doing because I’m just hypnotized by their perfect features. Those guys never make it into my top 5, but I appreciate them just the same. Anyway, Sandy, go see this movie, everyone else should skip it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I was in the mood yesterday to see a Hollywood actiony piece of crap. I settled on Jumper, which was a good decision. Maybe I’m biased because I’m naturally interested in a movie about a character who suddenly discovers he has a new talent, and can’t tell many people about it (OK, so maybe instantly teleporting to anywhere in the world is a little cooler than what I can do, but maybe I can work up to that... in a way?) Anyway, this movie deserves higher than the 16% Tomatometer rating it’s currently rocking. The pacing is tight (less than an hour and a half), the special effects are cool and kind of low-key (which is really nice for a change), the characters are blah, but still more believable and empathetic than your average Hollywood flick… basically, as an action movie it’s a solid and entertaining movie to catch – especially at the budget theater! And Hayden Christensen is a really beautiful man… he’s done some good acting work – and some bad, but the symmetry of his facial features is classic and stunning… he’s looking better and better the older he gets!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Turning Into Sandy?

Jodhaa Akbar

I went out with my friend Vijay last night, and we had some wonderful Indian food (which I seriously haven’t had in months and months – what is wrong with me?!?) He asked me if I liked Indian movies, and I had to admit I haven’t seen very many due to their insane length. I agreed to give the newest Bollywood epic a try, however.
When we got to the ticket booth, the ticket-seller asked me, “Are you excited to see this film?” I think I said yes, and then he gleefully said, “You better be, it’s three hours and forty minutes long!” He probably noticed I was the only non-Indian person buying a ticket. I have to admit my heart sank a little, but I gave myself a pep talk – I sit through two movies back to back all the time, even three! If I pretended that it was two movies back to back, I thought I’d be able to manage it.
Much to my surprise, I loved this film. The vast spectacle of the landscape, battle scenes, animals, buildings, everything, was truly overwhelming on the big screen. It helped that the volume was probably turned up to the absolute maximum. Yeah, the movie was long, and there were a lot of historical details that left me completely in the dark. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen such ravishing costumes and jewelry in a film before, and the pace was quick enough to keep you from getting bored. Of course, the two leads are so creepily good-looking, it was hard to get bored looking at them as well.
I wish you could see this in the theater Sandy! Maybe there’s a big Indian population near Portland that I don’t know about, and they show this kind of thing… keep your eyes peeled, anyway.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Hmmm… I know you guys all have seen this movie (and I saw it with one of you, we were sober at the time so I’m sure we both remember). I’m thinking of giving it a shockingly high score on my “best-of 2007” list. This was a good year for movies! Hooray. I’ll post a link when I do my best-of list. What, March of the following year isn’t too late for that, is it?

Oh, also, I read somewhere that the person who did the cinematography has worked closed with Terrence Malick in the past, which would explain why so much of the film felt like Malick was there in spirit… and also partially explains why I loved this film so much. Not sure if that’s true or not, I’m too lazy to research it right now. The internet told me, so it must be true.


Ehhhh… I really wanted to like this movie more than I did. It was charming, whimsical, and its heart was certainly in the right place. But it had such an air of forced artificiality… That worked in Gondry’s last film, The Science of Sleep, because it basically takes place in the main character’s mind, and the tug between what’s real and what’s imagined is very compelling and true to how people think (well, how I think anyway). But in this film, you have to swallow the fact that AN ENTIRE TOWN is that whacked-out and full of whimsical innocence bordering on pure lunacy. And it seems forced, which interfered with my enjoyment of the film. There are a few really great sequences, especially towards the end when there’s kind of a “montage” sequence of the little movies that Jack Black and Mos Def are filming… the camera work is brilliant and creative. There are some fun casting surprises (I’m not going to say anything in case you guys see this). Otherwise it’s just kind of an endless string of quirky and cute moments interspersed with the occasional cringe-worthy one. Sorry, Michel Gondry, I still love you!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Time to update my favorite pop songs of 2007… Carrie is visiting me here in Chicago, and it came to my attention that she has never heard the huge hit song Calabria, which we have the pleasure of hearing in one form or another at least twice an hour on any given radio station. Maybe it’s due to the high percentage of Latinos/Caribbean natives/gay people in this city - I don’t know why she hasn’t heard this song once, but I’ve heard it 450,000 times. I’m going to post three permutations of the song here. I have to say that no matter how many times I hear this song, I still like it. The beat is too infectious to get sick of, honestly. Plus, the girl who sings it died in a car crash last summer before her song even made it big – how depressing is that?

First, the original version by Natasja & Enur:
"Calabria" by Enur featuring Natasja

Second, the Mims remix, which is more likely to be heard on the Top 40 radio stations:
Calabria 2007 Remix

Third, the Pitbull remix, which is constantly played on the Latino stations:
Anthem by Pitbull feat. Lil Jon

I’m sparing you the gay club remix, I’m sure you can imagine that on your own.
Goddamnit, you convinced me! It kind of sucks though.
Gay Remix

In case those weren’t enough, you get to hear every other phone ringtone playing Calabria as well. I do like this song, which is good as it’s absolutely impossible to avoid.