Cocksucker Blues (1972), Robert Frank, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Yikes. I need to take a shower. This legendary documentary, available only on bootleg, may indeed be the best representation of life on the road with a 70s rock band. And it ain’t as fun as it looks in “Almost Famous.” The Stones’ 1972 US tour supporting “Exile on Main St.” is presented here as a demoralizing slough of drugs, sex and cameras. I know — how can this be bad? Trust me, it is. It is disorienting, boring, almost sickening. The footage looks like hell (I think even the original did, too — much of it is shot on B&W Super 8) and everybody looks nauseous. Some moments are just so awful you have to laugh — a spread-eagled naked woman with semen on her abdomen mumbling “I saw fireflies last night” is, in this regard, the summit. Mick wears cool outfits and Keith tries to order room service in a scene straight out of Spinal Tap. Lots of celebs pop by (Dick Cavett, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Tina Turner, Terry Southern) but when they leave it is just back to the boredom. Waiting backstage. Waiting for the plane. Waiting at the hotel. Driving for hours to go play pool with Muddy Waters. I guess. . .I guess it is possible this is exactly what Frank wanted. Who knows? All I know is that it gave me a headache. There are one or two musical numbers, but poorly recorded. A jam with Stevie Wonder (!) is pretty kick-ass, though.

I Didn’t Get What I Wanted For Fitzmas This Year

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Friday, October 28th, 2005

You’ve got a stolen administration leading the nation into a poorly planned war based on a foundation of lies for personal profit, then maintaining the fiction of jingoism with mafia techniques of extortion (at home) and torture (abroad) — and you expect me to jump for joy over the indictment of Scooter Libby?!? No — I didn’t get what I wanted for Fitzmas this year. But I was a fool to think I would get anything else.

An Amazing Couple (Trilogy: Two) (2002), Lucas Belvaux, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, October 28th, 2005

Strange, strange comedy about a paranoid husband and his distrusting wife. One misunderstanding leads to another and eventually everybody starts running around (I think) Belgium as zany-ness ensues. The hidden gem of Belvaux’s Trilogy is to see the films overlap. They are concurrent stories with shared peripheral characters, so it is quite exciting to see how the same moment in time plays differently in a thriller like On The Run versus a comedy like this. Ornella Muti, born 1955, is one of the sexiest women I’ve ever seen in a film. And she wears a sweater and coat throughout the entire film. Go figure.

Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), Nick Park and Steve Box, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Giant vegetables, bunnies that go “wheeee!” when they get sucked up into giant vacuum cleaners and more English stereotypes than you can say “More Fool Me” to. Pretty hard to come up with anything negative to say about this very funny, very cute film.

Good Night, And Good Luck. (2005), George Clooney, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 27th, 2005

I would argue that perhaps that this may not be as great a movie as I let on, but I am so personally fascinated with both its content and its form that I am giving it an inflated grade. I would argue that Mr. Clooney, director of the unwatchably vapid Gong Show movie, has made a film that is quite unique and quite unorthodox. It is heavily stylized, yet it is ruthlessly minimal. It is grounded in realism, yet the dialogue is uncommonly florid. It is filled with tension, yet has no traditional climax. And a lot of it is just watching old news footage. Many will see this film and ask “Where are today’s Ed Murrows and Fred Friendlys?” They are out there, but they don’t (and probably never will again) have the kind of access and audience in America that they once had. Lament not only this, but of the destruction of the level of discourse in American media, American society today. Even the bad guy — McCarthy — the language, the verbiage, the syntax — think of some of the clowns you work with. You think they’d be able to follow this movie? It’s almost as if it should be listed in the foreign language category — as different from today’s mediaspeak as Shakespeare’s English is to that of the authors of The O.C. A very small film about a very important topic, told in a unique (and, alas, off putting to many) way. Hats off.

Capote (2005), Bennett Miller, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 27th, 2005

This movie comes so very very close to being utterly fantastic. We’ll have to settle simply for great. What’s great is my cousin Philip. A totally unique performance, ranging all sorts of personas and emotions and depths and contradictions. I’m one of those obnoxious cineastes who hates to talk about awards but, seriously, dude’s locked himself an Oscar. (Then again, I said the same thing about Paul Giamatti.) Another important plus is the respect Truman Capote shows for Tabasco Sauce. As if being a great writer weren’t enough. What I found disappointing were the depictions of Perry Smith and Alvin Dewey. At first I thought that this was just because I had just read In Cold Blood and, as is almost always the case, films never provide the depth books do. But I don’t think that’s it — especially considering how well Truman is presented in this film and even more because the whole crux of the movie is based on the fact that Truman finds Perry fascinating. The trouble is — Perry, in this film, isn’t all that fascinating. Yeah, he shotgunned four people for no real reason, that makes him ipso facto fascinating, I suppose, but I know (from reading the book) that Truman discovered much more about him. And almost none of it is in the film. Still — a fascinating movie, well told and highly recommended.

How To Make Carmel Apples

Jordan | E-motions | Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Step one: Recognize that Carmel Apples are better than Candy Apples.

Step two: (actually, this is easy. Melt carmel, dip apples, stick in fridge, eat.)

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Odd Celebrity Sighting

Jordan | Out & About | Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Kurt Vonnegut walking a small white dog on East 48th St near the UN. I was on the double decker bus, but had I been on foot he’s the type of celebrity I would approach.

On The Run (Trilogy: One) (2002), Lucas Belvaux, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

A gritty thriller about an escaped ultra left terrorist, with an almost “Point Blank”-like blunt ferocity. And one of the most shocking last shots I’ve seen in a movie. This is part one of Belvaux’s parallel trilogy, I’m anxious to see how the other films color my viewing of this one.

How to feed the ducks

Jordan | Out & About | Monday, October 24th, 2005

Lamb’s Lake, Burlington NC, Oct ’05

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You look out onto the lake. You see no ducks. Yet you want to feed the ducks. Simply go out on to the deck and say “quack!” You don’t even need to sound like a duck. Just the word “quack!” in regular English suffices.

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Usually the white ones come first. The big white ones are all named Fred.

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Once the Freds start eating, the others will start showing up.

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They eat straight from your hand. Sometimes they’ll step on your feet with their webbed, dinosaur-like orange feet with surprisingly long toenails.

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Here comes more!

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There are 18 ducks altogether. The white ones are Fred, the mallards are the Mallards, the little guys are the Little Guys (except for the really loud one, who is named Goober) and the brown ones are The Brown Ones (except the one with the white ring around his neck, who is named Tuxedo Duck.)

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Angst vor der Angst (1975), Rainer Werner Fassbinder, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, October 24th, 2005

This simple story — bourgeois wife/mother goes going mad starts taking pills — is made interesting in two ways. First is the subtle performance of the striking Margit Carstensen (how do you say “hubba hubba” in German?) and second is, I admit, for a silly reason. . .70s kitsch. But REAL 70s kitsch. The patterns on the wall paper are madly clashing with the pattern on the couch so violently you need a pair of sunglasses. The German men have unwashed, greasy hair and porn star mustaches. And when they wear bathing suits — look out! Best is Margit Carstensen looking for five minutes of peace with her giant hi-fi headphones, listening to New Skin For The Old Ceremony and Their Satanic Majesties Request. Is it a good movie on its own? Probably not. Maybe. I dunno. But I watched the whole thing late at night without falling asleep — that’s saying something.

The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), Charles Walters, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

Fred and Ginger’s reunion film, their only in color and, sadly, their last. It could easily have been a train wreck, but with a clever Comden and Green screenplay it is as good as their classics — although very different. A little older now (and, from certain angles, startin’ to look it) and already married — it’s as if you’re checking in on the happy couple from one of the earlier movies to see how a life together on the stage has been treating them. Some of the scenes are actually — shock! — dramatic, but don’t worry. . .it’s still a corny musical. For god’s sake they wear kilts in one scene!

Giant Steps Are What You Take

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

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It takes a big man to say this, but the Police were a really kick ass band. Five albums. No reunion tours. The two other guys sitting on a giant pile of money working on their esoteric side projects without having to worry about the rent. Somethin’ went right with that one.

In Cold Blood

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

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Bought used for $4 in anticipation of “Capote” (which, readers of the SS Fun know, I’ve not seen yet) and read in just a few sittings. Exquisitely written and walking a fine line between fascinating and just a really good episode of “CSI.” Considering the newness of the form (was it really the first non-fiction novel, or is that just marketing?) I’ll jump on the bandwagon and say it is great. Certainly the last 50 pages are chilling. Man, I’ll never think of Holcomb, Garden City or Olathe, Kansas the same way again.

Titus (1999), Julie Taymor, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

Anything with Alan Cumming in it can’t be bad. (I say this without watching “Spice World.”) Julie Taymor’s “Titus” is a fascinating film — there are sequences so fantastic I feel as if she is the greatest director in the history of cinema — and there are other moments that are so embarrasingly bad that I question whether or not she is, in fact, deaf and blind. The bad sequences are the digitally enhanced, hallucinatory intra-act link montages that look like advertisements for a third rate Cirque de Soliel knockoff. Luckily, these happen quickly (and only four times.) The rest of this two hour and forty minute orgy of blood and repressed incest kicks ass. Some scholars dismiss Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” as his least work — indeed, there are two obscenely wide plot holes (if you want to discuss specifics, email me) — but if you can get past the breakneck reversals of fortune and the fact that none of the main characters are sympathetic, well, then you’ve got yourself a movie. I found myself almost embarrasingly engaged. Recommended.

The Devil Bat (1940), Jean Yarbrough, “A”

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

One of the best bad movies I’ve ever seen. I think I have this plot straight, lemme break it down. Bela Lugosi is a scientist who is pissed off at a group of businessmen who got rich off of his formula for after shave — even though Lugosi opted against a partnership and is often getting surprise bonuses from his benevolent employers. He decides to breed giant radioactive bats who are drawn into a murderous rage at certain smells. He then creates a new after shave lotion that marks whoever wears it for a fang-tastic death. (“You won’t be needing to re-apply my experimental after shave for some time!”) If only he can convince his hated employers to wear the after shave NOW — at night — when the giant radioactive bats are out — even though they USUALLY shave in the mornings!! It takes an entire movie for the spunky young reporter (always a reporter — never the cops!) to put together the crime. It’s so OBVIOUS the scientist is driving radioactive bats crazy with killer after shave!!!!

The Ape Man (1943), William Beaudine, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

Bela Lugosi is mutating into an ape, and only fresh human spinal serum can help him. But a quick witted reporter, his feisty dame photographer and, um, someone in an ape costume, will put an end to his killing spree. Entertaining.

Good old sunday morning, bells are ringing everywhere/Goin’ to Carolina, it wonít be long and Iíll be there

Jordan | Out & About | Friday, October 14th, 2005

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I can take anything New York wants to give me — hustlers on the subway, maniacs on the street, status-divas with their black sunglasses, tourists looking for The Ground Zero, teenagers with a vocabulary that’d make Bill Cosby blush. But I can’t take seven straight days of rain. So, New York, I am giving you a one-week up yours and leaving for the simple life down south. I’ll be on a lake, feeding ducks, eating chicken & waffles and, perhaps, making small talk with armed neighbors who voted for Jesse Helms. It’s gonna be awesome.

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