The Story of the Weeping Camel (2004), Byambasuren Davaa & Luigi Falorni, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, April 30th, 2007

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Fascinating, but a little slow moving. The first twenty minutes go by without anything resembling a story. An ethnographic film in the true Robert Flaherty mold. Ever wanted to know what it’s like to live in a yurt in the Gobi desert and raise camels? There’s a lot of looking uncomfortable in strong winds, I can tell you that much. And drinking steaming hot white liquid. Anyhow, one of the camels is being a bad mother — they can’t exactly take her on Maury so the boys go to “The City” (what looks like an outerboro branch of the New York Public Library) to fetch a musician. The musician makes the camel cry (special effects or truth?!? We’ll never know) and then all is well again. Camels today!

March & April (And Even Some February) Photos

Jordan | Goober,Tales Of Hoffman,The Jake Files | Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Lots of photos have been taken, few have been shared.

From Jake’s birthday party:

Amanda says, “Hey, what’s with you?”

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Amanda thinks Ann is loopy.

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My Aunt Joan’s favorite words begin with an “F” and end with an “UCK.”

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Jake in a parachute.

UPDATE: This actually isn’t Jake, but one of his little friends. Who can see with such a blurry lens?

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I’m thinking of doing something stupid.

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I’ve done something stupid.

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I’m paying the price.

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An offscreen hand to help me out.

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I cook breakfast once in a while.

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The funniest named public housing development.

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A pigeon.

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Matt Levy and Goober.

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Me and Ely (nee Chairman Meow.)

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Jurgen makes a face.

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Mr. & Mrs. Johnson-Rozger (on her birthday.)

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Taken the same night (and notice how Emma’s head [Emma is the one on the right] strangely echoes Mrs. J-R’s!)

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Dumplings and Sandwiches in the Flushing Underworld:

The Levy’s and I have made a few trips to this hidden mall in Flushing (Main St. & 41st) and each time it is a major event.

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Here is Mark ordering up. Note how the decor really looks like some dude’s apartment in Queens.

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Matt and I wait in anticipation.

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The ingredients for the mystery sandwiches.

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Yum.

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Dude’s making some kinda spicy sweet noodles that kinda taste like Waffle Crisp cereal.

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Lamb sandwiches. Sooooo good.

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Outta control dumplings.

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Stinky Fried Tofu. It doesn’t sound good, it doesn’t taste good. But I am glad I tried it once.

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It’s my world!!!

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It’s my head!!!

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I love the Flushing scene, but my heart belongs to Wo Hop.

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On St. Patrick’s Day (or, actually, a few days later) Ann made Irish Food. Behold!

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The Coleman’s Double-Strength Mustard is INTENSE. Even I had to cry uncle.

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Philip Roth’s Patrimony: A True Story

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Friday, April 27th, 2007

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Philip Roth describes the nightmare scenario. His father is 86 and healthy as a horse. And then, out of the blue, a brain tumor. Well, turns out it was growing for ten years, but who knew? They could operate, but it’d be a year of pure hell to recuperate. And that’s if he even survives the surgery. The question no one wants to ask: Is 86 long enough?

A very upsetting book to read, surely. The elder Roth’s mind can recall the smallest detail of who owned what hardware store in Newark in 1930, but his body is shitting all over himself.

Roth is a smart enough writer to know that a book like this can’t be all horror. There is humor (some of the best retirement community observations this side of Jasper Beardly) and tangential storytelling. . .just to keep your mind focused elsewhere for a minute while the gears of the inevitable work offstage. One is left, in a weird way, feeling just a tiny bit upbeat. The main characters (Roth, his father and brother, essentially) are simply lucky they have one another, and help one another to cope as best they can. They recognize that, even though they may feel like this is a completely unique thing that is happening to the three of them, death may be the only universal constant out there.

This book had a tremendous effect on my subconscious. While reading I got some bad headaches, which I was convinced, naturally, was the work of a tumour. I also had a strange and horrible dream I don’t have the energy to get into, suffice it to say you don’t need an advanced degree from the University of Vienna to figure out (involving a parent telling me “I’m going to a far away country and not coming back.”)

The realism, the voices, the honesty in Philip Roth’s books are what I find so rewarding. This is one of the better ones.

Alice Neel (2007), Andrew Neel, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 27th, 2007

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It is an axiom: to be a great artist, you are going to hurt the ones you love. The best you can hope for is that the ones you love will be understanding. Alice Neel didn’t make life easy for herself or anyone around her. Eschewing any normal sense of a family life, abandoning one child, raising two others from different transient fathers, she devoted herself, firstly, to her painting. That, too, wasn’t easy — as a portrait painter at a time when portraits were the least viable form for a serious artist careerwise, she also abandoned the “art scene” as it were — plus, she had the luck (good or bad depending on your point of view) to be born a woman. Added up: it took a long, long time for Alice Neel to gain the recognition she got. . .and the film makes it clear that even this was a fluke.

“Alice Neel,” directed by her grandson Andrew, is everything the miserable film My Architect is not. For starters, it is just flat-out entertaining. Alice herself is a marvelous subject. Seen in ample found footage she is warm and wonderful but also, at times, exasperating. And, of course, there is her artwork. I’ll admit: I never heard of her before (Ann has, so we’re not a completely ignorant household.) Her paintings are absolutely mesmerizing. Her portraits are frequently heartbreaking. . .in a way that is difficult to explain. There is a tremendous raw energy to the paintings, as well as a definite, unworldly perspective. There are frequent sequences in “Alice Neel” where we simply scroll through images. They say more about the characters of the story than any talking head can.

Throughout the film are nice little touches, such as found footage montages revealing different eras in Alice’s life — the WPA and the Depression, the conformist 50s, the Koyanisqqatsi 70s. My favorite moment in the film, though, is Andrew and his father interrupting their interview when a wild turkey is spotted out in the yard. It is a mother turkey and, after further examination, it is agreed that she is protecting her young from a raptor of some sort. It has nothing at all to do with the movie, it has everything to do with the movie. Highly recommended.

Let Us Now All Stare At Dennis Kucinich’s Strangely Hot Wife

Jordan | E-motions | Friday, April 27th, 2007

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Who knew an elfin vegetarian from Ohio could land a ten foot tall redhead with a British accent?

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Elizabeth Kucinich

And for those who really want to stalk her, you can check out her MySpace page (which is just as annoying as anyone else’s MySpace page.)

Decalogue 1 (I Am The Lord Thy God) (1989), Krzysztof Kieslowski, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, April 26th, 2007

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Holy smokes! If I’ve got 9 hours more of this waiting for me, I don’t know if I can make it. So depressing! I assumed that these films (based on the 10 Commandments) would be morality tales, but all I get from this is “Shit Happens.”

Anyway, wonderfully shot film set at a fabulous commie block housing complex, snowy, grey, but unlike, say, Mike Leigh’s All or Nothing there seems a better sense of community. Good performances, worth watching, but I dunno what the point of this was other than to make us sad. (Unless the thesis is some anti-Science message/vengeance against the nonbelievers. . .but somehow I don’t buy that.)

Heart of Glory, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, April 26th, 2007

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Yaaaaaaaaar!

I’ve actually been wondering when a “Worf” episode would pop up. I remember seeing this when it first aired. Turns out Worf, kinda like Data, fell into his Starfleet career. Yes, there is a peace between worlds, but it is an uneasy peace. Anyway, Klingons are very entertaining and there’s some good stuff hear.

Coming of Age, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, April 26th, 2007

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There’s something “wrong” on the Enterprise so an Admiral sends a somewhat douch-y investiagtor to investigate. But we don’t know what. But he’s pressing buttons and pissing people off. Turns out it is just a test for Picard. They want to promote him and make him head of Starfleet Academy. Speaking of the Academy, Wesley Crusher takes his entrance exam. It’s very tough to get in apparantly, and involves going to Room 101. Fun.

Home Soil, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, April 26th, 2007

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A pretty classic episode.

The Enterprise checks in on a Terraforming station — a science station on an arid lifeless planet which creates, Slartibartfast-style, a new planet. From rock to beauty in 35 years. But you better make sure that planet is truly lifeless! Aparrantly, underground (but not too far underground that they can’t fight back) are tiny sparkles of light which are, alas, intelligent life. Picard has to then vie for peace lest they blow up the ship. “Life force,” he cries, “We will return you to Wet Sand!!!!” And all is well.

When The Bough Breaks, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, April 26th, 2007

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The Enterprise discovered a hidden “Atlantis”-like planet, devoted to science, art and culture. Also: devoted to kidnapping!! They steal Wesley and a handfull of other snotty kids. For some reason, the rest of the ship doesn’t throw a party, they fight to get them back. It’s a big leap of faith that the Enterprise would have kids on it in the first place. . .it is pretty obnoxious when they keep rubbing our face in it. Still, this episode has its moments.

Too Short A Season, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Thursday, April 26th, 2007

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Federation diplomats are held hostage by angry terrorists on some far-off planet that’s just ended its 40 bloody civil war. Get me Admiral Jameson! says the president of the planet. But it turns out it is all just a trap to lure him there. Little does he know Jameson has just took some secret alien Ponce d’Leon shit and is changing from a shrivelled old man to a striving young buck (but his inner organs aren’t too pleased with the change.) Shenanigans ensue. . .and the Enterprise is his limo to the planet (hence we get to see it.)

11001001, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

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Oh, hasn’t Picard learned? You don’t just let some stranger futz with your ship’s computers. It’s not a good idea. It wasn’t a good idea back in the day either. I’d say the Enterprise is doing well enough, thanks, and any “mainframe upgrades” are unnecessary.

Anyway, these pesky little guys who look like mini-Talosians fake the crew into thinking the ship is about to explode. Everyone flees to the Starbase (except Yar and Worf who are already there, obviously playing games from Tron since they are wearing bright blue spandex) but Riker and Picard are “held” at the pesky Holodeck by a rather alluring program. Perhaps TOO alluring!!! Eventually things are revealed as not quite so evil as they first seem and a deal is worked out.

I’m not exactly fond of any episode involving the Holodeck, but in all this is a good one. Maybe I give it four insignia merely because in comparison to the other horrid episodes this one seems really good. Anyway, I won’t question it too much — it is enjoyable.

Angel One, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

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Angel One: a backward little planet where men are “kept” as second class citizens. Some federation voyagers have been shipwrecked there, Riker & co. must rescue them. Turns out they are hiding up in the mountains and are planning a civil rights revolution. Equal rights for dudes! Riker proves the equality of the sexes on the Enterprise by making Yar and Troi do all the work while he gets laid. On board the ship, everyone gets very sick until Crusher finds a cure (seems like this has happened before.) Riker makes a Dr. King-like speech and beams back home.

Why I Am For Hillary

Jordan | E-motions | Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

It’s been months since I’ve last taken a toke of that horrible, masochistic drug I used to be addicted to: Fox News. Those that know me know that I’ve struggled with this problem off and on for years. . .the need to subject myself to hours of O’Reilly, Hannity, “Studio B” with that asshole with the eyebrows, or that other show with the dude with the white hair (John Something.) Like a junkie on smack it leaves me ill. Like, really ill. Sweaty, itchy, stomach lining and esophagus burning. No, I’m not making this up. And yet, I can’t turn away. The worst is Hannity, no question, but O’Reilly is a close second.

Anyway, I binged tonight and now my head is throbbing. Probably ’cause it’s been so long since I’ve had a little taste. But I realized something tonight.

Like many of you, I’m not all that thrilled with Hillary Clinton. She’s just. . .she’s not my favorite, let’s leave it at that. Of the candidates out there, I am most impressed with Edwards; Richardson and Obama are close behind him. Any of those three and I’d be a happy guy. Would I prefer Kucinich or Nader? Sure, but President Edwards or Richarson or Obama works just fine. But to them. . .to them, the people that’ve so harmed this country, this planet. . .the evil duo of Cheney and Bush. . .the horrible, horrible black spot on our collective souls that we’re so in danger of never repairing. . .to the Hannitys and the Hannity-lovers. . . .I realize this: there is no one they hate more than Hillary.

To that end, a vote for Hillary is a vote to poke in the eye anyone who stands up and says “I love Cheney, I love Bush. I love Alberto Gonzales and his band of email obfuscators. I love Karl Rove and his band of Plame-leakers. I love Rumsfeld and Rice and Powell and the whole sick crew of satan-worshiping mongrols who are wiping santorum off their chins with the United States Constitution.”

So why the hell not support Hillary? I’m not foolish enough to think that Edwards/Obama/Richardson/Any Other Dem is going to be that much different. They’ll all take their cues from the Clinton (Bill) playbook. And, for those that knew me back then, I was ranting and raving about how awful Bill was! (Oh, what a fool I was! I never knew how good I had it!) The defense of marriage act, invading Serbia, bombing al-Shifa, pardoning Marc Rich over Leonard Peltier. And while I was certainly more annoyed at the yutzes like Henry Hyde and Orrin Hatch who were making a big deal about it, I was damned pissed that Clinton had jizzed all over that blue dress and embarrassed us all in the first place. Oh! Oh, what I’d give to have such problems again!

Anyway, while I am brightening your day, keep in mind that there are two “Virginia Tech”s in Iraq every day. Or 24 a day if you factor in for population equivalencies. You can argue the specifics.

Sorry, don’t know why I am so angry. Or, conversely, don’t know why I’m not this angry more often.

Here’s To Roberts and Alito: Assholes Who Aren’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I know there’s a lot of news right now, but here’s a little item that isn’t causing nearly enough ruckus.

Urban Center/Municpal Arts Society at Villard Houses

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Monday, April 23rd, 2007

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One exhibition worth checking out is something called “Fast Forward New York” at the Urban Center.

A giant map of the city with thumbtacks and string leading to a little card with a picture of a proposed (and oftentimes approved) new architectural development for that spot.

Ten years from now, everything will be tall, glass and shiny!

Waterside Plaza

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Monday, April 23rd, 2007

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The other day an appointment brought me over to Waterside Plaza. I’d been looking for an excuse to go there since reading Philip Lopate’s Waterfront. It was every bit as fascinating as I thought it would be. But impossible to get to. One footbridge on 25th over the FDR (or you can take your life in your hand and cross the FDR at 23rd.) Anyway, it strongly resembled the early films of David Cronenberg and for that I give it strong salute!

Austrian Cultural Forum: One Kooky Question Mark

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Monday, April 23rd, 2007

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The Austrian Cultural Forum in midtown – truly one of the strangest places I know. Not just the crazy design of the building (above photos are only tip of the iceberg) but the interior, too. And who can even make sense of their website? You enter and there’s like a hundred little tiny floors. Staircases everwhere. And a giant silver elevator that looks like the orgasmatron that says “out of order.”

Anyhow, there was a show up — a 5 year “greatest hits” — but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what I was looking at. Looked mostly like sketches for a street grid. And not, like, a cool one out of Tron or something. . .just, like, regular. Then there was a video screen showing commercials. Far out.

The handouts at the front desk were intense, though. Thick, well designed booklets. I may come back to the ACF to hear music some day.

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