Calgary is Caprica

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

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Calgary isn’t cool just because it loves Body/Antibody. It’s cool because it is living in the freaking future.

For one, people who live there are called Calgerians. I am not 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure it was the Calgerians who sold the Romulans the technology to build the cloaking device.

Also: almost all of downtown is connected by a series of tubes fifteen feet above the ground. They call this the +15 and it is awesome. You can enter a building, go up to the second floor, wander down a bunch of hallways, then go outside again — and be TWENTY BLOCKS AWAY!

And these aren’t just any hallways. These are, like, awesome, space-age hallways. Lots of THX-1138 white and glass. But what’s *really* cool is that you are just wandering around in other peoples’ offices all day. Seriously. As you go in the buildings on your way to each new tunnel — you are seeing people on their way to meetings and stuff. And then — a shopping mall! And then — an indoor garden! Straight out of Silent Running. No! I am not making this up! It is awesome! The +15 is the largest of these things anywhere — bigger than Minneapolis’ “Skyway,” in case you were wondering.

Read more about the +15.

Jonah Levy’s Thanksgiving

Jordan | E-motions | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I came across Jonah Levy’s student film on the Internets. It made me miss being a tour guide a little.

Thanksgiving

Philip Roth – Everyman

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

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It’s hard to recommend to you that you run out and buy Everyman, a 250 page rumination on death, especially since you could also read Roth’s The Dying Animal, another 250 page rumination on death that at least has the added benefit of having some hot and (dare I say) perverse sex scenes. Whereas Animal has humor and an obnoxious narrator you love to hate, Everyman is just plain depressing. We get sketches of a man’s life and his relationship to death — early encounters, childhood sickness, the death of his parents, death of friends and finally his own deterioration. Roth is known for his humor – his humor is perhaps the key element that has me coming back to him over and over – but I don’t really remember laughing too much with this one. I remember sighing and going “oy vey.”

Writers, though, will be impressed. His ability to tease out whole characters with a line fragments is something of a miracle. One quick description of his father’s watch shop and you instantly understand his whole childhood. It’s stunning in its simplicity. So, I suppose, there’s your recommendation right there.

Spider-Man 3 (2007), Sam Raimi, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

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For whatever reason I really disliked Spider-Man 2. Hated it. So when most people brushed aside part three I was in no rush to see it. But, being on an airplane is the perfect forum for something like this. Those compressed screens make everything look cool — I didn’t even mind the absurdly fake CGI effects.

Sam Raimi knows how to stage an action sequence, I’ll say that for him. And there aren’t too many boring talk-y scenes in this film. Indeed, the little “Tobey-Maguire-is-a-jerk” middle period is hilarious. Maybe hardcore Spider-Man fans thought it a disgrace, but I giggled. I especially like him and his landlord’s daughter. He should dump that obnoxious and nowhere-going Mary Jane and hang out with her more.

Daredevil (2003), Mark Steven Johnson, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

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No one from Hell’s Kitchen calls it “The Kitchen.” That was the first thing I didn’t like about this movie.

The plot and dialogue are bad even for a comic-book movie and Ben Affleck — let’s just be honest — is an awful actor. I know it is bandwagon behavior to speak ill of the man, but he really is a shitty performer. He has no presence and can’t deliver a line right. The dude is a disgrace. The film is also unclear about what he (and Elektra’s) powers are?

The one positive thing I can say (and this bumps it all the way to a C-) is the tactile aspect of the fight scenes. Compared to the Spider-Man films, there is a tangible element to the costumes, to the stunts — it is less whiz-bang, sure, but it feels more real, more tough in a way. Spider-Man’s suit looks like a cartoon, Daredevil’s looks like Ben Affleck slipped on some leather. In a way, that is something unique.

Marvel 1602

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

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I give this graphic novel point for trying, but ultimately thumbs down.

For some stupid reason I thought there’d be some actual history. There’s about as much as in your average Black Adder episode. That’s fine, though, so what about the story? Here’s where I was surprised. Neil Gaiman is one of the biggest names around and he’s respected as this genius storyteller. I found the story of 1602 to be (if I may be blunt) retarded. A half-assed little chase stapled on to the end of this larger “world.” The selling point is simply seeing the Marvel Universe re-imagined for the 17th Century. That’s it, that’s the whole idea. And, as such, this will only be really appealing to true Marvel obsessives who catch every easter egg and get every reference. For the casual fan it isn’t all that exciting.

The artwork is quite nice, though. And Dr. Strange is cool in any century.

Simon Trpceski plays Tchaikowski with the NY Philharmonic

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

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You’ve heard Tchaikowski’s 1st Piano Concerto. Even if only in the back ground of Woody Woodpecker cartoons. It is one of the most intense pieces of work out there — and it stuns me how an audience of three thousand can just sit at Avery Fischer Hall and simply listen attentively. How can these people not rock out?

I was the one banging my head as Trpceski flew up and and down the scales, knocking out these killer phrases. It, and the First Symphony that followed, were nothing short of kick-ass.

The New York times put it thusly, “Mr. Trpceski has formidable technique and energy to spare. He dispatched volleys of thick, crashing chords with steely tone and power, and conveyed contrasting passages of scampering runs with clarity and lightness. He tore through the double- octave outbursts with arm-blurring speed and no sense of strain. Yet in tenderly lyrical moments he caressed the phrases, playing with naturalness, never milking anything.”

That’s a drawn-out way of saying “kick-ass,” right?

Recent Success for Body/Antibody

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, September 30th, 2007

This news is already a week old, but it is still fun to share. Here’s a tip of the fez to Body/Antibody and its winning of the audience award at the Charlotte Film Festival. That makes three Audience Awards (add Brooklyn & Rhode Island) clearly demonstrating that Body/Antibody is a film of the people. Boy, what does that say about the people?

Body/Antibody also recently took Kansas City by storm. Click below to watch Leslie Kendall schmooze it up with the Regis and Kathie Lee of Kansas.

Leslie Kendall talks about Body/Antibody on Kansas City Live

The Passion of Anna (1969), Ingmar Bergman, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

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The Passion of Anna has the fortune/misfortune of being so splendidly shot that there were times when I just couldn’t pay attention to the story. I was just blown away by the framing, the lighting, the color pallette — my god, the color EXPLODES in this film, tearing a new a-hole to pretty much everything save The Wizard of Oz.

The story — taken almost directly from Bergman’s life at the time — Max von Sydow is the brooding man engaged in bad love with Liv Ullman on a remote island. Add to this the Blow-Up-esque phographer (played by Erland Josephson) and the gabby dame played by Bibi Andersson. All the actors get a moment to break the 4th wall and address the camera to say what they feel about the character they’re playing. All except the dude who may or may not be running around killing animals for some symbolic reason I don’t have the energy to think about. Truthfully, I am much more interested in the way these shots are set up, the editing, the long close-up/wide-angle takes and the slow zooms into heavy grain.

Bold statement: this might be one of the most exciting visual films I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Story-wise, yeah, bunch a Swedes yelling at each other in a cabin, but holy cow it looks marvelous.

Silicon Avatar, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

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That is one nasty helix of crystal. It kills Riker’s booty call, it was around at the Data/Lore creation myth (which I kinda remember) and it’s causing this nice, grieving scientist Mom to a) roleplay with Data and b) cause Picard to get on his high horse and babble about the Prime Directive. Great, just what we needed — another lecture about every creature’s right to exist. Well, everybody wins. The creature is killed and Picard had nothing to do with it, so he gets to sleep at night.

Ensign Ro, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

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Oy, it ain’t easy being Bajoran. Are they supposed to be the Jews or the Palestinians? Either way, those lousy fish-faced Cardassians are not exactly the type of group the Federation should be dealing with. I have a hunch we’ll here more about this in a future series.

High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music (1994), Rachel Liebling, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

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This movie is what it says it is. A Ken Burns-ish soup to nuts on bluegrass music, ending in the (very) early 90s. While very enjoyable to watch (Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Flatt & Scruggs, etc) I had trouble finding a thesis to the film. I felt like the film wanted to say something but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. . .other than “this music is good.” Hell, that ought to be enough.

Knocked Up (2007), Judd Apatow, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

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Despite the fact that this *really* loses a lot of momentum in the second trimester, it is very hard to have any ill will toward this movie. Seth Rogen is, by this point, a comedy god. His delivery is perfect, and he’s given nothing but terrific lines over and over. The scenes between he and Paul Rudd (particularly whacked out on mushrooms at Cirque de Soleil) had me wetting my pants. All the supporting characters are dynamite. The sister, Haverchuck as the shoe-bomber, the Superbad kid shouting “You embarrass yourself!” Hi-freaking-larious. Well done.

Watchmen

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

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Alan Moore’s Watchmen is one of the most respected “graphic novels” out there and, you know what, it’s well deserved. Watchmen is entertaining, intelligent, dense with symbolism, chock-a-block with detail, meta up the ying-yang, funny, a little shocking, smart and really cool to look at. The movie will suck. If it needs to be done, it should be an HBO mini-series. The whole point of Watchmen (I feel) is the creation of this alternate universe — and this is accomplished with detail and loads of backstory. And that’s the first thing you have to kill if you make a 2 hr movie.

Anyway, Rorschach is really bad ass.

Darmok, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

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Here’s one of those episodes that I bet people who don’t usually like Star Trek would still like. It is a very far out but yet basic idea. Even with the Universal Translators, sometimes you just can’t understand what someone is saying. Here, Picard meets a race that speak only in metaphor from their mythology — they’re whole way of thinking is different from ours. For example, if I wanted to express to you the concept of romance I would say “Juliet at her balcony.” It’s pretty nuts. In fact, there’s a whole website dedicated to the language of this episode.

Oh, and yeah, that’s the dude from Wrath of Khan who got the worm in his ear with Chekhov. . .but here he’s got a fish thing on his face.

Redemption Pt. 2, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

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Season 5 starts off swinging — the Klingon Empire is in civil war and Picard is getting all Clintonian on the Prime Directive. He sets up a blocade to stop Romulan supplies from getting in and discovers that Sela is actually Lt. Yar’s daughter from the alternate-Universe glitch that happened in Yesterday’s Enterprise. Trust me, it all totally makes sense. The house of Gowron defeats the House of Duras (for now) but Worf discovers that he just doesn’t have what it takes to live on the Home World. Luckily, Picard takes him back; now he can go back to having his suggestions blown off twice an episode.

I gotta say this — seeing Worf in a Klingon battle costume, aboard a Bird of Prey during a fire-fight. . .I found this quite moving. I’m not joking. Much like the shocking moment when you are watching, say, Das Boot and you realize you are rooting for Nazis, it is remarkable to have such an emotional connection to a Klingon on the bridge of a Bird of Prey. Remember, for most of the Trek films, Klingons are still the enemy — we are rooting for Kirk (that old guy) to blow these Klingons out of the sky. To see Worf — our friend Worf — in that position, with all the signifiers of the Klingon uniform — is quite a shock to the system.

He Is Iron Man

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Iron Man Teaser Trailer

For the friends I saw tonight who hadn’t seen this yet, here it is. This has the potential to be about as good as a dopey summer blockbuster can get. I am officially stoked.

Chalk (2007), Mike Akel, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, September 20th, 2007

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To be blunt, TV’s “The Office” but for teachers. A little repetitive, and then desultory at times, but the Christopher Guest-esque characterizations are so winning and enjoyable that you are willing to forgive Chalk all of its sins. I imagine that at a festival this movie would be unbeatable. A remarkable tool for nostalgia and self-reflection; you realize just how silly you were back in high school. And whoever played the Phys Ed teacher is phenomenal.

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