Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Stanley Kubrick, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 26th, 2004

In the top ten? Maybe, sure, why not? I’ll tell you this, though. . .the last time I saw this, in the late 90s, I delighted in this being a period piece. It seemed altogether prescient today. Who’d'a thunk Major Kong would ever morph into our Secretary of Defense? Funniest scene: President Merkin Muffley’s first phone call to Premier Kissoff. I could watch Sellers stammer for hours and never stop laughing.

The Ladykillers (2004), Coen Bros., A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 26th, 2004

The most criminally overlooked film in years. If you expect everything to be Fargo of course you will be disappointed. I liked this even more the second time; has as many quotable lines as any of their non-Lebowski films. See it again (and leave the subtitles on to really dig on the verbiage) and then come back to me. Also, and it pains me to say this, Tom Hanks is fucking genius here.

Is Paris Burning? (1966), René Clément, F

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 26th, 2004

Could be renamed “Is Jordan Sleeping?” French cinema has so much to be proud of so it needen’t worry that it can’t produce a proper All-Star 3 hour war epic. Boring and confusing and completely lacking in subtlety. And (probably) improbable. I have nothing nice to say about this movie.

Are You Ready?

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Friday, September 24th, 2004

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So much better than you remember.

Aria (1987), Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford, Bill Bryden, Jean-Luc Godard, Derek Jarman, Franc Roddam, Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell, Charles Sturridge, Julien Temple, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

An overall fun concept. In 1987, when MTV still played videos and those videos were just become overblown lavish micro-epics, why not invite a number of great directors to pick a favorite aria and shoot its video any way you like. Some are more successful than others (thumbs up Julien Temple, Jean-Luc Godard and Franch Roddam; thumbs down Robert Altman and Derek Jarman) but overall this makes for an innovative and interesting sound and light show. Of particular note is how many future young stars appear in this as young, very naked women. I’m thinking of Elizabeth Hurley and Bridget Fonda, and a fully clothed Tilda Swinton.

Narc (2002), Joe Carnahan, D+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

There are five or so scenes when a thick Ray Liotta gets really angry and shouts and curses. Those scenes elevate this trite assembalge of cliche up from dreadful to nearly watchable.

Listen To The Record!

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

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I’ve been listening to this album consistantly, and without irony, for about 15 years. Even Trey Anastasio cited it as an important milestone. It is without parallel — every track is a winner and there’s nothing better to sing along in the car to. Nothing. Not “Some Girls,” not “Heaven Tonight” not even “A Night a the Opera.” I stand by that. And I understand about indecision. but I don’t care if I get behind people livin’ in competition. ‘Cause all I want is to have my peace of mind.

The Best At Every Thing

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, September 20th, 2004

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I have a story about John Schmit. He came by my apartment one morning. . .I can’t remember why, but the idea was just for him to pop by for a second. My buddy Garrett had spent the night before sleeping on the couch. Anyway, John popped in, he had a paper sack with him and he proceeded to sit at my kitchen table and eat a bagel and cream cheese. He then whipped out two more, handed one to me, one to Garrett. Awesome, John, thanks, we said. How much was that, we asked as we grabbed our wallets. You don’t owe me anything, he said, so long as you both agree that I am the best at every thing.

The key was that he said he was the best at every thing. Not everything. Every thing. I’ll never forget that.

Anyway, here he is with a large fish.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), Kerry Conran, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, September 20th, 2004

Yes, of course, this movie is asinine. But it’s the good kind of asinine. It looks marvelous (I literally gasped a few times) and the old movie tropes are quite fun (and I giggles many more times.) Esoteric New York references abound as do movie references. I caught a nice “1138,” plus Gwyneth Paltrow quotes Thom Matthews in Dan O’Bannon’s brilliant “The Return of the Living Dead”: How can you kill someone who’s already dead? Or, was she quoting Celia Montgomery from “Ultrachrist!”?

A Peek Into My Nightlife

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, September 20th, 2004

Here’s what I’ve been doing almost every night for the past seven nights. Ann will go to sleep, I’ll turn off the lights and turn on my DVD of Tron that’s letterboxed and loaded with THX soundand watch the commentary track. And about six minutes later I’ll be asleep. Pretty much at the same point each night (right when Flynn, Alan and the girl sneak past the big door at Encom) I’ll drift off to sleep and wake up at 4 AM on the couch.

I’ll eventually get around to watching the commentary track (it’s interesting so far; it’s just that I’m tired) but the REAL amazing thing is the print on this DVD. Tron was originally shot on 70 mm, and despite having seen it in the theater (twice) what I REALLY remember is the VHS copy I watched over and over and over again. (My recent viewing of it was on this same old VHS copy discovered at my parents’ house. I bought the DVD a few days later.) Not only is the VHS pan-and-scan, but it was completely washed out. I’d been thinking this was an artistic choice. No. Tron is crystal clear and looks fantastic. And did you know there were Recognizers/Space Paranoids flashing in neon in the back of Flynn’s arcade? Awesome.

RIP Eddie Adams

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Sunday, September 19th, 2004

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And here’s the perfect link between two other notable deaths this year, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Dave Dellinger.

Looking at this photo again I think of two things: one, how brilliant the Woody Allen film “Stardust Memories” is that this image is used as a punchline yet it seems completely appropriate and not exploitative, and, two, where are the burned-in-our-retina images of horror and atrocity from our current oversees quagmire in Mesopotamia? Is the preening Andrew “Dice” Clay wanna-be Lyndie England all we get? Somehow that doesn’t seem enough.

Better Late Than Never

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, September 18th, 2004

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Six years after this album is released to great acclaim (and after it lying around my apartment for a good long while) I suddenly recognize just how marvelous this is. There’s a vibe here. I don’t know exactly what it is, but some yamhead on Amazon.com wrote this: “The Pernice Brothers are to alt country what The Smiths were to punk.” I buy that, I guess. Anyway, the hype was justified. . .especially if it still sounds good this far after the fact.

Imagine There’s No Ringo

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, September 18th, 2004

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Here’s an album that people probably scoff at due to the ubiquity of its title cut. True, it’s a little hard to listen to that song and not think of sunburnt tourists on 72nd St., but what about “I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama,” “Gimme Some Truth” and “How Do You Sleep?” There is a liberation here in the songwriting and some of these tracks just cook. The special ingredient is the new band: Klaus Voorman on bass; Alan White, Jim Keltner or Jim Gordon on drums; and, oddly, George Harrison on guitar. From an instrumentalist’s point of view — the best band every to back Lennon up.

Car Wash (1976), Michael Schultz, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, September 17th, 2004

This is a movie about men who work at a car wash. They come in in the morning, make wise cracks during the day, then go home. Somehow it all works. Some of the comedy misfires, but some of it is damn funny. The few dramatic scenes, oddly, are very effective. Anyone who’s worked a shitty punch-the-clock job can identify. And the soundtrack kicks much ass. Ann knows all the words to the title song!

Day Five

Jordan | Out & About | Thursday, September 16th, 2004

Day Five in New Orleans started early. It was time to do what we came there to do. Rent a car and drive two and a half hours to visit Avery Island. To take a pepper Hajj. We were goin’ down to McIlhenny’s Farm, man. The sole sight of production and distribution for that might elixir, Tabasco sauce.

We went to rent a car, which in New Orleans is kinda like adopting a child. In New York so long as you aren’t drooling you can rent a car in about ten minutes. In New Orleans you need to fill out a million forms and answer invasive questions. Who do you work for? What kind of insurance do you have? Garrett was planning on doing the driving, but he couldn’t remember the name of his auto insurance provider; the job fell in Ann’s lap.

We got our car, had a quick slobby breakfast at Burger King and got the hell out of town. We drove on a bit of the highway we couldn’t find on the map, but existed in reality. . .as if the road to El Dorado could only be found if you had faith in the Pepper (and the web-based printed directions.) Soon we were out of City Limits and we found ourselves in the real Bayou Country. Look at all the bugs on the windshield causing shadows!

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We turned on the radio and – I shit you not – Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Born on the Bayou” came on!! After that a second CCR tune came on causing Ann to shout in recognition, “It’s Two-For Tuesday!” Garrett found great solace in that. “There may be differences between North and South, but we are all one nation.”

One of the things we saw along the way were Truckstop Casinos. These are, I am here to report, the most depressing things in the history of the world. Bland, carpet-walled rooms with no windows with nothing but video poker games and dreary souls throwing their money away into them. At least Atlantic City has some panache. . .the boardwalk, saltwater taffy, a tacky show, sea air, colored lights, all-you-can-eat buffets. At least it offers jobs to the community! This had one sad woman offering to make change. And it smelled like smoke. Garrett played one dollar’s worth of video poker just to say he did it and we got the fuck out of there.

Here were the bugs on the grill of the car.

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Many hot-despite-the-A/C-on-full-blast miles later, we saw this sign.

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And after driving over a tiny little bridge, this one.

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We opened the windows and, I swear to you, the air was sweet with Tabasco sauce.

Here are Garrett and I, bowing before our own personal Kaaba.

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And here are some of the actual peppers themselves.

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To give you some history, Avery Island is actually a giant rock of salt. A specific type of salt, experts will tell ya. Edmund McIlhenny, who married into the Avery family and thus had dominion over the island, was looking for a way to make money after the civil war. He discovered a fairly rare type of chili pepper from Mexico: the Tabasco. Hotter than the jalapeno, hotter than Cayenne, not as hot as the Habanero. He brought a bunch to Avery Island. . .grew ‘em, mixed ‘em with the local salt, added some vinegar, and magic was born.

This is a cask of ground up Tabasco peppers. The cask is actually a used barrell from the Jack Daniels plant.

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The pepper mush is mixed with local salt and then covered. The top is then covered in more local salt which, after months, becomes as hard as concrete.

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It is then mixed with vinegar and ready for bottling.

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On the other side of the factory wall, Garrett and I started doing shots from the complimentary bottle of sauce we got. We made the workers on the other end double over.

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And here I am with my true love!

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Remember that fish of Ignatius J. Reilly? Well, here’s one on the Tabasco plant property, 2.5 hours away!

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Ann and I enter the Tabasco Country Store.

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No photos inside the store, cause I kinda lost my mind in there. Not just fun T-Shirts and hats, but a million different food products to taste. Including Jalapeno ice cream. Which was actually quite good.

Here’s a shot of Garrett eating Boudin Blanc, which was the only local Cajun/Creole foodstuff that grossed me out. Not only did it taste like barf, but you had to fellate it out of sausage casing. Truly awful.

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A later generation of McIlhenny set aside a section of Avery Island as a nature preserve called Jungle Gardens. And, for what it is worth, you try going on a road trip on the way to Jungle Gardens without singing the name “Jungle Gardens” to the tune of “Jungle Boogie” over and over again. You can’t do it! Jungle Gardens boasts a home for the Snowy Egret. We pulled up to the entrance to pay a fee to go in.

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It was here that Ann got in her argument with a local. We were looking at maps and getting ready to make our drive through when I mentioned something about a certain point on the map to see the birds. “You won’t see any birds there this time of year!” Ann said, “Oh, but we saw a number of interesting birds on the way here.” “No!” the battle-axe behind the cash registered countered. “You didn’t see any of the Snowy Egrets! You couldn’t have!” “Oh, well, not the snowy egrets,” Ann politely backpedaled, “but, we saw some other Egrets and water birds.” This didn’t register with the woman. “No Snowy Egrets!” We paid and got out of there.

We saw spooky trees.

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And some real swamp.

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And we saw a lot of alligators just sitting there like logs. None of those photos really came out so good, but trust me. . .we saw them. They were everywhere. Ann was scared.

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There may be an alligator head here. But we definitely saw ‘em elsewhere.

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To quote Mel Brooks, “Everything’s so GREEEEEN!” There’s a ‘gator hiding here, too.

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We dubbed this tree the Gandalf tree.

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We took a walk to this Buddhist temple. It featured a transplanted bodhisattva statue close to 900 years old. It was surrounded by this lake of green that we thought was just the bottom turned green. I threw a rock and was surprised to see it sink.

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It was really frickin’ hot here. And we heard frogs gurgling and snakes hissing. It kinda freaked me out. I felt like the kids in “Land of the Lost.” I was pretending to have a good time but really wanted to get back to the car. I was scared of snakes. And lizards, too.

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This might be the dumbest sign in history.

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Look at all the muck! (That’s Ann in our Two Against Nature pose.)

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There was so much muck, and so much humidity, that this stopped-up water fountain turned into a muckfountain!

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We hit the road, driving through New Iberia and then Fayetville. We had dinner in Fayetville at a fun cajun place that a big extra room for dancing. It was kinda early for dancing (we left just before the live music started) but there was a TV that showed a tape of the usual rowdiness and it looked like the real deal. I think New Orleans’ Cajun restaurants are ready for 3 New York/Philly tourists, but this place may’ve wanted us to get the hell out. Who knows? Although I didn’t take a photo, our waitress was really sweet and had great hair.

Should I tell you what happened next? Oh, why not. Listen – everyone screws up their digestion on vacation. And this was no ordinary vacation. It was a vacation whose star attractions were food and drink. We left the restaurant (and I’d had fried shrimp and blackened catfish and other yummy things) and about ten minutes later I had to pull over. I had to find a rest room. Now. NOW! Ann and Garrett were making fun of me, but I couldn’t laugh. If I laughed, I’d’ve lost control. We found a gas station and I ran in. “Bathroom!??!?!” The man pointed. It was a clean bathroom, to my surprise. But now I know how gas station bathrooms get in the condition they are usually in. People like me. I destroyed the place. I created a carnival of odor and waste that I never knew was in me. It was absolute hell. I know now the pain of childbirth. I cursed my love of spicy food and beer. I pledged to an uncaring god that if I survived this movement I would eat nothing but steamed Wonder bread the rest of my trip. Eventually I staggered out of their like a boxer after a tough bout. I slipped into the backseat of the car and let Ann drive home through the night.

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Eventually I fell asleep and many hours later the approaching city of New Orleans looked like this.

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Two English Girls (1971), François Truffaut, D

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, September 16th, 2004

It. . .never. . .ends. Truffaut, creator of some of cinema’s most memorable characters, plays against his own strenghts to create a stiff, bourgeois melodrama. All the negative aspects of Merchant and Ivory are here, with none of the positives. This is the type of movie his “real” characters from The Last Metro or Bed and Board or (oddly)Jules and Jim would scoff at. I add oddly as the plot to this and Jules and Jim are kinda similar and, indeed, they are based on works by the same author. Anyway, everyone misfires once in a while, bully for FT for trying different things, I guess. The music is nice. But the dramatic close-up of burst-hyman-blood is very unnecessary

Read A Book, Don’t Write One!

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Protests at the Paris Hilton “book” signing from this worthy group.

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The Swimmer (1968), Frank Perry, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Let’s hear it for the late-60s pseudo-intellectual head trip movie! Fitting perfectly on a double bill with Frankenheimer’s Seconds, this smaller film stars Burt Lancaster as a delusional Connecticut man “swimming home” through a series of his neighbors’ backyard pools. At each stop things get a little weirder until he finally makes it home to his punchline. Far too much of this film is spent focused on the obvious “mystery” of what really waits for Lancaster. And between each episode we are submitted to a pretty laughable psychedelic sound-and-light show. Still, I must give this film points for trying; it does lend itself well as a diving board (ahem) to philosophical arguement. Is it a death hallucination like some say is found in Point Blank? Is it a birth hallucination like some say is found in 2001? Is it just an opportunity to see Lancaster’s bare ass? Either way we win.

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