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The Boys of Baraka (2005), Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

I watched this movie days ago and only remembered now that I didn’t post about it. What does that tell you? Yeah. . .inner city blues. . .God, this movie is depressing. Do yourself a favor and don’t get born poor and black in this country. Really cool poster.

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Somewhere between the second and third Tora! this movie starts to run out of steam. It starts off well and the anecdotes (if accurate) of all the ways the US Navy failed prepare for invasion are fascinating.

The Longest Day (1962), Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki & Darryl F. Zanuck, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

I’ve seen bits of this over the years, but never all the way through. Much like “A Bridge Too Far” it tackles the enormity of a major battle operation, zipping to all sorts of little dramas and perspectives. There may be one too many sequences of maps and pointer sticks for some people’s taste (not me) but there are other sequences — like Red Buttons watching his comrades get shot while hanging from his parachute caught on a church steeple — that remind us what only cinema can do. A surprisingly watchable film, overall.

The Brothers Quay Collection (1987), Stephen & Timothy Quay, D-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, May 29th, 2006

I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Ann and I turned to one another — after our second attempt to watch this DVD (we wrote the first attempt off as us simply being sleepy) — and asked, “Is it me, or is this unwatchable?” Because, on paper, we thought we’d really dig this. The Brothers Quay cite Jan Svankmajer as their main influence (indeed, one of the shorts is called “The Cabinet of Dr. Svankmajer”) and we are both mad about Svankmajer. But. . .imagine if you took Svankmajer and drained all the humanity, all of the energy, all of the, hell, fun out of it. You’d be left with this. The technique is fascinating. . .for exactly five minutes. And then you want to go to sleep. We even tried to watch some of an interview with these guys, thinking that might give us some insight into their work. All we saw were two pretentious assholes who couldn’t formulate a sentence. I haven’t wanted to get a DVD back to Netflix this fast in months.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Leonard Nimoy, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal,The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 29th, 2006

Here’s one of those movie-going experiences that changed my life. My Dad took me to see this at the Loews I would later work at, which is now a gym. Released just after my 12th birthday — I don’t think I’d ever seen a movie that so fully captured my imagination as this one. I’d always been a fan of Trek, but this turned me into the full-on psychotic that I remain today. But everyone loves this movie. When we dragged my mother to see it — even she admitted it was funny. And it still is funny. The shtick between McCoy and Spock discussing philosophy, while not as sidesplitting as I remember, still works. This is a perfect adventure movie filled with brain twisters, unexpected problems, good humor and a nice eco-friendly happy ending. Sometimes I marvel at the fact that there could ever be a discussion as to “which is better? Star Trek or Star Wars?” Star Wars is a collection of genre films. Star Trek is real life.

Sayonara (1957), Joshua Logan, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, May 29th, 2006

An American married to an Oriental?! Whaaaaaaaa?! So, yes, this movie is obscenely dated and 100% predictable. And yet — we couldn’t turn away. Brando’s southern accent didn’t deter from the train wreck effect. Must admit I fell asleep before the end (TCM’s broadcast ended at 12:30 AM on a Friday) but I think I got the gist of it.

All or Nothing (2002), Mike Leigh, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, May 26th, 2006

You think Mike Leigh woke up one morning and said, “I’ve decided I want to make the most depressing movie on Earth now?” ‘Cause that’s kinda what it feels like. “All or Nothing” is two-hours of bleak, miserable, focused examination of some of the most horrible people living in dreadful conditions. It kinda reminded me of Ratcatcher, but without the lyrical cinematic touches. . .which is what made “Ratcatcher” bearable. Thank God — Thank God! — there is a 5 minute coda at the end with a tiny glimmer of hope. Otherwise I may very well have stuck my head in the oven after watching. (Performers are fabulous, particularly Ruth Sheen as the not-drunk neighbor. I’m now officially in search of all of her films — she is an absolutely breathtaking performer.)

Late May ’06 Photo Dump

Jordan | Goober,Tales Of Hoffman | Friday, May 26th, 2006

Ann and Goober spend an evening in with some light reading.

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What I like is that you can clearly see here how it is Goober demanding when the pages be turned.

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Off in the wild wilderness of Monmouth County, Ann spies a Caterpillar.

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The Caterpillar climbs a tree.

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Here is the ‘pillar on an arm.

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Close up of Mr. ‘pillar.

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Click here to see REALLY close.

Me in the wilderness. 5 minutes in nature and I need 10 mg of Lortadine and a hit of Albuterol.

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Sunset on the Hoffman family compound.

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Nephew Jake plays a memory game.

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It’s like Husker Du but, like, nicer.

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I don’t think I’ve ever had a haircut as cool as Jake’s at age 3. What’s up with that?

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Jake and Grampa Hoffman thoroughly engrossed in “Monster’s Inc.”

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Jake, Grampa & Uncle Jordan.

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My collection of New York City (mostly) reference books. A shelf of tax write-offs!

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Lady Vengeance (2006), Park Chan-Wook, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

My first Park Chan-Wook film and now I see what everyone is going so bananas about. I’ve never quite seen a movie like this before. Emotionally, it is all over the map — from slick “Oceans 11″-style caper, to dead-pan “Napoleon Dynamite” comedy to intense and frightening grief. How do you shoot scenes of (offscreen) child torture? Seriously — how do you call action and cut and have 11 year old girls scream “Mommy, please, he’s going to kill me!?!??!” and then take lunch? How does that happen? Despite these harrowing moments, this is not a violent film. It is a gorgeous film to look at (every shot is a painting – and Yeong-ae Lee is, as they say in South Korea, quite a dish) and it is a baffling film. There were full-on fifteen minute blocks where I had NO idea what was going on. It all made sense in the end. I recommend this movie quite a bit.

Gates of Heaven (1980), Errol Morris, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

I recognize that this was totally new when it came out. You didn’t see “regular” people on TV or film back then unless you were watching “Family Feud.” There are moments where we see foreshadowing of Morris’ trademark formalism, and that is interesting to see, but most of the time I was thinking “yeah, yeah, I get it.” In a word (and sorry to the smart critics who rightfully shit themselves in 1980): boring.

I Am Here To Bother You

Jordan | Goober | Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Goober demands your undivided attention.

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Old School (2003), Todd Philips, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, May 19th, 2006

Every muscle twitch, every word, every grunt from Will Ferrell is hysterical. The guy is a gifted genius and one of the greatest comics cinema has ever seen. Vince Vaughan is usually funny, too. Luke Wilson, not so much. I kinda can’t stand that guy. Anyway, this movie is an insult to anyone’s intelligence — I already forget the plot — but you’ll laugh every time Ferrell is onscreen.

Wrong is Right (1982), Richard Brooks, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, May 19th, 2006

An attempt to do a “Syriana” story in a “Network” tone — not 100% successful, but certainly fascinating, if only for the scenes of Arab terrorists plotting to destroy the World Trade Center. Sean Connery doesn’t really know from funny, but the supporting cast (Dean Stockwell, Robert Conrad, Rosalind Cash and Leslie Neilson) do. I really recommned this movie for political junkies – very fascinating to see the 80s perception of what, unfortunately, wasn’t too far off a prediction of the future.

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984), Leonard Nimoy, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal,The Star Trek Project | Friday, May 19th, 2006

I think I made my grandfather take me to this. Poor guy. . .he escapes famine in the Ukraine and has to sit through 90 minutes of Klingons? And speaking of Klingons – Christopher Lloyd?!? I nearly fell out of my (captain’s) chair when I saw his name in the opening credits. But under all that makeup you hardly recognize him. Anyway, this is a terrific movie. Next is part IV, one of my all time favorites, and then I’ll reevaluate the dreaded part V.

Greendale (2003), Neil Young, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

I will always give props to a work of art that is unashamedly earnest in its own beliefs despite being a flabbergasting mess. Well, it isn’t that bad a mess. The music is good. This isn’t Neil Young’s best music, but it is still pretty good — at times great. This “musical” of a lip-synched song cycle shot on Super 8 (with a little broadcast quality video during “news reports”) is kinda light on story, but gets its point across. Media saturation bad, protecting the environment good. Got it. The climax, a grainy, blurry, high school production of a choir in battle fatigues screaming about corporate greed. . .I dunno. . .something there speaks to me. It’d be easy to write this off as insane amateur hour, but you won’t catch me doing it. With the lights low, speakers up and the right kind of cigarettes, you’ve got a cult classic.

Stevie (2002), Steve James, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

There’s really only one reaction to this movie: Oy! Such a mess! Crime and Punishment, Nature vs. Nurture, the good of society vs. the aid of one troubled soul. . . and a little retarded dirty dancing, to boot. The same insight into complicated issues that Steve James brought to “Hoop Dreams” is on display here — this character portrait is two-and-a-half hours and there isn’t ten seconds that isn’t absolutely fascinating. My favorite moment is the Aryan Nation neighbor explaining how any object – even a wooden board – can be made into a murder weapon. . .all while wearing a Les Miserables T-shirt! The director is a guilty liberal, yes, but he really holds back and allows you to make up your own opinion. The question: when do you just give up on a fuck-up? When do you stop making excuses for him? When do you move on with your own life? I can’t commend this movie enough.

Living With War

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

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Forget the politics for a second. This is Neil’s most energetic and melodic album since Ragged Glory. On a strictly musical level, it is one of his best ever.

If you are infuriated with George Bush and his cabal of satanists as much as most thinking people the lyrics just make you want to weep with joy.

This is a perfect piece of political art. Highlights include “Families,” “Shock and Awe” and, yes, “Let’s Impeach The President.”

I haven’t bought the CD yet (I will. . .) but it is streaming for free (and good quality) here.


Today’s the day our younger son
Is going off to war
Fightin’ in the age old battle
We’ve sometimes won before
Flags that line old main street
Are blowin’ in the wind
These must be the flags of freedom flyin’

Church bells are ringin’
As the families stand and wave
Some of them are cryin’
But the soldiers look so brave
Lookin’ straight ahead
Like they know just where they’re goin’
Past the flags of freedom flyin’

Sister has her headphones on
She hears the music blasting
She sees her brother marchin’ by
Their bond is everlasting
Listening to Bob Dylan singin’ in 1963
Watching the flags of freedom flyin’

She sees the president speakin’
On a Flat-screen TV
In the window of the old appliance store
She turns to see her brother again
But he’s already walkin’ past
The flags of freedom flyin’

Have you seen the flags of freedom?
What color are they now?
Do you think that you believe in yours
More than they do theirs somehow?
When you see the flags of freedom flyin’

Today’s the day our younger son
Is goin’ off to war
Fightin’ in the age old battle
We’ve sometimes won before
Flags that line old main street
Are blowin’ in the wind
These must be the flags of freedom flyin’

Bite The Bullet (1975), Richard Brooks, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

A real “movie” movie. Terrific all-star ensemble in a high-stakes endurance horse race. If it weren’t for the use of slo-mo or amped up violence, this is straight out of Hollywood’s Golden Era. Almost seems like a rebuke to Altman in its straightforwardness. Good, even if a little silly (I don’t buy Murphy Brown in chaps.)

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