And Pixar goes 10 for 10:
Click here for the review.
Month: May 2009 (page 1 of 2)
I’m starting a new, limited series over at Pajiba to look back at some of the films of 1999. That was a great year for mainstream U.S. movies, and it was also a really good year to be 17 and starting to fall in love with the possibilities of the medium. I’m starting out with The Matrix, because why not, but I’ve got at least a dozen more titles in the hopper.
Click here for the review.
Man, when “Lost” went to a white screen, I just sat there, wondering how the hell I was going to survive until 2010 (!) to see what happened.
Also, in re: Locke, I gotta say: It feels good to be right. I don’t do a lot of major theorizing about the show, but that one clicked with me back during “Dead Is Dead.”
And finally, because I am a nerd like this, I am already planning my headline theme for next season’s write-ups.
Click here for the recap.
Rob: so want to see a potential future roommate of mine?
ask her what the 60s were like
Rob: the 60s?
me: the era in which she was born?
Rob: ah yes
me: maybe she’s just done some hard living
me: i think you should live with her
Rob: ryan thought she was hot
no, she’s not
she’s not repulsive
but i am not attracted to a woman whose chest looks like ricardo montalban’s in Wrath of Khan
We had seen pictures of naked women before, as children. We discovered a weather-beaten issue of Playboy in an alley when I was in elementary school, the pages whitened by sun and rain. There was discussion and argument about who would take it. I don’t remember who did. There was also Jason, who lived with his grandfather a couple blocks over, said grandfather being the owner of what we would still now consider a large collection of skin magazines but what back then appeared to be an almost terrifying amount. Some of these were rougher than others, offering images whose effects would scar over and dull the parts of us that needed tending.
We had seen the pictures, but actually finding a way to own the pictures was another challenge. (Sex itself was to most of us a bump on a distant and fogged horizon, a place to possibly be reached but not without a long and arduous journey through as yet uncharted territory.) I took driver’s education at the local mall, and on dinner break one night walked into a store that sold memorabilia, sports cards, movie scripts, and various pop culture items that didn’t go together.
They also sold old magazines, including back issues of Playboy, that name revered by the pubescent and yearning. It was winter or spring of 1998, and among their plastic-bagged and retagged issues was December 1997, boasting pictorials of Miss Canada among what could only be a wealth of glories. The centerfold that month was Karen McDougal, who would go on to become Playmate of the Year; apparently my subconscious wanted a good one. I was too young to even drive, let alone buy the magazine, so I did what any 15-year-old would do when driven to frenzied madness by his hormones: I stole it.
I slid it into my red 1-inch binder and went back to class, keeping it behind the paper as I took notes and waited. I don’t remember which parent picked me up, but I do remember the ride home, holding the binder as still as possible on my lap, praying to the God I was sure I was dishonoring to not let the notebook slide or fall. I was even so terrified of being found out that I kept it in my backpack and took it to school for days, as if it were a grenade without a pin, something that could detonate and destroy my life if I didn’t keep constant watch.
The pictures lodged themselves deep in my brain, the way songs or movies do, only really making their hold known over time. I would see more, but these remain the first I ever owned, and in some weird and kind of nostalgic but also admittedly not good way, I’ve never forgotten them. I got rid of the magazine at one point, either plagued by fear or swept up in a fit of righteousness I likely regretted hours later, but I don’t remember when or where or how it left. I didn’t have it when I went to college.
It took me a while to even realize I wanted to tell the story, even though I’m still not sure what the point of the telling could be. I guess it’s just one of those high school things that eventually processes itself and needs to be spit out.
I wrote the feature package at work for the 100th episode of “The Office,” which included a story about the series and an interview with Greg Daniels. (Daniels, who’s a dry and very funny guy, also worked on the fantastic and underrated “King of the Hill.”)
Click here for the story.
Click here for the Q&A.
I’m looking for as many songs as I can find about California. I started out with those songs that featured the state’s name in the title, and here’s what I got:
“California Stars,” Billy Bragg and Wilco
“California,” Josh Ritter
“Going to California,” Led Zeppelin
“California Dreamin’,” The Mamas and the Papas
“California Girls,” The Beach Boys
“California,” Rufus Wainwright
“Back to California,” The Wallflowers
“All the Gold in California,” Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers
“California,” Phantom Planet
“California Love,” Tupac and Dre
“California,” Mason Jennings
“Come to California,” Matthew Sweet
“Just Like California,” Old 97’s
Then I narrowed the list to Los Angeles:
“Los Angeles,” Denison Witmer
“Los Angeles Is Burning,” Bad Religion
“Los Angeles,” Counting Crows
I’m looking for more, but am also willing to take songs that mention the state in the verses and not the title. (Like, for example, Ryan Adams’ “La Cienega Just Smiled.”)
Let me hear it.
• This is the best Star Trek film to date. Hands down. The various series and movies were too susceptible to getting caught up in hard science, but really, no one cares that you can defeat the evil space cloud by blasting it with a tachyon pulse. The best stories are the ones about characters, and that’s what this movie had. Kirk and Spock were simply but effectively drawn, on opposite sides of the fence when it came to following procedure but united in their desire to get revenge against the man who killed their parents. For the first time since Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the film was actually about someone.
• The screenplay’s alternate timeline device was ingenious. The film takes place before the original series and films, but it opens with the enemy ship traveling back in time and changing the past, killing Kirk’s father before he could get to know him. The idea was efficiently introduced on the bridge of the Enterprise years later, and driven home by the elderly Spock’s confusion that Kirk was the ship’s first officer, not captain. It was a perfect way to admit that the characters originated in a separate series of stories but are now free to create new ones without ruining what some consider an unimpeachable canon. J.J. Abrams’ film exists in a new universe, one with unwritten stories.
• The humor was perfectly done, a mix of one-liners and slapstick that was still always rooted firmly in character. One of the many things that made the scene where Bones kept injecting Kirk with various ailments so funny was that it wouldn’t have played the same with any other characters. It had to be these two guys, and that’s what made it click.
• The effects were dazzling and slick, and the production design was gorgeously crowded. The bridge of “The Next Generation” looked like a Chevy Suburban, but the glistening, white deck of Abrams’ redesigned ship was a way of literally starting over with a blank slate as well as honoring the overall aesthetic of retro-futurism. A lot of the film is meant to look like what people in the 1960s thought the future might look like, and it’s fantastically executed.