Cross of Iron (1977), Sam Peckinpah, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, February 27th, 2006

Weird movie. James Coburn, playing Lee Marvin, is the killingest grunt, the man of the people. Maximilian Schell is the snotty patrician officer. Both are fighting for Germany in WWII, but don’t call either of ‘em a Nazi. Whenever the storyline gets too predictable there is another wildly edited sequence, usually involving slo-mo explosions and cartoonish screams of terror. David Warner and James Mason have a go-nowhere subplot and God knows what the message of this film is, but I do recommend it.

A Goob Descending A Staircase

Jordan | Goober | Sunday, February 26th, 2006

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Strange Plates V: Strange Journey

Jordan | Out & About | Sunday, February 26th, 2006

You’ll recall the Hatian Strange Plates I, the Thai Strange Plates II, but Ann and I missed excursion III (Ghananese in the Bronx) and IV (Italian in Dyker Heights). Excursion V was a trip to the vaguely French Aesop’s Tables in (please inhale) Staten Island! (Now exhale in shock!) We had to ferry, then cab. (We bussed it back to the ferry, and coulda done so there if we knew where we were going.)

I didn’t take that many photos of the food (the setting was too nice for that behavior) and most of my shots on the Ferry came out blurry. But anyway –

Welcome to New York! Here are your guides. From L-R: Tony DiSante, Mahalia Stines, Jordan Hoffman, Mark Levy, Sean Parrot, Gideon Levy, Andy Sydor.

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Kim is freezing.

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Rob is freezing.

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Before the ferry I made mine a Guinness at the White Horse. No not that White Horse. This White Horse.

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Ann vogues at the White Horse.

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And here are the snails that I ate. Yum factor 12.

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Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997), Guy Maddin, F

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, February 26th, 2006

The problem with being an experimental artist is that sometimes your experiments will fail. This movie is unwatchable. We tried twice. It is actually painful to look at — the harshly lit video, cheaper-than-Querelle sets, the awful dubbing. We just couldn’t make it past the 30-minute mark. Stick with Guy Maddin’s Saddest Music In The World, Archangel, any of his shorts or even the vexing Cowards Bend The Knee. If this had been my introduction to Maddin I’d never want to see any of his films again.

Archangel (1990), Guy Maddin, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, February 26th, 2006

A witty, literate and dreamy meditation on lost love, set in the snowy, foggy Russian WWI front of cinema’s imagined past. I’d seen two of Maddin’s other features and a handful of his shorts before this — this may be a good place for newcomers to start. The Eisenstein-on-speed element is here, as is the post-modern melodrama.

Current Spins

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, February 26th, 2006

These CDs are what’s been spinning a lot these last few days.

When I first got this latest Daniel Lanois CD I was a little disappointed it was instrumental-only. But after some mental readjustment it has earned a place as perfect chill-out music. It does, though, sound exactly like any of Lanois’ last two albums but with the vocal track removed. Was someone pressed for time?

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Another great mellow album is The Gasoline Age by East River Pipe. Very simple, basic songs — but it is amazing what effect a little echo has. You won’t even notice at first that many of the lyrics are tongue in cheek. The closing symphony of Atlantic City slot machines is mesmerizing.

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My least favorite of the prog rock titans (I’d even place the dreaded ELP above ‘em) King Crimson’s second album “In The Wake of Poseidon” is still some fun stuff. Cat food! The later, Adrian Belew/Tony Levin – ProjeKCt Space Vector 9 mishigoss is a long way away from some of this airy material.

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All I remember from the movie Gattaca is Ethan Hawke running, Jude Law’s dreamy eyes and this dare-I-say haunting score. I’ll have to slip this one back on my Netflix queue.

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Not that I don’t have all the original albums, but it is a convenience to have all the great early Stones material in one place. I’ve had Disc Two in the machine for some time — digging on “Who’s Driving Your Plane?” “Stupid Girl” “19th Nervous Breakdown” and “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows?” Not the ultimate Stones era (my high school declaration of Beggars Banquet – Let It Bleed – Sticky Fingers – Exile on Main St. being the greatest tetralogy in rock still stands firm) but it is worthy of repeated listening.

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I Ate Snails!

Jordan | E-motions | Saturday, February 25th, 2006

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I Ate Snails Last Night! In Staten Island of all places! And the snails were great! They were really good, I’m not fooling! I love snails! I would eat those snails every day if I could! Snails! Maybe the French are right about everything. I gotta go rent some Jerry Lewis DVDs and reassess.

Denise’s Mad Scientist Laboratory

Jordan | Out & About | Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Last time I went to the Met I called up Denise to see if I could see her place of employ. After entering through the basement and going through many secret hallways lined with dusty books and thousands of cryptically labeled artifacts (well, not really, but play along) we went to the paper conservancy lab.

Here is Denise hard at work doing what she does.

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This piece had been eaten away by critters and needed some mending.

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This is a book about the Amistad rebellion from 1840 that needed some touching up.

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The big hose is called an elephant trunk. It provides light and sucks up vapors and smells if you are using chemicals with your paper repair.

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Caution: Art Below! With all of today’s technology, sometimes ya just have to stick your piece under a heavy rock and wait.

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This microscope is looking at a page from a many-centuries-old Islamic manuscript. The detail of this work is staggering, there are artistic touches the naked eye will never see at first glance. When this piece will be put up, magnifying glasses will be available to museum-goers.

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More hardware.

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Denise stands before one of the pieces she restored as part of the Pearls of the Parrot of India: The Emperor Akbar’s Illustrated “Khamsa,” 159798 exhibit. Try and check it out — alas, it closes soon!

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The Brown Bunny (2003), Vincent Gallo, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Failing miserably to achieve the existential-racer-chic of “Two-Lane Blacktop,” yet not quite so awkwardly inept as the bored-road-sex turd that is “Twentynine Palms,” “The Brown Bunny” has a few moments, but is still an embarrassment. Somehow, only Michelangelo Antonioni and Gus Van Sant know how to make “these types” of movies work — I don’t know how they do it, but they do. A big problem with “The Brown Bunny” is that if your film is going to be (mostly) non-narrative and non-verbal, you’d best have a specific visual/design agenda. Gallo does not. Gallo’s “Buffalo ’66″ is still a masterpiece, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and just chalk this up to failed concept and wish him better luck next time.

Pas Sur la Bouche (2003), Alain Resnais, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, February 24th, 2006

I believe the current phrase is, “WTF??!” Alain Resnais, whose high-moderninst work in the 50s and 60s virtually created the asethetic template known in America as “The Foreign Film” has created, at age 80, the most bourgeois and un-ironic movie I’ve ever seen. A lightly comic, lithe and frilly operetta concerning a roundelay of marital indiscretions. This film’s adherence to the original 1925 text would make Antonin Scalia proud. There’s not one wink to the camera, dated jokes are given proper time to fall flat with a thud, and there is such earnestness on all the actors’ and singers’ faces that — I must admit — it becomed infectious. And the tunes (again, 1925) are pretty catchy, too. Costumes and very obvious soundstage sets are delightful, naturally. In the right frame of mind, this is quite a find.

The Academy Awards

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Friday, February 24th, 2006

Awards are stupid. Just last night I was ranting about how figure skating isn’t a sport because you can’t apply numeric grades to something that is subjective. A race has a winner, hockey has a winner. Ice skating, dance, art, etc, it is stupid to give awards. Yet we do it anyway. And since the big momma of all stupid awards events is coming up, here is my $0.02 on the main races. I didn’t see enough of the docs or foreign pics selected to include them.

Best Picture
What will win: Brokeback Mountain
What should win (nominated): Good Night And Good Luck
What should win (universally): Head-On

Best Male Actor
Who will win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Who should win (nominated): Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Who should win (universally): Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Best Female Actor
Who will win: Reese Witherspoon, Walk The Line
Who should win (nominated): Reese Witherspoon, Walk The Line
Who should win (universally): TIE: Sibel Kekilli, Head-On AND Q’Orianka Kilcher, The New World

Best Supporting Male Actor
Who will win: George Clooney, Syriana
Who should win (nominated): William Hurt, A History of Violence
Who should win (universally): Jean-Pierre Bacri, Look At Me

Best Supporting Female Actor
Who will win: Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
Who should win (nominated): Amy Adams, Junebug
Who should win (universally): Amy Adams, Junebug

Best Director
Who will win: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Who should win (nominated): Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Who should win (universally): Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

Best Screenwriter(s), Original Material
Who will win: Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash
Who should win (nominated): TIE: George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night and Good Luck AND Woody Allen, Match Point
Who should win (universally): TIE: George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night and Good Luck AND Woody Allen, Match Point

Best Screenwriter(s), Prior Source
Who will win: Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
Who should win (nominated): Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich
Who should win (universally): Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich

Maxine Steinman and Dancers at the Harkness Dance Festival

Jordan | Out & About | Friday, February 24th, 2006

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I can’t say I know a lot about modern dance. In fact, it is surely the artform I have the least amount of exposure to, that’s why I wanted to go see some. There were three short pieces and one long one as part of “Window Stories,” performed by the Maxine Steinman and Dancers group. The first one was very graceful and interesting. I found myself thinking, “hey, this is really terrific! I’m so glad I’m here!” The evening then degenerated into what basically felt like a bunch of people rolling around on the floor.

Now — I don’t know if it actually became worse as time went on, or just that my tolerance level is very low because I didn’t know what I was looking at. All I know is that if all I saw were the first 20 minutes, I’d be screaming about how great this was. The truth is, last night, I was offering prayers up to every known deity for the show to finally, finally end. And eventually, the people on the stage stopped rolling around on the floor and took a bow. Whew.

One thing I can say for sure is that the Indonesian restaurant Bali Nusa Indah continues to impress. I’ve been there many times, but they kicked it up a notch. The group of us shared 3 apps, 3 main courses and a “side dish” which was the same size as a main course. Everything was terrific. How does Indonesian food differ from, say, Thai? Basically, things are a little wetter. That’s the main factor. And string beans. I like string beans! Anyway, I see myself going back there again. We all ate a tremendous amount, had beers, and got out of there only $22 lighter.

Ed Koch at MCNY

Jordan | Out & About | Friday, February 24th, 2006

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This picture had the caption “On St. Patrick’s Day, call me O’Koch. At the Puerto Rican Day parade, call me Eduardo.”

Finally made it to the Ed Koch exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. Like Koch himself, it is very entertaining. Will we ever have another mayor like him? In terms of policy, actually, we do. His name is Mike Bloomberg. In terms of ‘tude, I don’t see it happening any time soon.

While at the museum, be sure to check out the wild exhibit called Transformed by Light, which documents illumination in New York as well as a fine collection of NYC photographs from 1925-1940 by Samuel H. Gottscho

John Belluso, RIP

Jordan | E-motions | Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Very sad to hear news of John Belluso’s passing. He and I lost touch when he moved to LA in, say, 97 or 98. (I had no idea his career was going so well!) I was always better friends with his roommate, but we did our share of East Village drinking back in ye olden days. He was such a fun and funny person. He had one of those voices where everything that came out sounded like a bon mot. Very upset to read this.

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John Belluso, Who Wrote Plays About Disability, Is Dead at 36

By JESSE McKINLEY
John Belluso, a young playwright who translated his own experiences with physical disability into a prolific body of promising work, died on Friday at a hotel in Manhattan. He was 36 and lived in Los Angeles.

A spokesman for the police department said an investigation was continuing but referred questions to the medical examiner’s office. Ellen Borakov, a spokesman for the medical examiner, said an initial autopsy was inconclusive and results from additional tissue testing would not be available for two weeks.

Mr. Belluso, who had Engleman-Camurdrie syndrome, a rare bone disorder that taxes the muscles, had used a wheelchair since he was 13. His work often featured characters suffering from physical maladies, and he used a mix of empathy and sharp-tongued humor to plumb their condition for deeper meaning.

In “Gretty Good Time,” his 1999 dark comedy, a young woman, a victim of polio who uses a wheelchair, longs to die but still gets laughs and leering looks from other characters as she plots her own demise with a mixture of wit, anger and sex appeal. Writing in The New York Times, Lawrence Van Gelder said Mr. Belluso had applied “high drama and sharp satire to questions of life and death.”

In a 2005 interview with The San Francisco Observer, Mr. Belluso said he found disability “endlessly fascinating” because of its universality. “Everyone, if they live long enough, will become disabled,” Mr. Belluso said. “It is the one minority class which anyone can become a member of at anytime.”

A graduate of New York University’s graduate playwriting program, where he studied with Tony Kushner and John Guare, Mr. Belluso began writing in earnest in the late 1990′s, and found widespread success, with plays produced at the Magic Theater in San Francisco (“The Rules of Charity”); the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (“The Body of Bourne”); the Humana Festival of New Plays in Louisville, Ken. (“A Nervous Smile”); and the Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Conn. (“Body Songs,” written with the director Joseph Chaikin). As the director of Other Voices Project at the Taper, from 1999 to 2005, Mr. Belluso also oversaw the development of other disabled theater artists.

A native of Warwick, R.I., Mr. Belluso is survived by his mother, Sally Belluso of Warwick; and his sisters, Sandi Suarez of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.; and Diane Bucci of Easton, Penn.

Mr. Belluso’s career had gained momentum with a pair of Off Broadway productions in 2005 “Pyretown,” and “Henry Flamethrowa” as well as a job writing for HBO’s “Deadwood.” Mr. Belluso was working on a play, “The Poor Itch,” about an injured soldier returning home from Iraq, for the Public Theater at the time of his death. The play remains unfinished.

The Public plans a memorial for Mr. Belluso at its East Village home on Feb. 27.

I’m Forever Yours

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Journey. Look Into The Future. Next. Infinity. Evolution. Departure. Captured. Escape. Frontiers. Raised On Radio. Greatest Hits. Arrival. Generations.

Journey. The Only Band Everyone Can Agree On.

Journey. Accept No Substitutes.

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Kneel Before Zod!

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

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At least Zod was honest about his intentions.

There is a lot more Zod-riblilia at this terrific website, including great tunes to download to your iZod.

The People Under The Stairs (1991), Wes Craven, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

If you are in the right mood, there is a lot to be gained from watching this film. As a straight horror film, it isn’t all that horrifying. And the plot — well, what horror film has a plot that actually makes any sense? The gift that keeps on giving is the Ronnie and Nancy-esque villains, screaming, praying, wearing leather and killing. I also liked the very mundane aspect of the plain neighborhood. Not kitschy like a David Lynch thing, but the wicked house isn’t very gothic looking, or on a hill, or filled with crows or anything. The evil is among us!! Good fun.

That Darn Cat (1997), Bob Spiers, D

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

I got this one mainly for Goober. Even he found it boring. For some reason I thought this would be a smart kid’s movie, because it was written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski and Christina Ricci was in it. Not the case. Had trouble making it to the end o’ this one.

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