All articles, tagged with “retina of the mind's eye”

my sign on the Times

Today, a day that will live in infamy: on this day, my hair made the front page of the New York Times. (Below the fold.)

No, I am not kidding, even a little bit.

Behold:

frontpage

It’s down there on the lower right. What’s that you say, you can’t see anything but the lovely and her dashing ? Let’s zoom in a little bit:

zoom

Yes, that purple smudge in the back is who you think it is. The orange smudge is .

The moral of this story: when asks you to carry her train, do it.

unworthy thoughts, v3

I can’t have been the first person to notice this…can I? Can I?






Separated At Birth?
jackson gentleman
Michael Jackson, alleged molester of childrenThe Gentlemen, fictional evisceraters of children

It’s on like it’s never been.



Scheduled to appear:
Blacklicious
DJ D-Sharp
DJ Shadow
The Gift of Gab
Joyo Velarde
Latyrx
Lateef & The Chief
Lifesavas
Lyrics Born

I got my tickets already. You should get yours now.

on the bright side…

From the BBC:

Python film to challenge Passion

Monty Python’s film The Life of Brian is to return to US cinemas next month following the success of The Passion of the Christ.

The Biblical satire will be re-released in Los Angeles, New York and other US cities to mark its 25th anniversary.

Adverts will challenge Mel Gibson’s blockbuster with the lines “Mel or Monty?”, “The Passion or the Python?”


Distributor Rainbow said it hoped the film would “serve as an antidote to all the hysteria about Mel’s movie”.

The Life of Brian follows a Jewish character from Nazareth who is worshipped as the Messiah then crucified by Romans.

It was condemned as blasphemous before its original release, although Monty Python said it was intended as a spoof on Bible films and intolerance rather than Christianity.

The film could not be completed until former Beatle George Harrison stepped in to finance it after EMI Films withdrew, fearing it was too controversial. Rainbow president Henry Jaglom said: “We decided this is an important time to re-release this film, to provide some counter-programming to The Passion.”

He said the surviving members of the Monty Python comedy team “all agreed this was a good time” to bring back the film and would help promote it. Mr Jaglom, whose partner John Goldstone produced the original film, said trailers for the comedy would start to appear in cinemas on Good Friday.

no more big lizard

third time charming

So in the precious few moments between the lights in the theatre dimming at 00:05 and the feature presentation of Return of the King commencing at around 00:15, the fine folks at Regal/UA cinemas gave us advance notice and/or warning of the following possibly diverting entertainments coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:

  • Spider-Man 2 — Appropriately enough, they led off with a trailer for the other decades-overdue marquee franchise series based on a beloved pop culture property starring a diminutive and improbably soulfully-eyed male lead and directed by a former maker of gleefully violent zombie films. And it’s a corker of a trailer: a carefully staged character moment between Peter and Mary-Jane, and then the cars start flying. It looks like Raimi got to spend a lot more time and effort on the effects for this one: the web-swinging shots are much better-looking. Hopefully the extra effort also extends to the scripts, and Dr. Octopus will be a less arbitrarily-motivated villain than the Goblin was in the first movie. But who am I kidding? They’ve got my $10 already.


  • Hidalgo — Urk. That crashing sound you hear is Viggo Mortensen’s charisma and charm colliding head-on with his questionable taste in projects not involving hobbits. From all appearances, this is an ill-advised mish-mash of The Black Stallion Returns, Seabiscuit, Lawrence of Arabia, Raiders of the Lost Ark and, well, every race movie ever made but let’s peg the approximate quality level here and say The Cannonball Run. Starring Viggo as a blonde Native American who talks to his horse, who whinnies a lot. Based on a true story, like that’s any excuse.


  • The Chronicles of Riddick — Well, er, hm. The trailer doesn’t mention this at any point, but this is the 5-times-the-budget sequel to 2000’s Pitch Black. Pitch Black was an agreeable-enough B flick that wore its Aliens derivation like a badge of honor, hummed along efficiently, and somehow established Vin Diesel as a probable star. I liked it fine, and a lot of the same players are returning for this one. Still, there’s a weird whiff of overeagerness/overdesign about the trailer’s visuals; call it the “Stargate Syndrome”. And are we really sure we wanted to see this much more of Vin Diesel, this soon? On the other hand, bonus points for casting Judi Densch in a big-budget stupid sci-fi film. Maybe a matinee.


  • The Mask ReturnsAKA “Look Who’s Masking” I guess. The silence in the theatre after this one wrapped up was as if everyone had simultaneously discovered a dog turd in their popcorn. But alas, the stench of failure was emanating from the screen in front of us. There have certainly been less essential sequels made (cf: the entire straight-to-video animation market, e.g. “Snow White 2: Happily Ever After“), but quite possibly none so addle-brained. See, it’s like The Mask only the Mask is a baby this time! No, I’m not kidding. No really. I feel embarrassed just admitting that this exists. Let us never speak of it again.


  • The Butterfly Effect — So like, dude, Ashton Kutchner is this dude who can, like, go back in time and like change the future, only like, he keeps fucking it up and having to go back and do it again and dude, each time it gets worse and there’s this bit where his totally hot girlfriend turns into this total crack ho skank, and then he’s gotta talk to this dude in prison about how it all sucks, and like Ashton looks totally wigged out I guess cause the prison dude isn’t like instantly making Ashton his girlfriend! I kid. Sort of. I guess this is proof that we have all now been “punk’d” by Ashton. My one actual criticism, and it’s an oblique one: if we’re gonna keep almost making film versions of Replay, would it kill Hollywood to, uh, actually make a movie of Replay one of these years? I’d like that a lot.



Okay, and then…


Return of the Jedi, Godfather Pt. III, Matrix Revolutions, Alien^3, Jaws 3-D, Terminator 3…

…Return of the King is nothing like any of those films.

I can’t even pretend to be able to give a coherent review of this film now. I saw the midnight showing with a group of friends, got home at 4am, and was completely unable to sleep, because my brain was still swimming in images from the movie, wanted to process them, and Would. Not. Disengage.

There are other films that you can compare this to, but none of them come off the better for it. Every other fantasy film of the last decade looks like a shoddy toy in comparison, and I can’t think of many “non-genre” films that fare better. It’s not sui generis: it wears its influences proudly. But the standard for quality and scope has now been officially and irrevocably set once again. This is the bar that everyone else gets to measure up to from now on.

This movie, put simply, kicked my ass up one side of the theatre and down the other, then took my lunch money and started dating my sister. Go see it. A lot.

by your command

Short, shameful confession: this weekend, I watched the Sci Fi Channel’s remake of Battlestar Galactica.

I went in with expectations that could charitiably be described as low. I came prepared to mock, and mock mercilessly. I had little hope that I would not have changed the channel after the first half an hour. The only reason that I was bothering at all was that it was written and produced by Ronald Moore, who was responsible for HBO’s “Carnivale”, and many of the better episodes of “Star Trek Deep Space Nine.”

So it’s to my considerable chagrin that I report that, in large part, it… didn’t suck. In fact, in parts, it was pretty damn good. It wasn’t anywhere near perfect or even great, but I sat through the whole two hours and then tuned in to watch the conclusion the following night. There were parts I liked a lot. I might even watch it again.

Okay, that bad stuff first: Tricia Helfer as “Number Six” is channelling Natasha Henstridge in “Species” in a very, very bad way. Additionally, Six’s first two scenes are completely gratuitous, not to mention nonsensical. The guy playing Apollo is bland, blonde, boring and whiny. God help us, the brought the Cute Kid back. (Boxie? Boxy? I don’t care, just shove him out an airlock ASAP.) Putting the Cylon “eye” onto the front of the fighters was cheese-o-riffic. Grace Park looks a little lost as Boomer. The editing is a little choppy in places. And the dialogue gets a little hammy whenever someone has to give a speech or invoke religion in any way.

But the good stuff, weirdly, is almost everything else. The script is…mostly…good. Occasionally really good. The pacing was slow, careful and deliberate. The plot, with only a few exceptions, makes consistent sense. Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell were terrific. The secondary characters come off as more than a collection of standard archetypes. There’s actual drama. War in space is presented mostly not as an antiseptic videogame, but as…war, with consequences, casualties, and an impossible moral calculus to navigate.

The special effects were excellent. (Although putting maneuvering jets on the Vipers only points up how bad a design they are in the first place. But I digress. Geekily.) The operational chatter in the background actually sounds related to what’s going on rather than just arbitrary technobabble. There is no deus ex machina ending, and the status quo is most certainly not returned to at the end. The woman cast to play a kinda butch character (Katie Sackhoff as Starbuck) actually has broad shoulders and visible muscles. And, miracle of miracles, the direction is actually good: there’s even, in the beginning, a long tracking shot that might have taken some actual rehearsal time to put together.

There are plenty of nits to pick if you’re in a mood to pick nits, and a couple of outright groaners, but overall, color me happily surprised. I’m a little dubious about its prospects as a continuing series, but I’d probably at least give it a chance.

An aside: the weirdest aspect of this has been reading through the reactions on the usual fora (IMDB, Ain’t It Cool News, etc) and finding out that there are apparently still dozens, maybe even hundreds of fans of the original Battlestar Galactica series out there, who care deeply and passionately about it. Reading their reactions to the new show has been like watching the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy character emerge out of the TV screen. These people are really, really scary.

Is the new Galactica better than the original series? That’s easy: anything is better than the original Battlestar Galactica. Seriously. Grass growing, paint peeling: these and every other stereotypically boring and/or excruciating activity are better than watching Lorne Green and Richard Hatch shed termites as they try to act, interspersed with the same 15-second FX shot repeated over and over again. I, like many people who grew up in the 70s, had somewhat fond memories of the show, but trust me: that fondness does not survive exposure as an adult. I actually own a laserdisc copy of the original Galactica pilot movie, and it’s useful for torturing people who have unwisely admitted to liking it: they generally last up until the Space Disco Scene (yes, there really is a Space Disco Scene) before they crack completely and start begging for the pain to stop…

Somehow, Ronald Moore took whatever nugget of a compelling idea was buried beneath all of those layers of cheese and crap, and brought it out to stand on its own. Br-fucking-vo.

brush your breath

Courtesy of those kind folks at Amazon.Com (“Just send your paycheck to us, it’ll be easier!”), my copy of The Two Towers Special Extended DVD Edition arrived today. It is only due to the fact that I have incredible self-control that I am not running home immediately to begin watching it.

As always with amazon, the box came with a few extraneous coupons and such inside it, but this time there was something new as well: a complimentary sample pack of “Cool Mint Listerine Oral Care Strips”.

Think they’re making a comment on the personal hygiene habits of the average American geek?

revolverlution

I’m going to keep doing this until it no longer amuses me. Cope.

This weekend’s expedition to see The Matrix Revolutions supplied a bumper crop of trailers:

  • Paycheck — Oh how I want to believe. I want to believe that one day there will be an adaptation of Philip Dick’s work to the screen that’s even half as good as Blade Runner was. I want to believe that John Woo will make a film in America that’s even half as compelling as his middling Hong Kong work. I want to believe that someone other than Tarantino can wrest a good performance out of Uma Thurman. And despite myself, I want to believe that Ben Affleck can stop being annoying. I’m likely to be disappointed on every score here, but I’ll pony up the $10 in the name of unfounded optimism.


  • The Last Samurai — Each successive trailer for this film chips away at a little bit more of my soul. Why must evil triumph over good? Why must the innocent suffer? Why must there be a twenty-foot-tall poster of Tom Cruise dressed as a samurai, riding a horse, with an expression of extreme constipation on his face, looming just outside my office building over the path to my favorite lunch joint? Why does this movie exist? Because god hates us, that’s why.


  • Torque — You can almost hear the pitch for this one being made: “It’s The Fast and the Furious…but on motorcycles!” And, well, TF&TF was stupid but kinda cool, and motorcycles are axiomatically cooler than cars, so…maybe. In the right mood, with the right amount of alcohol, this could be big stupid fun. In the wrong mood, I could find myself remembering that Michelle Yeoh did that exact same motorcycle-jump-onto-a-moving-train trick in Supercop, except without a stunt double or digital editing. We’ll see.


  • Along Came Polly — Meh. Ben Stiller goes back to the well of Farrelly-esque romantic comedy, except that this time instead of wooing kooky anorexic Cameron Diaz, he’s pining for kooky-artist-with-bad-breast-job Jennifer Aniston. The trailer is one of those that leaves you feeling like you’ve seen the entire movie already, and really wished you’d waited for video. On the other hand, for all my snarking, both of the leads are enormously talented, and the trailer tested positive for traces of Philip Seymour Hoffman (and IMDB suggests that there’s a supplemental dose of Hank Azaria), so I could be talked out of my meh-ness.


  • The Missing — Let me go on record right now as saying that in 5 years when they decide to make the inevitable Johnny Cash biographic film, Tommy Lee Jones is required to play the part. The man does the Craggy and Weatherbeaten look better than anyone else save Clint Eastwood, but with the advantage of not being Eastwood first and the character second. And Cate Blanchett may be the most beautiful woman working in film today, and a fine actor in her own right. That said, this film appears to be a child-in-peril flick crossbred with the latest in nü-hörrör stylings, and I kinda regret not using the time to go get more raisinets. Except that apparently Regal Cinemas doesn’t carry raisinets, and isn’t that illegal for a movie theatre to do? Why not stop carrying popcorn at that point? I ended up with a bag of these unspeakably nasty things that purported to be chocolate-covered cookie dough bits, which succeeded in reminding me of the time in 4th grade that I ate half a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, without ever once reminding me why cookie dough tasted good.


  • Troy — Well, this was probably inevitable after Gladiator. Starring Brad Pitt’s pecs, Orlando Bloom’s cheekbones and Eric Bana’s bedroom eyes, and, apparently, a lot of boats, Troy promises to be, um… er… Okay, let’s just cut to the chase here: Brad Pitt in a toga. Are you tumescent and/or moist? It’s okay, you’re among friends, you can admit it. You’ll pay up just like everyone else. The real mystery here is the presence of Peter O’Toole, who you’d think would have learned his lesson about classical historical drama after Caligula. Dance for me, little boots!



Oh, the actual feature presentation?

There’s been something of a critical pile-on on The Matrix Revolutions. It’s ugly; the kind of thing where you’re reduced to putting pull-quotes from Gene Shalit in your newspaper ads. The Des Moines Register Says: Action! It’s not entirely undeserved, but I get the impression that a lot of this is a sort of boil-over of annoyance related to cumulative exposure to the flaws of the first two films. Really, Revolutions is, at worst, no worse than Reloaded (well, except in a few respects, and I’ll get to that), and is often quite a bit better, but I can’t really blame anyone who just gave up and said “enough of this shit” ten minutes into this film.

The big problem, frankly, is spotty scripting, especially the dialogue. Things start out well enough: there’s an appropriately reserved, almost funereal air to Neo’s initial conversations with the Oracle, Agent Smith is all gonzo intensity, and Bane is genuinely creepy. But then, as observed, suddenly we’re in the middle of a John Wayne-esque WW2 film, complete with the Gritty Sergeant and the Plucky Corporal, and there’s one scene where a major character dies that goes on so long that you expect her to start belting out Mimi’s death aria from La Boheme, and oh god there’s the Plucky Kid again, and this all wouldn’t be so bad if every line weren’t so comic-book obvious that you see it telegraphed from a great distance…

Argh, okay, I was supposed to be talking about why I liked this movie. Which I did. Partially this is a matter of low expectations from fantasy entertainment: with “The Fifth Element”, “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones” as recent benchmarks for quality in this genre, it’s hard to not cut at least a little slack to a film that’s trying a little harder than that. And there is, honestly, plenty to like here. If you indulge the dialogue, the plot itself provides (to me, anyway) a satisfying ration of narrative closure to the story. The setpiece action sequences are jawdropping, and mostly demand a little more emotional involvement from the audience than Reloaded‘s seemingly arbitrary scenes. A lot of the supporting cast carries away the film: Harold Perrineau, and Nona Gaye especially. Mary Alice completely sells the part of the “new Oracle.” Monica Belluci wears another dress made out of 10% latex and 90% optimism. And miracle of miracles, the Wachowski Brothers have figured out a way to get Keanu Reeves to emote onscreen without making the audience immediately snigger: cover his eyes. Absent Ted Logan’s dazed-yet-friendly Holstein stare, Keanu showing emotion is almost convincing.

In short: you could do worse things with your hard-earned $10.

[spoilers in the commentary; beware]

copyright violation du jour


Thanks to for turning me on to the incredible Aesop Rock. I’m just in awe.

Daylight

Yo…put one up shackle me, not clean logic procreation
I did not invent the wheel I was the crooked spoke adjacent
While the triple sixers lassos keep angels roped in the basement
I walk the block with a halo and a stick poking your patience
Ya’ll catch a 30 second flash visual
Dirty cooperative Neptune blue head hurt splits
Ridiculous fathom the splicing of first generation
fuck up or trickle down anti hero smack (Cracking!)
I paste the game to zero all completion green (Splash!)
Took an early retirement pick a dream
American nightmare hogging the screen
I’ll hold the door open so you can stumble in
if you would stop following me around the jungle gym
Now it’s an honor and I spell it with the ‘H’ I stole from heritage
Marry crutch stolen wretched refuge refuse my teaming resonance
I promise temperance storm breed with a leaning conscious
In a credence relax responsive with my sports outsource the wattage
And I’m sleeping now (Wow!) And the settlers laugh
You won’t be laughing when your covered wagons crash
You won’t be laughing when the buzzards drag your brother’s flags into rags
You won’t be laughing when your front lawn is spangled with epitaphs
You won’t be laughing
And I hang my boots to rest when I’m impressed
So I triple knot them then I forgot them
This origami dream is beautiful
but man those wings will never leave the ground
Without a feather and a lottery ticket, now settle down

All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.

Slacker bounded imitated tabloid headlined with the post
Shimmy cross the centerfold, and a dead time engulfed
Giving crumbs for the better souls with seven deadly sins
To hear the plane to crystal conscious
To results a low life counting on one hand what he’s accomplished
Ok, lift me to activism chain activate street sweep
Plug in deteriorating zenith pen dragging
I hack swords wars for the morbid spreading of mad men
Now he’s got soul
Sitting there licking log cabin in Charlie Chaplin waddle
I could zig zag and zig ‘em again for the bad dreams
Sparking my brick wall windows another thicket storm
And if one night in Gotham without the wretched
Houston we have a problem
Dispatch a task of infested patch of city goblins
Who split how many freaks with box cuts of a high road bellow
Heads ripped! Watch red bricks turn yellow
Sort of similar to most backbones at camp Icarus
Raw feelings start congregating at pamper for bickering
Life’s not a bitch life is a beautiful woman
Your only call her a bitch because she won’t let you get that pussy
Maybe she didn’t feel y’all shared any similar interests
Or maybe you’re just an asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess
Kiss the speaker wire or either pass it for some pagan thresh hold
Stomach full of halo kibbles
Wings span cast black of porn visuals hear the duck hunt ticker tape
Vision and pick apart the pixels
I got a friend of polar nature and it’s all peace
When I seek similar stars but can’t sit at the same feast
Metal Captain!
This cat is asking if I’ve seen his little lost passion
I told him: “Yeah, but only when I pedaled past him”

All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.


(Can’t play ogg vorbis files? Try here.)