Month: April 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...

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Battlestar Galactica (2003), Michael Rymer, A-

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...

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Pu-Erh Tea

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...

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Wonder Showzen: Believe the Hype

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...

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

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...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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