Hearts, Minds, Buttocks

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Friday, April 30th, 2004

These photos remind us that the spirit of Lt. Calley is alive and well in Iraq. And the muzzling of Ted Koppel reminds us that the spirit of Joeseph Goebbels is alive in America, too. Subtle fascism is still fascism. I will now pour another beer and pray that the nightmare of the Bush years end soon. Something has to be done.

People I Hate

Jordan | E-motions | Friday, April 30th, 2004

Steven Tyler.

Death of a Salesman (1985), Volker Schlöndorff, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 30th, 2004

Boy, this movie sure is important. That’s the number one takeaway you’ll get from watching this. “This is important.” It’s a good production, but Dustin Hoffman, when he isn’t doing comedy, annoys me pretty quick.

Stella

Jordan | E-motions | Thursday, April 29th, 2004

It is getting rarer and rarer, as I get older, to just discover out of the blue a whole new universe of entertainment excitement. Either a new band, new filmmaker or, in this case, comedy team. The geniuses behind “Wet Hot American Summer” have been making short films for years — and they are all available here.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001), David Wain, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

“Fuck my cock!” A revolution in comedy. 80% meta-comedy, 15% dick & fart jokes, 5% Jewish jokes. This is the high water mark of post modern comedy. And it is fucking hilarious. What’s wierd is that it took a rekindled interest in Janeane Garafolo (due to her new liberal radio show) for me to get off my ass and rent this — especially wierd when I tell you that I actually spent 2 wet, hot ambivalent summers at the very camp this was shot at. Anyway, genius. 71% of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes panned it. Did they like Lenny Bruce or Monty Python or George Carlin or the Kids in the Hall when they first hit the scene. This movie is that good.

The Pillow Book (1997), Peter Greenaway, C+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

Greenaway inadvertantly presents a perfect metaphor in this film. It is all about the wonder and power writers ascribe to caligraphy. Never do they talk about storytelling. “The Pillow Book” is beautiful to look at, but its content rings up “No Sale” on my cash register. (I don’t know where that came from, but if you like it I got more.) Stick with “A Zed and Two Noughts” or “The Cook, The Thief. . .” and hope you see the best segments on this with its sound off in a bar somewhere. (Actually, the soundtrack is really great, too. I’m off to LimeWire in an attempt to find the Chinese version of “Rose, Rose I Love You.”) (Also, with all the cool in-camera effects, the lighting, slide projection, hours & hours it musta taken to scrawl Japanese letters on Ewan MacGregor’s foreskin. . .you think any of the technicians wanted to turn to Greenaway and let him know that all their hard work was going toward something with a small kernal of a neat idea but, let’s face it, a meandering and boring-as-hell end product?) (Also, I do have a general respect for Peter Greenaway. He approaches movie making fror a perspective entirely his own. I have only seen 5 of his films and I intend, eventually, to see them all.)

The Swarm (1978), Irwin Allen, “A”

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

“The Swarm” may be the best bad movie I’ve ever seen in my life. I compare it with “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” I compare it with “Robot Monster.” What makes “The Swarm” so sublime is that the cast is so respectable: Michael Caine, Henry Fonda, Ben Johnson, etc. The moments of zen are almost too many to count. Let’s start with the General who announces with gravity that the unidentified mass on the radar is travelling at “Seven Miles an Hour!” Then there’s the fact that anyone who survives a bee attack hallucinates the same giant bee is coming to get them. The movie also features little kids throwing Molotov cocktails; a man on fire, being stung by killer bees plummeting to his death by crashing through a skyscraper window; asshole entymologists standing up for the rights of the “good honeybees”; and two of the most baffling reaction shots in the history of cinema. 1) Michael Caine, a bad-ass entymologist who doesn’t like authority, is given one humanizing trait by genius screenwriter Sterling Silliphant: he likes sunflower seeds. He is always eating sunflower seeds and keeps them in a leather pouch. When his mentor, wheelchair bound Henry Fonda, arrives at the underground bunker by helicopter, the first thing the two comrades do is chow on some sunflower seeds. Then the General, played by hardass Richard Widmark, marches over to the two eggheads and starts barking orders. Cut to a reaction of Henry Fonda and Michale Caine (how many Oscars do the two share?) and what are they doing? They are chewing. They are both chewing sunflower seeds. 2) Caine convinces Widmark to try one last crazy scheme to kill the killer bees. (Never mind that every other idea Caine has had resulted in thousands of deaths.) Ya gotta picture the scene — a tan room in an office building. Wall to wall carpeting. Old computers running graphics that look like “Battlezone” and “Tempest.” Widmark in a General’s uniform. Caine in a turtleneck and sports jacket. Random 70s dude with big glasses kinda leaning over one of the computers. Widmark gives Caine and 70s dude the go-ahead. So Caine gives a big boyish grin and turns to Mr. 70s. But Mr. 70s is so laid back he can’t move his body. He just extends his hand a la Disco Stu. So Caine — Caine the actor — is so obviously perplexed by this awkward blocking that he grabs 70s dude by the hand and by the forearm — and just kinda jiggles the arm that won’t budge off the computer. The shot is held and then we cut. It is the most fascinatingly baffling transition I’ve seen since the center-out wipes that dominate “Battlefield Earth.” Anyway, I’d like to start a drinking game where everyone does a shot of mead (honey wine) whenever Michael Caine or Richard Chamberlain shouts “killer bee!”

The Saddest Music in the World (2004), Guy Maddin, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

If this were thirty minutes shorter I’d say it was the greatest student thesis film I’ve ever seen. As a theatrically released feature, I’d say it has some definite flaws, but one must give credit for pluck and originality. Shot on a hodgepodge of stocks the picture quality ranges from your Dad’s old Super 8 to F. W. Murnau. The central premise, a talent show to determine which country’s indiginous music is the “most sad” strangely works. Isabella Rosselini and Maria de Mederios are fantastic. Former Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney is all schtick. That he resembles so many of his former sketch characters (and that KITH’s commercial bumpers were always shot in Super 8) make for some inadvertant humor. I’m glad I saw this but I wish it had one more screenplay pass and a sharper cut.

Exotica (1994), Atom Egoyan, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, April 27th, 2004

I liked this movie a lot more this second time. It really does convey sense of sadness and loss. And so many of the scenes, especially Elias Koteas’ monologues, just sing. The problem is this movie has more wacky coincidences than your average ‘Seinfeld’ episode. And the whole egg-smuggling thing is just dumb. Still, Egoyan is a whiz with tone — and his movies always leave you with a feeling of “Wow, that was heavy.”

Good Beer

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, April 26th, 2004

Baltika4.JPG
I can vouch for Baltika Dark from Russia. I am drinking it out of my stein.

Good Chicken

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, April 26th, 2004

I had my first skinless fried chicken at Pudgies. I will never be the same.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) John Ford, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, April 25th, 2004

Tom Joad: I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin’ fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin’. And I been wonderin’ if all our folks got together and yelled –

Ma Joad: Tommy, they’d drag you out and cut you down just like they done to Casey.

Tom Joad: They’d drag me anyways. Sooner or later they’ll get me one way or another. Till then –

Ma: Tommy, you’re not aimin’ to kill nobody.

Tom Joad: No, Ma, not that. That ain’t it. Just, as long as I’m an outlaw anyways, maybe I can do something, just find out somethin’, just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it. I ain’t thought it out that clear, Ma. I can’t. I don’t know enough.

Ma: How am I gonna know about ya, Tommy? They could kill ya and I’d never know. They could hurt ya. How am I gonna know?

Tom Joad: Maybe it’s like Casey says. A fellow ain’t got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody, then –

Ma: Then what, Tom?

Tom Joad: I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be there in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be there in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they built – I’ll be there, too.

Ma: I don’t understand it, Tom.

Tom Joad: Me, neither, Ma, but – just somethin’ I been thinkin’ about.
***
John Ford, Gregg Toland (before “Citizen Kane”), Henry Fonda, John Carradine, a script lifting whole blocks of text straight from Steinbeck. This is one of the few examples of the movie being as good as the book. Not better, but not the usual feeling of incompleteness. Most of the gratitude should go Toland’s way — as this type of cinematography was almost unseen in a Hollywood production at the time.

Anyway, when do we do the remake set in Indonesia?

Bag End Weekend

Jordan | Out & About | Sunday, April 25th, 2004

I have been to The Shire. I didn’t bring my camera. But every few feet we’d say, “that’s where Frodo lives” or “that’s where Gandalf hangs out.” I don’t think any of the Hobbits had a pet — but we certainly saw rolling green meadowsn asprinkled with yellow daffodils where they would frolic if they did.

The Smoking Claw

Jordan | E-motions | Friday, April 23rd, 2004

For weeks I’ve been saying that the new across-the-street neighbors (who also have prominently placed anti-Bush propaganda) have two cats that would hang out in the window sill — but they are never there when Ann is there. Finally I have proof.

across_goobers.JPG

Take This Dollar and Cram It!

Jordan | E-motions | Friday, April 23rd, 2004

Here’s something that pisses me off. I just came back from a fairly nice event at a fairly nice place, but wouldn’t you know if the whole evening was damned near ruined by the presence of the most horrible things on earth: men’s room attendants! There is nothing more embarrasing than a men’s room attendant. I mean, for God’s sake, I can turn on my own fucking faucet! I know how to wash my hands! And now I have to give you a dollar. ‘Cause if I don’t, I’m just a disrespectful sonofabitch who likes to have black men (they are ALWAYS black men) serve me. I swear to God, if I knew I was going to have to deal with a men’s room attendant I wouldn’t've gone to this party tonight. It is the WORST! The fucking WORST!!!!!

Not only am I embarrassed for the black man that has to smell the farts and piss of the white men he is serving, but he thinks that I want him there! That I think I am such hot shit that I need a negro there to smell my farts and turn on the faucet for me!!!! And then — the WORST part is that I am out a buck! A fuckin’ buck to piss!! And, of course, since it was an open bar, I had had a few gin and tonics, so I knew that I’d have to make a repeat appearance there. (I held it in — I won’t be subjected to this sick, twisted game.)

Any place that hires men’s room attendants is really trading in manipulative, psychological games of pseudo-superiority. It’s a slippery slope from men’s room attendants to watching gladiators fight to the death. You know it is true.

Florida Room

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Thursday, April 22nd, 2004

from Donald Fagen’s “Kamakiriad,” surely a desert island disc.

*

Start on Key Plantain
Walk a tropical mile
You’ll see a house
In the Spanish style
There’s a room in back
With a view of the sea
Where she sits and dreams
Does she dream of me

When summer’s gone
I get ready
To make that Carribee run
I’ve got to have
Some time in the sun

Chorus:
When the cold wind comes
I go where the dahlias bloom
I keep drifting back
To your Florida room

She’s dressed too warm
For this latitude
We go out to lunch
With some Jamaican dude
Then the sunshower breaks
We come in out of the rain
But in her Florida room
There’s a hurricane

While the city freezes over
We’ll be strollin’ down the shore
Can she bring me back
To life once more

Chorus

When summer’s gone
I get ready
To make that Carribee run
I’ve got to have
Some time in the sun

Barbershop (2002), Tim Story, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, April 22nd, 2004

“Friday” is a lot funnier. This had one or two decent laughs in it. What else has Eve been in? She’s terrific. And why doesn’t she have a last name? Names like Cher and Madonna and Bono and such are esoteric enough to deserve no last name . . . but Eve is just a name? Anyway, she’s terrific and sexy. I am now a huge Eve fan, whoever she is.

The Purified (2002), Jesper Jargil, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, April 21st, 2004

The four original Dogma 95 filmmakers kick back on the couch, watch clips from their films, argue philosophy and admit their compromises. Lots of fun. (Odd that of the 4 original Dogma movies, the only one I haven’t seen is the one in English.) Every day Lars von Trier and Dr. Jurgen Fauth become more and more the same person in my mind.

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