Archive for the ‘movies’ category

Book ReviewS: Ellison, Hosseini, and Klosterman

September 22, 2008

I’ve been trying to read ad much as I can despite the hectic past few weeks.  No time for long reviews, so I’ll get right to the good stuff:

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.   This book tackles some really deep subject matter, including race relations, religion, vigilantism, and moral and political corruption.  Everyone can take away something different from it, or even totally disagree on what the message is.  This classic is as cerebral as they come, and finishes with a flourish.  Take your time with it and read it real slowly…point being that you should read it.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  This book lives up to, if not exceeds, the hype.  It’s a beautiful story and is written so well that you don’t mind, or even notice, the melodrama.  The plot focuses on the growth and trials of a young man in the context of post-Taliban Afghanistan.  This one is definitely a tearjerker…I’ve heard.

 But unfortunately the movie sucked.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.  I’m about halfway through this one.  I was trying to read something different from the usual fiction novel, and as an analysis of how our current media-drowned generation is so profoundly influenced by pop culture, this book fits the bill.  It’s meant to be funny, and succeeds at times, just enough to keep me reading.  But Klosterman tries way too hard to make his insights more dynamic than they really are…he basically discovers the origins of the universe by comparing the characters from different seasons of The Real World.  I’m finding that I skim through to the parts where he talks about sports or something that I have a particular interest in (like his funny anecdotes about how even as a dork he has been able to lure chicks into bed using his mastery of wit and pop culture innuendo).  Not great so far, but suitably entertaining.

I’ve been reading these between my subscriptions to National Geographic and TimeOut NY, and of course my constant companion; Lonely Planet:Turkey.  Can’t wait…

John McCain: 5 Things You Need to Know

April 25, 2008

Prepare to be shocked.

I just received a startling news revelation that there is a person running for president not named Obama or Clinton!

YES, John McCain is not a myth.  He is real.  And with all the crazy infighting between the Dems going on — I’d be surprised if this thing gets settled in a way that does not involve mudwrestling or a contest to see who can tell the best yo-mama joke — this McCain character actually stands a chance in a general election.  Which means that we need some dirt on this dude to find out what he’s all about.

And what better source than the amazing Jon Stewart?  With his assistance I will begin my McCain bashing, as it is never too early to sully the reputation of a future adversary. Stewart’s McCain highlights on a recent episode of the Daily Show  include the following juicy tidbits, along with my own ruminations:

McCain does NOT wear an American Flag lapel pin! What gives? Nazi bastard.

McCain cares deeply about civil rights and plans on being a pillar of the black community.  This is evidenced by the fact that he recently went to Selma, Alabama, home of the landmark civil rights march, for a speaking engagement about civil rights….in front of a crowd composed almost exclusively of white middle class citizens.  He was also later seen standing next to a black woman singing in a church, with an awkward smile and an alarmingly sweaty brow.  This man obviously loves black people.  He also has firmly stated that slavery was probably a bad thing and that he has seen the entire Roots mini-series, twice.  Now that is impressive. 

Personally, I’m not buying it.  You wanna see how he really feels?  Let’s see what happens when his daughter Meghan comes home one day with a big black dude she met at a G-Unit concert.  My guess is that Papa McCain’s 71 year old heart skips more than a few beats.

71. Jesus. There is a minimum age for presidential candidates, so why cant there be a maximum? This dude was born in the 30’s.  I’m afraid he might randomly enforce a food ration in anticipation of the next Great Depression (which, judging by the current value of the dollar, we might already be in).

McCain has a Reverend even crazier than Obama’s!  That is quite an accomplishment.   Actually, Rev. John Hagee is not McCain’s Pastor but is a prominent one who’s support was sought after by the McCain Campaign.  Hagee has been quoted as calling American Muslims disloyal, and thinks Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment against New Orleans for being the Sin City of the south.  The difference here is that McCain totally stands by the endorsement from this jerk. How can he do this, but then also go on record as saying that Katrina was a terrible disaster that deserved much more attention and government assistance than it received? How can he be proud of this endorsement?

John McCain looks like and may actually be a leprechaun.  It’s true.

What if he’s not a nice leprechaun that helps you find gold and marshmellowy cereal but an evil leprechaun like from the movie Leprechaun with Jennifer Aniston!  This possibility can’t be ignored.

Lucky Charms my ass. You’re going down, McCain.

Movie Review — My Blueberry Nights

April 9, 2008

The world-renowned director Wong Kar Wai’s big English film debut!

Who cares.  He sucks.  So does this movie.  And the rest of his movies.

In all fairness, I’ve only seen one other movie of his, Happy Together. Which means that I have no comeback when all my artsy frenchie friends tell me that I can’t judge his work until Ive seen one of his most beloved films, In the Mood for Love.  But I do know this: other than the fact that most of his movies are named after cheesy love songs, they are also focused on portraying poignant images of internal strife as a product of love and heartbreak. 

Blueberry Nights in no exception.  Dialogue is kept to a minimum in a film full of Wong’s characteristic awkward silences…fleeting moments when the script is suspended so as to force the audience to look beneath the words left floating in the air; to empathize rather than analyze.  These moments often coincide with striking imagery, ample in this in this film only when the camera focuses on the physically gifted Norah Jones, Jude Law and Natalie Portman.

Although the cast delivers solid performances, the script and direction leave a bland taste that belies the film’s title. The story is too sappy…a confused and heartbroken Jones visits a diner every night after it is closed to share a piece of blueberry pie with the handsome manager who faithfully awaits her…both of them lonely…like the lonely blueberry pie that is so good and sweet yet is always left untouched each day..the warm blueberry pie with ice cream melting over it..mmm have some pie baby…and then close your eyes to think about how good it is..and then fall asleep next to the nice warm blueberry pie, with a milk mustache and your nice warm lips slightly puckered so I can kiss them while you sleep.  OK I just got myself a little titillated..my description is better than the movie though, I swear!

 Thanks to Jude Law, this pie is not American…thank God.

Norah Jones isn’t bad in her acting debut, but the film doesn’t really give her much of a chance to shine OR to screw up.  Instead of demanding a lot from its actors, it relies too heavily on the imagery of Wong, which isn’t up to par in this one.  The constant interludes featuring images of oozing pie and (QUEENS BOUND) trains passing by to the backdrop of a full moon and a solitary saxophone…it’s a thick sauce with no taste.  It’s not one of those really bad movies where youre walking out complaining about why you paid $11 to see it, but it’s nothing special and barely even worth a rental. 

But that pie did look damn good. Mmm.

Rating:  2 out of 5 milk mustaches

Movie Review – Under the Same Moon

April 1, 2008

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I don’t watch TV (only the occasional game and TV series’ on Netflix) enough to know what movies are out, so I wasn’t surprised when I went to the AMC theater on 34th/8th and didnt recognize any of the movies that were playing.  We chose Under the Same Moon after reading the synopsis and deciding that the film had a chance to be good (I am really cynical when it comes to watching movies in theaters other than my beloved Lincoln Plaza Cinemas).

The movie is about a young boy in Mexico whose father abandoned him as a baby and whose mother illegally crossed the border into L.A. so she could make some money to send back home.  When his already tenuous living situation in Mexico falls apart, he realizes he has no more ties to his homeland and decides to make the dangerous trip across the border in the hopes of reuniting with his mother.  The kid is smart and endearing as both a character and an actor, and the film does a good job of capturing the inherent pain and suffering both of immigrants who risk their lives in search of opportunity and of the families they leave behind.  Do the paychecks being sent home every month heal the wounds of the children who grow up without their parents?  What is the true price of seeking economic opportunity away from home? The film examines these questions, and except for a few lapses of overly-sappy melodrama and some contrived exchanges, the strong acting and script make this film a rewarding one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 greencards

My BACK-FROM-HIBERNATION Top TEN List

February 26, 2008

Sorry loyal patrons [which last time I counted meant..no one]. I havent posted anything in a while, it’s been a busy winter. I’ll give you a top-ten rundown of blog-worthy items that I wouldve written about if I wasn’t busy being a lazy bastard, in random order:

1. I went to Montreal in October with mon cheri..what a great city. Everyone is really laid back, there’s anactive night life, very scenic…of course I went before the usual 50 feet of snow fell, but whatever. Plus the Quebecois accent is really cool. One question: why do they smother their fries with that thick nasty gravy??? Even my turkey sandwich was covered in that mess. I think they call it poutine. I call it retarded. Freaking Amazon tribes that live in trees know that you eat fries with ketchup. One minus for an otherwise stellar town.

montreal-building.jpeg                                                   amazing building near McGill Universitymontreal-trees.jpeg                                                         the trees in late fall were gorgeousmontreal-sign.jpeg                                                                 this place was pretty empty..I wonder why? I know plenty of biker lesbians with short hair. 

montreal-fries.jpg                                                      blaaaaah

2. I had only the second fun new year’s eve of my life, hanging out with some frenchies: first pregaming at M&V’s pad [the red house], then the historic Lenox Lounge in Harlem for a Jazz jam session, then central park for a smaller but just as impressive [and way less crowded] fireworks presentation. Then back to the red house to get trashed. Good times.

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3. Movies/Netflix — don’t remember everything I saw but here goes:

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was an interesting film about a dude who suffers a stroke and tries to find meaning in his life despite being 99% paralyzed…it’s slow, but no snoozer.

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Across the Universe was only mildly entertaining as the movie-musical that bring The Beatles songs to life..I love the beatles but c’mon, the lyrics are cheesy and making a movie based on them is pretty lame…good acting, but this one was doomed from the start.

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NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN— holy crap this movie is awesome and deserves all the acclaim. Tommy Lee Jones and the psycho Euro guy were straight up BADASS.

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Ugly Betty, Season 1: I tried hard to like it cuz the main chick is from Queens, but borough-based allegiances only go so far. The writing and acting is weaK; it tries way too hard to be diabolical and the punchlines are too obvious. Plus the show is based on the chick being butt ugly while working with supermodels, when its obvious that she’s not even too bad lookin..they just give her huge braces and dress her like a dork. Put some Sean Jean velour on her, get her hair did by a Dominicana, and strap on some clear braces, and I know plenty of dudes that would tap that. Anyway, the show is boring.

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Rome, Season 2: I just finished season 2 and this is one awesome show. It’s like No Country for Old Men meets Braveheart. Violent but not pointlessly, with plenty of suspense. But damn it is gory. Me likey.

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Deadwood: Another BADASS WESTERN theme done great. I’m a few episodes into season 1 and this shit is cold hearted drama. I read negative reviews from ppl who didnt like the show because, “OMG, why do they have to use such foul langauge?” or “there is so much violence, I couldn’t watch this with my kids.” Uhh, NO SHIT dumbass. This is the Wild West in the 1800s, gold miners clawing through Native American territories, outside the realm of the law, trying to make some change by mining in mountains for gold theyve heard of but never seen. This isn’t little house on the prairie, and if I was digging all day and didnt find any gold, Id get wasted, curse someone out, and go to the whorehouse for a little consolation too. It’s called being realistic. Put the kids to bed, grow some stones and enjoy the damn show. Oh, and if you haven’t noticed the trend, HBO produces some kick-ass TV shows.                                                                 deadwood.jpg

Next on my list of shows to watch on Netflix: I heard Dexter wasnt all that great but I’m curious so I think I’ll give it a shot [plus the main role is played by the guy from 6 feet under, which was an amazing show]. Plus it’s a Showtime production, and Weeds was so good that I’m hoping it meets the standard. I also got into watching Law and Order SVU, which is great because every show is so freaking suspenseful and well crafted, and you can watch it in any order because their is so little character development that you won’t ever be confused..each episode is completely dedicated to solving the latest crime mystery. I love no-commitment entertainment [Netflix related and, apparently, otherwise]. Btw…the Asian psychologist guy on SVU is a total closet case. Btw#2…How the hell does Ice-T [IceD-T?] have a job? He is a ridiculously bad actor. I think the producers mustve realized that he actually sucked to the point that he unwittingly provides comic relief, with his wannabe badass one-liners. That they partnered him with the other weird guy who wears sunglasses all the time only enhances the funny-by-accident theme. Those producers are clever ones.

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4. WTF is up with those damn selfish lazy writers! I miss watching The Office and 30 Rock! SEE, I don’t watch TV for years and then I commit to watching those shows, and then they stop writing midseason. This is why I’m so emotionally screwed up! And the strike’s been over forever now and still no new episodes till April? They knew it was gonna get resolved eventually, so couldnt they just keep writing and hand over the scripts when this thing got resolved? The unreliability of TV is reason No. 346 why NETFLIX is awesome.

5. I went to DR to visit my friend who lives there as a Peace Corps volunteer. I stayed in her camp in Moca, which was gheTTo but quaint and friendly, and we traveled all over, thru Santo Domingo and into the beaches of Bayahibe. I’m not into the resort thing or hanging with crazy spoiled underage spring-breakers intent on winning the race to cirrhosis; it was cool to meet the locals and live in their shoes for a short while. The local food wasn’t anything to write home about, but beware of TOSTONES, which are fried carB-Bombs that taste best covered in salt and ketchup. Dangerous stuff.

Bayahibe Sunset                  Bayahibe by night

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6. 3 amazing frenchies in my life have fallen victim to ridiculous American visa laws and have to move back to Europe. I am thinking about following them out of spite for America. Oui, c’est vrai! My next post might be in French.  Or English with the occasional french curse word. That option is most likely. Merde!

7. THE GIANTS WON! THE GIANTS WON! THE BEST GAME IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS! TYREE MAKES THE CATCH! MANNING AVOIDS THE SACK! BURRESS PUTS THE G-MEN AHEAD…FOR GOOD! 18 AND 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

tyree.jpeg game-score.jpeg                                                                                  I took a picture of the TV I saw the game on in the Hard Rock Cafe in Santo Domingo

Perhaps my proudest day to be a New Yorker ever.

8. NBA trades galore!! Holy Crap! SHAQ, KIDD, MARION, GASOL!!?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Why couldnt the Knicks package their crap players in a deal? [oh yeah, because none of their awful contracts are expiring this year]. If Kobe’s pinky holds up, he gets his first championship sans the newly dubbed “Big Cactus” — believe it. That squad is nasty.

9. Mets + Johan Santana + determination after a terrible ’07 collapse = championship. Write that shit down, biatch [wow I missed saying that word].

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10. YES – WE – CAN! O-FUCKING-BAMA for president. BILLARY should be one of the whores that the angry gold-miners dig out every night in the saloon in Deadwood. I don’t mean that in a derogatory/misogynistic way…I’m just taking a page out of her campaign strategy book by thinking of anything I can say to make her look bad.obama.jpg

* * * * *

Oh, and, I’m writing all this at work, so yeah, I’m still at the same job and thus have tons of free time to ruminate. Lucky y’all!

Movie Review: “Lust, Caution” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

November 12, 2007

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Saw two movies at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas this week Lust, Caution, directed by Ang Lee, and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, with Ethan Hawke and Sexy Ass Marissa Tomei ( that is actually her full un abridged name, I checked. I first found that out when I saw her in My Cousin Vinny). It’s interesting how these two movies have many similar themes but are portrayed in such contrasting styles.

Lust Caution is about a young group of Chinese collegiate actors during WWII who decide to fulfill their patriotic duty by exposing and killing a traitor in the government who is working for the Japanese. They act their way into the traitors life, with the lead role going to a girl who tries to seduce the traitor to get close to him. Once she enters the life of this complex and dangerous man, the degree to which she dedicates herself to her character is consuming, for it is the only way she can accomplish her mission and stay alive. The magnetism between her ‘character’ and the traitor is not only compelling, but is really a beautifully unfolded story.

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Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead also involves a lot of lies, acting, suspenseful and dangerous relationships, and emotional frenzy just as Lust does, but the storytelling couldn’t be any more different. The movie is about two fuck-up brothers who go to desperate measures to salvage their own fucked-up lives. They try to work together to do so, but everyone in this movie has an agenda and tries to cheat their way towards achieving their goal. While the goal starts off as simply trying to make some quick cash, their history of deception catches up to them, and as their problems snowball they find themselves simply trying to stay alive. What’s compelling here is the uncensored ruthlessness on display that portrays the lengths people will go to save their own ass; in this movie, these lengths usually involve family betrayal.  In the end, justice is delivered by an unlikely source, which completes the cycle of betrayal. Both movies are really depressing, Lust in a sad way and Devil in a fucked up way.  But, both movies are also really good. Ethan Hawke plays a great loser, and Sexy Ass Marissa Tomei, wife of one of the fucked up brothers, is naked half the time, and God, Sexy Ass Marissa Tomei is sexy. Of course she is married to a really ugly guy in the movies, just like when she was married to Danny Devito in My Cousin Vinny. Why do cast directors not realize that doing that jeopardizes the realistic-ness of the movie? It’s a crying shame, I swear.

 Lust, Caution:  4 out of 5 ninja stars (it takes place in China.  I couldn’t think of anything creative.  does this make me racist?)

Before the Devil: 3.5 out of 5 spanks on Marissa Tomei’s ass

Movie Review: 2 Days in Paris

October 10, 2007

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Lincoln Plaza cinemas is the best movie theater in the city.  Not because of the size or comfort or decór or concession stand, but because damn near every movie they show there is great.  They are dedicated to drawing attention to top notch, usually smaller budgeted independent and foreign films, and I have never seen a movie there that I didn’t like.  The latest great showcase is “2 Days In Paris“, starring Adam Goldberg (who looks so damn familiar but I can’t place him.  I know I’ve seen him in a bunch of other movie and TV cameos, usually cast in a supporting role as the nervous, nerdy type), and some chick.  It’s about an American guy and his native French girlfriend who spend 2 days in Paris to visit her family, and while there, the many holes in their relationship are exposed.  She keeps hiding details about her past to her boyfriend as he is exposed to them while meeting her family, friends, and, inevitably, ex-lovers.  He’s already the nervous insecure type and is silently flipping out until everything comes to a head, where they have to decide whether or not to be together in spite of their flaws and newly revealed lack of understanding of one another.  It’s a simple, honest movie, was really funny at times and doesnt get chick-flick-ish or too sentimental. 

I also really liked it because I spent a few days in Paris this summer and I could completely relate to the experiences of the American while touring the city…going to parties where youre some kind of french poodle novelty because you’re American, overcoming stereotypes [that the French have about you and that you have about them], the language barrier and how isolated it can make you feel, and just the overall approach to life which, while is certainly not uniform among Parisians, but as a whole is so different from that of Americans.  Oh, and also, not to stereotype or anything, but Parisians are real assholes.  Adam Goldberg, I feel your pain.

 Fun movie.

4 tête de lapin (rabbit heads) out of 5 (you have to watch the movie to understand the rating)