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Holy Dog Shit! Texas?

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Monday, November 27th, 2006

According to R. Lee Ermey there’s only two things that can be found in the Lone Star State:

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But for a few days anyhow, add me.

I’m in a particularly cush resort working an odd corporate gig. . .in the middle of nowhere, really, but it’s very lovely and. . .you know. . .the stars are big and bright. I’m WiFi’d up and my iPod is playing through the clock radio. Now if THAT ain’t frontier living!

Jordan Hoffman: Vertex of “Chick Lit”

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, November 26th, 2006

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* Did you know that Melanie Murray is a successful author of what Amazon.com reviewers call “Chick Lit?”

* Did you know that the same goes for Caren Lissner?

* Did you know they are anthologized together in a book called “Scenes From a Holiday?”

* Now — here’s where it gets weird. Melanie is the adoreable friend of my adoreable friend Leila (both have curly dark hair and laugh a lot) and, indeed, we used to kibbutz together in the Hayden Hall cafeteria and, I cannot tell a lie, we once sang show tunes in our pajamas in Leila’s room with Adam, Leila’s friend with the short hair whose name I always forget (oh, wait, it’s Sonia!), and maybe even Tom.

* As for Caren, she grew up about four houses down from us and used to have slumber parties with my sister. While I have no recollection of it specifically it is possible that we sang show tunes in our pajamas.

Conclusion: success with the Harlequin division Red Dress Ink in the 21st Century is only possible if you’ve sung show tunes with Jordan Hoffman in your pajamas. This is pure science.

Lost Pines, Texas: Here I Come!

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, November 26th, 2006

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It’s not quite business and it’s not quite pleasure — and in just a few short hours I fly to Texas for 5 days. Not sure how much updating of ye olde blog I’ll be doing from the road. . .but maybe in between outdoor barbeques and capital punishments I’ll make it to a computer.

Hook ‘em horns!!!

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), Larry Charles, B+

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

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What are you going to do, not laugh? It’s very entertaining. A little repetitive, but very entertaining. My only concern: where does shock humor end? And what of the copycats? I’d've liked this more before seeing Michael Richards scream “N-words” on YouTube.

By Any Other Name, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, November 26th, 2006

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There’s a lot going on here. First, we get some specific info about intergalactic travel. All the Trek adventures we’ve seen so far (except maybe a little of Where No Man Has Gone Before) has taken place here — within our own Milky Way Galaxy. To get to Andromeda would take thousands of years, even at warp speed, and there’s “nothing” in between the two galaxies. (I think that last fact is accurate. . .I think.) Anyway, some super beings who have assumed humanoid form (and what form!) need the Enterprise for a multigenerational trip back to Andromeda. You don’t like it, they’ll hit the garage door opener on their belt and freeze you. You try again and they’ll turn you into a cube and crush you (see below). The only way to foil the plan is to strike at the container the beings are in — their humanity! We must flummox them, anger them and, yes, teach them to love. The mega hottie who plays the main space chick basically says But what is love? by asking to be taught more about the “cultural mystique surrounding the biological function.” Classic.

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Patterns of Force, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, November 26th, 2006

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This is the Nazi episode. A Federation “cultural observer” tries to bring order and unity to a fragmented and chaotic society and pulls the most “train-running-on-time” government he can think of out of his hat. Whaddya know? Backfire. I like this episode because when Spock is stripped down to his waist and whipped (please, hold your comments) you can see markings of green bruises. Neat.

Up/Down/Fragile (1995), Jacques Rivette, F+

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

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I can’t remember the last time I walked out on a movie. Oh, yes I can! It was earlier this evening! The “plus” in F+ is because I got to see how the French eat hot dogs in this film. (They hollow out a baguette, then take the hot dog, dip the whole thing in a big vat of mustard, then slip the yellow-ed dog inside the baguette. Looks like fun!) (The dude at AMMI tells me that the Rivette series has been getting a lot of walk-outs. I’ve only seen one other of his films and it looks like I didn’t care for that much either.)

Eroica!

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, November 25th, 2006

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Just a few short hours ago the New York Philharmonic blew the goddamned roof off Avery Fisher Hall with a most heroic and hardcore performance of Beethoven’s Symphony #3. It sounds like a stupid thing to say. It sounds like, “wow, the Alps are tall.” But when you are hearing Beethoven performed live by a top notch symphony orchestra the only reaction is, “wow, this is some good music.” And since I really had nowhere to be tonight I went to the “pre-concert talk,” which I am now going to do every time I see the NY Phil. I only did this once before, about six years ago, and I’m thinking that time was just a dud. This time the talk was held in a small room on the third floor with complimentary snacks where a man with a quick and zippy sense of humor (Charles Zachary Bornstein) sat at a piano and made some fun observations. He’d bang out a chord and ask, “hear that? hear that?” making his point and when we’d answer yes he’d respond “good, you’re all smart!” Also on the menu tonight was pianist Joyce Yang, age 20 (!), performing Rachmaninoff’s Variations of a Theme from Paganini. It was good, but short, and got way overshadowed by the Eroica. Lastly – Conductor Lorin Maazel is starting to grow his hair like mine. . .which is to say like Krusty the Klown. But on him, it makes him look like a genius.

Return To Tomorrow, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, November 25th, 2006

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This episode wins a lot of points for being just so way out there. There’s a lot of talk about consciousness transference and mind expansion. It’s some heavy far out stuff for prime time TV of its day (no wonder the show was axed next season.) Also: a great monologue where Kirk explains why the Enterprise – nay! mankind! – must take risks. He concludes: “Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.” I’m not kidding around, it is a rousing and moving speech. Also: when they are possessed by the SuperSphereLamps (if you’ve seen this, you know what I mean) their voices echo. How cool is that?!

A Private Little War, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Friday, November 24th, 2006

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I didn’t think it would happen until Season 3 — but it happened with this one. An episode I’ve never seen before! And a particularly good one, too. A surprisingly down and tragic episode — the internet tells me that special music was written and only used this once for the closing credits. Kirk and co. basically fail in trying to restore peace to the planet of Neural. The best they can do is balance the power and create an arms race that, if all follows as did on Earth, will eventually lead to peace. But first, a few centuries of horrible bloodshed. A brave Vietnam parallel with the hill people and villagers standing in as allies for the Federation and the Klingons. And some seriously heavy themes: when does pacifism the wrong philosophy? when does realpolitik trump idealism? when do ends justify the means? But it isn’t all heavy. There’s a white spiky poison gorilla on the loose (a Mugato) and sexpot Nona (the future Mrs. Zubin Mehta!?) will suck that poison from you for a nominal fee.

The Immunity Syndrome, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Friday, November 24th, 2006

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I find it to be a nice change of pace when all the action is set on the ship. Do we have to beam down to a new planet each week? Here we run befoul of a “Zone of Darkness” (the phrase “Black Hole” wouldn’t enter common lexicon until about two years after this episode aired) where everything is all reverse-y. (Oh, Scotty, you seem like such a smart guy — are you really that shocked when the Captain asks you to thrust forward once it is discovered that pushing away only lurches the ship closer?) At the center of the Zone – a thousand mile single cell virus. And it is ready to reproduce (now that it has eaten 400 Vulcans which Spock “sensed” in a scene later stolen directly by George Lucas and Obi Wan Kenobi.) Can the Enterprise act as “antibodies” and save the Universe? Yes — if McCoy and Spock would ever stop bickering. (They both want to be the hero and their usual rivalry borders on a WWF-style smackdown here.) Best of all: the closer to the center of the Zone, the sicker everyone is. And Kirk can only stay awake by shooting himself up with stimulants. By the end of the episode, he’s grinding his teeth and diggin’ on the space age light show. All you need to do is crank the Allmans. Far freakin’ out.

Head-On (2005), Fatih Akin, A

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

(Ooops. I accidentally deleted out of existence my review of this fantastic flick from Feb 8, 2005. Luckily, everything is cached on the internets with The Google, so I was able to clip ‘n’ paste.)

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Before I get into the movie, a moment to announce just how staggering
hair, makeup and wardrobe are to a woman’s appearance. This may seem
obvious, but I used to think I was into the au natural look. Maybe I
still am on certain people, who knows. All I can say is that, for the
first 2/3rds of this movie, I was completely thunderstruck by the beauty
of leading actress Sibelle Kekilli. Like. . .at times I couldn’t even
pay attention to the movie, that’s how in awe of her I was. I loved her
large Mediterranean nose, her robust hair, her rear end, yeegads, don’t
even get me started. Sibelle Kekilli has officially replaced Julianna
Marguelies as the only woman I would leave Ann for. Then, in the final
third of the movie, there is a plot twist and Sibelle cuts her hair,
eschews make-up and puts on large mannish clothing. Homely isn’t the
word. She looked like Pete Freaking Townshend! What does this have to do
with this fantastic film? Absoultely nothing. “Head On” is a wondeful
movie blending the aggressive storytelling of the best New German Cinema
(if that term still means anything) and the Amour Fou represented in
French New Wave. It reminded me of “The Girl on the Bridge” which is a
major compliment. I loved everything about it, including the awesome
soundtrack. I may even go and buy the CD. The catalyst of the film,
though, is how awfully Muslim families, even moderate Muslim famlilies,
treat women. It’s good to have this in a pop culture here-and-now film
like “Head On” and not just in earnest guilt-fishers like “Osama.” To
think that half the world’s women are still treated like slaves by their
family, right out in the open here in the West, makes me sick to my
stomach. Also: to make my feminist sentiment seem a little
contradictory, I just learned the Sibelle Kekilli used to do porn. I’ve
seen some of the photos and I think I am about to have a heart attack.

The Constant Gardener (2005), Fernando Meirelles, D-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

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Maybe there’s something wrong with me — but I found this movie boring, predictable, uninteresting and, frankly, obnoxious. How about having one interesting African character with a speaking part if, you know, this is supposed to be a movie about suffering Africans? (There is one, yes, but he dies in the first reel – and I don’t think he does anything but smile at the nice white lady.) And it is cut ridiculously. Poor Ralph Fiennes is trying to give a decent, restrained performance and this idiot Meirelles is swinging his camera around like it’s on a tetherball court. And the “location footage” isn’t all that inspired. Anyone can hand-hold with a wide angle lens and boost the color saturation in post. If you cut quickly enough no one will bother to realize the framing is all for shit. The story (which could be told in about 5 minutes without the unneeded flashbacks) is all vague liberal mush with no specificity about it. You wanna get worked up over pharmaceutical companies, fine, go grab a copy of “The Nation” and learn facts. This movie is too incompetent to get any real message across and, as such, it is about as illuminating as spending two hours with an incoherent conspiracy nut. I swear if I see one more movie where the multinational corporate conglomerate is the root of all evil I’m liable to become a pro-business conservative. Bad bad bad. (And the little tacked on inter-tribal raid, coming completely out of the blue, just to raise your blood pressure at the end and see children get shot: diabolical.) Mindblowing to think this is the same director who made “City of God.” If it weren’t for Fiennes, who is a very intruiging actor even in a piece of crap like this, this’d be a flat-out “F.”

Deconstructing Harry (1997), Woody Allen, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

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Woody Allen has made five perfect films. Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Deconstructing Harry. That’s a bold statement, I know. You either think I am overpraising Woody (I’m not) or I’m leaving out a few (where’s Love and Death and Broadway Danny Rose???) Here’s another one: of these five, Deconstructing Harry is tied with Annie Hall as the flat out funniest. In that there are more laughs per capita packed in. But, like all the films mentioned here, they have rich undercurrents of sadness. In fact, with the exception of Hannah and Her Sisters, I would categorize the remaining four films as depressing. Anyway, Deconstructing Harry came “after the fall” for Woody — after his Soon Yi scandal — and a lot of people were way turned off at seeing him skirt-chase in this film. The internet tells me that Woody tried to get Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper and Albert Brooks to play the lead role. Brooks finally told him it would be insane not to play it himself. And I could see why Woody didn’t want to. In real life Woody is always telling the press that the characters he plays in his films aren’t the way he really acts. In Deconstructing Harry, Woody plays Harry, a man who always is telling people that his art isn’t based on his life. . .and then finally admits that it is. Deconstructing Harry is kinda cribbed from Bergman’s Wild Strawberries — but, as a free association by a fiction writer, it is also an excuse to throw in many of the dopey, sketch-like ideas Woody used to put in his New Yorker short stories.

In this regard, there are many similarities to Stardust Memories. And while I love Stardust Memories, I think this is the superior film. At the time of Stardust Memories Woody was still working with the great Gordon Willis — and I now wonder if the gorgeous framing and black and white may be too artistic for this type of work. The master shots, jump cutting and warm colors of Deconstructing Harry are more the “Woody Allen look” that people will remember when his total oevre is discussed. I think Stardust Memories’ desire to ape Fellini may have been a mistake — maybe Woody just didn’t trust making such personal material in his own style.

Anyway, this movie is a fucking scream. Judy Davis, as always, is so funny when she gets angry. And the story of the old Jewish ladies discovering “Max’s dark secret” — the punchline there is one of the most deranged and hilarious things in any of Woody’s movies. But the real scene stealer is Kirstie Alley. Never being much of a Cheers fan, I never thought of her that much. I saw Deconstructing Harry in the theaters three times and each time she brought the house down during her break-up scene. Twice the scene ended with a round of applause. One of those times I happened to be sitting directly across the aisle from Buck Henry (alone) who actually fell out of his seat he was laughing so hard (he was kinda sitting in a weird position.) This might also have been the film where I really fell in love with Bob Balaban. And Eric Bogosian has a killer cameo, too, even if he only gets a few lines. And the opening between Richard Benjamin and Elaine Bennis! God, there are SO MANY hysterical scenes in this deeply depressing, meaningful, important film about artists and their need to create disorder.

The Gay Divorcee (1934), Mark Sandrich, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

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Even though The Gay Divorcee is a Fred and Ginger movie, the photo I’ve put up is of Edward Everett Horton and Betty Grable. Why? Because this (I think) is the only Fred and Ginger movie where EEH sings and dances. It certainly is the film with the most EEH in it. And even though it seems like EEH was in all the Fred and Ginger movies (he was in three of ten) it is the essence of EEH that we love so much about Fred and Ginger. If life is a Fred and Ginger movie, we’d all be lucky to be the EEH — along for the ride, cracking jokes, having jokes cracked on us, cracking open champagne, maybe saving the day at the end without knowing it and winding up happily ever after just by osmosis. In the meantime, our hearts aren’t broken, and we’re not goofily tap dancing around our furnished rooms every time we change clothes. As far as The Gay Divorcee is concerned, it might be my favorite Fred and Ginger film (I inexplicably gave it a mere B+ when I last saw it on 06/07/05.) It was their first as headliners, they meet cute (Bringing Up Baby totally steals this bit,) Ginger’s hair is curly and she’s just generably adoreable, there’s some fun anti-Italian bigotry (in a Chico kinda way,) and there’s a big musical number involving revolving doors! ‘Cause, like, when this movie was made Revolving doors were still, like, a new thing! Fascinating.

A Piece of the Action, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

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A lot of people poo-poo this episode, but one thing to keep in mind: it’s very funny. Shatner and Nimoy didn’t get all those goofy TV ads just for their recognition — they know how to sell a joke, and they have dynamite comic timing. They zing off each other here more than in any other episode I’ve seen so far. I mean, heck, this episode ends in a freeze-frame straight out of Police Squad! Anyway, this is the one where the planet is structured on 20s gangsters and in order to save the day Kirk must “go native.” It’s idiotic, but hilarious. And Bela Oxmyx is the coolest name for a bad guy I ever heard (and my new internet handle, I think.)

Gamesters of Triskelion, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

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So here’s the part in the series where we find us repeating ourselves. Another episode where members of the Enterprise are captured by superior beings and held for amusement. This time they must fight like gladiators (and Kirk must rebel like Spartacus!!) Kirk romances a dopey female gladiator that coos baby talk and looks blankly at the screen with her wide eyes — she looks like a Pixar bird and, despite being half-naked in tin foil, just grosses me out. Best thing about this episode: Mr. Spock uses cold logic to save the Captain. McCoy and Scotty try to talk him out of it — calling him dispassionate and cruel. Usually when this happens Spock learns to bend a little and rely on some sort of emotion to help him out of his fix (eg The Galileo Seven.) This time: no dice. Hard heartless reason wins the day. And Bones doesn’t even apologize.

The Trouble With Tribbles, TOS 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

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All kidding aside, this is a really good episode. It is actually quite clever how the A story (Klingons sharing a Federation star base next to a contested planet) merges with the B story (Tribbles!) Also, there’s a lot of Uhura in this episode — never a bad thing. Best is Arne Darvin, the diplomat’s assistant slash undercover Klingon spy. He looks and sounds just like Chris Wallace. See? Bill Clinton was right to get all up in his face!!

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