Monday, September 25, 2006

The Rip Off Artist as Genius

I can call myself among a new generation of film fans and filmmakers to revere BLOW OUT (1981) as a masterpiece. Or, at least, I can claim myself among Pauline Kael, Quentin Tarantino, Collider's Jeremy Smith, and Armond White (among others) who revere this film. Watching the ending, you see the metacommentary (pretty excplicit as it my be) that the artist must take his own personal demons and apply them to their art, even if it tears them up inside. They have to, they must. Whether De Palma was applying those demons or commenting on the artistic process (though likely both) is immaterial, that revelation is one of the greatest in the history of cinema, and may prove that De Palma made more personal films that Scorsese, whose soul may have been in the slightly flat RAGING BULL. Or moreso than Spielberg, whose game keep getting more interesting with each passing year, but reveals a craftsman whose soul only lightly touches his final product. Yep, I'm intoxiated enough with BLOW OUT to suggest that it proves De Palma the best filmmaker of his generation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Black Dahlia (2006)

There was a list of films to see this weekend. Jackass Number 2, The Science of Sleep, a De Palma double feature of Blow Out and The Untouchables and The Black Dahlia, which I wanted to catch last weekend, but post-wedding exhaustion nixed. With Sunday wrapping up I made the effort to at least see one of the films, and it was Dahlia, which is the one most likely to disappear quickest. I also watched Edmond (which I liked), Body Double (yay) and Lucky Number Slevin (a guilty pleasure, but functional). But I just got back from BD.

One of the things I love about Hollywood is just that it's Hollywood. I go to the Arclight, and who's watching the movie with me but Peter Dinkage. There you go. As for the film, I have mixed feelings for the moment. As a narrative it is talky, and the mystery elements don't snap... the haunted obsession of Elizabeth Short (played well by Mia Kirshner) seems the backstory to the machinations of boxers/cops Bucky Bleichert (Josh Harnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart). After a shooting, the two become attached to the Short case out of Lee's insistance, and it becomes something of an overwhelming obsession for Lee, something that is shown but not entirely felt. Bucky starts chasing after a woman named Madeline Linscott (Hilary Swank), who knew Short through a lesbian bar. Bucky and Lee have been friends for a while, and share a relationship with Kay Lake (Scarlet Johansson), but though Kay and Bucky suggest their emotions, Bucky's unwilling to do anything while Lee's in the picture. There's a tale of obsession, betrayal, guilt, all the things that make a great De Palma film, but taken as a whole, and a second viewing might settle some things for me, it's a little too leaden for its own good. I didn't sink into the character's emotional weight, and there's so much going on that I felt like some important emotional beats were left out. I got into the film's lulling rhythms, but waited for the moment of total engagement, which just didn't happen. De Palma can still stage a setpiece, and those sequences popped, but I kept waiting for momentum to kick in. It didn't, though I loved the hoary theatrics of the villian's reveal. But the pieces were there for it to be out of the park, and I just didn't feel it. Still, worth seeing, if only for De Palma's command.

Afterwards I drove down Sunset at sunset. I see why it got the name. Now, I'm back in Burbank. I've been freaking out lately about the kid stuff. I'll tell you, the thing that sort of settled me was making love with the wife in the baby's room. We fell asleep in the middle of the room, and I guess everything was okay. You can worry about the long term, and you should, but sometimes the smart money's on staying with the day to day concerns.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Losing my internet cleverness

Damn it, I'm getting old. I'm married, I'm about to have a kid. I've got a job I do at home now because I want to be around the kid. I have a house. I married off two of my best friends to each other. They're gonna have kids at some point. Our kids will hang out. The map of my life is getting scary. I don't forsee myself getting a divorce, so I'm gonna be fucking one more person for a long time. I think I've tried all the drugs I'm going to try. I'm just freaking out a little bit cause in less than a month, I'm a dad. I guess we'll go abroad at some point in the next two years, but that'll be family related. This was never the person I thought I'd be. But I don't know who that person is. Fuck. Fuck Fuck. This is all just baby freakout shit.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Every part of my body is sore

I was in Portland for the weekend. I spent four days helping get my friends Heather and Scott married. I don't know how I cut my right hand (I think it was a bottle top), I know why my feet hurt (new shoes and new blisters), and I'm just generally sore and cranky. Then again, I got to bed at 3:30 last night and woke up still drunk for a morning flight, which - considering the amount of alcohol that was in my system for the last couple days - shouldn't be a surprise.

I got in on Wednesday and went to the bachelorette party. Oh yeah. I forgot to mention. I was the maid of honor. The wife was going to come, but seeing as how she's eight months pregnant she decided to skip it. I felt bad, but she had come out a couple months back. So I was to chaperone the party solo (though I wouldn't have wanted the wife to go... it'd be so bad if everyone else was getting plowed and she had to smile politely). The party consisted of going to two gay bars, the first a more mellow gay themed restaurant, the second the kind that was showing pornos on the TV's around us. I thought I would be surround by ten drunk women celebrating Heathz, but there were only four ladies, a gay man, and myself, and every single person was in a relationship. Still, you get a man drunk and all flirty, and he's happy his wife's out of town.

Thursday some of Scott's friends had arrived so we did the bachelor party. Again, two places, the first for food, the second for booze. I got to spend a lot of time with Scott's bro Joe, and I'd say we became fast friends. Friday was the rehearsal and then the dinner. If it isn't abundantly clear, I got plowed every single night. Totally enjoyed it, but I am not drinking again until the baby pops. There were numerous jokes about whether Joe and I should hold hands during the ceremony.

Saturday was the wedding. It was awesome. I got to give a toast and didn't cry, which I felt like I should have as the maid of honor. It was more fun than anything ever should be. Their gift to the groomsmen were monogrammed flasks, so I loaded Joe and I up with some Glenfiddich, and we kept passing shots to both the bride and groom - Dutch courage saves the day! But the main thing is that I love Scott and Heather very much, and them getting married (of which it has been said I was the conduit... Though that's mostly by me) is just about the greatest thing ever.

I guess I could write some other stuff about the wedding ceremony, about how for the wedding pictures I insisted I lay in yearbook pose, but Scott and Heather and two of my readers, and I just wanted to toast them again, for their friendship and for giving me the honor of being a part of the ceremony and their lives.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Have a beer

Okay. I just got a call from someone I dated briefly when I first moved to Los Angeles, nearly two years ago. She didn't know I got married. That's a fucked up conversation I just had. Time passes so quickly, five years ago the WTC went down, I was living in a basement apartment, dating someone else. I can't even think what I was doing ten years ago - probably heading to college after seeing Prince, actually (actually I just checked, I was off by a year and a couple weeks on that one). But my point is those five years have been the fastest of my life, and the last two have been crazy. But I think she wanted to do something tonight. Things ended... Okay I guess. She was heading to Colorado for some work related stuff for a couple of months, and after a couple of dates, there wasn't the connection there to keep us going with such an absence. When she got back into la there was that flurry of "we should do something" calls, and then nothing and then my wife.

The new house is great by the way. I'd say we're getting close to feeling settled.

Five years ago Autumn called me at four in the morning. She was going to see Radiohead in Germany, and the time difference was so fucked that if we were to talk at all, it was gonna be while I was sleeping. We talked briefly, but I couldn't rouse myself. Heading back to bed, I laid down and realized it was going to take some effort to get back to sleep, as by the time I got off the phone, I had woken up enough to have a conversation.

A couple hours or minutes later the phone rang again. I was slightly annoyed, honestly. Autumn wanted to tell me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I was still sleepy, and couldn't really think about the words. I tried to calm her down, but I had no real idea what was going on, as my brain was already addled from the lack of sleep, and twice being woken up in the middle of the night. And so I went back to bed. But then I couldn't get any sleep, as again I had realized what we were talking about after I got off the phone. I woke up finally to Howard Stern. Everything was nuts on air, and Crazy Cabbie was watching the WTC going down, and I tried to wrap my head around the severity of what was going on. I got up at 7, most of the worst of it had already gone down, but no one knew that, and once peope figured out what had happened and why, no one was sure what would or could come next. I drove into work as my boss (whose wife was born on 9/11) and some of my coworkers were in Los Angeles for the week.

Driving in, it felt like a ghost town. Work was useless. I called my brother repeatedly, but the lines were jammed. He didn't live anywhere near downtown New York, but it'd be a bad day for him or his future ex-wife to be in town. I finally got through later in the afternoon. Everyone was glued to the radio, the few televisions (some which were bought that day), or the computer. The computer was my vice, and information trickled in. Then at 9:45, I left the office and headed over to the Fox Tower. That day it was my job to watch the Mariah Carrey film Glitter.

We went over to the theater, and everyone was acting in that same way of just complete and utter disconnectedness. The town was quiet. You wouldn't hear much of anything. And then we went in and dutifully watched the movie. Now, I own Glitter. I haven't watched it in five years, but there it is.

The rest of the day at work was a joke. I just read message boards and looked at footage of the towers going down of the net. I went to my friend DK's house and borrowed his advance copy of Phantom of the Paradise, because I wanted something to cheer me up. I went to the nearby Fred Meyers, bought a six pack of Bass (which their scanners would often ring up for $1.25) and remember being assaulted by the rows of televisions, playing endless repeats of the towers collapsing.

By that Friday, I saw two guys in the back of a pickup holding on to an American flag hanging awkwardly out of the back of the truck. It took roughly three days for real care and concern to be turned into jingoism and a grotesque patriotism that suggested we should all be proud to be Americans, instead of maybe just lucky or humble. That weekend I also watched Armageddon and King Kong. I, at least, enjoyed the latter.

That girl who didn't know I got married... I don't think it would have worked out had she been around. I think she knew it too. It just never got to bloom, so I don't know. But she did like being spanked, and that just did nothing for me. Nothing at all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


With the baby weeks away, I've got a new from home job as an analyst. Things I've analyzed (or analysed for my British readers):

BRUCE IS THE GAYEST NAME THAT ISN'T 100% GAY: Like, I guess if your name was Iamamanwhohassexwithothermen, that would be very homosexual, but there's only two people with that name in the whole world, and like a boy named Sue, they're both very angry heterosexual people. Ironically, they've both ended up in jail.

WHEN IT COMES TO RAPE-BASED HUMOR, SIZE MATTERS: Who doesn't love jokes about rape? Nothing's funnier then men being raped by monkeys, dogs being raped by chickens, or the man in the moon taking his discretions with Jupiter's rings. What we discovered is that size really does matter.

Take for instance, man on bear rape. No matter the goofy expressions, a grown man raping a koala bear just isn't that funny, no matter how much the ears act up. Same goes for a Panda bear. But if a man rapes a polar bear... Comedy. Grizzly bear? Hilarious. The bears can react or not react, doesn't matter. Conversely, a man getting raped by a polar bear is disturbing and gross. Grizzly man meat? See my point? But a dude getting raped by a panda bear is high comedy.

This rule basically applies to all rape jokes. A nucleotide raping a cockroach is chuckleworthy. But a alligator raping a parrot just doesn't cut the mustard.

Monday, September 04, 2006

What I did with my Summer Vacation

Eric Rohmer
Akira Kurosawa

Yeah, I love the heavy hitters. And I've learned a lot about life.