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Meet The Fockers (2002), Jay Roach, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, April 30th, 2006

I got called away so I didn’t see the very ending, but by then the jokes were being traded in for plot anyway. Still, very entertaining, particularly Dustin Hoffman.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Sidney Lumet, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 28th, 2006

Hilarious, exciting, fascinating, perfect. Pacino’s best performance? It is so hard to pin down what is so real about Sonny. . .anyone who’s spent time in a scuzzy Hell’s Kitchen bar knows this guy. You’re just not sure if he’s a complete idiot or a genius. He’s actually mostly an idiot with the occasional flash of awareness, I think. Charles Durning, Chris Sarandon, John Cazale. . .all the women in the back (a young Carol Kane!) are all terrific, too. Better than I remembered it, I remembered it being awesome.

National Treasure (2004), Jon Turteltaub, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 28th, 2006

Completely idiotic. And a heck of a lot of fun.

Snow Job

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Wednesday, April 26th, 2006


Tony Snow’s new job is nothing but good news for us. It further demonstrates the preposterousness of Fox News’ claim to be anything but a propaganda machine, and this patina of shame will be evident in Snow’s upcoming dispatches. Also, the rest of the press corps will be so jealous they didn’t get the call that the ought to be particularly rough on this douche bag.

Jabberwocky (1977), Terry Gilliam, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

The most positive spin I can put on this is that this movie isn’t as bad as you remember. If, like me, you rented a washed out and horribly cropped VHS back when you first discovered Monty Python back in 8th grage, then at the very least you’ll be happy to know that “Jabberwocky” is, at times, an artfully shot film. And there are a handful of funny moments. But unless you are a Terry Gilliam/Michael Palin completist, there is no reason to watch this mess. I listened to the Gilliam/Palin commentary track and as the closing credits were winding up Palin declares, “Not bad. (beat) Not good.” The two man laugh themselves silly. Good to see they aren’t delusional.

You Are A Fucking Geek: The Experience

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Tuesday, April 25th, 2006


Check every self-conscious quasar in your zetabert quadrant, you are going to Star Trek: The Experience. I wish I could say someone dragged me here. But on the plane to Vegas I stated aloud — I don’t care what we do, so long as we go to the Star Trek thing. I’m glad we did. The first thing I did was humiliate both myself and the woman selling the tickets when I flashed her the Vulcan hand signal and said “Live Long and Prosper.” This poor woman (over 55) then had to respond, as she had been trained to do, “Peace and Long Life.” I really shoulda just gotten down on my knees and begged forgiveness right then.

The vendors immediately smelled blood in the water — it wasn’t five minutes later I was buying shit I didn’t need. For example, this little chestnut I coulda made myself with photoshop:


Look a little closer there:


As I was whining about buyers remorse (this picture was waaaay too costly) Ann reminded me that I don’t own photoshop and don’t know how to use it, either. So I should shut up.

Anyway, there certainly was no shortage of dopey shit for me to take digital photos of. They include:

Lt. Uhura’s sexy outfit. Insert Bob Hope growl here.


As well as the thingamajig that sticks out of Lt. Uhura’s ear.


A model of the Enterprise from “The Next Generation.”


The 3D chess set Mr. Spock played.


Lt. Commander LaForge’s eye visor.


Here I am next to the bad guy from the episode “Arena.” This is actually the first episode of Trek I remember watching. Channel 9 or 11, some Sunday afternoon, in Michael Tobin’s basement in Bethpage, NY. (The fellow on view, my quick internet research tells me, is a Gorn.)


Some other aliens you might find if you were to seek out new life, new civilizations and boldly split infinitives.


Ann and I run into a Ferengi. He was very charming.


Ann runs befowl of a Klingon. He mocked my taste in shirts, and later mocked me for spending too much time reading all the little captions near the artifacts.


Ann cowers in fear from the monster from that episode where Dr. McCoy’s ex-girlfriend is leeching the salt from everyone’s body and leaving them not only dead but covered in red suction-cup marks. (Okay, fine, the episode is known as “The Man Trap” and the monster is known as the M-113 Creature. You happy now?)


Primary-colored engineering blocks and, if you look closely, the Agonizer from “Mirror, Mirror.”


Timeline of “The Original Series,” or, as we call it in this house, “The Real Star Trek.”


Mr. Spock’s Tricorder and Phaser. It seems as if the Tricorder is a tape-recorder with an extra strap. But yet it can do so much more!!


A glass of Romulan Ale.


Me – enjoying a glass of Romulan Ale.


Werckmeister Harmonies (2000), Béla Tarr, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Wow. This must all be symbolic or something. Béla Tarr doesn’t know much from moderation. This two-and-a-half hour film is only 30-something shots, so says the blurb. I beleive it. Long, long, long takes are often just what the doctor ordered (see Tarkovsky’s Stalker or Van Sant’s Gerry) but sometimes you want to just shout “For the love of Zeus someone say ‘Cut!’” But there is a lot of nifty shit here (impoverished European town, colossal stuffed whale on display, riots at the dispensary) but I won’t lie to you and say I could really follow what happened. It all looked pretty cool, though. Probably worth further study, but I don’t have the time and I don’t know what the end reward will be. I’ll accept this movie as mood piece and be happy with that.

Battlestar Galactica (2003), Michael Rymer, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Weird how things come together. A few different sources were telling me that the current Battlestar Galactica, and the 2003 miniseries that launched it, were worth my time. I’d been considering renting it – and then it appears, all four hours of it, in Sci-Fi Channel last night. And it is just fucking awesome. Really riveting stuff. Action-packed, a little shocking in its brutality, very cleverly shot. And it looks terrific. The reason Galactica has a chance against the Cylons (if I may use such a phrase) is because it is low-tech and doesn’t rely on hackable computers. (Curse you networking solutions!!!) As a result, everything has a very real, tactile element to it. Some of the love story stuff felt crammed in there, but, hey, it’s still TV. Anyway, when this thing ended at 3 AM I promptly had Cylon-related nightmares. So, mission accomplished.

Pu-Erh Tea

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Saturday, April 22nd, 2006


My newest obsession (in that it started less than 18 hours ago) is Pu-Erh tea. It is the only kind of tea that is fermented, not oxidized, and it is often specially aged for years. Like yogurt, it is “alive” — good Pu-Erh should be “teeming with microbes” according to Those in the know can tell you what is a “good year” for Pu-Erh, just like a wine, and that the only real Pu-Erh comes from Yunnan Province. Supporters say it is a cure for almost every disease and affliction on Earth, detractors say it tastes like drinking dirt. Come to my house and you can decide for yourself.

Wonder Showzen: Believe the Hype

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

6ws.jpg 7ws.jpg 19ws.jpg

No one is more reluctant to watch a show on MTV than I. And. . .not only MTV, but MTV2? Do I even get such a channel? But after two solid weeks of being unable to open any newspaper, magazine or webpage without reading about the Season 2 premiere of Wonder Showzen, I relented. And, yeah, it is worth your time. “Wonder Showzen” is a thick stew of post-modernism, shock humor, political satire, stoner mindfuck, dadaism, cuteness, sound and light show, a howl-in-the-abyss reaction to a degrading wartime culture (probably), a queasy overall “that’s not right” unease and (and this is key) some very clever jokes. Indeed tonight’s episode featured a sexual innuendo with a “Mystery Science Theater”-level of esoteric reference to “To Kill A Mockingbird.” How much farther can the envelope be pushed? I’m not sure. Looks like I’ll have to go and rent last season’s DVDs.

April 29

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Saturday, April 22nd, 2006


Note to self: Keep the 29th open. Especially don’t book a downtown walking tour.

In Cold Blood (1967), Richard Brooks, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 21st, 2006

I now respect the movie Capote even more, as it covers much of the same ground in such a completely different way. Brooks’ use of Conrad Hall’s elegent b&w and Quincy Jones’ snappy score make this much more of a movie, you know? Robert Blake’s performance really is a knockout here, giving me more insight into the Perry Smith character than reading the book did. What I love about the book and the film (both, I suppose) is that with all of the facts laid out in such detail, we still don’t know more than we did the morning the family was discovered dead: why? And that no character ever turns to the camera to say those exact words and shatter the mood is a minor miracle. This movie has a lot more meat to it than that other outlaw picture “Bonnie and Clyde,” which would come out two years later and revolutionize film culture.

The World of Henry Orient (1964), George Roy Hill, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 21st, 2006

Sweet, a little silly, a little sad, very engrossing and believable tale about two 14 year old girls running blithely around a Salinger-esque New York City. A gentle 1964 version of Ghost World (indeed, the poster of “Henry Orient” is on Enid’s wall if you freeze the DVD) with Peter Sellers in the Steve Buscemi role. Plus Angela Landsbury, Tom Bosley, Grampa Al Lewis and John Fiedler (you’ll know him when you see him) rounding out the great cast.

The Piano Teacher (2001), Michael Haneke, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 21st, 2006

All hail Isabelle Huppert. Michael Haneke opted to shoot this very difficult film flatly. The subject matter could just have easily been interpreted with swirling stylization, but, visually, this looks like pre-HBO TV. (There is even a wink to this in the opening scene.) Wise choice, as it affords us all the more opportunity to let Isabelle Huppert (who I finally recognize is NOT Isabelle Adjani) do her thing. Julianne Moore so wishes she was Isabelle Huppert. But she isn’t. I don’t know of that many people who can pull a performance like this off. The story, frankly, I dunno. . .maybe I’m getting blase in my old age, but I didn’t think it was shocking enough. I mean, gasp, some people harbor violent fantasies? You do go on! What really is the message here? Who cares. What a performance.

The Winners

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Thursday, April 20th, 2006

Taken at the Stardust Hotel and Casino in April, 2006.









Passion in the Desert (1997), Lavinia Currier, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, April 20th, 2006

What’s worse: when a movie is just kinda “eh,” or when a movie starts out fucking fantastic and then descends into the abyss of “please, God, make this end soon?” This movie is the latter. It is 1798 and French soldiers are fucking around in Egypt, blowing shit up and making grand statements. Then one soldier gets lost and finds himself isolated in the desert, going batty. He finds shelter and water, but it is guarded by a leopard. He forms a relationship with this leopard that goes to unexpected places. This is all based on a Balzac novella and, in the hands of a competent director, has the potential to be fantastic. Much of it is fantastic — it looks spectacular. Most movies shot on location in the elements do, and this is no exception. But whereas “Walkabout” or “The Naked Prey” or anything by Terrence Malick uses stunning natural imagery to work as counterpoint to an engaging story about real characters, Lavinia Currier is keeping his/her (unsure) fingers crossed that the imagery will be so stunning that no one will notice we have no connection to the people on the screen. Another big problem: bad dialogue. And too much dialogue. Example: soldier and naturalist are lost in the desert. Naturalist takes the last of the water to mix with art supplies to make paint. We see all this in loving detail. Then Mr. Soldier looks at the naturalist, throws him on the ground and declares, “You used the last of our water to mix paints!!!!” How this made it past the first cut I have no idea. I wish there was a way that I could have only seen the first half — not that the second half is worse as a film, but it is only after a while that you realize you are watching something kinda half-assed.

Days of Heaven (1978), Terrence Malick, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

I could listen to the music of Ennio Morricone, Camille Saint-Saëns, Leo Kottke and the warbled Chicago via Bugs Bunny accent of Linda Manz all day. And, luckily, there’re some pretty pictures to look at, too. A revolutionary visual experience, Malick and his two DPs (Néstor Almendros and Haskell Wexler) shot mountains of film at magic hour, which makes me wonder what they did for the rest of the day. The film works because the story is simple but all the specifics are odd. And, at times, funny! This is Malick’s only film with lots and lots of laughs — all due to the great Linda Manz — God knows why she barely did any more work. (Dennis Hopper’s “Out of the Blue” isn’t a great film, but worth checking out for her performance.) I think this is my favorite Malick film, but Ann is sticking with “The New World.” (1, 2). You’ve got about 8 more days to catch it at Film Forum. The print is pristine.

The Elephant Man (1980), David Lynch, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, April 17th, 2006

Holy smokes is this movie depressing, or what? Like, one of the most depressing movies ever. Terrific, though, and “arty-er,” if you will, than I remember. Lots of unmotivated images of industrial machinery and aural montage. The “message” scenes are well-underplayed. Also, Merrick is very much an Englishman – his “humanity” is accepted when it is discovered he quotes Shakespeare, drinks tea and refuses a compliment. A fantastic movie.

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