Sex and Lucía (2001), Julio Medem, D-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, December 29th, 2005

This is the type of movie that bullies its way into having good reviews by a) being in a language other than English and b) having a lot of explicit sex. I’m here to tell you that even watching sexy Iberians going at it gets boring if the story is asinine.

F For Fake (1974), Orson Welles, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Welles’ meditation on charlatanism is in itself a great magic trick. Stare at it too hard and you’ll realize it’s just a mish-mosh of someone else’s footage, plus whatever other crap he had lying around his editing room. But with enough smoke and funhouse mirrors it feels like a full meal. Disc Two of Criterion’s release has some wild documentaries. One is a “straight” version of the events detailed in “F For Fake,” the other is a look at Welles’ late career, his production manner during this time and the projects he lorded over simultaneously and never completed.

Munich (2005), Steven Spielberg, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

Before you get scared off by the scent of a heavy message, know this: “Munich” is a damned entertaining film. If you like a picture like The Day of the Jackal, well, this is like that but ten times over. Never has the middle eastern problem been such a fun ride. Maybe that sounds a little coarse, but conflicting emotions and subsequent guilt are what this movie is about (that message you’ve heard so much about.) I’ll let the movie, with its punchline last shot that works like a sledgehammer to the stomach (thank God I waited to read the Times review, which spoiled it), speak for itself. There are a number of sequences that are gasp-worthy. And one shot that is right out of the Brian De Palma playbook (yes, that’s a compliment.) I must say, though, there is one moment that outright sucks. I wish I could have five minutes with Steven just to ask him what the hell he was thinking. (For those that have seen it — I’m talking about the money shot — you’ll know what I mean when you see it.) I actually slapped my forehead at this shot. But this is three seconds in a two-and-a-half-hour film that is really terrific. As someone who can divorce himself from reality, I left thinking, “Wow — we live in fascinating times. I wonder if Humanity will survive? I’m kinda curious, but I’m not going to bother taking sides.) Well done. And I think I am going to see it again soon. Also, when they decided to make a biopic on Roman Polanski they can hire Mathieu Amalric (the dude who played Louis.)

Funny Girl (1968), William Wyler, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, December 28th, 2005


I have 36 expressions
Sweet as pie and tough as leather
And that’s six expressions more
Than all them Barrymores put together
Instead of just kicking me why don’t they give me a lift
Well, it must me a plot
‘Cause they’re scared that I got such a gift
Well I’m miffed
‘Cause I’m the greatest star
I am by far
But no one knows it
Wait, they’re gonna hear a voice
A silver flute
There’ll cheer each toot
( Yeah, she’s terrific!)
When I expose it!
Now can’t you see to look at me
That I’m a natural Camille
As Camille I just feel, I have so much to offer
(Hey listen kid I know I’d be divine because …)
I’m a natural cougher
[couching sounds]
Some ain’t got it, not a lump
I’m a great big clump of talent!
Laugh, they’ll bend in half
(Did you ever hear that story about the traveling salesman?)
A thousand jokes
(Stick around for the chokes)
A thousand faces, I reiterate
When you’re gifted
Than you’re gifted
These are facts I got no ax to grind
He, what are you blind?
In all the world so far, I’m the greatest star
No autographs please
[spoken]
Do you thing beautiful girls are gonna stay in style forever
What if I say not, any minute now there’ gonna be out
Finished than it’ll be my turn
[sung]
Who is the pip with pizezz?
Who is all ginger and jazz?
Who is as glamorous as?
Who’s an American beauty rose,
With an American beauty nose,
And ten American beauty toes,
Eyes on the target and wham
One shot one gunshot and bam?
He mister Keeney here I am

I’m the greatest star
I am by far but no one knows it!
That’s why I was born
I blow my horn
Till someone blows it
I’ll light up like a light
Right up like a light
I’ll flicker, then flare up, ah, ah!
All the world’s gonna stare up
Looking down you’ll never see me
Try the sky ’cause that’ll be me!
I can make them cry
I can make them sigh
Some day they’ll clamor for my drama
Have you guessed yet, who’s the best yet?
If you ain’t I’ll tell you one more time
You bet yer last dime
In all of the world so far
I am the greatest, greatest star!

Crash (2005), Paul Haggis, D

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, December 25th, 2005

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyone else bored with racism? And what, really, is the message of this film? That everyone is a racist asshole, so we ought to just accept it? This movie gets props for being so “real,” but you know what? I know a lot of black and white people who work together every day and manage not to fight and, in fact, manage to be friendly. Now, this movie does have some very well-played and well-acted scenes. But there are also a lot of really ridiculous scenes. Two of which are predicated on outrageously far-fetched coincidences, and one scene that has two back-to-back outrageously far-fetched reversals. In slow-mo. So what that means is that during this serious and award-nominated treatise on American culture I laughed loud and hard four times. Hardly the director’s intention. I proclaim this movie to be a joke — and, frankly, it isn’t that difficult to shock your audience into respect if you make your characters (thin, one-dimensional characters for that matter) say abusive things. Please do not confuse this with David Cronenberg’s brilliant and entertaining film of the same name.

The Shop Around The Corner (1940), Ernst Lubitsch, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, December 24th, 2005

Romantic fun on Xmas Eve, although it kinda made Ann feel like she was at work. I liked it as much as the first time I saw it earlier this year.

The Lower Depths (1936), Jean Renoir, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, December 24th, 2005

No one does poverty like the French. A close-to-perfect film which manages to be both breezy and devastating. It sucks to be poor, but if you have the right attitude, it may be the only liberation modern society offers. B.S., yes, I agree, but Renoir and Company sell it well. Marvelous.

A Christmas Carol (1938), Edwin L. Marin, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, December 23rd, 2005

Tiny Tim, in reference to his roast goose, actually exclaims, “I want to stroke it!” God bless us every one, indeed.

Blonde Redhead

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Friday, December 23rd, 2005

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I used to be into these guys. Then we parted company. Eight years or so later, and snagging some of their MP3s off the web, I’m reminded Blonde Redhead still kicks ass.

Respect for Roger

Jordan | E-motions | Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

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I worry that we may be taking “American Dad!” for granted. Yes, it is an embarrassing rehash of “Family Guy,” itself a ripoff of “The Simpsons,” but it is pretty effing funny. Especially Roger.

And it has inspired me to track down some killer Paul Lynde zingers

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The White Diamond (2004), Werner Herzog, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

This proves that any subject, if documented by someone with an artist’s touch, can be if not fascinating, then at least interesting. Herzog’s subject is a balloon engineer who wants to take pictures of the jungle in Guyana. So he goes and does it. The end. But along the way you see and ancient bird cave, meet a rooster with five wives and listen to a rasta say “Nice” over and over again. Ya kinda have to see this one to know what I’m talking about. And it is interesting to think how the same exact footage could have been recut to resemble any anonymous Discovery Channel show.

Camp (2003), Todd Graff, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

I don’t want to bad mouth a low budget film that is so good natured and sweet, so I’ll just say this wasn’t what I hoped it would be. And if you want to hear zingers from wisecrackin’ gay side characters, nothing’s gonna beat the alien on American Dad.

Recent Spins

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

Been playing these albums (so old fashioned) over and over and over again these last few days.

Seely, a band that seems to have disappeared after making this album (Winter Birds) in 2000, is one of those great aural wallpaper bands that’s great for putting on in the background. What’s great about ‘em is that you don’t have to pay any attention to the music and every now and again your ears will prick up and say, hey, this is actually pretty kick ass. Some of their tunes seem to repeat endlessly with minimal changes in a near Steven Reich-like intensity. . .only less in-your-face (Seely are a quiet band.) When you wanna hear textures that last a while, but fear the jam.

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Universally dismissed when released, Dire Straits’ last album On Every Street is a lot like Mark Knopfler’s current solo work which receives much praise. Amazing how branding effects such things. There are fun rockers, subtle guitar moments and a few very dense numbers with a “world influence.” Also, some very anthemic ballads that kinda creep up outta nowhere. Very good stuff.

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Nothing is more ass-kicking than the bits with Caiaphas, the low-low-low voiced baddie, singing “This Jesus is COOOOOOOL!” Anyone who doesn’t like this album hates America.

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The latest Megadeth album (late 2004) is surprisingly good. Hardcore purists may claim that it is too poppy, but I find the harmonies charming. There’s no track like “99 Ways To Die,” granted, but there’s a lot of neat stuff here, too — and nobody sounds like Megadeth.

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One of the great forgotten bands from the 90s, the best way to describe them is: not as good as R.E.M. But they are in the same basic universe. With a female singer and the occasional use of non-traditional rock instruments. Mostly ballads, but really terrific ones.

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Papa Bear Comes Home — George Hoffman at the Village Vanguard

Jordan | Out & About | Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

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George Hoffman hadn’t been to the Village Vanguard since Lyndon Johnson was president. He was there to see Thelonious Monk and wound up sitting at a table right next to then local celebrity Lew Alcindor.

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As has been the case every Monday night since the mid-60s, it was the house band tonight. This was at one time known as the Mel Lewis and Thad Jones Big Band, but since their demises it is now just known as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Either way, they are outstanding.

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It truly is amazing how many bald white men were listening to this music Monday night.

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This ain’t make-it-up-as-you-go free jazz. Dig these charts.

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Hoffmans senior and junior were shocked and amazed at the great music they heard.

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Rosa Mexicana Summit

Jordan | Out & About | Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

The family met Monday night at Rosa Mexicano which, according to Zagat, is the gold standard in upscale Mexican food. It is a loud, crowded place (maybe that’s just because we went at 6:30 at the location that is directly across from Lincoln Center) but the food is damned good. As are the pomegranite & lime margaritas.

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Note the background. Yes, no foolin’, just past my shoulder, none other than NBC’s Dr. Max Gomez!

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Solidaritzzzzzz

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Because $58K to $63K a year, an 11% increase over 3 years, retirement at 55 and wildcatting against the parent union should never get in the way of a good nap. How did Homeland Security ever let Roger Toussaint in the country?

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Inferno (1980), Dario Argento, D

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

I think, pound for pound, Dario Argento is the most pretentious filmmaker that ever lived. Not content to scare us with suspense or gore, he feels the need to load everything up with mounds of incomprehensible backstory and symbolism. I was lost before the opening credits were done. For the first hour I didn’t care, because of all the radical color saturation and Keith Emerson’s gothic prog-rock score. Then my ass started hurting. By the time the ending came and it was time for special effects I was laughing. This movie is a joke, and not in a good way. Dude just takes himself way too seriously and it’s a shame so many people eat this stuff up. For some reason, I still am willing to defend Suspiria, but there the plot, asinine as it may be, at least exists in a cogent form. Here it is all sound and light show and I won’t buy that in a dopey slasher picture.

Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), John Cassavetes, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

Kinda nuts, even by Cassavetes’ standards. The closest thing he’s done to a comedy, Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassell roam the streets of New York and then LA engaging in various permutations of Bad Love. They meet cute (sorta) and scream at each other and then get married. Somehow it works. Like all of Cassavetes’ films the scenes are completely unpredictable and the behavior, while admittedly strange, is very real. Good stuff.

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