God’s Angry Man (1980), Werner Herzog, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

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This may surprise you, but I actually do have respect for televangelists. I certainly have respect for L. Ron Hubbard. I mean, if I had the cojones to do so (and didn’t have other aspirations) I would totally get in the religion game. It’s like shooting fish in a barrell. In a way, it is a wonder there aren’t more of them out there.

Dr. Gene Scott (now deceased) was one of the most fantastic scuzzballs we ever had on our airwaves. He’d actually yell at his audience and browbeat them (all mostly old and sick, I’m sure) into sending him money. In interviews with Herzog we see that he actually is a smart guy — but he isn’t super slick. He’s pensive. I think, at heart, he knows he’s a douche, but he can’t walk away from the pulpit now. . .he’s got too much responsibility and he’s in trouble with the IRS. Shooting fish in a barrell? Try not to feel superior during shots of Scott’s work associates. Oy vey.

Huie’s Sermon (1980), Werner Herzog, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Wow! Screened on crumbling 16mm at Film Forum today, Herzog’s “from the point of view of the spaceship” verite doc of a frothing African-American preacher blazing nonstop for 45 minutes. I wasn’t counting, but it felt like there were maybe five cuts in the whole piece. Rev. Huie starts fierce and ends positively shreiking — hyperventalating about the power of Gawad! the beauty of the Suwun! and the wickedness of Traaaanssexuals! (The few shots of the neighboring ghetto at its nadir of economic crisis leads me to think there were better topics to rail about, but you aren’t gonna see me interrupting this guy.) Best are the moments when he sticks his hand out and somebody hands him some toilet paper to mop up his sweat. A wonderful film!

A Matter of Honor, TNG 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

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Pictured above: Gagh (pronounced Gokhkhkhk) which, we learn, is best when served live.

Okay, NOW we’re getting somewhere. Riker on an “exchange program” with the Klingons. Holy crap! The Klingons are nuts! But kinda fun. But they are attacking the Enterprise! How will Riker outsmart the Klingons but still save everyone’s honor? And what about the blue dude, Mordoc, who is just like that other blue dude Wesley met when he bombed out at the academy? Is he evil, or just a putz? This episode zips by — perfect.

Unnatural Selection, TNG 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

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I don’t mean to sound cruel, but did anyone *ask* to see an aged version of Dr. Pulaski?

This episode is kinda cool for one reason – we see something fail. The cats on Trek are always making daring attempts to do something, never mind the odds. I can put the antimatter in the warp core chamber, but there’s a chance it could evaporate us all! And it never does. This time, Dr. Pulaski takes a risk and she gets screwed. Neat.

What’s not neat is that, it would appear, the Federation is cool with eugenics studies being done on Darwin Station on Gagarin IV. What’s up with that?! Normally the Federation is on the right side of all ethical situations. Anyway, this is kind’ve a bozo episode.

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (a/k/a Every Man For Himself and God Against All) (1974), Werner Herzog, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

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I thought this was going to be a like a “Wild Child” or, heaven help us, “Nell,” but it is more like “The Elephant Man” or even “Being There.” A young man raised in a box is thrust into society. Needless to say, he sees things a little off. There’s comedy and there’s tragedy. And it’s a true story! I won’t lie to you, it starts out a little boring. But once it gets rolling, especially with the great Bruno S. in the lead, it is pretty stinkin’ cool.

Max’s Hot Dogs, Long Branch, New Jersey

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

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Every beach community worth its salt has a place like this. It’s been around since the year of the flood, specializes in just one thing and has signed photos on the wall of half the cast of Barney Miller. Max’s Hot Dogs is one such place. You may think you can avoid the hype, but as you walk closer and begin to smell that pork-i-fied air, I dare you not to get down on your knees and beg for a hot dog. They do it up right at Max’s.

Here I am, just giggly at being there. The non-Hot Dog menu is printed up all around me.

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My Chocolate Egg Cream was super sweet and bubbly. Very well done. Before me are some of the condiments that are already waiting for you at Max’s. (And, yes, I am aware that I am wearing a “Sammy’s Roumanian Steaks” T-Shirt. I’m not always such a chowhound geek.)

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Pickled Relish.

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Hot Peppers. I could handle ‘em, but they were pretty dang hot.

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Ann mans the pump. A FOUR LB tub of Guldens adorns every table.

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In the bg, the enormous pot of saurkraut brought fresh to your table. Awesome. In the fg, the onion rings. I can be very picky about my onion rings — but these were fantastic. Not greasy at all. The key to good onion rings is that they be dry, and Max’s knows this.

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Creating the masterpiece.

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A close-up of my weiner. Juicy, a little bit burned, perfect.

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The Schizoid Man, TNG 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

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This episode blows. If anyone on deck had seen Star Trek III they woulda been able to figure out what was going on in no time. Cool to see a Vulcan (as secondary surgeon) on board again, though.

Philip Roth’s “The Breast”

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, May 26th, 2007

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Philip Roth’s short novella “The Breast,” clocking in at 89 big print pages, probably isn’t worth too much examination. A slightly-crude lit professor wakes up one morning to find that he has transformed into a giant mammary gland. He narrates from his hospital sling, unsure if he hasn’t just gone bonkers or if he really is a 155 lb boob. Since he is a lit professor, he does all the analysis for you. All you have to do is laugh. And it’s funny, we’ll leave it at that. I picked this up off the shelf at the library (the new branch on Jersey St. between Mulberry and Lafayett — which is very nice!) sat and read it in about an hour and then put it back on the shelf. Should you have an hour to kill, you might want to do the same. Like I say, it is a very funny little book.

Johnny Dangerously (1984), Amy Heckerling, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, May 24th, 2007

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This movie’s got everything. A potty-mouthed grandma, visual puns, a musical number, asides to the camera, animal gags, non-sequiturs, snappy costumes, Griffin Dunne. . .what in the world more could you ever want? It does, alas, have Joe Piscopo — the least funny person in the entire known Universe. Every time he’s on screen he sucks the energy right out of the room, ruining perfectly good lines, making you cringe from his horribleness. Seriously, he’s worse than Zeppo Marx. However this can, in a way, be fun to watch, so, if you are a giving person, this is only another plus for the film.

I’ve seen this many times over the years (cheers to Chris Tyrrell for introducing it to me) and every time I notice something else. (This time I caught that Johnny is eating sushi in the prison mess hall. Sushi?! In Prison?! In 1930?! H-wh-HUH?!”) Ann had never seen it before. She liked it, especially the scene between Ma Kelly and the Irish cleaning lady.

Orhan Pamuk’s “Snow”

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Thursday, May 24th, 2007

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Probably the best line in “Tootsie” is at the very end. All the shenanigans of the hundred and one different side stories collide during the live TV broadcast of “SouthWest General.” Everyone gasps. There’s a pregnant pause. And then Bill Murray slams it out of the park. “That is one nutty hospital!” Orhan Pamuk’s award winning novel “Snow” also ends with a high-stakes “we’re all in” live TV broadcast, and when I put the book down I was left with a similar thought. “That is one nutty culturally divergent country!”

The country in question is Turkey — and if you thought the US with its “blue states” and “red states” was polarized, well, we’re practically all giving each other back rubs and singing tunes by The Youngbloods in comparison. The insane Muslims over there are the typical insane Muslims, but the secularists, in a twist not really seen here in the states, are pretty loony, too. Imagine if the ACLU had a bloodthirsty army or the Rev. Barry Lynn went on Hardball packin’ heat. . .

The instigating conflict in “Snow” concerns a group of ultra religious girls who refuse to remove their headscarfs at school. When they are forced to, they commit suicide. But suicide is a sin, so they are rejected by the religion they fought for. And the circular arguements just keep going from there. The setting is the small border city of Kars with its ruins of Armenian, Georgian, Russian and Kurdish culture being pulled in half by the hardline Kemalists from Istambul and Ankara and the insane Muslim fundamentalists with their backers in Iran. In between is a rogue’s gallery of corrupt politicians, journalists, educators and travelling theatrical companies.

I can’t say enough good things about “Snow.” It is a thick book and given, at times, to the occasional plotless sequence, but I really feel like I “got” what this very unique city and situation are like. The hotels and teahouses and theaters are explained with a journalist’s eye even though the protagonist is a poet. And a very poetic poet — one who is likely to throw away lines like “I saw her sitting by the window and I suddenly knew my soul was alone in the galaxy” and jazz like that. At first I thought it was annoying, but after a while you get used to it.

I was carrying this book around with me for close to a month — not because it was slow reading but because I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want it to end. Highly recommended.

Jesus Loves Bombs

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Fundamentialist Christians and YOUR United States Armed Forces working together to make this Memorial Day the most explosive it’s been in years.

“The event will feature hourly flyovers by Air Force Jets, including B-2 stealth bombers, parachute jumps by the U.S. Army’s Silver Wings Parachute Jump Team and speeches from top military and former military officials and evangelical Christian preachers, including the former SBC president, Bobby Welch.”

Read the whole article here.

Poor, Poor Robo-Cop

Jordan | E-motions | Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Evan sent me this. Very entertaining.

Rolling Like A Stone (2007), Stefan Berg and Magnus Gertten, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, May 24th, 2007

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The world will never tire of footage from the mid-60s of girls shrieking and sobbing and slapping their faces and tugging their girlfriends’ hair and, ultimately, passing out from excitement at watching a rock band. Usually it is the Beatles or the Rolling Stones but, if you are lucky enough, it might be a band like the Namelosers or the Gonks. The Namelosers and the Gonks were the titans of the Swedish pop scene in 1965 — so much so that they got to party with the Stones when they swept through Malmo that year. The super 8mm footage of that party is the launching point for this bittersweet documentary. 40 years later we meet the former rock stars as they talk about girls, rock’n'roll in their blood, hairstyles and girls (and girls.) Life’s been good to them, I guess, but people get older, things change, and talking about the old days can’t help but bring a tear to the eye. A lot of times you’ll hear a once-hit song from decades past and wonder “what do those guys do now?” Now you know.

After Hours (1985), Martin Scorsese, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

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This one really floored me as a kid. I taped it off of HBO and watched it 100 times. Seeing it again after all these years I was amazed at a) how much of it I remembered and b) how the comedy was, at times, more subtle than I knew back then. As a story, yes, it is a little thin. But as an excersize in nightmare-logic paranoia it has few equals. Griffin Dunne shoulda been a bigger star. (I met him once, he was nice and had a very loud voice.) It’s a trip to see the mythologized SoHo of the 1980s. I know enough to know it was never really like that, but when I was a kid I thought it might’ve. When I moved here in 1992 I caught just the tail tail tail end of this scene and I remember nights thinking “Wow, this loft/club/diner/empty block is just like After Hours!” You can’t do that at all anymore, so, I guess, in a way I am lucky.

*note — The DVD features Deleted Scenes. I always watch the Deleted Scenes and I always say, “yeah, I see why that is a deleted scene.” That’s the case here, as well, except for one little scene which may be funnier than anything in the finished picture. It’s a little exchange between Dunne and Catherine O’Hara. . .just a moment for Catherine to flip out and scream and yell and act insane. It does nothing to advance the plot, and, at this point in the story, as things are winding up and the stakes are raised it probably woulda slammed the breaks on everything. Plus it would kinda diminish her surprising nutsy-ness up in her apartment. So I see why it was cut. But! If you know anything about Catherine O’Hara you know that nobody does freak-out like her. When her pretty/tough girl with the ice cream truck belts out “Go home or sit on my FACE!” it is like a cold slap in the face. Hilarious. And worth the rental in itself.

A Few Recent Dopey Pictures

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

The other day Ann was reading on the couch and she was cold and asked if I would throw her a blanket. So, like a putz, I threw it over her head. The way it landed made her look like she was Ganesh.

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From L to R: Dave, Raoul, Michelle, the Back of Leslie’s Head, Cynthia’s right eye.

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Remnants of a midday snack n’ drink at 2A.

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Kerry and I pretend like we’re setting up a shot. This was a reject for our “media kit.” We realized that we needed a directors’ photo and we had no pictures of the two of us directing together. We’re pointing at nothing. Acting!

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This is the top of my head and the top of Josh Pelzek’s head.

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Every time — *EVERY TIME* — we see Josh, Ann starts the following conversation.

Ann: Your friend Josh is a really nice guy.
Me: Yeah, Pelzek’s the best.
Ann: He really is.
Me: Yep.
Ann: He’s so easy to talk to. And he’s funny. And he has a really interesting outlook on things. Plus his job sounds interesting. And he’s got a little bit of that terrific midwestern accent that I love.

This is usually the point in the conversation when I remind Ann that Pelzek’s fiancee is really nice, too.

Well, when you look at this photo it is no wonder Ann has eyes for Pelzek!

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Decalogue 7 (Thou Shall Not Steal) (1989), Krzysztof Kieslowski, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

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This might be the most straightforward of the “Decalogues.” And, although it isn’t the most sad, for some reason I found it incredibly depressing. Even before I knew what was going on — just looking at the film shot me with a gallon full of dread and malaise. I can’t explain it. (People are weird. My friend James once told me that if he ever hears one of those Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach songs on the radio he nearly vomits from depression. Go figure.) Maybe it was because they dress the lead actress up like Liv Ullman and they were going for a Bergman thing, who knows? Indeed, this film is more Bergmanesque than the other “Decalogues.” A big sister kidnaps her little daughter away from an overbearing mother and then announces that she is actually her real mother. (Did you know the same thing kinda happened to both Eric Clapton and John Lennon?) Anyway, there’s a lot of yelling, sleuthing and finally a showdown at a train station. Sounds thin, but it is well done.

The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006), Maysles Films, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

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When I saw this last year at its midnight run at the IFC Center I didn’t so much review it as just cheer “yay!” Now that the dust has settled, I must admit: this isn’t really a movie, this is B-roll. When the DVD was over Ann said, “hey, there aren’t really any extras on this one!” “Are you kidding?” I replied, “It’s all extras!!”

So, with that, unless you are obsessed with Grey Gardens (as Ann is and, by extension, I must be) stick with the original.

Strange (Emergency) Plates at Skyway Malaysian

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

An off-season Strange Plates Session was called.

I had the great (if I don’t mind saying so) idea to try Shabu-Shabu, which is kinda like Japanese fondue. I’d spotted a neat looking place in my travels — way on the L.E.S. near the old Forverts building.

Lucky for us Ann, Marcy & I scoped the place out early. It was closed! Moved! Agggggh!

Here I am looking glum.

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Emergency phone calls were made and even in the rain we came up with an alternative. A Malaysian place called the “Skyway” (which was kinda funny ’cause Minnesota native Kim Tabbatt was joining us.)

Food and loudness commenced!

Here is Matt – so hungry he is eating his arm (after all, it looked like fruit stripe gum!)

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Here is a Malaysian Oyster Omlette.

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Here are some sprouty things.

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Here are happy campers.

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Here are more happy campers.

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I couldn’t tell if this was food or just the remnants of the fish tank.

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Yum.

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This was the crazy call of the night. The Bitter Melon Chicken. Looks okay, right?

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But here’s the face I made afterwards!

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We’ll have to try Shabu-Shabu another time!

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